Little Fire Big Heart 2010: The Prep

Everyone pretty much knows how crazy the last week of September was for my family - all forces came together to pull off an AMAZINGly successful Little Fire Big Heart on Saturday, September 25th then the moving van pulled in to our driveway to empty our house for our big move to Texas that Monday. Ricky and I waited until the movers were (mostly) done, but then had to call in reinforcements (my dad) to wait on them so we could hit the road. We had exactly 2 days to get from Indiana to Texas so we could make our walk-through and closing scheduled for our new place. All the while my boys were sent home with my parents after the event and they all flew down the day after closing. It was hectic to say the least.

Most importantly, we made it to Texas safely without leaving behind anything valuable (the only thing dad found was one of the little plastic doohickies from the top of a sippy cup in the garbage disposal).

But let's get back to Little Fire Big Heart - because even though it's been two whole months since the event, I can't wait to recap it and let everyone know (the 5 people who read my blog anyway...hey mom! dad!) how it impacted my life.

I've talked about the reasons why I wanted to plan LFBH - the awareness factor for craniofacial conditions and organizations like CCA, the ability to immerse myself in something other than doctors appointments, therapy visits and the everyday worries of having a child with "special needs", etc. - but I had no idea just how much I was going to get out of this experience once it was over.

When I think about all of the planning, time and energy that went into planning this event and just how many people came together to donate their own time, energy, services and support I am completely blown away. Let me tell you, it was no easy fete. I began planning the idea with the urging of one of my college friends (thank you Anna!) who has a heart of gold and always has a million things on her plate (Junior League Cincy, volunteering and taking up cake design to name a few). Then I asked a few of my nearest and dearest to jump on the crazy train and be my co-captains in this ride. Even though each one of them had their own busy lives to tend to, they jumped at the chance to help out. I am thankful to each one of you who offered your ideas and time (however little or much you could): Dad, Lauren, April, Audrey, Anna, Jennifer, Ricky :)

I made a detailed list of people and places to contact, venues to consider and a rough estimate of anticipated costs. That in and of itself was overwhelming. It was hard to make heads or tails of it all but eventually I had to turn the brainstorming into actual decision-making. I chose the venue, Mellwood Art Center in Louisville, because it offered an opportunity to simply pay a room fee while having the flexibility to bring in any food and beverage vendors I chose (no exclusive catering companies or food limits). This made sense in the grand scheme of things as I was hoping to have all of the food and beverages donated to keep costs low.

In the end, I was able to get all of the above donated...however what I didn't take into consideration were all of the other things that also had to be provided that normally would be included in a more "full-service" event facility. Tables and chairs came with the room at Mellwood. And that. was. it. To put into perspective just how much was left to plan for (and just how many thank-you notes that need writing), here is a list of things normally provided by other venues that I had to get:

1. Table linens
2. Napkins
3. Dinner plates, dessert plates, glassware
4. Forks and knives
5. Salt and pepper
6. Salt and pepper shakers
7. Appetizer serving platters
8. Centerpieces
9. Tables to use for the auction
10. A bar station
11. Water pitchers
12. Room decorations
13. Kitchen supplies
14. Table numbers

And that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the entire list of items needed to pull off the event from beginning to end. Let's just say I started early and asked nicely. To my surprise getting people to donate things was not nearly as hard as it could have been. I immediately found out just how many good people there are in this world. (And I also decided that it might be worth the extra money to have it somewhere else next time around!)

I had family, friends, acquaintences and in some cases, complete strangers who called, emailed or texted asking how they could help. It felt amazing to have so many people care - so many people support me in my efforts to raise awareness for conditions like Aiden's.

Finally, the big day came. It had all the anticipation of a bride's wedding day. Up and at 'em early to prepare for the night. Everyone kept asking me if I was nervous, but I wasn't. I just knew it was all going to come together.

And it did. Beautifully.

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