It’s 4 The Kids!
Mom blogger fundraises for cancer families
Michelle Kemper Brownlow is a popular mommy blogger whose daily posts about an everyday mom trying to keep her sanity have readers laughing out loud. Many friendships have bloomed through their all-too common lives and simple threads of laughter.
But the laughter stopped last December when a dear friend and fellow mommy blogger shared devastating news. Mimi Avery’s son, Julian, then four, had not long to live. Julian had been diagnosed the previous March with Medulloblastoma, a brain tumor. Despite surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, the cancer had returned. The doctors had done all they could and sent Julian home to be with his family.
Along with other bloggers, Kemper Brownlow began to share Julian’s story, and her readership grew by leaps and bounds. Readers were touched beyond belief. People donated money, held prayer vigils, and one reader even declared an International Hug Juju Day! “The outpouring was unbelievable. Readers were humbled by acts you don’t see on your daily news,” Kemper Brownlow recalls.
On January 19, 2008, these words, written by Julian’s mother, hit the blogging world hard: “Time of death, 11:22 am.”
With a broken heart, Kemper Brownlow struggled getting back into her humor writing. “It was too hard to be funny when I knew Mimi was grieving,” she recalls. But a week later, and at Mimi’s request, she had her fans laughing once again. “Something had changed inside me because of Julian. I felt a calling to help, to reach out to other families. However, each time I did, my readership declined. People left comments saying they just couldn’t take anymore sadness; they needed a break.”
That’s when her foundation, it’s 4 the kids!, was born. “I needed to reach people who wouldn’t look away!” she says. While Kemper Brownlow continued to keep her crowds laughing at My Semblance of Sanity, she set up a new website that would fundraise for other cancer families. Soon, numerous artists offered their wares for sale, with the majority of their profits going to families struggling through treatments and the unthinkable.
Since April, it’s 4 the kids! has sent hundreds of dollars to families who have lost their insurance or been unable to pay their electric bill because of medical bills. The foundation also sent a giant box of art supplies to the sibling of a 14-year-old hospice patient who needed a means to escape what was happening to her sister.
“These are the things I dream of doing for the thousands of children and their families suffering every day, battling this BEAST we call CANCER!” says Kemper Brownlow.
“My new idea will take it’s 4 the kids! to the next level: YARD SALES 4 the kids! How good would it feel to clean out your closets and help make a cancer kid’s dream come true?” she asks. You can register to have your own YARD SALE 4 the kids, see the artwork Kemper Brownlow sells, or meet her Cancer Kids at it’s 4 the kids!.
“I hope I can revive a fraction of the amazing flood of love I witnessed when Julian was sick,” Kemper Brownlow recalls. “I would love to treat every cancer family to that gift just once!”
Kemper Brownlow walked into the world of childhood cancer and stayed hoping others would follow. Won’t you join her on this courageous fight?
Michelle Kemper Brownlow lives, blogs and cleans peanut butter off her ceiling fan in southeastern PA. She writes for regional parenting magazines and has a weekly inspirational/humor column called the Gift of Gab. For more information, contact Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read Julian’s amazing story, head to Kemper Brownlow’s “SANITY” archives, December 3, 2007.