June is ALS Awareness Month... Discover how we support ALS research at Bradshaws!
Eight years ago, our family learned what the word ALS meant. Until then, it was not on our radar at all. My mom, Gigi, was a healthy, vibrant 55 year old woman who would put me to shame if we went on a fast walk. She was having some numbness in her arm, and went through the process to discover what the problem was. And it was serious. It was determined that she had ALS. ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) is a progressive neuromuscular disease in which nerve cells die and leave voluntary muscles paralyzed. This was a huge blow to our family as this disease is very aggressive and works quickly. From the day of her diagnosis, to the day she passed, it was 8 months.
Since one of Mom's passions was painting, one year for Mother's Day, my brother and I surprised her by secretly photographing her artwork. We then turned her photographs into greeting cards and gave them to her as our Mother's Day present. The look on her face was something I will never forget to this day. She was completely blown away and from that day on, if there was ever a birthday, anniversary, wedding or condolence card that went out, it was written on one of HER cards! As many artists lack confidence about their own artistic abilities, she was so proud to share her work with people she loved.
After she passed away, we revised her cards slightly. We added her image to the back, and the address of ALS Canada - and we now sell them as fundraising for ALS research. 100% of the money raised is donated to ALS Canada.
Springtime was her FAVOURITE time of the year. She would always be MOST happy on the day that the trees showed signs of their first leaves emerging... This is "Gigi's Tree" - a lilac tree planted in her memory, purchased by our wonderful and caring friends who raised money to help us plant something to remember her by. Every morning, we take a moment to take in the beautiful fragrance and remember her.
It is no surprise that now, I am especially aware of those moments when I am with my children pointing out the first fresh leaves and flowers of spring. She is a part of me, and I learn from her every day - even now that she is gone. My children carry me through the times when I am sad and miss her. My son, Ezra , now 8 years old is so thoughtful and always asks about her. He gets very excited to see the buds on the lilac tree that we planted in her memory come out. And I am lucky to have a beautiful 5 year old daughter, appropriately named Gigi. The sound of her name brings me comfort daily and her quirky personality makes me laugh.
Ezra, as Mayor for the day in Stratford, and Gigi modelling her new hair accessories!
We welcome you to purchase sets of Gigi's cards. They come in handy for all sorts of occasions, and they make fabulous gifts that have meaning!
And it is MOST amazing to see my Mom's artwork floating around in the world. She would be THRILLED!
Through the sale of my mom's cards, and through fundraising for ALS, we have exceeded $10 000 in donations over the past 9 years!
If you would like to donate to ALS directly, or join the WALK FOR ALS, please do!
Follow ALS Canada on Facebook, @alscanada on Instagram and @alsCanada on Twitter.
Of course, we did our part to raise money during the Ice Bucket Challenge a number of years ago... What an incredible way to raise money for this difficult cause...
This post was written in memory of Gigi Schaffel Schwartz...
Thank you for reading this.
If you would like to take a quantity of cards to sell yourself, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.