Never thought I could be affected

Photo of Isaias - Courtesy of Project Cupid

Photo of Isaias - Courtesy of Project Cupid

On September 5, 2009, Isaias Thomas Valentin, a vibrant and much loved boy, died four days before his 10th birthday from Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  Isaias was the cousin of a friend of mine, Amy Blue.

The loss of Isaias tragically took its toll on all of Amy’s family and Amy felt she needed to do something to not only honor Isaias’ memory but to thank the Dana Farber Cancer Institute for the treatment and support they gave to Isaias and his mother, Jeneen.  So on September 13, 2009, Amy completed her first Jimmy Fund Walk and after that success decided she needed to do something more.  Thus, Project Cupid was born.

Project Cupid is a charity date auction of “Boston’s best Bachelors and Bachelorettes” that is being held on Friday, February 5, from 7pm to 10pm at Red Sky Restaurant and Lounge.  The high bidders on each Bs & Bs, as Amy is calling them, will be treated to a date (with their bachelor or bachelorette) at a local restaurant.   If you aren’t in the market to bid on a date, there will be drawings at the end of the auction with prizes like a basketball autographed by the entire 2009-2010 Boston Celtics (donated by the team), gift certificates to local salons and spas, hotel stays, tickets to local shows and even a Mike Lowell autographed photo.  The event is open to the general public and there is no cover charge but Project Cupid has suggested donations of $7-$10 at the door the evening of the auction.  The expectation is that anywhere from 150-200 people will be attending the event.   If you’re unable to attend the auction, you can still make a donation by contacting Amy Blue.  It’s Amy’s hope that this will become an annual event if not in its current incarnation as something equally entertaining that will support Dana Farber and The Jimmy Fund.

As I can attest from Amy’s status updates, tweets and email messages, she’s a busy woman with a husband and a full-time job that take up most of her time.  She knew her decision to create an event in honor of Isaias and Dana Farber would be difficult and time-consuming, especially since she was new to it all, so she enlisted the help of her friends and was delighted with the response.  Amy’s friend Aileen has been, according to Amy, “there by my side from the beginning of it all”.  Aileen’s life has also been touched by cancer and she has taken as strong and deep an interest in Project Cupid as Amy.  Amy credits Aileen for coming up with the idea of Project Cupid being a charity date auction and says that working with Aileen is one of the reasons she’s sure the Project will be a success.

Another of Amy’s friends, Stacy, volunteered to create the Project Cupid website.  Amy speaks highly of Stacy and her work and of how well she works with both Amy and Aileen.  Of the three of them working together, she told me, “We work very well together because we have different minds and work differently.  Our strengths and weaknesses allowed us to form a very good team and hopefully a fun and lucrative fundraiser.”  For her part, Stacy was happy to help her friend.  Back in September, Stacy was one of three of Amy’s friends who joined her on the Jimmy Fund Walk and she knew how important it was to Amy to make the Project a success.

Not only did she get a great response from friends but Amy has been impressed by the response from the community in general.  “The response has been amazing.  In addition to the support that we’ve received from restaurants and businesses, we have received emails from people who have been touched by cancer or work in a research setting and are willing to volunteer their time to help fight cancer.  I also have to give a lot of credit to my representative, Rebecca Freedman, at the Jimmy Fund.  I went into this project not knowing much about fundraising and she was there to guide me through every step that I took toward the end process.”

That process hasn’t been easy.  When I asked Amy if she had any advice for people wanting to start their own charity event she told me that she thinks doing it for a cause you believe in is the most important part in helping you get through it all.  If you believe in the cause, then it is easier to deal with all that comes with taking it on and it’s easier to push forward through the occasional disappointments.  For every “no” that Amy got from her donation requests to various businesses, there were phone calls from volunteers asking how they could help.  Amy suggests that the process will probably not go as smoothly as you’d like but, in the end, the positives outweigh the negatives.

For Amy Blue, her main objective is to create a positive from a negative with Project Cupid.  Nothing will ever take away the pain of losing young Isaias but, as his mother told Amy,  “If Isaias was alive he would want to be part of any fundraiser, foundation or event that supports the awareness of cancer and how we can all help. Since he is not here to speak for himself, it is an honor that Isaias is the face of the Project. His family is very grateful and we hope to raise lots of money to help those that have unfortunately had to follow the same trials we’ve had, but we will always remember how much it meant to us with the help we received along the way.”

In going over what I wanted to write for this entry, Amy only had two requests, she wanted to make sure that her friends were given credit for the help they gave her and she wanted me to pass along the quote that will end this entry.  Amy told me that it was when she read this quote that she realized that there was something she could do to help.  Hopefully, it inspires you the same way.

But try if you can to support, whether it’s AIDS or the cancer foundation, so that someone else might survive, might prosper, and might actually be cured of this dreaded disease. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. – Jim Valvano

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