First off, you have no idea how incredible you all are! Thanks to everyone for ordering in the shop and for those of you waiting on the restock--- it's coming soon! Go grab a white logo tee while you wait! ;)
As most of you know, the reason I started Hope xo was because of my own personal experience battling childhood cancer. I was given 2 weeks to live with not a lot of hope whatsoever. This is why what happened on Monday night is super close to my heart. Not long after I was diagnosed with Leukemia, me and my family were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald House is an incredible organization that provides a place for families to stay while their child is in the hospital for long periods of time or during treatments, ect. It's a place that provides a room, food and support for families facing different hardships or just a place to rest for a night instead of having to pay for a hotel room.
And that's exactly what it was for me. It became a little home away from home for me and my family in my first few weeks of me being diagnosed with leukemia. I wasn't able to go far from the hospital so the Ronald McDonald house was the only option for my family during that time. Our "home" was small town Glennville, GA, which was 4 hours away and our house in Atlanta was not quite ready yet. (that story is pretty great - i'll share it soon) However, I wasn't mad about leaving the hospital. I had been there long enough in my opinion. (And it was just the beginning) The part that was the most exciting for me leaving the hospital that day was that Josh Rhye came with us to the Ronald McDonald House. I was on cloud 9 clearly. For all of those just joining in on my story... he was my crush of a lifetime and I swore I would marry him one day. :) We got to Ronald McDonald House that day and I remember pulling up this long driveway to a cute little white house with this pretty wooded area in the back. We went in and my mom was getting all the details set up so we could settle in for the night, all while me and Josh played Super Mario Brothers. I loved that game and if I remember correctly I'm pretty sure I beat him. ha. or he let me beat him. (see the pics below)
One of the memories I have of that night was my mom, Josh and I in our room and there was this big mirror and I remember something about standing in front of the mirror laughing so hard about how my muscles were bigger than Josh's muscles. haha - I mean they weren't but he played along with me. It was getting late and the saddest part of the day, Josh having to leave. So, long story short, it started to rain and I couldn't go outside with them. For some reason I wanted to walk out there to the parking lot. Every second mattered I guess. I remember sitting in our room looking out the window crying because I didn't want Josh to leave. For whatever reason I couldn't walk out there with them so I just cried a puddle of tears staring out the window watching the rain hit the glass. It was quite dramatic. I mean leukemia was the least of my worries at that moment. My mom was like, "Amanda he will come back, it's going to be okay.". You have no idea how much I love this dude. I mean I was THAT girl. It was pretty ridiculous. A Justin Bieber fan crying when he walks by kind of ridiculous situation. LOL.
Well, Josh left and my tears went away eventually and my sister and brother were making there way back to us. They had to stay with family for a while at the beginning since I had to be in the hospital a few weeks right after we got the news. My brother came in that night and was sitting over in the corner of the room(he was only 5 years old)...he ended up not feeling good and had a fever so he had to leave. It was pretty crazy and hard for my mom because she couldn't see my siblings that much and my baby sis, Anna, who was 1 years old at the time couldn't even be around me at all because of how young she was. So, being back together is what we all longed for.
A funny memory I have while staying there was each day I would go out to the garden area. There was all this wooded space and one day there was a squirrel out there and I had peanuts with me from the snack room. So, being the animal lover that I am, I started trying to feed it. I thought it would probably be scared and run off, well, not this squirrel, this was a special no-fear squirrel. We laughed so hard because it would follow me around with my peanuts. It would chase me all around the Ronald McDonald House backyard. I of course kept feeding it. It was a running joke....Amanda wouldn't die from the leukemia but from a rabid squirrel attack. My family would laugh and say it would be on the front of every newspaper in Atlanta. It's weird because I imagined that article cover in my mind and thinking about it now make me smile so hard. Not quite sure what happen to that little squirrel but it sure loved all the peanuts and help entertain me for a while.
With all that being said, on Monday Night I had the opportunity to visit the Ronald McDonald House in Atlanta. It's not the exact one I stayed at but it's still just as amazing. It was a special night meeting so many different families. Families like mine years ago. Volunteers cooking taco salad and dirt cake, other volunteers running a game of Bingo, arts and crafts happening in the back and then some yummy Hope xo cookies and t-shirts. You know, it doesn't take much to spread a little hope to someone. It's the little things that matter the most. The hug, the little smile while passing out a cookie or a little bag with a hope tee, or just the simple, "i'm praying for you". Maybe it's Mark singing at the top of his lungs, B-I-N-G-O, making everyone laugh. It goes a long way and it doesn't take much.
I was blessed to be able to talk to many different families and love on some very special kids. There was a good bit of parents there with little ones still in the hospital. So we passed out Hope onesies all around. There was a mom who with tears in her eyes talked about her 1 week old baby that was having heart complications that they had no idea about, another mom that talked about her son who was born 13 ounces and they were celebrating he is now 5 pounds. There was also a little boy fighting Neuroblastoma, a mom having to let go of her baby girl this week, and many more stories that touched our hearts to the core. It's my hope that we can make a difference even in the short time we are there visiting with each family. I believe in miracles. I am proof that they exists and for these families that aren't given much hope, that is what I am believing for!
It's important to me that we bring just a little hope to those in Ronald McDonald Houses across the world as well as children's hospitals everywhere. Like i said, it doesn't take much. Purchase a tee and allow us to continue to bring hope to families all around us. Along with visiting the Ronald McDonald House this week, we have been able to send off hope tees to some precious cancer kids in different cities and also breast cancer fighters. Hope xo is just getting started and I have so many more stories to share, collections to drop and hope to spread. Thank you again for taking the time to read and for being a part of this journey with me.