"Our Little Trooper"

"Our Little Trooper"
"Let me live, that I may praise you!" Psalm 119:175

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

More than cereal...it was about perspective...thank you Rowan, and thank you to all of our heroes!

Friday was the end of the 2018 Rowan Windham Memorial Cereal Drive at Methodist Children's Hospital, benefiting the San Antonio Food Bank, as part of the National Cereal Drive and the Million Summer Meals for Kids.  However, it was about WAY more than cereal...it was about perspective, which if you knew Rowan...makes perfect sense.


The number one thing I have heard from people since his death is that Rowan helped people with their perspective, that they learned not to complain about their problems because of him and his outlook on life.  The same is true for me. his mother.  

Don't get me wrong...there is absolutely nothing worse than losing a child (at least not that I have experienced or can imagine). Now remember, I lost my own mother 3 weeks to the day that Rowan died, suddenly and unexpectedly.  It was the worst day of my life...until I lost my son.  A few times I questioned whether I should voice that, wondering if people would think less of me, or think that I wasn't sad about losing my Mom.  That is just not the case though.  I was devastated...like fall to your knees in shock crying, when my family called me from Ohio to tell me my Mom was gone.  But the thing is, I fell to my knees next to my own child's PICU bed.  When I felt guilty about not being able to attend her funeral (think about that...I could not go to my own mothers funeral!).  I was more than 2000 miles away, Rowan was critically ill, post transplant number two, on dialysis... how could I leave him?  And when I asked myself that question I realized, my Mom would have NEVER left my side, EVER.  I had my answer.  I had perspective.

The cereal drive gave me perspective this year too.  Rowan never ate a bowl of cereal in his life, yet we continue to collect cereal for thousands of children in his name each year.  Then, Michael Guerra from the San Antonio food Bank shared with us that there are children in our community who actually fail classes on purpose, just so they can attend Summer school and be assured breakfast and lunch each day.  Can you imagine? Failing school, forgoing your Summer break, going to school all Summer, just so you can eat.  That is the definition of food insecurity, and it is a real problem.  Hopefully, we can end it.  It won't be in Rowan's lifetime, like he hoped...but maybe it will be in ours.


When Ian and I arrived at Methodist Children's Hospital this past Friday, with our final load of cereal donations, we were shocked (in a good way:).  The lobby was filled with the most beautiful assortment of colorful cereal boxes you have ever seen...tons of them!  I immediately smiled and said to myself "we got this Rowan", and I just knew that the goal had been hit...just not how far it had been blown out of the water.

We were given our shirts for this year, which were awesome!

This year, a new event was added to reveal day, "Rowan's Breakfast of Champions".  I cried when I saw the banner hanging from the table.

  It was to honor heroes in our community, both children and adults.  It was inspired by Rowan's legacy of "making the good".  I knew about it, but did not realize how profound it would be.  The set up was perfect.  There was a head table for our adult heroes, and 3 surrounding tables for 6 children who were impacting the world in a positive way too.  Ian was one of the members on the youth panel, being recognized for the way he has excelled personally and academically, all while continuing to help his little brother's legacy live on in so many ways (Be the Match, Rowan Windham Memorial Cereal Drive, Rowan Jameson Windham Foundation).  I could not be prouder of him.

They had a special sign marking my spot at the table too...so sweet:)

The 3 adult champions were Frank Wilson (Head Coach of the UTSA Football Team), Matt Bonner (Former San Antonio Spurs Player), and Manny Diote (Founder of Ferarri Kids).  

The children asked each of the adults questions about how their personal experiences helped inspire them and how they made it through tough times.  

These 3 men were such amazing encouragers, and gave wonderful advice to the youth, as well as to the crowd.  They talked about perseverance, strength, and giving back to your community.  At the end of the session, I was able to thank them all for participating, and gave them each one of Rowan's bracelets.  I was very emotional.  I explained that I missed Rowan so very much, but that I could see him all around that table that day.  I saw him in each of them, and in all the good they were making.  It was a special moment...an event that I hope they continue to include in this cereal drive.

 We had a photo opportunity afterwards, before heading downstairs for the final cereal total reveal.  Thank you Manny, Coach Wilson and Matt.  You were a great addition to our special day, and tremendous assets to our community.

Thank you to the SA Spurs for posting about the event later that evening too.


 The cereal drive press conference was overwhelmingly powerful as well.  Robert Lenza, CEO of Methodist Children's Hospital, gave the history of the drive, and explained how Rowan came to be involved.  Then they showed a very emotional video of Rowan over the years at MCH.  It was narrated with a letter written by one of Rowan's long time favorite PICU nurses, Trudy.  The way she explained his compassion was beautiful.  I cried my eyes out.  He was such a beautiful child, with a heart of gold.  They captured his spirit perfectly.  

Thank you Mr. Lenza for allowing my boy's legacy to live on through your staff and this event. Thank you to Captain Cereal, Greg, for holding me up as I wept in front of the crowd throughout the video.  Thank you Trudy, for caring for Rowan over the years, and for explaining his compassionate way so beautifully.  Thank you Nichelle for bring me the napkin so I could wipe the tears from my eyes.  Thank you Stacy and Veronica for your obvious labor of love, which I realize involves a lot of labor, but is also extremely full of love.  Thank you Cheri for helping promote this drive, and for the addition of the very special Rowan’s Breakfast of Champions.  Thank you to ever member of the hospital staff who helped make this cereal drive successful once again this year, and for everything you do to help families and patients like ourselves every day.

What an amazing group of people.  Everyone pulled together to help wrap the pallets of cereal and load those trucks...SA Food Bank staff, nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff, Ian and I, members of Gencure's staff, and even children of hospital staff members.  It was truly a sight to behold.  Awesome teamwork.


Drumroll please…

During the press conference, Mr. Lenza announced that we had met and exceeded this year’s goal of 150,000.  The total was already over 190,000 servings at that point! 

Then, while dozens of us were loading up 3 SA Food Bank trucks, even more cereal continued to be dropped off outside, and more texts came in regarding cereal totals that were on their way.  So, in the end this year’s total ends up being:

servings of cereal!

 The overall hospital winners were:

Division Winner- Advanced Clinicals/IT&S Team: 77,892 servings

 Unit Winner- Pedi Surgical: 12,299 servings

Congratulations to all!

Look at these hats that they made! So adorable.


I also want to thank everyone who helped us grow Rowan’s individual memorial donation amount…

Judy & Caleb Windham
Cindy & Duane Buethe
Yahan Xie, Classmates & Friends
Jen Salinas, Tamika Haley & Friends
Locastro Family
Terry Galbraith
Colleen Krupp
Tessa & Jaxon

 Including all of the awesome businesses that agreed to be cereal collection stations on Rowan’s behalf…

Woodlawn Theater

Keller Williams Cityview

 Gencure/South Texas Blood & Tissue Center locations

(they had even more cereal delivered during the event, so their contribution was even higher than this:)

Poke Planet


Copa Wine Bar

Comal Drug
in New Braunfels

Together, along with our own purchases of cereal, you all helped us deliver 9061 servings on Rowan’s behalf.  That is nearly 3 times the amount he collected that first year from his hospital room, and it put him next in line this year, right behind the division and unit winners, ahead of all the other units of the hospital!  It was a group effort for sure, and we are so grateful to you all.


One of the most powerful moments of the day Friday was when Michael Guerra, from the SA Food Bank, with tears in his eyes, said that because of Rowan’s legacy, he was hopeful that San Antonio just may be one of the first cities to end Summer childhood hunger.  What a beautiful day that will be.  I hope he’s right.  Knowing Rowan's spirit, I believe he is.

Michael, you and the rest of the staff of the SA Food Bank are the real heroes.  You feed the community not just in the Summer, but throughout the year, and in times of great crisis.  You are the hands and feet of Jesus.  Thank you.

  Next year’s goals have been announced.  We have committed to personally bringing in over 10,000 servings on Rowan’s behalf, and the overall total goal for the hospital for the Rowan Windham Memorial Cereal Drive will be 225,000 servings!  If you, your business, church or other group, would like to donate, or be a collection station next Summer, message me on FB or here on the blog, or look for my posts in late Spring announcing how you can help.

I love you Rowan… your light is still shining bright down here.  Imagine how many children will have breakfast because you inspired people to “make the good”!  

In memory of Rowan Jameson Windham