Christmas in July with the B Brave Foundation + Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital

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Not going to lie, there are some real perks working for a Christmas tree company. And one of my favorites is getting to be one of Santa’s elves and spread holiday joy!!! Last Monday, I had the incredible opportunity to team up with my friend, Sara Scaparotti and the B Brave Foundation. We celebrated Christmas in July at the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital. Santa visited, his elves gave out gifts, and we did all sorts of crafts together. What a joy to meet kids, families and caregivers! 

Honestly, it was overwhelming partnering with Sara and getting the opportunity to meet and interact with children, families and the countless caregivers (from docs to nurses, to the Child life team) who work tirelessly to bring hope & support to children and families at the Cleveland Clinic. It’s humbling to see the expansiveness of the Cleveland Clinic first hand (it is a small city!)— to see so many children & families in need and the tremendous humans working to meet those needs.

Santa visiting with children

Santa visiting with children

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Who said summer & Christmas don’t mix! Our summer fun tree, decked out in all the seasons finest, most fun colors. This 9ft. blue spruce was gifted by  Tree Classics .

Who said summer & Christmas don’t mix! Our summer fun tree, decked out in all the seasons finest, most fun colors. This 9ft. blue spruce was gifted by Tree Classics.

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A patient with Santa’s elves!

A patient with Santa’s elves!

Craft time!

Craft time!

Quick back story. Sara and her husband Sam are dear friends. When their second son, Joey, was 15 months old, he was diagnosed with a rare, fatal neurological disorder, GM-1. From the beginning, they knew Joey would suffer tremendously and their only option was to provide the best comfort and care possible. So they learned how care for him as he lost eye sight, hearing, and muscle control. From managing a specialized team of doctors and nurses, to learning what foods would best nourish him and help keep him out of the hospital and free from secondary infections, they worked tirelessly. As a family, Sara, Sam, David & Joey braved the path of debilitating illness & grief with incredible courage. Joey passed from this life in August 2017. The B Brave Foundation was birthed from their journey.

One Kool Koala Bear! The Koala bear is B Brave’s symbol. His nickname was Joey Bear, and one significant way that Sam & Sara cared for Joey was by holding him as he lost all ability to support and hold himself up.

One Kool Koala Bear! The Koala bear is B Brave’s symbol. His nickname was Joey Bear, and one significant way that Sam & Sara cared for Joey was by holding him as he lost all ability to support and hold himself up.

Their tremendous love and care kept Joey out of the hospital. In the two+ years after his diagnosis, he had only two hospital stays, which is unheard of with kids with such complicated medical histories. Sara and Sam’s hope with B Brave is to provide comfort, care and education for patients and families faced with rare neurological diseases. From raising and donating resources, to building awareness of GM-1 and its allied diseases, as well as a raising funds for a new video initiative, Project Rare (check out trailer in link for more details)—in this midst of their own loss and grief they are working tirelessly.

So when Tree Classics asked me to partner with a charity to celebrate Christmas in July, reaching out to Sara & B Brave was a no-brainer. When she suggested that we work with the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, I was super pumped. While I live in Michigan (and love it), Cleveland will always be my hometown. And the Cleveland Clinic provides invaluable medical care to Cleveland as well as the nation/world.

Because we were working with children, we wanted to create a fun, festive summer vibe, paired with the Christmas theme of joy & giving. Tree Classics donated one of my favorite trees, the 9ft. Majestic Blue Spruce with clear lights to Cleveland Clinic Children’s . And I scoured Amazon, the Dollar Tree, Walmart & Hobby Lobby for all the fun multi colored fans, poufs, kids sunglasses & hanging garlands that I could find. One thing that I’ve learned after 12+ years of tree decorating is that you need some really big ornaments/decorations to make the tree pop (especially in photos!). And layering creates an amazing wow effect.

For safety reasons, we were unable to bring glass ornaments into the hospital, but I was able gift ornaments and a tree skirt to B Brave. To coordinate with B Brave’s colors, I chose Tree Classics Classic Green Finials from their Merry & Bright Collection, along with Silver Finials, a 50 piece Assorted Glass Balls, and a Shimmering Snow Faux Fur Tree Skirt.

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Found the cloud & sunshine mylar balloons via  Party City . Love them!

Found the cloud & sunshine mylar balloons via Party City. Love them!

Children & families inpatient and outpatient were invited to participate in a variety of crafts from a slime & model clay station, to Christmas coloring and crafts, and B Brave and the Cleveland Clinic donated toys for Santa’s elves to distribute. It was a joy to watch delighted faces experience a bit of Christmas cheer during hospital stays as well as those visiting for outpatient treatment.

Fun with slime!

Fun with slime!

Christmas coloring

Christmas coloring

It’s difficult to articulate the honor it was to spend a few hours with children and families who are battling a variety of illnesses & disease with bravery and courage. A big thank you to Sara, B Brave, the Cleveland Clinic, Tree Classics, Santa & his elves from Santa’s Hideaway Hollow, and all the volunteers who made the event a success! And finally to Allie Hamed of Lamb Photography for beautifully capturing the event.

Events like this don’t happen on their own! A big thanks to all the B Brave volunteers who manned who helped set up and tear down and manned the craft stations. We couldn’t have done it without you!!!

Events like this don’t happen on their own! A big thanks to all the B Brave volunteers who manned who helped set up and tear down and manned the craft stations. We couldn’t have done it without you!!!

Sara Scaparotti (second from left) with a team of nurses & docs who were part of Joey’s caregiving team.

Sara Scaparotti (second from left) with a team of nurses & docs who were part of Joey’s caregiving team.

A huge thank you to this team of women (Left to right, Molly, Gail, Kathy and Sara is in the middle) for helping me set up the tree in epic time. Many hands do indeed make light work! : )

A huge thank you to this team of women (Left to right, Molly, Gail, Kathy and Sara is in the middle) for helping me set up the tree in epic time. Many hands do indeed make light work! : )

Sara &  Santa .

Sara & Santa.