It’s a Date
There are so many days that I can tell, without even looking a a calendar, what the date is. I may not know the day of the week or the time, but there are quite a few days that I can always tell when they are coming. When I woke up this morning, I could tell that the countdown for the anniversary of the launch of Matthew’s Helping Hands was almost over. Four years ago, tomorrow, was our Kickoff Carnival, the very first MHH event and I can remember it like it was yesterday. Mike, Nina and I were still in a daze of shock and disbelief. We were moving through the days purely on autopilot. Every ounce of energy that Mike and I had was being used to make it to a reasonable time to go to bed and making sure that we did something to honor our sweet boy so that people didn’t forget that he was here and he was amazing! I can only imagine how hard it was for Nina to go to school and rehearsal knowing that everyone around her knew what she was going through but none of them could possibly understand what what she must have been going through. But, somehow, she did it.
In the middle of this grief driven haze, and with an incredible support and help from family and friends, we managed to pull together not only the idea for Matthew’s Helping Hands, but also the logo and the entire event in less than eight months. We had a venue, a date, games, crafts, food, prizes and the most incredible volunteers (who, in Matthew’s true spirit, we would call our “Buddies”). What we didn’t have, was nature on our side. The weather on November 8th, 2015 was cold and rainy. At 6:00 that morning, Mike went to every Walmart in Charlotte and bought every tent that he could find so that we could cover the games that would be outside. We kept telling ourselves and each other, that it would be fine. If one child came and had a good time, we did what we set out to do. As luck would have it, eight children come and all had a great time! The best part of the day, other than the support of all of our family and friends was the little boy who told us that it was the best day of his life and that he wanted to have his birthday party there. We had done what we set out to do and that was just the beginning!
Four years later, we have grown quite a bit. We have held over 40 events, have 597 Facebook followers, partnered with organizations in our community, met amazing families, had the most incredible volunteers and provided a place where children with special needs and their families can come, have fun and be themselves. Most importantly for our family, we have been able to honor sweet Matthew and spread his sweet spirit and joy.
Along with all of these amazing things, there is also the sadness that comes with what led us to begin this journey in the first place. In the excitement of knowing that Matthew’s Helping Hands has been making a difference in our community for four years, for our family, it is a very real reminder that Matthew has been gone for almost five years. We have seen children that have been coming to our events over the years grow and change and become teenagers. We wonder what Matthew would look like now, how tall he would be, and what he would be interested in. The one thing that we know for sure is that he would still have that sweet, silly, loving soul and a desire to be friends with everyone! He still has the amazing ability to connect people and make them smile. Our job, is to continue to give him an outlet to do that and continue to honor his sweet spirit. I am excited for all of the things that we, with Matthew as our inspiration have planned to keep Matthew’s Helping Hands going strong!