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Cyber Bullying is Just Wrong #HugDontJudge #BeautyIsDiverse

I grew up being made fun of for my unique appearance. I am affected by ectodermal dysplasia, and as a result am uniquely beautiful. My Mom and Dad, who are awesome by the way, always taught me that people make fun when they don’t understand and that if you make them understand, they won’t make fun. shaq instagram screenshotNow is just one of those times when the opportunity presents to educate someone about ectodermal dysplasia and to reinforce the truth that beauty is, in fact, diverse.

Jahmel Binion is Michigan man, also affected by ectodermal dysplasia. Jahmel, too, has been teased all of his life because of his unique appearance. Jahmel recently posted a selfie on Instagram, and soon found himself as the brunt of the joke again. Only this time, it was by none other than Shaquille O’Neal, who posted a split photo of himself next to Jahmel, making fun of Jahmel’s appearance. The photo has been removed from Shaq’s account. Trey Burke and Wacha Flocka Flame are said to have joined in the teasing.

Rather than hang his head in shame, though, Jahmel was inspired to create a “Hug Don’t Judge” campaign against bullying!

I have to applaud Jahmel for keeping his response positive. It takes strength of character to do that. I bet he has awesome parents, too. ;)

I wanted to share with you the interview Jahmel had with Fox news, so you can see him yourself.

Fox 2 News Headlines

The National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasia has extended an open invitation to Mr. Shaquille O’Neal to attend the annual family conference in Columbus, Ohio, so that he can learn about ectodermal dysplasia and meet the people it affects. I hope you’ll lend your support and share the invitation via your social media channels.

I would be remiss not to share a video that the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasia put together that tells more of our collective story.

Please know that my aim in sharing this is not to shame Mr. O’Neal, though his actions were unkind in the very least. Instead, it is my hope– and the hope of the community of men, women, and children that are affected by ectodermal dysplasia, that Mr. O’Neal will learn from his actions and join our efforts to fight cyber bullying. After all, beauty is diverse.

Will you help us spread the message by sharing this post or by tweeting this message “@Shaq Beauty is diverse. Let us show you. #HugDontJudge #NFED @nfed_org

Thanks!

NFED #HugDontJudge

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You Can Give The #PowerOfASmile

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Smile Train. The opinions and text are all mine.

Smile Train is an international children’s charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Millions of children in developing countries with unrepaired clefts live in shame, but more importantly, have difficulty eating, breathing and speaking. Cleft repair surgery is simple, and the transformation is immediate. Smile Train provides training and funding to empower local doctors in 85+ developing countries to provide 100%-free cleft repair surgery in their communities. I wanted to share with you about Smile Train because I personally know how devastating a cleft can be.

As a child, I had a severe speech impediment and could not correctly enunciate many special sounds. Few people could understand a word I said. My sister, Denyse, was my first interpreter. My speech impediment, and persistent ear problems, was caused by a submucous cleft palate, or hidden cleft, that wasn’t discovered by the doctors until I was almost six years old. When my speech wasn’t improving, Mom took me along for Denyse’s day long visit to the cleft palate clinic. Denyse had been born with a cleft lip and palate, and had already had hers repaired. This was one of those visits that consisted of visits with multiple disciplines. As each doctor filed into the room to examine my sister, Mom asked them to examine me. One by one, doctors looked and my mouth and saw nothing. Finally, one brilliant doctor stuck his thumb in my mouth and felt my palate and looked at my Mom with surprise and said, “She has a cleft!” Surgery soon followed, and the doctors told my Mom it could be a long while in speech therapy before my speech impediment was corrected. Shortly after surgery, my Mom asked me to say the tongue twister “Tommy Turtle tiptoed through town tossing apples upside down” for the doctor. Poor Tommy had been Mommy Myrtle forever, and mossing apples was never fun. For the first time in my life, though, I was able to say the tongue twister and actually be understood. I was only six, but I will never forget the feeling that surged through me knowing that others would understand what I said.

My sister and I were both very fortunate to be born to parents that not only had health insurance, but lived in an area where cleft repair surgery is easily accessible. Many children born with a cleft lip and/or palate are not so fortunate. Like the children of Natsir, a gentleman from Indonesia. Two of Natsir’s four children, Alwi and Winner, were born with clefts. After watching them deal with bullying, struggle with eating, and have trouble speaking, he and his wife became convinced their children were being punished for something he and his wife had done.

Natsir also blamed himself for being unable to afford the surgeries his sons needed. He grew up helping his mother in the family garden. Which meant delays in schooling. Graduating university too late to qualify for gainful employment, he stayed in poverty.

But that didn’t stop him from offering home-cooked meals to passersby. Strangers like tourist David Cogswell who, after meeting Natsir’s children, introduced him to Smile Train. His sons were treated by Dr. Senja Adianto and his team, and Natsir became determined to share what he’d learned with those out of Smile Train’s reach.

Today Natsir is an inspiring volunteer who overcomes doubts and concerns by using his own story as an example. Despite his meager income as a farmer and part-time English teacher, Natsir regularly travels to remote areas around his hometown in Indonesia where he persuades families of kids with a cleft to seek help. To date he’s helped 65 patients get cleft repair. Showing how even one person in a small village can make a big difference.

smile train logo

A Smile Train surgery can take as little as 45 minutes and can cost as little as $250 (£150). Smile Train has helped more than one million children in 15 years, but there are still millions of children living with unrepaired clefts.

I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if my cleft had gone unrepaired any longer. These kids shouldn’t have to, either!

Smile Train has a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Smile Train’s model provides training and funding to empower local doctors in developing countries provide 100%- free cleft repair surgery in their communities. Join us and change the world with the power of a smile.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Smile Train. The opinions and text are all mine.

Posts May Contain Affiliate Links All Opinions are My Own

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Help Connie Save Her Home #PayItForward #HelpConnieJo

Every once in a while, I come across a story that I just have to share.  Connie’s is one of them. I heard about Connie’s story from Heather at My Husband Ate All My Ice Cream.

Connie’s story resonates with me because I have a loved one who also lost her home after becoming legally disabled.  I wish I’d had the power of social media behind me then to do this for her.

Connie Dakota and Cochise

Here’s Connie’s story, as told by a close friend:

Connie is a disabled senior suffering from Lupus, related severe arthritis, circulatory issues, and is also diagnosed 70% deaf.  She also suffers from permanent damage as a result of injuries that occurred during her former abusive marriage. She lives independently with her two ‘therapy dogs’, Dakota and Cochise, whom she loves dearly and considers her family.  Her dogs provide her with emotional companionship, security, and are her ‘ears’, hearing such things as the doorbell, since she is unable to hear it herself. Prior to becoming disabled a few years ago, Connie was known to be a dedicated hard worker her entire life. She is a very compassionate, kind, caring and giving person. Throughout life she has often sacrificed her own needs for sake of helping family, many friends, and even strangers in need.  She was the sole caregiver for her father when he was terminally ill, and cared for her younger brother when he was ill with kidney disease.  Prior to his death in 2008, Connie offered to donate one of her kidney’s to help her brother, but doctors determined he was not medically eligible for a transplant.  She is also an animal lover, and has adopted countless neglected homeless dogs over the years, including 10 year old Dakota and 2 year old Cochise.

In early 2009, a traumatic life transition began for Connie. Psychologically broken, battered, and sick, Connie divorced her spouse after suffering a lengthy history of physical, psychological and financial abuse. The abuses by her former spouse continued after her divorce. She was advised by trauma doctors and legal professionals, to relocate to protect her physical and emotional well being. In late 2010, Connie courageously left behind the place she had known as home for almost 40 years. Along with her two beloved dogs, Connie relocated to Kansas City and began rebuilding a new life free of abuse, torment, and fear. Her former husband destroyed all financial security, so Connie sold a majority of her personal belongings and property to raise enough money so that she could afford to buy an inexpensive, modest, 2 bedroom home in Kansas City that is handicap and wheelchair accessible in a safe senior community.

Despite disabling and painful physical challenges, for the past 3 years Connie has been slowly cleaning up the once run down house. She has proudly accomplished transforming a house in to a safe, peaceful, and comfortable ‘home sweet home’ for herself, Dakota, and Cochise.

Connie’s only personal source of income is her retirement/disability, which is a fixed income of less than $800.00 monthly. She is unable to supplement her income due to multiple disabilities and healthcare restrictions. Her former husband was court ordered to pay $600.00 monthly into a trust fund for Connie but he has not done so in violation of court orders. Her property taxes and insurance were to be paid from this special needs trust fund.

Despite her financial limitations, Connie has frugally managed to pay her home’s insurance premiums and for necessary basic home maintenance repairs, but she has not been able to pay her property taxes the past 3 years. She and her two beloved dogs, Dakota and Cochise, face the uncertainty of being homeless as of January 1st, 2014 if the past due property taxes on her home are not paid in full. The state of Missouri appears to have no resources or feasible programs available to help.

Jackson County, Missouri has added almost $2,000.00 in penalties and interest on her past due taxes. The county has stated they will continue to charge interest on the unpaid taxes. Due to her fixed income and disabilities, she is unable to obtain a loan to pay her property taxes. She has no family financially able to help her, and all other efforts made to pay the past due taxes have been unsuccessful.

Hoping for a Christmas miracle, we’re now turning to her friends and fellow human beings asking for your help to prevent Connie, Dakota, and Cochise from losing their home. If we can raise $10,000.00, we can pay the past due property taxes, penalty, interest, and pay an additional 2 years home taxes in advance. This plan will allow Connie to live securely in her handicap accessible home another 5 years, at which time her monthly fixed income should increase. At 62 she’ll be eligible for additional income through her Social Security, and should then be able to pay her home’s property taxes herself.

The money raised will be securely deposited in to Connie’s trust fund, and the trust will directly pay her property taxes to Jackson County, Missouri.  Any additional money raised over our goal of $10,000.00, will also be deposited in to Connie’s trust fund to help pay future property taxes, insurances, necessary home repairs, such as if her hot water heater would need replaced, or to provide necessary veterinary care for her beloved dogs.

Connie is a very proud humble person, and not the type of person who would ask others for help. Rather, she is the one always helping others, but this time she desperately needs our help, to save her safe and secure handicap accessible home from property tax foreclosure.

You guys… it will NOT be that hard to save Connie’s life as she knows it if we work together. I have over 5000 fans on Facebook, and Heather has over 150K fans on Facebook, and if each one donated A DOLLAR, we can give this woman everything she deserves, and more. And what a better way to pay it forward this holiday season than giving to someone who would give to any of you in a heartbeat!  Skip the designer coffee for one day, and help Connie save her home!

There are a few ways you can help:

1. Stop what you are doing now and pray for Connie to receive favor with the tax office in Jackson County, Missouri.

2. Share this post EVERYWHERE. Facebook, Twitter, Google +, wherever you can think of.

3. You can donate via Paypal:




(Note: The donation page will have My Husband Ate All My Ice Cream at the top, and  should look like this…

Save Connies House

If this button isn’t working, you can send funds via Paypal to mrsheatherreese@gmail.com.  Remember, Heather is the author/owner of My Husband Ate All My Ice Cream, and she’s the one spear heading this campaign.

You don’t have to have a Paypal account to do this. You can do this with a debit or credit card, just like any other online purchase.

4. If you’d prefer to send cash, checks, or money orders via snail mail rather than online, you can send them to:

Help for Connie
2816 NW Kingsridge Dr.
Blue Springs, MO 64015

Wal-Mart gift cards are also helpful, as her income is limited and this will help her to be able to buy the essentials so that she can save more money to put aside to save her house.

5. Finally, pray for Connie again.  Pray like it’s your home on the line.  Miracles do happen, and you can be a part of hers.

Posts May Contain Affiliate Links All Opinions are My Own

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National Breast Cancer Awareness Month #SleepPink

Did you know that a woman’s risk of breast cancer triples from her thirties to her forties, and quintuples from her thirties to fifties? In the U.S. alone, nearly 100,000 women between the ages of 45 and 64 are diagnosed with breast cancer annually, many of them are concurrently experiencing menopause. Can you imagine adding the emotional and physical stress of breast cancer to the already emotionally and physically stressful changes of menopause? I can’t!

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the makers of Estroven, a safe multi-symptom menopause relief solution, is supporting the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, a project of the Avon Foundation for Women to support those impacted, while raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research and prevention. Estroven is inviting women all over the nation to get together and show their support and help raise funds for breast cancer research by “Sleeping Pink” and throwing pink pajama parties. They developed the website, http://sleeppink.com/ , to provide the digital tools to help them organize Sleep Pink pajama parties and help raise awareness of the important issues that women are facing. SleepPink.com will include downloadable invitations, recipes, and more.

Estroven has committed to donate $250 to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer every time someone uploads a #SleepPink photo to their Sleep Pink Facebook page through the end of October (one donation per photo/party)?

Sleep Pink Estroven

My girlfriends and I love a good reason to get together! We’re all in the early child-rearing phase of our life (our children range in age from 6 months to 10 years) and haven’t yet reached the peri-menopausal or menopausal stage. That being said, it is good to know that when we do get there, Estroven has our back.

Estroven is naturally sourced and is chosen by nearly 1 million women annually because it goes beyond the relief of menopausal symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats to relieve other bothersome symptom, i.e., irritability, sleep, energy, memory and concentration issues and weight issues. Estroven is the leading dietary supplement brand that addresses the symptoms of menopause. Only Estroven has a full line of products that provide safe, multi-symptom menopause relief so women can feel like themselves again.

Estroven Sleep Pink

The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer series is a project of the Avon Foundation for Women. Since 2003, when it launched, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer has successfully raised more than $423 million, with nearly 160,000 men and women participating across the country. The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer takes place in nice cities. The funds raised through the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer goes to support five areas of the breast cancer cause: awareness and education, screening and diagnosis, access to treatment, support services and scientific research.

Look for specially marked packages of Estroven in the Sleep Pink retail displays at Walgreens stores nationwide.

Tell me, has breast cancer affected you, or anyone you love? What is your best defense against breast cancer?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sleep Pink from the makers of Estroven. The opinions and text are all mine.

Posts May Contain Affiliate Links All Opinions are My Own

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What Will You Run For?

As I mentioned in my Crowdfunding with TeeSpring post, I was working on a design to benefit the NFED.  My son and I, as well as my sister and her three kids, are affected by a syndrome of the Ectodermal Dysplasias.  The syndrome limits our ability to sweat.

As you know, I recently started running.  Not being able to sweat properly makes running a challenge, but not impossible.  I’ve been thinking about putting together a 5K in the St. Louis area for the NFED, in effort to raise funs for them, but I know that it would 1) take a lot of work 2) cost money and 3) take a lot of time.  As I was reading about fundraising and thinking about the 5K, I decided to ask what people would run for on my Facebook page.

I received some interesting responses, both on my personal page and on my fan page.  My plan was take the responses I received and create a shirt for the NFED, using TeeSpring.  I received more responses than would look good on a shirt, though, so I decided to use my fill in the blank question, instead…

will run for

Here’s a closer look at the design…

will run for

You can fill in the blank, with a Sharpie or fabric marker, with anything you want.  Hubs said he would run for donuts.  I will run for chocolate or coffee, either one.

I have a goal to sell 50 shirts at $12 each.  If we reach our goal, the NFED will receive the proceeds.  If we don’t reach the goal of 50 shirts, the shirts won’t be printed.

So, what will you run for?

Posts May Contain Affiliate Links All Opinions are My Own

Gymboree Children's Clothing