Here is our "letter to the editor", sent to both local papers. As I was putting the finishing touches on this letter last week, trying to find the right words to express our feelings to the community response to Mielle's situation (staggered? overwhelmed? awed?), I heard the sound of our mailbox flap swinging shut. A woman who is a friend and former teacher to Mielle, had just dropped off a very generous donation toward the expenses of Mielle's Chicago trip.
What can I even say about that??
The letter to the editor:
We have to publicly thank everyone involved in making our fundraising yard sale on Bay Street on Saturday such a huge success. Since our daughter, Mielle Gonzalez, was diagnosed with a rare and terrible autoimmune disease called juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM) in the fall, it has been a very challenging time for our family, to say the least.
What began as an offer from friends to organize a multi-family yard sale on our behalf grew, blossomed and took on a life of its own. Word spread rapidly, and items began flowing in on a daily basis from friends and strangers alike, simply people who were moved by our situation and wanted to help. We were overwhelmed and humbled by this incredible response from the community. Still, nothing prepared us for what happened next!
By 9 am the day of the sale, the crowd was so big, there was barely room to walk. The lemonade could not flow fast enough, and our musician friends entertained the crowd. Hundreds of people came, shopped, learned, donated, and supported us. In the midst of the chaos, we somehow connected with others whose lives have been touched by JDM, and those facing the challenges of other autoimmune diseases. It is impossible to describe our feelings as we watched this event explode and transform into something so far beyond the original expectations. We were - and still are - uplifted and moved beyond words.
So, thank you, thank you to everyone involved. Thank you to those who gave items, and those who shopped and made donations, and to all the friends that put in long hours before, during, and after the sale. Thank you to everyone who made signs and fliers, to those who baked cookies and those who made lemonade. Thank you to the musicians, and to our neighbors for letting us take over their yards. Thanks to those who watched the kids during the sale, and thanks to the kids for hanging in there for a long day.
Thank you to everyone in our Alameda community. We are truly staggered by the astounding kindness and generosity we have experienced.
Most of all, thank you to Mielle, whose courage, wisdom and spirit inspires us every day.
For more information about JDM, or to make a donation in Mielle's name to support JDM research, please visit www.curejm.org.