Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cully's Kids


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We're fortunate in our community to live amongst some big hearted people. We were honored and privileged to be amongst them this past weekend. Rick was asked to photograph a golf outing and a concert/auction last Friday for the kickoff of the Cully's Kids foundation Celebrity weekend.

Matt Cullen is a professional hockey player and plays on the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL. He has had a long and very successful hockey career, along with his two younger brothers, Mark and Joe. Matt and his wife Bridget, started the Cully's Kids Foundation several years ago. The mission of their organization is to "provide financial resources to organizations that support children's healthcare needs, with an emphasis on cancer." Through a grant system various organizations can apply for financial assistance for children's services and programs.

Each year, one weekend in July, Matt and his entire family host a golf tournament, a concert with a live sports memorabilia auction and a picnic the next day, all in an effort to raise funds for the foundation. Through ticket sales to the events and the auction money raised and generous donations by many local families, the foundation raises funds to dole out at a later time.

The morning of the golf tournament was kicked off with a breakfast with Matt and Bridgett and their "invited guests." These guests, are the very type of kids the foundation supports. These kids are living with cancer and many other kinds of disabilities and diseases. Although through Rick's pictures I got the sense that this celebrity weekend experience is a bit of respite from the daily trappings of their medically challenged lives. I don't know if he had any idea of just what an emotional day it would be, although they tried to forewarn him. I don't know how you prepare to not be terribly moved by the courage on display.

Along with Matt and his brothers many other local hockey players are invited to participate. There are Divison I hockey college hockey players and former Olympic Team participants and many other local celebrities. But the big draw this weekend was Matt's teammate from the Carolina Hurricanes, Eric Stahl who was in attendance with his wife.

In exchange for his photography, Rick was given tickets to all the events. We felt really honored to attend and participate as a family at the picnic on Saturday which was held at the Redhawks baseball stadium. The boys had friends who were volunteering at the picnic and I loved seeing Nolan help his friend at one of the games.

Rick and I took turns for awhile at the entrance of the bounce houses. We were an extra set of hands for some of the kids who might require a little help, but I was totally amazed at how these kids managed so well despite their challenges. Leg braces were not a deterrent to getting inside and bouncing! Everywhere I looked I saw kids having fun.

Eric Stahl proved to be a wonderful addition to the event. Rick has so many pictures of him playing knee hockey with the kids, giving fives and fist bump, and posing for pictures and giving autographs. Our boys also got to participate in the running of the bases on the field. Mark and Joe Cullen stood on two of the bases giving high fives to the kids as they ran around the bases. Our own boys have heard Mark and Joe stories from their Grandma Carole, as she had both of the Cullen boys when they were in second grade. Both Cullen boys send their best wishes for the future to you, Mrs. Westra! They posed for a quick photo for us to give to you, as the little boys whizzed by the bases.

We've never regretted moving back to this community. Every time we have the opportunity to be part of an experience such as this one, we are reminded why we chose to come back, and don't look back over our shoulders.

14 comments:

  1. Wow!!!! What an awesome experience!

    Where are you guys...I noticed you said Carolina...I'm in SC and for some reason hadn't heard you mention Carolina before :)

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  2. It's so nice to feel you actually belong in your community. This is one reason why living in a small town appeals to me. Here in a big city you can get lost among the crowd.

    To feel like you belong and give back to the community is a great thing.

    And Fun too.

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  3. Thank you for the comment on my venting post. I am grateful for the prayers. I went to the bank and begged them to work with me. They refused to even discuss the matter with me because my name isn't on the loan. They said my dad has been difficult to deal with and refuses to contact them regarding his other loan. They feel it is in the best interest of their institution to cut their losses and break all ties with him as a customer. They felt that the only way the bank would get any compensation for the loss of a loan the size of his would be to take my car as the collateral for his loan. It's they only way they can see fit to handle the situation. I just don't see how punishing me is helping anything! My dad doesn't care if they take my car. It doesn't affect him....he still has a car. He refuses to call the bank on my behalf and tells me to simply "find another car." To make matters worse, he's gone and filed chapter 7 bankruptcy and isn't ever going to have to pay off his debts. He pulled his home out of the bankruptcy so he keeps his home, his car, and all the things he's bought with his personal loans and credit cards. The way I see it, the only one losing out in this deal is my family. He can restablish his credit in a few months and live just fine. It'll take us months to come up with the means to replace our only car. The whole situation is stressing me out! Thanks for the suggestion about trying to work with the bank though. I, too, thought it was a good one.

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  5. I can't think of any place more perfect for YOU. A big hearted community? Could you beLONG anywhere else?!

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  6. Stephanie, we live in MN, and he lives here in the offseason :) but lives in the South during the season.

    Liss, yes its easy to get lost in a bigger city I would assume. But I've had a lack of community in a smaller community too, but with a set of circumstances that went with it and helped explain why it was hard to achieve community :)

    Kaleena! I'm SO SORRY! Will you email me when you get a minute? Take care and try not to keep stressing!

    Robynn, you're too kind!!

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  7. That was outstanding! Great blog, great foundation, and I really love that closing. Thanks Vicky.

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  8. Yea Vicky!! I can finally see all the great photos and your new design
    (You get an A+ !!)
    I always love the shots of your boys! You are a loving family...
    Smiles,
    Jackie

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  9. Thanks Anita, love having you back :)

    Jackie, Are you back now? If so, I look forward to hearing about your trip!

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  10. I always get stuck working the door at the bouncy house! I usually allow too many in and someone gets stuck in the corner or bounced out!
    Love the photos!

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  11. I have a lot of respect for celebrities who use their celebrity status to help the under-privileged, downtrodden and ill. They are doing such a hugely noble job! God bless everyone associated with an event that's going to help so many children fight cancer!

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  12. HI! I saw your comment on Mckmama! I wanted to share my website with you: Sugarandspice1.etsy.com
    I will be donating a portion of all sales to the String of pearls to help families and babies like Stellan! I am trying to get it out there in any way I can! Please let your family, friends etc. I would really appreciate it!
    Thanks!! :)
    -lexi
    Sugarandspice4baby.blogspot.com

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  13. How awesome is that! Too neat.

    I found your blog thru my good friend Robynn, but also see that many of my other friends are followers here too! I guess we are in the same bloggy circle. LOL

    Im following now too! Please feel free to stop by and visit us at The Fort, you are welcome anytime!

    Love and Prayers,

    Tim

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  14. Beautiful pictures Vicky and the post makes me want to live in your community. So glad you got to be there on Saturday.
    Hugs...Robin

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