2nd Annual Celebration of Life - Honoring Amy Leigh Peters
Organized by: Anna Gilbreath
We're asking for prayers and support as Reagan Brennan is being added to the Fundraiser
July 14, 2016
On July 28th, 2016 will be the 4th year my big sister Amy has accepted her invitation to spend eternity with God in heaven, exactly 30 years after she was born. In loving memory and to honor Amy's life, I have chosen for the second year to give back to non-profit organizations and families that could benefit from all the funds raised. Before reading about the fundraiser (and PLEASE, I encourage to read about all of them... Especially Brooke Ezzo's incredible testimony that could move mountains) Kindly Note, the following list is where all funds received from July 1st - July 31st will be donated on August 1st, 2016:
- The Brennan Family (Supporting Baby Reagan's Fight with Cancer)
- 1st CivDiv Warriors Foundation
- The Ezzo Family
- Warrior Angels Foundation
- Green Devil Garage/Spartyka End 22
- PKD Foundation
- Assist the Officer Foundation (Supporting the DPO's Families)
What makes THIS fundraiser so SPECIAL? Our Veteran's & Active Duty Soldiers!
It starts with my Dad, Edward Lee Peters. Surface Sonar Technician - First Class. United States Navy Veteran. USS Joseph Hewes, DE/FF. (1972-1978)
As my own Father (and favorite Veteran) set the example for me, I pray for opportunities to thank our soldiers and veterans by shaking their hand in front of my own children. He taught me the importance of RESPECTING and HONORING our nation's true heroes and the value behind it. When I think about all the young men and women who have willingly gave their lives, some who were barely considered adults, some who had new families back at home (including children, wives, husbands, parents, brothers, sisters, friends and other family members) for our country. Please take a moment to think about these soldiers and their sacrifice. I've asked myself when thinking about any war that our country has been apart of, could I have done it? Without being married or kids and even if I was married with children. COULD I DO IT? Respectfully, the blunt truth is because of all the BRAVE men and women who chose to, that's a question I'll never have to answer. What I do know is, that even in the current year, our soldiers (active duty) and veterans STILL aren't being taken care of, supported, appreciated or respected the way they truly deserve. These incredible heroes, have GIVEN THEIR LIVES to ensure that 'we, the citizens of the United States of America are PROTECTED and SAFE.' The courage and dedication in their hearts is what makes them TRUE heroes, FOREVER. No amount of time can ever change that. I ask everyone who comes across this fundraiser, please HELP ME, HELP THEM. We can NEVER forget their sacrifice and especially those who paid the ultimate price by giving their lives and not being able to return home safely to their families. To all of our veterans and soldiers, GOD BLESS YOU. You will have my ultimate respect and gratitude until the day I take my last breath. I promise to continue to set the example for my children and to never give up on a dream, that ONE day you will receive the RESPECT, HONOR and SUPPORT that you so rightly deserve.
How Everything Started
A few months after Amy passed away in 2012, I became incredibly depressed and one night my Father sat with me through my tears and told me that by "being the light to others" and helping them, my heart would heal. At the time, his incredible God given wisdom planted a tiny seed of hope in my heart and I wouldn't truly understand the gravity of what he meant until July 1st of 2015 when God spoke directly to my heart by saying. "Be Fearless, Strong and Courageous" this lead me to start the Celebration of Life Fundraiser in Amy's name in hopes that we could donate to nonprofits and families that needed it. My original goal was set at $500 and with everyone's donations (with me and my husband included) over the entire month of July, we raised a grand total of $2,701! All of the money benefited 2 non-profits and 3 families.
From July 1st to July 31st at 11:59 PM, we'll be accepting donations through this fundraising page. On August 1st, we'll be donating ALL funds to the following list:
1st CivDiv Warriors Foundation
About: This INCREDIBLE non-profit 501(c)(3) organization is founded by veterans and run by veterans. 100% of all proceeds go directly to their mission. Period.
"We created this organization out of what we would have liked to participate in ourselves. As Marine Corps and OIF vets, we all missed the moto environment and brotherhood. And we've struggled with trying to navigate education and medical benefits, as well as what we really wanted to do as civilians, and the job searches involved."
"1st CivDiv Warriors Foundation's goal is to replicate the kind of environment we all miss, but with a new purpose, and people involved that can make a difference for veterans like us. The transition can be hard, and we want to help bridge the gap."
The Ezzo Family - Ryan, Brooke & Ryry Ezzo
'Jesus said we would have tribulation in this life, but to be of good cheer because He has overcome the world.'
My older sister was a 'big sister' to my closest friends. One of those friends, who's honestly considered family to me and my parents to this very day, is Brooke Ezzo. I've had the honor of knowing this incredible woman since we were in 6th grade at Heritage Middle School. To be honest there's not enough words in the dictionary or uplifting things I could say to convey how much I respect, love and admire her.
After recently speaking with Brooke, I asked her if I could add her family to Amy's celebration of life fundraiser this year. Rather, than explain why it was so important to me and with the Ezzo's blessing, here is their incredible testimony, written by Brooke. Their faith is beyond inspiring and could move mountains.
"What I should have.
Today marks one month since I gave birth to a perfect 7 pound 5 ounce baby boy named Nathanael. I went through 40 weeks and 5 days of throwing up, headaches, aversions to most food, constant exhaustion, never feeling hydrated, stomach pain, sleepless nights because I couldn't get comfortable, times where I couldn't tie my own shoes, emotional instability, body changes, and everything else pregnancy throws at you, and for what? To be sitting here one month later empty handed?
I should have a beautiful baby wrapped in my arms.
I should have spit up in my hair and on my clothes.
I should have dirty diapers in the pail.
I should have tired eyes from sleepless nights.
I should have bottles in the kitchen.
I should have breast milk in the freezer.
I should be pumping.
I should have stories of first smiles, first time wrapping his little hand around my finger, first bath, first giggle, first first first.
But I don't.
I went through 10 months of growing a little baby in my belly to have none of that.
I don't have a bassinet next to my bed.
I don't have pacifiers out ready to soothe.
I don't have a crying newborn that needs to be held.
I don't have that newborn baby smell lingering in my nose.
I don't have loads of newborn clothes to wash.
I don't have pictures on my phone to show of him.
I don't have video of Ryan meeting his brother for the first time.
I don't have a lot of things that I should have.
BUT, what I do have?
I have faith in God.
I have God's love and mercy.
Looking back I realize all of the little struggles; pregnancy symptoms, not having the nursery ready, not having a name picked out, not getting maternity photos, not feeling milk being produced in my breasts, fear of the umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck, worrying about meconium the closer I got to my due date, scared about getting an epidural, concerned he might have shoulder dystocia like Ryan did, the constant feeling that something was wrong but never verbalized it, (and many other signs) and an overall lack of euphoria surrounding my pregnancy prepared me for the moment the doctor told me my baby was gone. These things, though they may sound trivial and small, led me to incredible peace on April 3, 2016.
God's overwhelming presence in that hospital room gave me the clear head I needed to be able to hold my sweet baby for hours and cherish every second of it. That peace gave my husband, the natural caretaker who would have been more concerned with me instead of himself, a time and outlet for his immediate grief and confusion.
Had I not realized quickly all of the things God did for me leading up to that moment I would have been a complete mess. Knowing myself, I don't think I would have had the strength to understand and my anger would have turned towards God. My faith would have been altered and my heart turned cold. But, that didn't happen.
Because what I do have is a God who knows my heart better than I do and He wrapped His arms around me and continues to do so. He gave me what I could not give myself and even through our incredible sadness He has given us joy and hope. I know that Nathanael was being held my entire pregnancy, and I know that the second he left this world he was immediately wrapped in the arms of Jesus. He was home.
A home that one day I will enter and get to hold my baby once more.
So, all of the things I should have are trumped by all of the things I do have.
I have an almighty God.
I have an incredible husband.
I have the most loving, energetic, beautiful 2-year-old son, Ryan, who brightens any dark moment.
I have family and friends who have shown me the definition of love.
I have all of the things we need in this life; a roof over my head, food to eat, good health.
Although God may not take away our suffering, He will always give us the strength we need to get through it. And, I know this because I can write this through incredible sadness, blurred eyes and tear-stained cheeks, and still feel endless joy and thanksgiving. Nathanael (which means 'God given') wasn't our baby to keep, but I will forever be his mommy.
God promised us a rainbow after every storm so I know we will see him again one day...somewhere over the rainbow.'
April 3, 2016
Forever in our hearts, always on our mind.
Until we meet again.
Daddy, Mommy, and Ryry
I hope and pray that we're able to honor sweet baby Nathanael's life, just as Amy's. Brooke, Ryan and Ryry are truly at the top of this year's fundraiser. I have to note after initially asking Brooke if I could add their family this year, she responded with the following (I have to include this as it's just another piece of their incredible testimony, God's love and grace) 'I have so many tears right now. I love how you are leading Amy's legacy, she is so proud of you I just know it. I sent what you wrote to Ryan and I know it's just another prayer answered. God is working hard in our lives right now and I want to thank you for being apart of that. We've been praying a lot about giving us a sign, something to give us hope and I know you and your text are signs from above letting me know that we will be ok, that I can put some of the worry I have right now on the back burner. I know our time to see each other will come, I definitely want to share what God has done with us with you. I love you very very much.'
She went on to tell me the day before I texted her, they received an unexpected bill from the hospital saying their insurance had informed them that they weren't going to cover a portion for labor and delivery.
After we had talked for a bit, I received the following from her, 'And before I wrote you back one of the first things that popped in my head was getting Nathanael's story and our testimony out there. Maybe this is a chance for someone to stumble across the fundraiser and it helps their healing process, or maybe it turns one person towards God. I know my baby has a purpose and maybe this is a step to find out what it is and to help others. Your dad is right....there is nothing we can do to bring Amy or Nathanael back, so the best thing we can do in our lives is to help others in their honor. I love what you are doing, and I am 100% supportive of helping veterans. I think they should be this country's' number 1 priority.'
Brooke is so selfless, her main focus was helping others through Nathanael's precious life.
I hope and pray that we can come together to take care of this incredible family above and beyond their hospital bill. I know there is no amount of money that will ever replace your child's life, period. I do know that we, including Mack and myself will be paying as much as we can, when we can just as we did last year to help the Ezzo family and all of our other incredible non-profits.
Warrior Angels Foundation
WAF Mission: Warrior Angels Foundation provides a personalized assessment and treatment protocol, which pinpoints - and, more importantly, treats - the underlying condition for U.S. Military Service Members and Veterans who have sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) while in the line of duty. #UntilThereAreNone
Green Devil Garage/SPARTYKA END 22 MOTORCYCLE BUILD
About: All Proceeds will go DIRECTLY to this Build and Profits made from the Raffle will go Directly to the Spartyka End 22 cause which is to help those that live with the Hidden Wounds of War. To bring awareness to the General Public of the 22 a day we lose to suicide. And to remember those we have lost.
To help the families and Children of those lost to PTSD and to make sure they are NEVER Forgotten. We connect the Dots for Service members so they can get themselves back into the civilian world once they leave the Military.
The Veteran-owned-operated small business Green Devil Garage is looking forward to building this Custom bike for the cause. Donations will cover the cost of custom parts for the build. Any overage in donations will be used for the End 22 cause with the Spartyka Foundation Donors can support the 2016 custom End 22 bike build by donating here through Amy's Celebration of Life Fundraiser or directly through the following URL.
Opened in 2013, Green Devil Garage is Hampton Roads’ first motorcycle-repair-and-storage shop. Green Devil Garage specializes in building custom motorcycles and motorcycle repairs. Green Devil Garage provides storage solutions for motorcycles, complete with maintenance. Green Devil Garage is located on 553 South Birdneck Road # 209, Virginia Beach, Virginia and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 pm. Tuesday – Saturday.
Spartyka Warrior Foundation - 900 Commonwealth Place, Suite #200 - Virginia Beach, VA - 23464 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization; Tax ID: 46-2096433
The PKD Foundation
The following is written by Megan Montelongo, "Many of you know that my family has a history of PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease) and every year we raise awareness and funds for research to find a CURE! There are so many unknowns still with this disease, so the research is SO important. My Dad will is currently on dialysis and will need a kidney transplant. This disease has claimed the life of my grandfather and aunt, and we've had more transplants than I can keep up with. I have cousins who have already been diagnosed and the odds are (50/50) that my brother or myself will someday be dealing with this disease as well. It's hereditary, there's no cure, and that is just unacceptable! We have to do something!" In Honor and Support of the Montelongo Family and like Megan, I also have family that have been affected by PKD and stand in full support with their family to help fund an incredible organization.
About: We are on a mission to end PKD. To do that, we fund and advocate for research and better health care, we support the PKD community so you can live your best life and we raise awareness to move closer to treatments and a cure.
The Brennan Family (Help Reagan Fight Cancer)
Hey everyone! The Brennan family lives in our neighborhood (they’re like family to ours in general) and right now they are in need of some love and support for their baby girl, Reagan.
On Monday, July 11th, 2016 baby Reagan’s mother (Patrice) took her to the doctor due to her having change in color and nausea and vomiting. Like any parent, she believed she just had a little stomach bug and wanted to get her little girl to feel better; especially before they went out of town to visit family in Idaho. The doctor did not like the change in baby Reagan’s facial color so she sent them to the ER to get some more tests done. They received the news that no parent should every have to burden; their 8 ½ month old sweet little girl had a large tumor on her liver and needed surgery. Reagan went into surgery on Wednesday where she received a biopsy and had a port placed. There are still more answers that are needed in regard to baby Reagan’s status and what type of cancer she has. The medical team believes it is a type of cancer called Neuroblastoma and she will begin chemo treatments, July 14th, 2016. They will most likely know the type of cancer on Friday but wanted to go ahead and start chemo so she can get well ASAP.
Baby Reagan is going to be one heck of a fighter. With that said; the Brennan family could use love, support, and prayers from each and every one of you as soon as possible. Reagan’s dad typically works 60-70 hour weeks to support his family and has to travel out of town quite often. Like any parent, he wants to be with his family as much as possible during this difficult time. Please, let’s help this family remain together by supporting baby Reagan’s road to recovery and kicking cancer in the butt! As Reagan's begins her chemotherapy treatments today and I ask everyone who comes across this post, to PLEASE pray for Reagan, her parents and family.
No parent should have to worry about anything other than being there for their baby so if you would like to support this incredible family, please go to the following URL created specifically for Reagan. You can either donate on Amy’s celebration of Life Fundraiser (on top of the $100, we’ve donated personally/specifically to the family, we also intend to give a portion of the funds raised directly to the following URL)
7/18 So the doctor came to see baby Reagan today! Our prayers are working!! The doctor told the Brennan's that their little girl is the happiest neuroblastoma baby he has ever seen!!!! Further, it looks like once the chemotherapy treatments are concluded, they’ll have one more procedure to remove the tumor and Baby Reagan should be in remission/healed!
Thank you for praying today and as she continues her treatments.
Assist the Officer Foundation
The Assist The Officer Foundation provides financial assistance to officers who are facing the loss of income due to a serious injury, life-threatening illness or other catastrophic event. Immediate assistance is also available to an officer’s family in the event of the death of an active officer.
Since its creation in 1999, the foundation has provided assistance to hundreds of officers and their families who were faced with any number of different life-altering situations.
Growing and Changing
In 2004, the ATO Foundation launched a first of its kind, confidential counseling service, exclusively for Dallas police officers. The stress of everyday life can take a toll on almost anyone – add to that, the danger and stress of being a police officer – and sometimes life can be overwhelming. Our counseling program was designed for police officers, by police officers and professionals working together.
One Final Note: During the month of July, if anyone would like to nominate a veteran (age doesn't matter) Please message me and provide their name, contact info, branch of military, service dates, etc. I LOVE sending hat's anonymously to our veteran's! It makes shaking hands with a living hero easier to recognize for everyone, including myself.