So how do you handle Christmas after you have lost a child? How do you handle most holidays after you have lost a child? What I’ve realized after the past two years is that this is such a complicated question, especially when you have other children. Finding ways to remember Chad, acknowledge him during these anniversaries and holidays has been a strange thing.

Our family on Christmas morning, 2017.

How do you honor him without making everything about him? How do you let CJ and Tommy enjoy Christmas and embrace the joy of the holidays as children do while still not forgetting their little brother? Do you visit the cemetery? Do you always take that family picture and include a picture of Chad? Do you still buy him an ornament? Do you fill his stocking or buy him a present? There are just so many questions and it’s difficult to figure out how to balance it all.

As his parents, you want to find the right way to remember him but you don’t want it to feel forced. There is this pressure hovering over you … how do we DO this??? How do we balance the joy with the pain and make it all work? Well, for this year at least, a group of Michigan men helped us to answer that question.

This year in honor of Chad and in honor of all of those who are battling or who have fought DIPG, members of the Michigan football team are dying their hair orange. This year at least, there has been an answer for that nagging question — what do we do for Chad? We go orange!

We have been able to follow the donations together as a family and talk about Chad and how amazing this all is coming together … in Chad fashion. His little (or in this case big) Chadwink leading the way. We have been able to watch in awe as Chase Winovich, then Mo Hurst Jr., Grant Newsome, Devin Bush Jr., Larry Prout, Jr. and Coach Don Brown stood up and said, we remember your little boy and we are going to help him to continue his mission of change on this earth. We are going to help you without even being asked …We are going to make the end of 2017 amazing in honor of your little boy. How incredible is that!!!!

This sweet Christmas memory of Chad came up today.

So often you hear negative stories about athletes. Those are the stories that media outlets love to cover. Those are the stories that we all know too well. Well, this year, the Wolverines have shown what happens when you find a cause that’s greater than yourself and you embrace it. When you show the love of Jesus on Christmas to the world by being part of the change that this world so desperately needs. These men said they wanted to help and almost 2,000 people so far have jumped in and said we want to help too. Each and every one of those people standing up and coming together and so far with everyone doing what they are able, they have raised over $127,000 in honor of Chad. Now that is some Christmas present!

So now we want to make a gift in honor of them — a gift back to the University of Michigan and to Chad. We want to commit that every dollar raised through this initiative will be given to DIPG research at Michigan. We are working with the University on a Pediatric Brain Tumor initiative which we hope will one day become a Center at Mott Children’s Hospital that will be named for Chad. That there will be a forever place where we can honor our boy during these difficult days. There will be a forever place where Chad’s name is recognized and where these brilliant physicians and researchers will have the resources they need to make a dent in this monster of DIPG.

And for the bow on top of this gift, our friend, Regent Ron Weiser, is committing to match gifts to this pediatric brain tumor initiative up to 1 MILLION DOLLARS!!!!! So guess what Chase, Mo, Grant, Devin, Larry, Coach Brown and everyone who has or will be making a gift to this Go Orange campaign … Your dollars are going to be making DOUBLE THE IMPACT! So please continue to share and give!!!

So to our new friend Chase Winovich who saw me in the ChadTough mobile and decided to come up and knock on the window, who decided that he wanted to make a difference. Not only have you started something that is increasing awareness for this deadly disease nationally, but you following that little urging inside of you (we like to think about it as Chad’s light inspiring you) … well, you are going to help The ChadTough Foundation to create something forever at the University you love.

You, my friend, are helping our little guy to change the world and that is incredible.

We are now moving our plans around and figuring out a way to be down in Tampa with you. Cheering all of you on and I’m guessing there may be a couple members of our family who will be willing to join in and sport some orange hair for the occasion! Thank you all for helping to make this Christmas so so very special and — don’t worry everyone — we will have a house sitter. 🙂