The Christmas season is a time full of joy, laughter, and good tidings. It is a time to count blessings and show gratitude to family and friends. This holds true for Jason and Tammi Carr, too. Having lost their sweet son, Chad, to DIPG just two years ago, the holidays are a challenging time for them, but also a time of gratitude.
They are truly thankful for everyone who volunteers their time and energy to The ChadTough Foundation. Finding a cure for DIPG is Chad’s legacy and it means everything to the Carrs. So, as they struggle to find their holiday spirit this year, Jason and Tammi’s memories of Chad’s life are with them daily. Luckily, with help from people like Ken and Amy Birrell, their memories are a little sweeter.
The Birrells were part of a huge team of volunteers who helped Christmas come early for Chad back in November 2015. Like most children, Chad truly loved Christmas, but the Carrs knew it was unlikely he would live long enough to see December 25th. “Christmas in November” was a very special day for Chad and the Carrs as well as for everyone helped make it happen.
The Birrells have been helping the Carrs and The ChadTough Foundation in countless ways over the past few years. They began giving their time in early 2015 when they heard via social media that the Carr family wanted to give Chad as many great experiences as they could while he was still healthy enough to enjoy them.
Ken said, “Amy and I had taken our children, Lily and Isaac, to Creatopia (a pottery painting studio in Plymouth) and they had a great time.” We thought, “Why not reach out to see if Creatopia would donate a party to Chad so he could experience painting pottery, too?” The studio gladly donated a party and that was the beginning of how the Birrells started to help the Carr family.
Next, they coordinated a weekend for the Carr’s at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. Ken and Amy helped raise money for Chad and his family to spend a fun filled weekend on waterslides. They did both of these things without knowing the Carrs but felt compelled to do more.
They proceeded to get involved in the first RunTough for ChadTough 5K in 2015. Amy designed the ChadTough t-shirt along with signs and banners for the race. Ken and Amy also both volunteered on race day. They said, “It was such an incredible experience to work along side all of the other volunteers. Everyone was incredibly kind, worked very hard and simply wanted to help in any way they could.”
The Birrells continued to volunteer their time in many small but significant ways. Amy made a hand painted “Paw Patrol” Christmas ornament for Chad. He loved it so much she decided to make more ornaments for the rest of the Carr family. From there, she decided to paint many more and sold them as a fundraiser for ChadTough.
Like many other ChadTough Champions, Ken and Amy did not know Chad or the Carr family before they started donating their time. They simply felt compelled to help as they saw their own son in Chad and just knew they wanted to do something to make a difference.
“Volunteering has given us a purpose,” said Ken. “We feel like we are part of a very special ‘team’ working to help find a cure for DIPG. Being part of the ChadTough community of volunteers has been amazing! Everyone works hard, gives 100%, and simply wants to help.”
They also said, “Donating our time has pulled us out of our comfort zone and — while it has been a little scary at times — it has been a very positive experience.” Amy has always loved art, but she has no formal training in graphic design. She was definitely out of her comfort zone creating t-shirts, banners, logos, medals, and the exclusive 2017 ChadTough Gala program. But she enjoyed doing all of it and feels like she has learned a lot along the way.
The Birrells were very quick to say that they “really haven’t done much to make a difference.” Tammi and Jason disagree. They are so thankful for Ken and Amy and everything they have done.
Tammi said, “ChadTough Champions like Ken and Amy make such a difference in our fight to find a cure for DIPG. They are the driving force behind the foundation and we are so grateful for them.”
Ken and Amy urge others to consider donating time to The ChadTough Foundation.
“Everything you do — every hour or dollar you give — is being used efficiently and effectively to help find a cure for DIPG,” they said. “The Carrs are an amazing family to work with and — despite the devastating loss of their sweet son, Chad — they have a positive energy that is contagious. This is the reason the same volunteers come back to help over and over again.”
Everyone has a gift to share. Consider sharing it with The ChadTough Foundation. You will be thankful you did.