Monday, November 21, 2005

Snowflake Dedication

A few weeks ago we had the kick off event for Robert’s Snow. It was a beautiful night and there were crowds of people who came from places as far off as Chicago and Virginia – all just to see the snowflakes in person. And everyone seemed to have a story as to why they were there. There was this kid Chad who was there with his mother. They had flown in from Virginia because they had purchased a snowflake last year. And they had purchased a snowflake because Chad had lost his father to cancer. One artist dedicated his snowflake to his brother who he had lost to cancer.

And it made me think. Why exactly am I involved with this project? To raise money for the Dana-Farber cancer research institute, sure. To help my friend Grace, absolutely. Because I’ve been so involved with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and the kids there, of course.

But it all comes down to one person for me. And I’m dedicating my snowflake to him.

Eric Orfao.

I met Eric when I was 16 and he 4. In September of 1994, I loaded up in a van with a bunch of my high school classmates and we headed up to Maine on a school-sponsored week to volunteer at this place called Camp Sunshine. We’d be working with children who had cancer and their families. Eric, along with his brother Jason and sister Mary had a profound impact on my life. Eric was 4 and had leukemia. So he was a normal kid who loved the Power Rangers, loved the Red Sox and loved to play, but he also had cancer.

I would later visit him at the Dana-Farber when he would go in for a bone marrow transplant and his family and I would often get together.

Because of Eric I stopped worrying about my own problems. Because of him I went on to work so many summers at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Because of him a countless amount of important people have been brought into my life. Because of him I began to think about using my talents to entertain a young audience.

He lost his battle just before his 6th birthday and a large part of who I am is because I knew Eric.

And coincidentally, I used his family's barn (and horses) as reference for "Punk Farm", for which my snowflake is based.

I still think about him all the time and keep a photo of he and his family at the front of my drafting table. In times of stressful deadlines it reminds me of what is important in life.

So my bid often and bid high on everything Robert’s Snow. The money raised is going to an extraordinary cause. Cancer research is something that benefits us all. I have been consistently proud to be a part of this project and it has far exceeded everyone’s expectations.

My PUNK FARM snowflake is on auction December 4th and can be found here -

Eric and I in September 1994

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

First of all, Nice blog you have.
Secondly, it's a great thing that you do. Children are amazing, and working with them equally amazing I think. They teach you so much! (not to sound sappy, but it's true! ) Where I work, many of the kids undergo grueling surgery schedules and deal with huge obstacles everyday because of their disabilities. But to look at them,most of the time you wouldn't know it. They are so strong and have amazing outlooks in life. I think about it a lot, I mean, Man if I had to deal with some of the things they do, I would be so depressed and mad at the world, but these kids just deal and get on with the rough and tumble. Yeah, It really does get all your priorities straight!

Keep going! Your books are so much fun.