***THE MAN OF THE EVENING***
Saturday, February 21, 2010 - Masonic Lodge in Waterloo, Iowa.
So much hard work and effort has gone into planning this evening for Oliver. Thank you to all of the wonderful people on the fundraising committee, the people who donated items for the silent auction, the people who donated time and services for him. Thank you to those who came in support of Oliver. I wish I could have spoken with each and every one of you! There were over 500 people there I was told! It was a FANTASTIC turnout!
*THE LIMO RIDE*
Ed got Oliver all suited up in his tux that was donated for him to wear that night and we were all picked up in a white stretch limo! We rode around town for a bit before we got to the Masonic Lodge. The kids loved checking out everything inside the limo! I felt like I was on the movie, 'Big' with Tom Hanks! Too bad we couldn't hang out the sun roof!
Oliver in the limo on the way to his benefit.
Stacy, Oliver, Ed
The kiddos in the limo. Finn was actually in the hospital with RSV, poor boy.
Ollie and Eden chatting with the limo driver!
There's a lot of space in a limo!
Ed and me
We pulled up to the lodge and were greeted by the curb outside by a sea of friends and family all decked out in their Ollie's All-Stars t-shirts for the evening! They got some great pictures of us getting out of the limo.
*A GRAND ENTRANCE*
Oliver, as you can see, was just grinning ear to ear! We headed into the building to again be greeted by lots of people we knew and lots we didn't know. Several students from Camp Adventure and UNI (University of Northern Iowa) volunteered to help with crafts, set up and tear down and everything in between. They all lined the staircases and were cheering for Oliver and throwing confetti as we walked in the front doors. It was amazing! I'm sure he felt like a rock star!
Oliver entering the building and everyone cheering for him!!
*CAMP ADVENTURE/UNI and the KIDS AREA*
We walked downstairs first and checked out the lower level decorations and kids area. It was amazing! There were tables set up all around. On one side the UNI students set up a craft area with crafts, nail painting, a balloon artist (I don't think that line ever stopped!!!). There was also a stage, music playing and a TV was donated for the night for kids to play video games! There were so many fun decorations and large paintings as well. They did a GREAT job with EVERYTHING... decorating, dancing and getting the kids involved and excited about being there! THANK YOU!!!
Some of the volunteers helping out for the night.
*FOOD... OH SO GOOD!*
On the other side many talented cooks were preparing maid-rite sandwiches and hot dogs and other yummy goodies! Seriously... they were delicious! I don't know if that line slowed down either!! :O) There was also a baked goods table right outside the door downstairs.
My second family (Frost/Horan clan & friends) helped all night in the kitchen! I've known these guys for YEARS! A few other volunteers had gone home already... thanks guys!
Meghan, Matt, Pam & Tyler
The baked goods table and more Camp Adventure volunteers.
*SILENT AUCTION & RAFFLE*
We walked upstairs to see the main ballroom before everyone started showing up. There were many round tables with balloons set around the main ballroom where everyone could dance. Lining both sides of the large room were tables displaying the silent auction and raffle items. The group did a GREAT job gathering items from many people and businesses. THANK YOU, GUYS!!! THANK YOU to ALL of the businesses and people that donated things for tonight. We seriously could not have done it without your kindness!
Andrea (friends since Kindergarten), Joy & Rod (Andrea's mom and stepdad) helping out with the silent auction. THANKS!
*KINDNESS OF STRANGERS*
People started showing up and so we headed downstairs to eat. During dinner I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Malkic, a Bosnian man who had lost his 14 year old son, Adnan to cancer the year before. He had brought Oliver a gift and came to meet us. He was the tallest man I had ever met before and so he squatted down and talked with Ollie for a bit. What a nice man. They have done so much for our family and I can't thank him enough. He and his family are so sweet. They've stopped by my mom's house and dropped off several gifts for Oliver. His wife didn't come since it was still too hard for her with the loss of her son. Prayers for them and their family. I just can't get over how gentle and kind he was to Oliver and our whole family. The Bosnian community has been so kind to us, countless people we've never met have donated money for Oliver. The Malkic family, their friends, family and co-workers, my mom's neighbors and some wonderful ladies I met at a fundraiser for Oliver have all been so wonderful to Oliver and just embraced him. It's really very touching to realize that even though we may speak a different language and be from a different culture, we still have the same feelings and care about others. Amazing...
Mr. Malkic meeting Oliver.
The Lagumdzic Family
Oliver and Ed eating dinner.
Bear and Grandpa Palmer
A little while after dinner, the firefighters came in their truck and gave Ollie a ride around the block a few times. He was all grins as he rode in the front seat and got to sound the siren! We could hear them several blocks away! When they got back to the lodge we went downstairs and the fire chief himself made Oliver an honorary firefighter and gave him a shirt and badge. It was a really cool thing to see! (We visited that fire station a few weeks later and thanked them with some goodies!)
Some of the firemen, the fire chief and Oliver before his ride.
Oliver sounding the horn!!!
Ollie's sweet ride!
The Waterloo fire chief made Ollie an honorary fireman and everyone clapped and cheered after they shook hands and he received his shirt and badge. I got it on video as well!
*FRIENDS, FAMILY & FUN*
The kids chased each other around with balloon swords and were busy playing at the different kid friendly stations while adults chatted and perused the silent auction tables and raffle items. There were so many wonderful donations made on our behalf. I still can't believe the kindness of everyone. It truly brings tears to my eyes. Upstairs people were dancing and talking. The UNI students were great with keeping the kiddos dancing and just having a ball! Every time I saw Oliver he had a huge smile on his face and his sweet dimples were so pronounced in his round cheeks (from the steroid). He was having such a great time!
Oliver and one of his best buddies, Takoda.
Oliver swordfighting with Treyton, Takoda's little brother.
The balloon line... Ally and Takoda, friends from school.
Jaren (Oliver's brother) with his balloon sword.
Oliver playing some games.
Some of Oliver's baseball teammates came, along with all three of his coaches, Shawn, Doug and Scott. I wish I would have gotten a picture of him with all of them. Here a teammate wants Ollie's autograph. I LOVE Ollie's face in this picture!
McKenzie, Eden (Oliver's sister), Sanda & Amanda (my mom's neighbor girls).
Friends, family, neighbors, teachers, classmates, teammates, coaches... even people who never knew us came to help and show their love and support for Ollie... my little boy. I just cry typing this. Everyone wants to feel validated... that their lives have value and tonight I saw that so many people love him and value his life... so overwhelming.
This shirt was signed by the Iowa Hawkeye football players and he was surprised to receive it tonight! Bryan (Oliver's Uncle), Oliver, Ed, Chad (Oliver's Uncle), my mom (Oliver's Grandma) and me.
Uncle Bry, Ollie and Uncle Chad
Ollie and Dad
Uncle Bry, Grandma & Ollie
Aunt Sue, Oliver, Uncle Bryan & my cousin, Andy.
Ollie and Andy
My stepbrother, Rex and my dad (Oliver's Grandpa). I wish I would have gotten a picture with my stepmom, Ellen and stepsister, Lindsey as well.
Rex and his little boy, Owen
My stepcousin, Lindsey and her two daughters, Ally & Laney. I think the little boy in front is my mom's principal's little boy. He was dancing around all night with his little sister!
Oliver and his 3rd grade teacher, Mr. Galloway. Mr. Galloway had shaved his head a few weeks earlier in support of Oliver. So cool!
Brenda, McKenzie and Nick - a few family friends.
Jen and her daughter, Caitlyn with my mom.
My good friend, Meghan and me
Meghan's son, Cullan, sporting all of his balloon creations.
The main ballroom upstairs.
Oliver and some of his good buddies, Tyler and Nick.
As the kids danced, a few appearances were made... Buck, the Waterloo Bucks mascot (a local baseball team) came as well as T.C., the University of Northern Iowa mascot. Someone got a funny picture of Ed, myself and Oliver with T.C. Ollie was wearing a Hawkeyes stocking cap so of course T.C. covered it with his paw!! The kids LOVED it when the mascots came!
The Waterloo Bucks baseball mascot, Buck.
McKenzie and Eden with T.C., the UNI (University of Northern Iowa) Panthers mascot.
Everyone dancing with TC.
Oliver, TC, Ed and myself. TC was covering Oliver's Iowa Hawkeye's hat!
It was such a fun night that we didn't want it to end. I LOVED seeing everyone and I hope that they ALL know how grateful I am for their support, love and friendship. THANK YOU to EVERYONE that made this night possible and for the sweet memory it provided for our entire family!
These two gals worked at Scheel's Sports Supply and heard about Oliver. They came after work to surprise him with an Iowa Hawkeyes football jersey. Very sweet!
None of these fundraisers would have been possible without the love of my friends and their hard work and love for Oliver. They put together a committee to brainstorm ideas and keep things organized. With the help of other friends and their families, they contacted many area businesses for donations to the silent auction and raffle and enlisted the help of many volunteers. I am sooooooo grateful for their love and support and thank them for ALL that they've done for Oliver and my family. I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!
Joy, Andrea & Meghan
Bridget, Andrea, Stacy, Jen, Meghan, Amy and Meghan.
Me and Amy
Me and Meg
Linda (in the middle) helped us out so much with this benefit. Thank you to all of the masonic bodies that helped out and have sent Oliver cards!! THANK YOU!!!
Setting up the week before. Andrea, Meghan, Tonda, Jen, Bridget, Amy and myself.
**Finn wasn't able to be at the benefit because he was in the hospital for RSV for a week.
Poor little man.
Again... THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU... to EVERYONE that helped in whatever way you could! We loved seeing you all!!!