Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A different kind of inspiration

Yesterday was a really rewarding day. My daughter Nicki and I went to the Ronald McDonald House on Judd Hillside to deliver the donations that she collected at a charity concert she threw. Now let me back up:

This all started a few weeks ago when Nicki got a school assignment. Now keep in mind, she’s only in the second grade. They’re learning about how you can make a difference in your community. The assignment was to do good for your community.

Some of the examples that were given were arranging for trash pickup in your neighborhood, or helping out at a shelter or delivering food to a neighbor in need—different good deeds to get the children to start thinking about others.

I thought this was a wonderful opportunity to sit with Nicki and really encourage her to be creative—and find a way to use her talent to make a difference.

Nicki loves to sing. She’s been singing since she was 4 years old. She decided to hold a kids’ concert. She told me, ‘Mommy, if I can get my friends to perform with me, we can get their parents to donate money!’

Since Nicki is not familiar with the charitable organizations out there, I told her about some, and we decided on the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii. It’s a wonderful organization that provides a home away from home for seriously ill children and their families that do not live on Oahu. Their Judd Hillside home can accommodate 10 families whose children are in and out of the hospital on Oahu.

Nicki called her friends and invited them to participate. She got eight children. She asked me if we could have the concert at our house so she wouldn’t have to use any money to pay for a place. I offered to donate the food as well.

For two weeks, on Friday nights we had rehearsals. Then we had the Kids’ Concert, and it was fabulous! It was adorable—we had kids ranging from almost-two-year-old twins Alexis and Erica singing their ABCs, and Robert playing a little piano and singing Michael Row Your Boat Ashore, all the way up to Nicki’s age.

Nicki emceed the show and introduced each act. During the intermission she said, ‘If you have not yet made your donation to the Ronald McDonald House Charity, now’s the time to do it!’ Bossy, that one!

Then they all came out and did an ensemble song-and-dance routine to You’re the One that I Want from the movie Grease. Their efforts raised $1,100.

It was a fun evening but it was for a much bigger cause. That really hit home yesterday when Nicki took the little box of donations and went to the Ronald McDonald House and delivered it to Jerri Chong, who is the executive director of RMHC-HI.

We got to meet two of the families staying in the house. One of them was a little boy named Rico and his dad, who are from Guam. Rico had surgery at Shriner’s for his club feet. We also met Katie, who is three months old and just got out of the hospital. She was born six months premature and was teeny tiny! So her family has been staying at the Ronald McDonald House since February. They’re from Kwajalein: her mom, dad and sister Kira, who is 4 years old and healthy. When Kira saw Nicki she ran up and gave her a hug and was her shadow the whole time. She was so thrilled to have someone to play with.

So Nicki saw firsthand the difference she made. Everybody from the PR person to the executive director to the woman who runs the house to the office manager—everybody came out to welcome Nicki and thank her. She sang them the song she sang at her concert, which was Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid, and a few of the staff members cried. She explained to everyone that she decided to call it the Kids’ Concert because it was by kids and for kids.

Then little Kira said, ‘I want to sing a song too!’ and she got up and sang. It was a very special day.

What started out as a school project turned into so much more—a learning experience for everyone, including me. I learned how one little person can make a difference.

For more information about this wonderful charity, go to


Dear Nicki (and mom),
You are truly an amazing young lady! Your story is an inspiration that anyone can make a difference, at any age!

I'm going to share your story with my daughter (16 yrs. old). She's been asked by some of her friends to work on a project to benefit several community and worldwide organizations. This will definately be an testimony that anything can be done as long as you believe in what you're doing.

Thank you for being a shining star for our future generations!

Millie O.
(a volunteer with Ronald McDonald Charities)

Dear Nicki (and mom),
It is amazing to hear such an accomplishment come from a second grader! You are a small little girl that holds such a big BIG HEART. When a little kid does a wonderful thing like that, it makes us grown ups look like little kids. Now a days, it is hard to find people like you. Keep being the person you are.

Universe Yamase
(Volunteer with Ronald McDonald Charities)

Aloha Nicki,

What a wonderful story ~ you are an inspiration to all of us! You certainly are a testament to what one person (big or little, young or not-so-young) can do to create an impact and make a difference in the world! I am sure your fellow concert participants also did a super job in helping to raise such a fabulous amount of funds.

I hope your story will motivate other young people to "do for others" and spread the aloha. Keep up the great work, at your tender age, you will go far and accomplish much~

Kaila M.

Aloha Nicki and family! I just want to say "thank you" for your incredible fundraising efforts! I applaud you for making a difference; you are truly someone for your peers to look up to! Thanks so much!

Rebecca (RMH volunteer)