Sunday, May 27, 2012

Shot@Life - A Cause with Reason

Shot@Life in Atlanta –A Cause with Reason
Wow!  It has been an incredible couple of weeks!  I left Broken Arrow and flew to Atlanta April 25th to be part of the national launch of the Shot@Life Campaign April 26.  To be there for a cause I have believed in all my life was a humbling experience.  Meeting with the foundation’s incredible team from the United Nations and its many honorable guests was fantastic.  However, my greatest pleasure that night at the dinner table was meeting the philanthropists, directors, doctors, and the group of press journalists who cared enough to cover health issues - especially the lack of vaccines for children. 
I was amazed to see all of these prominent people forgetting who they were and just concentrating on what we were going to do to make this campaign as successful as possible.  The goal is to provide vaccines for children throughout the world where they cannot afford it.  I, myself, belong to several civic and volunteer groups and it makes me sad how people sometimes forget why and for whom we are doing these things.  As I watched so much of what I have lived for and believed in unfold into action was awe inspiring.  My personal optimistic outlook and beliefs were truly validated by these wonderful people who cared enough for others to do everything they could to help.  The conversations at the dinner table were fascinating, and the supporting facts and stories were of great interest to me.  I felt like, “Wow!  Here I am, and I will do whatever I can to make sure all children receive the vaccines they need to survive!”  What a marvelous opportunity for the world’s mothers to be able to see their children live and grow older!  What better gift can we give to a mother than the gift of life for her children?
My morning went briskly and after a quick breakfast, I arrived at the Atlanta Aquarium.  I was so excited because it was the big day and everything was set to welcome our guests and moms to the national launch of the Shot@Life Campaign.  I was delighted to work at the donation table with Aimee Mead (Shot@Life team) and Emma Dashiell (Shot@Life Champion from Georgia).  What a great place and opportunity to tell our guests of the importance of this campaign!  We discussed why we were participating and how they could help to save lives.  It was so very rewarding to watch the little children and their mothers helping, who wanted to give the gift of life to other kids.  What a beautiful example these mothers are setting for their children to follow!

I thought, already, that I had a wonderful experience - but it was an unimaginable surprise to see former First Lady, Roselyn Carter and Anne Geddes, a world-renowned photographer, and many other famous people associated with the Shot@Life team at our donation table.  Wow!  At that moment, I realized that the Shot@Life Launch brought together hundreds of parents and their children, celebrities, VIPs, the media, medical experts, top of-the-line Moms, U.N. officials and policy makers – all in support of children and the value of vaccines around the globe.  
Their experiences, knowledge, support, and love for the children and the campaign were undeniable.  As I sat there at the press conference launch, It really struck me that this campaign has the power to save hundreds, no, thousands of children!  We, that is all of the champions around the country and myself, can help promote and be a united voice as to amplify this message and make history.  I thought of our minority families back home in Oklahoma who do not speak English and how beneficial it will be to educate them in their own language or with interpreters.  Then they can educate and share this message with their families back on their own countries.  Imagine the impact we can make here in our home country just by informing the public in our own communities.  The effect a single individual itself could lead to a great chain reaction, pulling along the support of hundreds!  I think I just found my next project for the summer. 

Our lunch was delicious and I can honestly say that I had lunch with famous people!  Anne Geddes, First Lady Rosalynn Carter, deputy editor Noelle Howey of Parent Magazine; CEO of UN Foundations Kathy Calvin; Foundation, Dr. Anne Schuchat, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Ambassador Andrew Young, and our Kimberly Hagen, wonderful Georgian Champions Lori Grice and @  Lyssa Sahadevan, Emma Dashiell  and many more.  My favorite was John Rutherford, officer of United Nations Foundation; board member of the Turner foundation, etc.  I was so grateful to him and his family for all the good that they are doing for developing countries and especially for their support with vaccines.  To my great surprise, he thanked me for my dedication and help with this campaign.  He even communicated to me in Spanish, which by the way was very well spoken.  Wow!  We had a wonderful conversion about Mexico and his experiences in my own language!  How cool is that!  Overall, I can only describe everything (again) as a very emotional and humbling experience. 

After lunch Kimberly Hagen, Emma Dashiell and I spoke to the National Press Fellows journalists  I was a little nervous but not for long.  To talk about the effects of lack of vaccines is something that I know very well.  Sharing my experiences as a nurse in Mexico was a blessing in disguise.  As a nurse, I have witnessed the terrible effects, which occur when one does not have the resources needed as to have a full and healthy life.  Therefore, it is now my great honor to serve as an instrument, through Shot@Life, to ensure that children in developing countries can live, play and have a happy ending.  I want to create awareness and understanding that this really is an issue around the globe.  Kids are dying now at this moment when I am writing this blog.  As a matter of facts “Every 20 seconds a child died for lack of access to vaccines.  Many mothers walk 15 miles on a hot summer day to get to a clinic and get their children vaccinated.”
Thank you, Shot@Life, for giving me the opportunity to share my story and give back to my community children and children around the globe.

Felisa Hilbert
Proud Shot@Life Champion

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Miracle of Saving a Precious Child’s Life
by Felisa Hilbert

After an amazing week with the national launch of Shot@Life in Atlanta on April the 26th, followed by our incredible Mom Congress Conference in Washington DC, I came home feeling very humbled and grateful to be able to participate in something so good and humanitarian in nature.  I cannot shake off the conviction of how important one person is at making a difference.  At the conference, I witnessed 51 mothers plus mentors and speakers making a difference and being passionate about children’s issues.  It was just so invigorating!  I am truly awe-struck by the many miracles I have seen and experienced each day within my own life and in my community.  A miracle I have the opportunity to witness often is the sight of a young child, with different origins than mine, learning the words to communicate and express themselves.  It is a marvel to see how resilient they are to a change of environment and how they do not crack under pressure from culture shock. 

I know by experience that it is difficult and can be extremely heartbreaking to leave one’s homeland.  One week a child feels secure and without worries, then perhaps the next, they are in a strange country with a different language and culture – and a classroom foreign to them.  I love my job!  I understand their feelings and, as I said, it is a miracle to see our students adapt and begin to trust again.  Every day is a blessing for me when I help a child or touch a parent’s life.  No amount of money can buy that feeling of joy and fulfillment!  I feel very lucky because children are my favorite people in the world.  I am an avid student of children and I think their innate qualities and potential are remarkable.  They are honest, they love unconditionally, they are quick to ask forgiveness and to forget offenses, etc. 

Can you imagine a country without children?  Of course, it would have no future and would cease to exist.  As a mother, could you imagine not seeing a future where your children grew old enough to develop these wonderful attributes?  Can you imagine mothers in other countries not having the opportunity to see their children grow up at all?  I can!  I was born and raised in a developing country and I saw poverty, hunger and people living in one-room shacks or cardboard houses.  I saw diseases that were easily preventable with vaccines, but the families lived too far away to have access to them.  I saw mothers cry because their precious babies were so sick with very preventable illnesses like measles, polio, pneumonia, diarrhea and chicken pox.

Shot@Life   is important and is very personal for me.  Because I was a nurse in Mexico, I already know what happens when you do not have access to vaccines.  Until recently, I forgot the reason why I was never able to meet my maternal grandmother.  It’s funny how the mind can put away memories… suddenly last week I was remembering a conversation with my mother and brothers a long time ago.  My grandmother died of chicken pox in her early thirties, eight days after delivering a baby girl (my younger aunt).  It was a miracle that my aunt lived, but in the light of Shot@Life, it was a preventable tragedy to the family to lose my grandmother.  Can you believe that a very easily preventable disease can steal away the feeling of never knowing how it feels to be loved by your grandmother?  My brothers and I never met grandparents from either side of our family.  I, and many adults in these countries, never had any memories or shared milestones in life with a grandparent.  Nowadays, you do not hear of people dying from these so-called “childhood diseases” here in the United States… but in developing countries a child dies every 20 seconds from one of these diseases or illnesses.  The number of children dying every year from preventable diseases is nearly equivalent to half the number of children entering kindergarten in the United States.

That is why I am a proud champion and ambassador for the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Campaign.  Therefore, I am asking you to join me to reach our goal to vaccinate and save the lives of 1000 children by Mothers Day.  You can be part of a miracle every day by providing these vaccines and saving the lives many, many children.  Can you think of a better gift for a mother in a developing country?  Your $20.00 dollar (US) donation can provide vaccinations against all the diseases I have mentioned, and more.  We are getting close to our goal, but we need your help.

Would you please join me and make these miracles happen?  By giving a little, you will receive a lot.  The knowledge that you saved a precious child’s life somewhere, and that you gave another mother future milestones and memories could be the best gift you receive this Mothers Day!  A Shot@Life is a shot at a healthy life and a better future!  Of course, you will smile and feel full of joy because there is nothing better in life than to serve and protect our children.

Thank you, and Happy Mother’s Day!


Felisa Hilbert
Nurse and Shot@Life Champion