A Very Special #MomCrushMonday

Vanessa and her family: Matteo, Hudson, Lincoln, Shane and Cabo.

We have an extra-special, deeply personal #momcrushmonday this week.  It is our sister, Vanessa Smith, who despite not being in a Juggle market YET, is our biggest inspiration and everything a #momwithhustle should be.  578 days ago, she heard the words no parent should ever have hear: “your child has cancer”.  Her youngest, Matteo, who had just turned 4, was diagnosed with ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  She felt shock, fear and sadness in those first few days, then made way for a quiet determination and resolve.

In those 578 days, she has become an all-out cancer warrior.  Her strength in the face of her baby’s blood draws, transfusions, IV chemo, oral chemo, lumbar punctures, shots, nights in the hospital, days at the clinic and home health visits, and the not knowing from day to day what tomorrow will bring, is a marvel.  “I like to think of myself as pretty collected on a daily. If you saw me in the alley, pushing overpriced smoothies and mac and cheese to the boys at Panera, hustling to the train station, on a conference call at work, half asleep at the ice rink, or any number of places – I can typically keep it together. Here’s the big but — when I walk into that hospital and give my kid’s name at reception to get up to 18, or tell the nurses how he’s been since they last saw him (even if it’s been awesome), it still stings.”  

When Vanessa isn’t busy kicking cancer’s a** through her support of Matteo and advocacy, she is a BOSS in the marketing industry.  She currently serves as the North American Managing Director at The Marketing Store, a global customer engagement agency, creating cutting-edge brand experiences for clients including McDonald’s.  Your kid’s happy meal?  Yep, that’s her.  She can also be found taking in a stage production starring her oldest son, Hudson, or judging the flossing (dance, not dental) skills of her middle son, Lincoln.  She is the lone female in a houseful of dudes, including her ever-loving husband, Shane, and her pup, Cabo, aka “Hollywood”.  That alone deserves our praise and admiration.

So, Juggle has an ask…#TeamMatteo was one of the top fundraisers at last year’s 13th Annual Move for the Kids 5K Walk/Run.  The team raised over $27,000 for Lurie Children’s, where Matteo receives word-class treatment and care.  Juggle wants to help them beat that and will be donating all booking fees collected from Friday, May 18th through Sunday, May 20th, the day of the race, to #TeamMatteo and Lurie Children’s.  Not only does money raised go directly to Lurie’s to help them recruit world-renowned doctors and provide a top-notch facility for patients like Matteo, it is put toward research that helps to treat the littlest patients around the country.  Lurie’s research goal is to enhance diagnosis, treatment and prevention of childhood diseases, as well as to improve outcomes.  

#TeamMatteo at last year's Lurie 5K

Matteo has 640 days of treatment to go.  “When he sees people in doctors offices or hospitals on TV, he always comments about the people being in ‘clinic.’ When we think he’s not processing, he actually is. But we continue to be reassured by friends far ahead of us on this journey, that all of this will soon be a distant memory. I can’t be more excited for that day.”  No child should have to endure what has become standard operating procedure for Matteo.  He faces his battle with more toughness and grit than I do when I have the sniffles.  We will continue to support Matteo and his mom and dad, and his brothers.  We will continue to stand in awe of the resilience and humor they arm themselves with everyday.  We will continue to fight for our nephew and all of the children lost, fighting and surviving.  




If you’d like to donate to #TeamMatteo, follow this link: http://foundation.luriechildrens.org/site/TR?team_id=36626&fr_id=1780&pg=team.  Or remember to #booktobenefit in any of our markets this weekend!