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Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
Sarah Chalke had a gut feeling something was seriously wrong with her son Charlie. The 2-year-old was covered in red rashes and had a fever for days. At night he was restless, arching his back and crying. Chalke went from doctor to doctor, one wrong diagnosis after another. But it was only when she took matters into her own hands by researching her son’s symptoms and consulting a specialist that she found an answer: Kawasaki disease.
The little-known childhood inflammatory disease was the cause of Charlie’s redness on his body and his lips, which turned so bright he looked like he was wearing lipstick. His blood vessels were inflamed and his joints ached. By the time Chalke carried Charlie’s limp body to the emergency room, it was obvious that he was in danger.
“I’d never seen a baby that sick,” Chalke says. And she hopes it’s something no parent will ever have to experience.
Now the actress is at the helm of a Crowdrise fundraiser for a diagnostic test prototype for Kawasaki disease. Doctors at Stanford University and University of California San Diego are getting closer to developing a test that could be 95% accurate. But first, it requires the time and funding to refine it for mainstream use.
“It would be a really big deal if this diagnostic test was in doctors’ hands,” Chalke says. “It would mean that kids would not go misdiagnosed. It would take a lot of the guessing out of Kawasaki disease. It would have meant our son would be treated a lot sooner.”
Diagnosing the disease is tricky because it presents a collection of symptoms, Chalke explains, which often leads many doctors to believe that the sick child has a completely different ailment than Kawasaki disease. The guessing creates a lot of confusion and wasted time.
“The waiting time is excruciating from when you get the diagnosis to when you get the treatment, and then when you find out if the heart is OK,” Chalke says.
What’s worse is that the disease is like a “ticking clock,” as Chalke describes, and treatment must occur within a small window of about only 10 days. And as the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children, Kawasaki disease makes the urgency of an accurate diagnosis all the more important.
Fortunately, Charlie was diagnosed close enough to the crucial period of time that he got the help he needed, and is doing well today. Now 3 and a half years old, he is healthy and happy, says Chalke, and makes her laugh all the time. He also hasn’t suffered coronary aneurysms or heart attacks, like some children with Kawasaki disease do.
“I don’t really think there’s a day that it doesn’t strike me we’re so lucky he’s OK,” Chalke says.
Because of Chalke’s research and unyielding search for a proper diagnosis, Charlie survived. If you suspect your child has Kawasaki disease, Chalke says to be vigilant about getting a diagnosis. She was grateful for the Kawasaki Disease Foundation’s website, which confirmed her instincts that Charlie had the disease, and she let Charlie’s doctor know her concerns.
“If a parent is worried that their kid is really sick the first step is to bring it up to your doctor,” Chalke says. She also encourages taking pictures of your child to show to the doctor and writing all symptoms down. And if the first doctor isn’t receptive, try again, and seek out an infectious disease specialist if necessary.
“I have huge respect for doctors,” Chalke says. “We’ve had some incredible care for Charlie, but I really do feel like you do need to advocate for yourself and for your kids.”
With her campaign for a Kawasaki disease diagnostic test, Chalke is speaking out for all parents who are looking for much-needed answers.
Image via Shutterstock
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Thursday, May 16th, 2013
No matter how health-conscious you are or what diet you’re on, there are times when you just can’t pass on dessert.
When it comes to Sandra Lee’s pineapple-passion-fruit cupcakes, Guy Fieri’s caramel apple bread pudding, and Buddy Valastro’s Italian butter cookies, I can’t think of a single reason to say no.
On May 1, I perused the World’s Largest Bake Sale at Grand Central Station, sampling sweets, meeting local bakers, but most importantly, learning about child hunger in America.
Sponsored by the Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, the bake sale raised both money for the cause and awareness for the more than 16 million children affected by hunger in America.
I chatted with of New York City’s best bakers and browsed their selection of champagne cupcakes, pistachio-cherry scones, and peanut-butter-strawberry-jam doughnuts. All sweets were sold for $5, the proceeds from which were put toward the campaign.
Bake sale host Sandra Lee whipped up her favorite strawberry shortcake and banana split cupcakes for the event, and spoke to me about the urgency of the child hunger epidemic.
“Some working moms are going home with one check, paying rent, and wondering how they are going to feed their kids. Sometimes they have to choose between paying bills and food,” she said. “It shouldn’t be that way in America.”
Buddy Valastro, the “Cake Boss,” said that as a baker and a father, he just had to be part of the event. He also shared with me a personal story about his family history.
“My dad grew up in Sicily and I remember him telling stories of going to bed hungry, after sharing one plate with his family,” he said. “It really puts life in perspective. This is about more than raising money, it’s about saying, ‘Hey, America, this is happening!’”
Ty Pennington, former host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, expressed a personal connection to the cause and donated a colorful, handmade bake sale stand for the Share Our Strength Auction.
“I may not have a child of my own, per se, but it is staggering to hear that one in five kids goes hungry,” he said. “It really opens your eyes about not wasting as much and makes you think about what we can do to make sure they are fed.”
The Share Our Strength Auction for No Kid Hungry runs through May 31 and features items donated by food masters like Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse. This is your chance to take a class in the Cake Boss’s kitchen, dig in to Bobby Flay’s signature Southwestern dishes, or learn to swirl icing like New York’s iconic Magnolia Bakery.
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auction, bake sale, baking, Buddy Valastro, Cake Boss, charity, child hunger, children, Family, fundraiser, Grand Central, No Kid Hungry, Sandra Lee, share our strength, Ty Pennington, World's Largest Bake Sale | Categories:
Monday, April 22nd, 2013
This is a guest post from Karen Bantuveris, founder and CEO of VolunteerSpot.
This week starts National Volunteer Week (April 21-27), celebrating the good work of people doing extraordinary things through service. It’s the perfect time to let every food bank volunteer, after-school mentor, Habitat builder, community cleaner, shelter staffer, charity fundraiser, and anyone else who helps others know exactly how awesome they are and how much we appreciate them.
But what’s always surprising is the number of moms and dads who don’t consider themselves true “volunteers.” If they’re giving their time and their help to others, they most definitely are volunteers and should also be recognized.
So this week, be sure to celebrate yourself, your friends, and those in your community who make a meaningful difference to your kids and others. Recognize these wonderful do-gooders that go by the name of:
Sunday School Teacher
It’s also a great idea to teach our kids that they should show their appreciation for all of the good people do to make their lives and the world a better place. Whether it’s by a simple “thank you” to a coach or mentor, or by doing one of the following to recognize parent volunteers:
- Thank You Sign – Take a photo of your child (or the class or team) holding a large “Thank You!” sign and text it to parent volunteers or post it on their Facebook wall.
- Video Shout – Apps like Tout and Viddy let you take a short (15 to 30 second) video (think kids shouting “Thank You”) and post to email or social channels with a click.
- Treats – A small latte, muffin, or chocolate bar with a handwritten note of appreciation can go a long way. Let these special parents know how much you appreciate their time and talents shared with your kids.
These small tributes will show the parent volunteers in your life how much you appreciate their help throughout the year and also inspire them to continue their good deeds. For more ideas like these, check out the free eBook Volunteer Recognition From A-Z and help make this National Volunteer Week a great one for everyone.
VolunteerSpot is proud to save parents, teachers, and volunteer leaders hundreds of hours by simplifying the task of signing up, scheduling, and reminding volunteers – reducing your busy work and leaving you more time to focus on what’s important. Use VolunteerSpot to coordinate all the good work you do at school, teams, faith groups, nonprofits, and in the workplace! Take a tour today.
Image: Volunteering Hands via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
Does the drama club need money to go on a trip? Don’t sell pretzels door-to-door. Instead, sell Fair Trade chocolate, tea and coffee. Equal Exchange, an employee-owned Fair Trade organization that works with farmer co-ops from all over the world to provide organic coffee, teas, chocolate, and snacks to U.S. consumers, has expanded into homeroom.
Equal Exchange has partnered with Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit that creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn money. To create a joint fundraising effort, Ten Thousand Villages brings the handmade crafts to U.S. markets for Equal Exchange to sell.
More than 600 participating schools has participated in Fair Trade fundraising, but Equal Exchange wants students to do more than sell chocolates. They also want children to learn about and understand the world and environment around them. The organization has created a 16 unit curriculum for teachers with lessons focusing on geography (cacao plant grows in the Dominican Republic), history and community (students think about people past and present who made a difference), cooperatives (the trade-offs and rewards that come with working closely with peers), and more.
To get your school involved and to learn more about the program, visit the Equal Exchange website.
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