In 2015, I was blessed and granted the great fortune of winning the title of Miss New York Princess 2015, and proudly represented the great state of New York for an entire year. Upon winning, my mom began to tell EVERYONE about the great news. One of the people she told was the daughter of one of her clients who was diagnosed with leukemia. At the time she was in remission, while she awaited for approval from her doctors to undergo bone marrow surgery. One of her wishes was to be able to meet with me for an entire day consisting of eating our favorite foods, and trying on my crown and some of my dresses. Sadly, we were never able to have our fun-filled "Princess Day" secondary to her leukemia returning and aggressively progressing. She became very ill and was hospitalized for a few weeks. I recall having to find out about her passing one morning after witnessing my mom emotional and wearing a black dress. As I approached her to provide comfort, she sat me on her lap and explained to me that this young girl had passed away and that she was on her way to celebrate her life, now that she had earned her angel wings to be up in Heaven with Jesus. At the time, I was only 7 years old and do not believe that I truly understood what this young girl was fighting so hard for, but now I can say that I understand.
2 years after the death of the young girl, I had an urge to give back, but just couldn't figure out how. So my mom, aunt Darlene and I did some serious brainstorming and I was determined that I should give back by utilizing a special skill and hobby of mine - knitting and crocheting. At the time I was pretty good at knitting and crocheting. This conversation amongst us allowed me to reminisce how sad I was at the time of this young girl's death, all because I wasn't able to grant her her wish for a "Princess Day". So as a way to combat those feelings, we decided that it would be best to incorporate childhood cancer with crocheting, since I was much better at this than I was with knitting. A few minutes later, Hats of Hope was born!
This current knowledge that I have about childhood cancer and the love of Jesus, as well as the HOPE he provides during difficult times, is what this non-profit organization is all about. Hence, the Bible verse printed on every single hand-crocheted hat - Jeremiah 29: 11 ("For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans for you to prosper and not harm you; plans to give you HOPE and a great future.").
A few years later, I was finally able to officially start Hats of Hope. Whenever I crochet these hats, I can't help but to think about my mom's client and how she's smiling down on me. I am sure that she is in a peaceful place, wearing an elegant gown and a bedazzled crown, inspiring me to continue doing what I love - giving children HOPE, one hat at a time.