Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Power of Giving

January at our house is birthday month.  To be honest, I wouldn't have picked January to give birth, except that when you are coaching a Division I soccer team, January fits right between fall and spring season, and is the best time to have a baby and still be back on the field in April to coach!  When my middle daughter started talking about what she wanted to do for her 11th birthday, I was pleased that her dad had suggested an indoor soccer birthday party, and even more pleased that she thought this was a great idea!  When our friends the Lee's heard this idea, they said, wouldn't it be fun to run a joint 11th birthday party?  The guest list would include the Spokane Shadow soccer team that both Payton and her friend Maddie play for, so why not join forces and make it a two for one?
Here's their Shadow team.  Maddie is on the far left, and Payton is fourth from the left.

The girls got busy planning out the party, and the moms started planning out the food, the drinks, and the invitations.  As we began to think about it, all of us came to the same conclusion.....wouldn't it be nice if instead of asking our guests to bring gifts, what if they brought a donation instead for a very special U10 Spokane Shadow soccer player who was tragically killed last June in a car accident?
This little girl, Olivia Chaffin, was a vibrant, athletic, energetic kid with a huge heart.  Her life has made such an impact on the Mead community that the Mead School District put together an education fund in her name, The Olivia Chaffin Memorial Fund, which will serve Mead students for years to come.
This is Olivia.
 Olivia's parents, Rick and Jennifer, are both Mead teachers.  Jennifer and I have been friends since we were eight years old.  To give words to what a tragedy this has been for this family is difficult to do.  That's why sometimes actions speak louder than words.  The Mead community, the Mead School District, and family and friends have tried to do whatever they can to lift this family up.  When it was decided that Payton and Maddie would collect donations at their party instead of gifts, my heart skipped a beat.  We know that none of this will bring Olivia back, but the power of giving and understanding the impact of that gift is one of the greatest lessons in life. 
The party went off great....perfect venue for a bunch of athletic little girls who love to run around and play soccer.  But the real prize came when it was time to open the donation envelope to see how much money Payton and Maddie would be donating to the fund.  The generosity of their friends, and their friends' parents was just incredible.
Last night, Payton and Maddie were invited to the Mead School District Board Meeting.  At the meeting, they presented a check for $400 to the Olivia Chaffin Memorial Fund.  The Board President told the crowd that there are a lot of bad things that go on in this world, but it is gestures like this one that renew our faith in people.  Another board member said, "Amen!"
As parents, we could not have been more proud of our girls for making this happen for Olivia and her family.  We are so thankful for the parents of Payton and Maddie's teammates who helped us put together a check for $400 to start out this fund.  This is a birthday that Payton and Maddie will remember for the rest of their lives.  I am one proud Mama!


  1. Shannon,
    How wonderful!! I got teary when I read this. The past two years Kennedi has given all her gifts from her party away to children in need (her birthday is in Nov so it works well to pass them along for Christmas gifts) this next year I will try to plant the seed to continue on what your daughter has started and Keep Olivia's spirit alive in the Mead School District.

  2. Shannon, I read this on the Mead Website and got teary eyed....then read this on your blog and the tears flowed again. What an inspirational story!