This is Nathan. He has a disease called brittle bone syndrome. Nate has had over 200 broken bones. He is seven years old. Let’s help him tell his story.
How I learned about Nathan
A couple of weeks ago I was sitting on my yoga mat waiting for class to start, and my teacher introduced one of the students and his mission to help critically ill children tell their stories. Not only does he help them tell stories, but he works with them to make their story into a beautiful, published book.
Dallas shared that the children he works with will not become fire-fighters, doctors, cheerleaders, vets, baristas, teachers, Olympic hopefuls or college students that pal around eating pizza until 2:30 a.m. in their dorm rooms. Due to their illnesses and physical challenges, some of these children will not live long, cannot move as others do, and have unique ways of interacting and operating in the everyday world. But what these children DO HAVE is star-dust material—these children have creative, powerful, inventive minds and spirits. They know incredible things BECAUSE of their life challenges.
As Dallas told his story, I fought back tears and thought about the children that may not have a chance to tell their story. For the next 90 minutes of class, all I could think of was how I could help. I figured the best way I could help Dallas share the stories of 50 critically ill children, was to share his story and the Red Fred Project with you.
A conversation with Dallas
What inspired you to start the Red Fred Project?
The Red Fred Project lit upon me after a conversation I had with my younger sister this past December. She called me one night and asked if I had heard about a friend of ours whose child was dying as a result of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. We asked each other, “What can we do? How do we help?” As I thought about it that night, Red Fred, from The Jolly Troop landed on my shoulder and whispered into my ear: “We want to share his story; we want to make a book with him.” So I wrote the parents of Mitchell Jones and asked for their permission. They were amazingly kind and said yes.
Poor little Mitchell’s health declined rapidly after that phone call and we were never able to complete his story before his brilliant star launched into the night. His bright life, however, caused the birds to get determined to reach out to other little children with critical illnesses to do the same thing: tell their stories. My first goal is to create a book with a child from every state. Once that is done, we want to help hundreds and thousands of children tell their stories—through the medium they know, very best: children’s books.
Let’s back up for a minute. Tell us about The Jolly Troop
The Jolly Troop are a band of brilliant and bizarre birds that I dreamt up 5 years ago after I answered a curious question that flew into my head: “I wonder if I can make a bird out of a comma…” Red Fred Bodoni was born and the rest is history. The Jolly Troop are a literal-metaphor: we all come in all shapes and sizes and colors and each of us is unique and important to the group. You can see exactly how I created Red Fred in the video at the bottom of this page.
What’s been the biggest lesson for you that came from working with Nathan, your first creative?
There are so many lessons I’ve learned from Nathan! But I am probably like most folks that read his book and are taught the two lessons he shares at the end of his story. I won’t spoil it for you, in case you purchase the book. But let me tell you something: those two lessons are worth every penny of the purchase.
How can parents get in touch if they want you to consider telling their children’s stories?
Parents can send me a message through our website: http://redfredproject.com/contact/. We will take every consideration in selecting our “creatives” (that’s what we like to call the children). If we are unable to use them on this first go-around, we will definitely keep their name close to our hearts and close to the front of the file, as we move forward.
How can we help?
My main hope is to get this work out as fast as possible. We need pledges to boost the Kickstarter campaign to reach our goal of $75,000. If we fall short, we don’t receive any of the pledges. We also need people to share it via blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. The more eyes on this, the faster it spreads and can be funded.
Why these books are so important
- After the child completes the book, his/her family can use it for personal enjoyment, gifting, or as a fundraising tool. The proceeds made by the sale of each book go to medical expenses of each child.
- Through story-telling, a critically ill child shows what life is all about
- These children become authors NOW, creating a real “children’s book”
- The book becomes the child’s tangible legacy
- It creates a means for the family to offset medical costs
- These books foster hope between all who face physical challenges
The beauty of living with less is that we have an opportunity to give more. Let’s give power, hope and love to these little children with big stories. Learn more about Dallas, the children he wants to help and The Red Fred Project by watching this video.
I am sure that I was meant to be on my yoga mat at the same time that Dallas was telling his story and I am sure that you are meant to be reading it right now. Everyone deserves to tell their story and we so deserve to hear it.