July 22,  2005
Walmart and Kissmobile
Hidy ho, good neighbors!

Well, good news abounds around here.  What a nice

Last week, July 14th not only brought good numbers, it
also brought an invitation by Children's to speak for
them.  Nichole, from the Foundation, emailed and asked
if I would be willing to speak to Wal-mart associates that
raise money for the hospital.  Of course I said yes.  At
this point, I've told her she doesn't even have to
ask...she just has to tell me where and when to show up.

The bonus was that the Hershey "Kissmobile" would be
at the hospital at the same time I was to speak - so the
kids could come see it.  The Kissmobile is Hershey's
answer to the Oscar Meyer weinermobile.  Its a giant
semi-sized vehicle that looks like three Hershey kisses
sitting on a chocolate bar.  Hershey is a supporter of the
Children's Miracle Network telethon, so they drive this
thing all over the country to the various Children's
hospitals for PR reasons.  

Hershey, however, only drives this thing around to look
good.  They don't actually do very much once they get
there.  The Kissmobile was to sit in front of the hospital
for a few hours, and look cute - passing out kisses to
anyone well enough to come out and get them.  
Woohoo.  In my mind, they should have been taking
candy in to the floors where the kids are too sick to
leave, but that, apparantly, isn't on their agenda.  
According to the clinic nurses, last year - no one knew
they were coming or that they were there...until a patient
coming to clinic mentioned walking past the Kissmobile.  
Way to concern themselves with the kids...  As you've
read in previous emails...I have little tolerance for people
who use our kids for PR to make themselves look good.  
If a corporation or group truly works to help our kids...I'm
their biggest fan, and will sing their praises from the
rooftops.  When you use my daughter to make yourself
"look good" - I have more than a bit of contempt for you.  
I asked lots of questions...and decided to wage my own
battle with the Kissmobile.

Now, battles don't necessarily have to be overt or nasty.  
I decided that guilt was my best weapon.  Knowing that
the Kiss character never even went onto patient floors
last year, and knowing that our clinic, again, had not
been informed that the Kissmobile was coming...I
decided to give them no choice but to "see" our kids.  I
made a Hershey Kiss costume for Avalon, with a tag that
read "Kiss a Cancer Kid".  They never went to the
Heme-Onc unit...but we guilted them out of several bags
of candy that we, personally, delivered to the unit and to
the Heme-Onc clinic.  So there, cheap corporate twits!  

By the way, the young women working on the Kissmobile
were very sweet.  They are not to blame for poor
community relations...Hershey is.  Yes, the Kiss
character did indeed blow through the Heme-Onc clinic
that morning.  But no - he didn't hand out a single Kiss.  
According to the receptionist, PCA's and nurses...the
kids were dumbfounded.  OK, seriously...if you saw a
giant Hershey kiss walking toward you...would you expect
him to just pat you on the head and walk away?!   
Hershey has no idea how much ill-will they spread
through our clinic that day.  Not one person there had
anything remotely nice to say.  According to reports I've
read, the Kiss character handed out crayons and
coloring books.  Funny thing is, I never heard a word
about that from any parents, patients, or disappointed
staff.  All they remember is that a giant Kiss walked past
them and never gave them a Kiss.  I'd say a giant F for
the Hershey marketing department.
As for my job that day, I was to speak to Wal-mart associates that raise money for the
Children's Miracle Network.  In theory, I was supposed to have photos in a powerpoint
presentation to show to the associates.  "In theory" is a key phrase here.  Long story short, I
was supposed to have Microsoft Office 2003 intstalled on my computer when I bought it.  Its
there all right, but I need a password code to activate it, that is located on the back of the cd
the comes with the computer.  Problem?  I don't have the cd - I bought my computer through
ebay - and it came without it.  I spent several days trying to get Office through online
methods, through other people...etc.  Lots of lost sleep, hours of pure frustration...I don't
have it, and I didn't have powerpoint.  I ended up just taking a cd full of j peg images - and
we had to open each one individually.  Rats on technology!

I really had no direction as to what I was supposed to say, I had free rein.  I chose to share
pictures from hospital stays, and a few from our life since diagnosis.  I tried to tell the
associates about the extras that their money helps provide.  The "extras" are the things that
make life in the hospital bearable.  I did my best to explain what life as a long term patient is
like, and how very much I appreciate the staff at the hospital, and the lengths they go to, to
make our children feel safe and comfortable.  

Included in my pictures, were the photos of Avalon and Abbey having their tea party.  I (as I
always do) gave Abbey's mom, Kim, full credit for being the best and most thoughtful
"packer" I could ever imagine.  I told the group that we had swiped Kim's idea of bringing a
folding table and chairs for Avalon to eat  and play at.  The associates couldn't believe I
would cart a table and chairs back and forth.  Like I told them, you do
whatever you need to
to make your child happy...its that easy.

In typical "me" fashion, I was a bit wordy - and spoke longer than my allotted time.  The group
promised me that I didn't annoy them too much...they were very kind!  At the end of my
pictures, I asked if anyone had questions.  I always tell people that they can ask me anything
they ever wanted to know, but thought it would be rude to ask.  My only question?  "How
many tables would the floor need?"  I was shocked!  According to Nichole - she could have
predicted that would happen.  Again, I was overwhelmingly reminded of the goodness and
generosity of the human spirit.  Given half a chance, people can do amazing things!

I ended my hospital visit by asking several of the ladies in the foundation if they would help
me find the person in Family and Volunteer services that I would need to talk to about
delivering Avalon's Army of Angels New Diagnosis Gifts.  Legal at the hospital said Family
and Volunteer would need to deliver them, and frankly, that is the one department in the
hospital that I have NO love loss for.  I don't trust them at all, and wished to know who to
address about my concerns.  My answer?  The wonderful foundation sorority offered to take
over delivery themselves!   They promised to help me implement my program themselves -
where I could have input.  Suffice it to say...I came home on cloud 209...just plain 9 wasn't
nearly high enough.  

All in all, it was a glorious day.  Nick and I successfully completed our small Hershey protest,
my talk went well, and my Gift Bags are one step closer to reaching families who need them.  
Now... my purse did break as I stepped out of the car, and my shoes fell off while walking to
gesture during the presentation...but all told - who cares about shoes and a purse?  A
couple of laughs, a trip to a trash can...and all was right with the world.  Geez, I hope this is a
harbinger of times to come!  I'm ready for some good news on a regular basis...

Love to ALL of you!!!
Alicia, Nick, Aurora, Ambrosia, and
Our Journey:
Avalon's Army of Angels