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On Thursday, it’ll be eight years since the first blog post ran on HerKentucky.com. A lot has changed with this site — and with blogging in general — in the years since 2011! I’ve been so fortunate in recent years to have a great group of readers who share my interests as well as a fantastic network of professional partners.
I especially love that I have found a way to use my social media channels as a way to promote great causes. In the 2018 Fiscal Year, HerKentucky x Draper James Shop & Sip Events raised the equivalent of one month’s rent for Dress for Success Lexington!
To celebrate the eighth anniversary of HerKentucky, I’m participating in five charitable initiatives over a ten day period. I’m partnering with local and national brands to give back to charities that empower, enrich, and even save the lives of women in Kentucky and beyond.
Stop 1: Draper James
Tonight, Wednesday, Sept 11, from 6-8 pm, I’ll be at the Lexington Draper James store for a Shop & Sip benefiting Dress for Success Lexington! Dress For Success Lexington not only provides work clothing to low-income women in the Lexington area; they also provide training for economic empowerment and professional skills. I believe strongly in the Dress for Success mission, y’all. These folks are changing lives!!
Stop 2: Oxmoor Mall
On Thursday, Sept 12, from 5-7:30 pm, I’ll join the Ann Taylor team Oxmoor Mall for the Twisted Good Happy Hour benefiting Twisted Pink, a Louisville-based charity that raises funds for metastatic breast cancer research.
Stop 3: Anchal Project
This Thursday, September 12th, I’ll be partnering with Anchal Project to raise money through the @cflouisville #giveforgoodlou day of giving. Anchal is based right here in Louisville, but their scope is global. They help women (both in India and here in Louisville) to rise out of cycles of poverty, prostitution, abuse, and trauma by retraining those women as artisans. Anchal’s sustainably produced textiles — like the scarf I’m wearing above— are the softest, most beautiful pieces you’ll ever see; their impact is infinitely more beautiful.
Stop 4: Ann Taylor
On Saturday, Sept 14 from 1-5 pm, I’ll be at Ann Taylor in the Oxmoor Center for a Shop & Sip benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. We’ll have champagne and special discounts, and I’ll be providing styling tips from the gorgeous new fall selection!
Stop 5: Recycle the Runway
Next Friday, September 20th, I’ll be at the Recycle the Runway fashion show benefiting Dress for Success Lexington. The event kicks off at 6 pm at Limestone Hall!
I hope to see y’all at these events!!
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Today’s post is so very special to me. I want to introduce y’all to my friend Ensley Ogden.
Ensley is a very special young lady. She’s a hard-working, smart, and compassionate high school student here in Louisville, and she was diagnosed at age 13 with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH), a rare type of cancer, in her brain. I’ve had the good fortune to know Ensley’s family for years and actually was sitting on a charity board with her mother, Lauren, when this diagnosis occurred. I watched the Ogdens fight this terrible diagnosis with a remarkable degree of grace. Ensley was awarded the Dick Vitale Award for Hope from the V Foundation, which carried a special message from Dickie V that even Cats fans (like me) and Cards fans (like Ensley and her parents) can agree upon: Miss Ensley is one tough lady!
I’ll be sharing updates from the Make-a-Wish Foundation gala tonight over on Instagram, and I wanted to share Ensley’s story of all the ways that Make-a-Wish can help an ailing family heal!
Ensley, do you mind telling me a little about your illness and your diagnosis? I know it had to be so scary.
I was diagnosed with LCH when I was 13 years old after having symptoms for about a year, such as uncontrollable thirst, loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, low-grade fevers, headaches, delayed growth, and low thyroid. I had my craniotomy on March 3rd, 2016 and was diagnosed around that time. Luckily, I was able to keep hold of hope (for the most part) because of the overwhelming support I had from my family, friends, school, nurses, doctors, and even people that I had never met! I could not have done this alone.
Your treatment took close to two years, if I remember correctly, and y’all were traveling a lot. I’m sure that made life so different. Can you tell me a little bit about how traveling for treatment affected school and life for you?
When I was first getting my surgery and being diagnosed, I was in Houston, Texas for a long time. It was really hard not being able to see my friends and family back home and not being able to participate in school. But, even though I didn't have everyone supporting me in person, I received so many messages, letters, and packages from friends back home and even teachers at my school! Each and every one that I received really brightened some of the hardest days. After I was diagnosed, I was able to do treatment in Louisville, which was so amazing because I had my support system right there with me along the way. Even though I had to go to Houston regularly, it was comforting to be able to treat at home.
You are so blessed to have such an amazing support system. I remember talking to your mom several times during your illness and she always stressed the value of keeping your life (and hers) as normal and positive as possible. I know that having this kind of support had to make a scary situation a little better, right?
Yes! As I said previously, I couldn't have done it without my support system. Everyone from my friends and family to my school to my nurses and doctors to complete strangers served this role. I would always make sure to have plenty of visitors while I stayed in the hospital. It made me feel like everything was normal when I was around people.
Can you tell me about your experiences with Make-a-Wish and your Wish Trip? It had to be such a great way to change your outlook and celebrate your prognosis!
My experience with Make-A-Wish was absolutely incredible! My Wish Trip was a cruise throughout the Hawaiian Islands. I got to bring my mom and dad and because I don't have a sibling, I got to bring another person. I chose my Aunt Mary. I had the best trip I could have ever imagined. Since I had to wait until I was finished with treatment because I couldn't be that far away from a hospital and I couldn't swim in the ocean with my port, I had something to always look forward to. My mom even bought be a book about Hawaii to look through during my hospital stays. It felt like such a huge accomplishment when I finished treatment and this trip was my reward. Also, it was the first time I got to swim in the ocean since I received my port two years beforehand! I will always remember this trip and all that Make-A-Wish has done for me and my family.
Is there anything you’d want a kid facing a diagnosis like yours to know?
Just to stay strong and keep people around you. You are stronger than you know. (Click to tweet these remarkable words of wisdom!)
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