Country Showdown, Cornhole Throwdown 2011

A young mother is fighting for her life. She is battling aggressive squamous cell carcinoma.

Jamie Berrier Crutchfield, 26, has a rare form of skin cancer. Though most skin cancers are caused by over-exposure to the sun, Jamie’s is located on her tongue.  What started as a sore in her mouth three weeks after giving birth to her son, Landen (now 11-months old) she is now unable to speak after having the tumor removed. Her husband, Eric, has become her voice. Jamie also struggles with the inability to care for her child, due to ongoing pain and complications caused by treatment.

Doctors do not know what caused the cancer. Although the tumor was completely removed from her tongue, the cancer came back in her spine and lymph nodes. She maintains a strong faith that she will beat the cancer. Her story is that of inspiration.

Earlier today, I witnessed the amazing support of her community at a benefit called Country Showdown, Cornhole Throwdown. The event – held at North Davidson High School in Welcome, NC – drew a crowd of nearly 1000 people. Local country artist Katelyn Marks, Chris Lane Band, and Ross Coppley Band performed nearly three hours while participants competed in a cornhole tournament. Area businesses donated prizes for the raffle, and tshirts were available for purchase.

I had the pleasure of once-again joining my friends with Relay For Life of Davidson County in an effort to help promote cancer awareness and support at the event. The volunteers did a fantastic job promoting the Prishope campaign, made famous by fellow Relayer and Cancer Warrior, Tim Davis. Prishope is an acronym for Pray, Wish, Hope – and has become a popular prayer-request group on Facebook and within the local community. RFL volunteers asked guests, participants, and the local celebrities to sign a giant card for Jamie. I also assisted in taking photos of the attendees signing the card and holding signs sending Jamie well wishes.

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Proceeds from the event are going to Jamie’s growing medical bills. If you’re interested in donating to Jamie’s Journey, please contact me for more information.

My Name is Jenn, and This is My Ah-ha Moment.

What an honor it was last month to receive an invitation to participate in Mutual of Omaha’s Ah-ha Moment campaign. What a surprise to find out the campaign’s tour would be scheduled in Winston Salem on June 10th, my 35th birthday. Without hesitation, I quickly accepted the offer with both gratitude and enthusiasm. This would certainly help make my day memorable.

What exactly is an Ah-ha Moment?
Mutual of Omaha describes it as:

It’s a moment of clarity, a defining moment where you gain real wisdom – wisdom you can use to change your life.

Whether big or small, funny or sad, they can be surprising and inspiring. Each one is unique, deeply personal, and we think, worth sharing.

Mutual of Omaha celebrates and honors these moments and the people who act upon them. We’re proud to have the products and services that can help people insure their possibilities.

A few weeks after accepting the invitation, it started to sink in that this was really going to happen! I needed to prepare. I researched the campaign, and debated which of my life’s many ah-ha moments would I choose to share. The more I anticipated this somewhat surreal situation, the more nervous I became. Am I really worthy of this invitation? What IS my ah-ha moment? Does anything I say or do really inspiring others? Finally remembering that I also had to renew my license on June 10, I considered contacting Mutual of Omaha and gracefully stepping down.

How many invitations were given out? Would backing down from this opportunity be a huge mistake? I continued to review my life, searching for something that would be meaningful. I knew that I had many moments of clarity in my life, but one alone just didn’t seem to hold the value of all of them put together. Then it hit me. There is something pretty amazing about my journey. It is like a giant puzzle. Could this realization be the ultimate in ah-has?

I started to make note of my time line:

  • At age 4, I decided I wanted to be an artist.
  • Age 18, I entered art school.
  • Age 22, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
  • Age 24, I was victim to my first layoff.
  • Age 26, I fell victim again.
  • At age 30, I was burnt out. Tired of ‘corporate America’, I desired a job that meant something. I wanted a job that made a difference. I looked to the medical field for a solution, and enrolled in nursing & coding courses. In September of that same year, I had officially retired from Graphic Design and was employed in a medical office.
  • At age 32, I realized that even a job in medicine doesn’t always make your life fulfilling. That, and I really missed being creative. I looked for opportunities to freelance, but I still sought something more. I dove into volunteer work with well-known charities. Although I gained a lot of knowledge working with these nonprofits, I was heartbroken at how some ran their organization like a corporation. Yes, a corporation – the same thing I fled from two short years before.

 

I had spent the better part of the past three years fine-tuning my freelance business into JennB.Creative. I wanted my creativity to be used to a maximum, while assisting nonprofits and start-up businesses. I wasn’t in it to become rich; I just knew the struggle of wanting to get a business off the ground. I aspired to give them the opportunity to have professional marketing material on their budget. I did all of this while working full-time for a local hospital and searching for the right nonprofit that best suited my beliefs.

As you read last month, my search is over. I am now happily involved with Invest Hope, a faith-based mission seeking to end poverty in Haiti by providing means for Haitian businesses to get off the ground. I never saw the entire correlation between my life’s desires and Invest Hope until I was forced to search for my perfect ah-ha moment. I think it’s pretty awesome to see things come full circle. It reminds me that there IS a purpose to my life, and it is unfolding at just the right speed.

Today, after renewing my license, I pulled up to a Silver Stream travel trailer parked outside of the Old Salem Visitors Center. Still a bit nervous, I walked up to a petite blonde sitting under a canopy, and introduced myself. It was time to share my moment with the world. I was still very nervous… okay, beyond nervous. Even with words of assurance from the Mutual of Omaha crew, I could feel my chest turning red with anxiety. I was escorted to a bar stool in the front of the travel trailer, and prompted to tell my story. I was probably too enthusiastic about it, but the emotion overwhelmed me. Anxiety turned to appreciation, and I was overcome with happiness. This experience was, in fact, my biggest eye-opening moment. Ah-ha!

I was told the video should be posted on Mutual of Omaha’s YouTube channel in roughly 14 days. Although I’m a bit embarrassed to see my video, I am really looking forward to it, checking out the other videos taped in Winston Salem, and to see where the tour stops next. I am forever indebted to have had this experience. Happy 35th to me!

Jessica & Chad – Engagement

With chances of snowfall lingering in our North Carolina forecast, the beautiful blue January sky over Old Salem welcomed today’s photo shoot. Aside from a chilling wind, the historic town nestled within the city still proved to be a stunning backdrop for Jessica & Chad’s engagement photos. The photogenic couple made this shoot extremely effortless. What a pleasure it was to work with them.

Jessica & Chad are planning an April 30, 2011 wedding.

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White Christmas 2010

The snow that started falling on Christmas Day here in NC has accumulated to about 6″ and counting. Those of you reading this who live in the north or midwest will get a kick out of the following:

Lt. Gov. Dalton, in consultation with Gov. Perdue, declared a State of Emergency for the entire state due to this winter storm.

I typically do not care for winter weather. I can become quite pouty if the temperature drops below 70 degrees (it’s 31 right now) and the artist in me cannot stand to look at an all-white canvas for too long. I keep hoping a Cardinal will fly by the window soon. However, it is rare that we get real snow. Our typical winter weather consists predominantly of sleet or freezing rain… and everything becomes a solid sheet of ice. It is refreshing to have powdery snow for once, and as crazy as it sounds, I have to admit I’m kind of okay with it.

I trekked out this morning with the DSLR to capture this unusual winter wonderland. My pup, Bogey, tagged along for the fun!

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