I was serious when I said I was going to get back on track today! Ryne and I decided a good ol’ fashioned back and bi day would be a good thing to start with. We did a combination of bicep curls, reverse curls, bent over rows, and pull ups. We finished it off with Ryne’s favorite cardio ab circuit. It felt good to get a workout in at home. I seriously don’t know if I would have had it in me to make it to the actual gym today. Also, I couldn’t have rigged this beauty up. Resistance band, meet pull up bar. You two will need to be friends for a while. Maybe forever. I need serious help with pull ups!
There isn’t really a great way to segue into my next thought, but bare with me. Y’all know I’ve been dealing with feeling lost and, well, kind of useless at times. I really do try to go out of my way to prevent that feeling, but it happens more than I’d like to admit. Anyway, Monday after school I had to run into the grocery store for a few things. While the cashier was checking me out, another cashier asked him to help an older lady next to us load a bag of cat food into her cart. He helped her and then finished ringing me up. I couldn’t help but think who on earth is going to help her when she gets to her car? It seriously started bothering me. Maybe I’m way too into other people’s business. That’s totally possible. I’m about as nosy as they come. I wanted to know if she got everything in her car, ya know? As luck would have it, she was parked right next to me. I walked up to her as un-creepily as I possibly could and asked her if she needed help loading her bags. After I helped her, she said “I guess there are good people out there in the world.” I should have been glad to hear that, but it actually made me extremely sad. I didn’t do anything
difficult or really go out of my way for her at all. I would hope that anyone else would have done the same. It just upsets me that we live in a world where people don’t expect common decency. They don’t expect anyone else to care.
Which brings me to my next point, people do care. People do want the best for others. The person behind my guest post today knows all about that. I’d elaborate, but I think she can explain it better than I can. 🙂 Y’all, allow me to introduce you to Jessica Ekstrom. She took that “man, I want to do something” feeling and did something about it.
Almost everyone can think of a moment where they knew their life was about to change. For me, my moment was right before my 20th birthday in the summer of 2011. I began my internship at the Make-a-Wish Foundation that I can confidently say, changed my life forever. Everyday, I got to wake up and grant the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. I took day trips to visit the wish kids at their houses and bring them their favorite toys. We received hundreds of letters from wish children that said we changed their lives; little did they know, they were changing mine.
I thought about the thousands of girls around the world losing their hair to chemotherapy. Being a young girl presents many struggles with self-esteem already and losing their hair as a result of a life-threatening illness is traumatic. For girls and women everywhere, their hair is a part of their feminine identity. Wigs can be uncomfortable and unappealing, especially to younger girls. I realized that headbands are the perfect way for these girls to keep their feminine identity and have a constant reminder that they’re not alone. Therefore, I started HeadbandsOfHope.org.
For every headband purchased, one headband will go to a girl with cancer and $1 will be donated to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to fund life-saving childhood cancer research.
Since I launched in May of 2012, I’ve sold thousands of headbands online and in stores around the nation. Runners have been huge supporters of our headbands because they’re cute, they give back and they don’t slip! We even teamed up with Sweaty Bands on a collaborative headband.
I created a company where I didn’t have to choose between making a living and making a difference. I can wake up and do both at the same time. I’ve had the opportunity to distribute headbands to girls in the hospitals across the nation. The best part of my job is opening the door to their room and seeing their faces light up when I bring dozens of colorful headbands to their beds to choose from. Even though it’s fun and fulfilling to bring the girls headbands in the hospitals, I’m constantly reminded that there still isn’t a cure.
Childhood cancer takes the lives of more children in the U.S. than any other disease – in fact, more than many other childhood diseases combined. Children with cancer cannot be treated simply as “smaller adults.” The cancers strike kids differently and they are in a crucial stage of development, which complicates the effects of treatments and can result in life-long complications.
Progress is also especially slow in curing adolescents and young adults, because federal funding for childhood cancers is a fraction compared to adult cancers. Therefore, attention needs to be brought to childhood cancer. Progress can’t be made without research. Research can’t be done without funding. And funding can’t be done without awareness.
Headbands of Hope aims to start with awareness and end with a cure. Together, we can spread hope in all girls…one headband at a time.
About the Author: Jessica Ekstrom is a senior at North Carolina State University studying communications. She launched Headbands of Hope in April 2012 during her junior year. Since then, her company has been featured on the TODAY Show and TOMS Shoes Blog.[Website: www.headbandsofhope.org] [Facebook: www.facebook.com/headbandsofhope] [Twitter: www.twitter.com/headbandsofhope] [Instagram: www.instagram.com/headbandsofhope] [Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/headbandsofhope]
Seriously, how awesome is that? I’m so glad Jess asked me to share her story. To further spread the word, she is hosting a giveaway for Run Pretty readers. One lucky winner will receive a beautiful and functional headband from Headbands of Hope. Since word of mouth is so powerful, all you have to do to enter is tweet the following:
Comment here and let me know you that did. That’s it. Easy peasy. Good luck, y’all! This giveaway is open to US residents only. The winner will be randomly selected and will be announced on September 17th.
**Disclosure: I agreed to share this post because I loved Jessica’s story and support her mission. She sent me a headband, but it was an unexpected and very much appreciated gesture! Headbands of Hope is sponsoring the giveaway.**