To order your MHHA “Fall to Fly” Shirt, click here.
Fall to Fly Sept 2014 Promotion

1907418_10154577838080227_5743302117458273462_nMessage from the Momma Bear:  In light of the sad passing of one of my favorite actors, Robin Williams, I felt compelled to write this post facing many who struggle with invisible battles.

Many of you know I get on my soapbox to highlight the struggles and needs of the overlooked thousands of teens and young adults who live with debilitating chronic illness. People – you and me – tend to get so busy we forget about them and their overworked and over stressed parents/caregivers.

Can you please take a moment today to send a quick encouraging message to one of your chronically ill friends or another group of people whose struggle is near and dear to my heart: one of your friends you know struggling with mental issues?

Next step:  Brainstorm ways you can serve them (the patient and their family) in big and small ways.  Something as simple as a pizza gift card can help take care of their dinner AND ease their financial stress when medical bills are never ending.  Most importantly, it helps them to remember they are not forgotten…. that they matter.

You will never truly understandBack to my soapbox:  I love the dedication of the medical teams who REALLY understands invisible illnesses and works diligently to not only ease the symptoms, but search for a cure.   This soapbox is NOT for those dedicated medical team members.  However, I REALLY get on my soapbox when some in the medical community seem to feel better when modern science can not explain a physical chronic illness so they tell these kids it’s all “in their head”. I have heard this told to countless patients we met through Mik’s charity, Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance, all over the country.

(1). Majority of them did not start their illness journey depressed. Living years in pain and isolation CAN cause feelings of depression. However some doctors just want to focus on the depression, claiming the physical symptoms the patients are facing are due to their “sad” feelings, refer them to a psychiatrist without trying to cure the illness or do not believe the physical symptoms are caused by a chronic illness that in many cases, still in its infancy in research.

2. No matter what, mental disorders are REAL. Those who suffer from it are similar to our chronically ill teens in that both groups fight an invisible battle everyday. Just because you can’t see it does not mean it is not real.

3. Do I believe all our chronically ill teens should be diagnosed as depressed? No – because this may not be the case (everyone gets the blues now and then) and this is like a pat on the head non-serious answer that tends to trivialize their physical symptoms AND it lessens the importance of those suffering true long term depression battles.

Both chronically ill patients and those patients suffering from a mental illness needs our understanding, compassion and hope. Treat your immediate world a little nicer. Practice patience in our rush get out of my way society. Reach out to them on a regular basis to let them know they are not forgotten.

Because you will never know how far your one smile or your one kind word can make someone’s day a little better. Spreading kindness and understanding gives life to hope. Hope encourages all to keep on trying.

And please remember – there is NO shame in asking for help when you or a loved one realizes the “blues” is much bigger than a temporary down time.  Get professional help.  If we were more transparent with one another, we would realize many people we think have it “all together” are really struggling with their own invisible battle.  Regardless what your personal battle looks like, we are all in this together.  Love thy neighbor and let’s work on making our world a little more compassionate and understanding.  End of Soap Box : )

Hope graphic copy


Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance is dedicated to bringing positive encouragement and hope to homebound and hospitalized teens and young adults who suffer from Dysautonomia and other life-changing chronic illnesses through social outreach, Hope Kits, Hospital Teen Program and Dysautonomia Awareness.  #dysautonomia #chronicillness #Hope4DysTeens #TheHidden Dysautonomia Teens

Please help spread awareness!  Like our Facebook and Twitter pages.

 Learn how you can help MHHA here.

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My Hidden Hearts letter jacket (I lettered in life) with the place I spent most of my high school years in the background: Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

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My senior year, and rocky high school journey, have both come to a close. It is completely surreal to me because even though these years have all been challenging and seemed to go by so slow – it went by in the blink of an eye.

You would think that I would be tremendously happy to have these past four years behind me, but in reality I’m filled with a bitter sweetness as I go over the memories, the trials, the triumphs, and answered prayers.  And as I review these last few years, really starting at my “new life” that began on October 23, 2010 when I first collapsed and ultimately learned I had the life-changing often debilitating illness beast called Dysautonomia, I realized I learned 4 key lessons I would not have learned otherwise.

1.     Would I change it if I could?  If I was told that I could go back and change everything, especially becoming stricken with Dysautonomia, to live the life I had originally imagined – I would refuse the offer. Why?  Because despite how difficult this path has been it has been so rewarding in return.  The people I have met, especially my fellow hidden (chronically-ill) teens, I would not have met otherwise makes me not even contemplate for a moment to change the last 4 years.  Sure, I could do without being a human pincushion and the myriad of very unpredictable painful symptoms of Dysautonomia, but I would never trade having these people come into my life period.

2.     Discovering my purpose:  Through difficult times, it is what led me to discover there are other hidden teens and young adults like me and this developed a desire to reach out to them. One inspiring idea led to another and the idea for Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance was born. It took a challenging course of four years for everything to fall in its place and for certain prayers to be answered – especially receiving the vital help from volunteers and donors to make MHHA possible. I haven’t always been the most patient in waiting for all my prayers to happen, but when they have, it proved to me that it’s true that God’s timing is perfect.

3.     Pushing forward despite any obstacles life may throw my way:  Though I have improved physically compared to where I once was, Dysautonomia still has its grip on me revealing to me that I still have much healing to do mentally and emotionally. I am still triumphant in spite of it, and I know that God will help me through my struggles and heal the emotional wounds I bear… and that He has many more great things planned for the future. Besides the occasional tug on my emotions, life is kind of quiet at the moment. Currently, I have been meeting with all of my great business and charity mentors to obtain guidance on how to further expand and improve MHHA, as well as getting ready for community college next month (My goal is to pursue a degree in business so I can better serve my charity.)

4.     Despite Dysautonomia being unpredictable:  Dream, set goals, but understand it is okay not to have “all the answers”:  I have many goals for the next few years, but do not have everything exactly figured out yet….and for me that is okay. I am just going to wait and see what happens and where life will take me. In the mean time, I am going to take every little opportunity and adventure that is presented, find enjoyment in each day, run after my crazy ambitious goals, serve others, and break free of the tight hold that Dysautonomia has kept me in for so long.
 

With starting college, I am starting a whole new chapter in my life and this illness can no longer contain my spirit that is ready to soar. I am going to go out and LIVE.

Here is a sweet video my mom made in honor of my 18th birthday and graduation featuring many friends of mine I have met through Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance.

Below are some of my pictures throughout my High School journey.  The photos by Jen Culotta are a series we did to do “nontraditional” senior photos.  I wanted Senior Journey photos and just amazed at her beautiful work.  Thank you for following my journey.  To learn more about my charity, please visit www.mikshiddenhearts.org.

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The dress shopping day for last year's Anti-Prom

The dress shopping day for the first Anti-Prom

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I was very honored to be awarded one of the Hope and Joy Scholarship.

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ImageUPDATE! Meet us at 3:30 in the lobby on Friday. Those who RSVP by tonight, we will have your tickets. If you can come at the last minute, just buy your ticket at the door.

Join us to see Angelina Jolie’s latest movie, Disney’s Maleficent on Friday May 30, 2014 at Santikos Palladium in Richmond, Tx.

All MHHA teens & young adults, their families and our volunteers are welcome to attend!

RSVP so we can expect you!  We are going to (try) to get our group together to purchase the discounted tickets.  But we need to hear from you first!  Click here to RSVP.

Santikos Palladium:  7301 Grand Parkway Richmond, TX 77407 (Just south of Westpark Tollway)  (map)

Time will be determined as the day gets closer (when they release time availability).  We are planning a time approximately 3:00pm.

http://www.santikos.com/movie_details?movie_id=134965&date=2014-05-29

The untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty.” A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman with stunning black wings, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army of humans threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal – an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the king of the humans and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom – and to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.


Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance is dedicated to bringing positive encouragement and hope to homebound and hospitalized teens who suffer from Dysautonomia and other life-changing chronic illnesses through social outreach, Hope Kits, Hospital Teen Program and Dysautonomia Awareness.  #dysautonomia #chronicillness #Hope4DysTeens #TheHidden Dysautonomia Teens

Please help spread awareness!  Like our Facebook and Twitter pages.

 Learn how you can help MHHA here.

We appreciate all of our angelic sponsors.  With every big or small donation, we are able to help more Hidden Teens.  Special thank you to our Gold Heart Sponsors at Lamb Foundation for Dysautonomia ResearchSpero Rehab and J Knesek & Assoc.

1796071_10104425760522310_7602960737308177770_oWe are so excited to announce we at Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance are partnering again with Maggiano’s Little Italy for the 2015 3rd Annual Anti-PROM for teens & young adults with Dysautonomia and other life-changing chronic illnesses!

Save the Date:  Sunday, April 26, 2015

 We will have MORE space (the entire 2nd floor including the ballroom) and MORE casino games!  

Please message us here if you would like to be on our Anti-PROM notification list.

DID YOU ATTEND ANTI-PROM 2014??  From volunteers to guests, we would love to hear from YOU!  Please fill out this quick survey on your thoughts of our event.  We want to go bigger and better and would love your help!  Click here for the survey.

 

Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance is dedicated to bringing positive encouragement and hope to homebound and hospitalized teens who suffer from Dysautonomia and other life-changing chronic illnesses through social outreach, Hope Kits, Hospital Teen Program and Dysautonomia Awareness.  #dysautonomia #chronicillness #Hope4DysTeens #TheHidden Dysautonomia Teens

Please help spread awareness!  Like our Facebook and Twitter pages.

 Learn how you can help MHHA here.

We appreciate all of our angelic sponsors.  With every big or small donation, we are able to help more Hidden Teens.  Special thank you to our Gold Heart Sponsors at Lamb Foundation for Dysautonomia ResearchSpero Rehab and J Knesek & Assoc.10265505_10104429082170700_6095127991770729853_o891675_10104429071566950_7413211277773523743_o1522828_10104429081986070_4502917887365867810_o

ImageJoin us to see Angelina Jolie’s latest movie, Disney’s Maleficent on Friday May 30, 2014 at Santikos Palladium in Richmond, Tx.

All MHHA teens & young adults, their families and our volunteers are welcome to attend!

RSVP so we can expect you!  We are going to (try) to get our group together to purchase the discounted tickets.  But we need to hear from you first!  Click here to RSVP.

Santikos Palladium:  7301 Grand Parkway Richmond, TX 77407 (Just south of Westpark Tollway)  (map)

Time will be determined as the day gets closer (when they release time availability).  We are planning a time approximately 3:00pm.

http://www.santikos.com/movie_details?movie_id=134965&date=2014-05-29

The untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty.” A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman with stunning black wings, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army of humans threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal – an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the king of the humans and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom – and to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.


Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance is dedicated to bringing positive encouragement and hope to homebound and hospitalized teens who suffer from Dysautonomia and other life-changing chronic illnesses through social outreach, Hope Kits, Hospital Teen Program and Dysautonomia Awareness.  #dysautonomia #chronicillness #Hope4DysTeens #TheHidden Dysautonomia Teens

Please help spread awareness!  Like our Facebook and Twitter pages.

 Learn how you can help MHHA here.

We appreciate all of our angelic sponsors.  With every big or small donation, we are able to help more Hidden Teens.  Special thank you to our Gold Heart Sponsors at Lamb Foundation for Dysautonomia ResearchSpero Rehab and J Knesek & Assoc.

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Me and my felllow hidden teens: Michael & Natalia

The second annual Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance Anti-Prom for our hidden teens and young adults was a huge success!  

I am still in a bubble of happiness about it (with a little bit of sadness that it’s over…). My devoted family and friends worked so hard for months to pull everything together for this event and it definitely showed. Without them, the Anti-Prom wouldn’t even be possible. I thank you all so much and I love you all. Ya’ll are my heroes.

This year, we held the event at the lovely Maggiano’s Italian restaurant in the Houston Galleria area. The always amazing Mike Eichenberger was our emcee and our night consisted of dining on a delicious dinner prepared by the restaurant, casino games, TONS of prizes and a photo booth from Jonny Black Productions (which was such a fun addition this year!).

 

Swag Bags!  Sponsored by The Abbott Family, The Allen Family and The Toman Family

Swag Bags! Sponsored by The Abbott Family, The Allen Family and The Toman Family

SWAG BAGS:  Each guest went home with a swag bag made possible by the Abbott Family, Allen Family and Toman Family.  Each one was complete with a new edition MHHA t-shirt, MHHA coffee cup, wrist band, candy, drinks provided by Hoist, and more.

 

1265237_10104429087554910_6297330772429939780_oPRIZE  BASKETS:  We also gave away numerous big prize baskets that were completely awesome (if you ask me) with the top 3 prizes included:  a Texan’s themed basket which contained four tickets to their next game (donated through the Katy Classical Academy donation drive/ Johnson Family), 24 inch Flat Screen TV / Blu-ray dvd from the employees at Enterprise Bank Pin Oak location, and Beats headphones/gift cards basket from Enterprise Bank employees at Pin Oak location..

Perhaps one of the biggest highlights of the night was that three news stations came up and did a report on the prom. It was quite a surprise to me and I was both excited and nervous when I was interviewed, but I was pretty pumped that we were going to have word get out to those watching of what Dysautonomia is and what Anti-Prom\MHHA is all about. Much thanks to ABC 13 News, Fox 26, and Univision for covering the event.  I would also like to thank my fellow hidden teen, Natalia Rijos, for speaking Spanish on our behalf for the Univision interview – you are a wonderful spokesperson!  1973369_10104429049466240_4588128782616635838_o

I also want to thank my Anti-Prom committee which includes my co-chairs Lori Allen, my Aunt Ronda, and my mom. Thank you all so much for the hours of work you put into this event and for running with my crazy, over-the-top ideas and making them possible. Lori created the beautiful Anti-PROM masquerade decor, coordinated many details with Maggiano’s and so much more to list. She is so absolutely talented and she ran with the vision I had for the prom and it came out beautiful (You rock Lori!!).

My Aunt Ronda took off a whole week of work just so she could focus on putting together all of the door prizes, prize baskets, and swag bags (as well as running all over town collecting donations). Much appreciation to her team of volunteers across town for literally dropping everything to help her put together all the gorgeous prize baskets and door prizes!!  My grandmother, aka Nana, also helped tremendously with this and I thank you both for both being some of my biggest advocates and for everything you have done for me, this event, and MHHA.

I also want to thank my mom so incredibly much for everything. For staying up late hours creating designs, coordinating, and spreading the word. For running around on the brink of insanity to make sure everything is pulled together – for always being a great mentor, and for being an amazing mom to me and to my two siblings in the middle of it all.

10003634_10104429050923320_6918126023045552876_oFor all of our donation coordinators who went above and beyond by reaching out to their favorite businesses, coworkers, families and friends to gather so many donations that left our hidden guests in awe of the too many to count prize baskets and door prizes.  (Big big big thank you to Lesha Daniel for always quietly working her magic and sharing our story and her daughter’s dysautonomia story so effectively and heartfelt that our community just embraces us to help do their part.  And to Kimberly Smith for working her magic with her coworkers… what generous supporters!)

The Anti-Prom was a magical night and was all the more special to me with this being my senior year. To see the smiles and joy on my fellow hidden teens and young adult mentors faces, was a privilege and I am so honored to be among so many inspiring people.  It is a memory I will always cherish and I look forward to giving other hidden teens this special night for many more years to come.10259926_10203889823911229_3628666037562009240_n

Big thank you to Brett Perroux Photography and Tiffany Daniel Photography for capturing our event beautifully!  See below for their link for the photos.

To see the news reports about our Anti-PROM, click below:

Fox 26 News: Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance Anti-PROM

ABC 13 News:  Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance Anti-PROM


MHHA Anti-PROM could not be possible without our generous volunteers, donors and sponsors. 

(This list is continuously being updated as we receive the Anti-PROM wrap up details from our volunteers.  Please send your updates to:  info@mikshiddenhearts.org.  We want to make sure all of our generous supporters are recognized!)


1978809_10203877963894736_8939445103350707827_n-Our volunteers who helped set up, deal, supervise, and so much more!  

BIG thank you to our neighbors, The Pinel Family (for everything!!) and our other sweet neighbors (we are so blessed!) Kelly & Rodney who saw a moving van, knew we had Anti-PROM coming up and generously (and blindly!) offered to help move/setup whatever we needed (and boy did we need their help!)

  • Our entire Anti-PROM volunteer team!
  • Maggiano’s Restaurant (and especially event coordinator Allison!)
  • Mike Eichenberger – Emcee
  • ABC 13 News
  • Fox News
  • Univision
  • Katy Classical Academy (for the prize donation drive and selecting MHHA for their Charity of the Month)
  • Pruning Hook’s Ministry for donating dozens of beautiful prom dresses to our hidden teen girls
  • Brett Perroux Photography and Tiffany Daniel Photography – for once again capturing our event beautifully!  Thank you!!
  • Jonny Black Productions for the fun photo booth

 

Thank you Donors!:

  • The Abbott Family
  • The Allen Family
  • The Andrews Family
  • The Bowen Family
  • The Butler Family
  • The Canseco Family
  • The Dudley Family / Lia Sophia Rep Stephanie Dudley
  • The Girgenti Family
  • The Heard Family
  • Patty Hermann
  • The Jinks Family
  • The Johnson Family
  • The Lamb Family / Lamb Foundation for Dysautonomia Research
  • The Leavitt Family
  • The Lee Family
  • The Lyons Family
  • The McWhorter Family
  • The Morello Family
  • The Northcutt Family
  • The Pinel Family
  • The Schwartz Family
  • The Smith Family
  • The Smithers Family
  • The Stilwell Family
  • The Svatek Family
  • The Thorpe Family
  • The Toman Family
  • The Wright Family
  • Blackjack Casino Company (without you, there would be no casino night!)
  • Brookshire Brothers
  • Dr. Catherine Wilder, Smile Design
  • Enterprise Bank Pin Oak Location in Katy
  • Fox Pizza
  • Girl Scout Troop 7109:  Clear Lake / Seabrook
  • Global Kids Project
  • Gringo’s Mexican Restaurant
  • Hoist
  • James Avery Jewelry – Katy location (Cyndi Miller coordinator)
  • Katy ISD Maintenance Dept Coworkers (Kimberly Smith coordinator)
  • Keep Kids Connected
  • Melaney Gibbs-Tarantino
  • Mickie C and Company Realty
  • Midway BBQ
  • Origami Owl – Stephanie Parrish
  • Pilates Powerhouse
  • Sandi Hall – Medical Massage Therapist
  • The Santikos Palladium
  • Tim & Staci Domino – Bath & Body Works gift cards
  • Visible Changes, Inc

MHHA Event Photography:  Guests, volunteers and donors have the rights to use our photos.  If you want to use them for any type of publicity purposes, permission in writing must be granted from us.  Email us at:   info@mikshiddenhearts.org

Tiffany Daniel Photography Anti-PROM Pictures (code to download 4574)

Brett Perroux Photography Anti-PROM Pictures:  Pics below.

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Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance is dedicated to bringing positive encouragement and hope to homebound and hospitalized teens who suffer from Dysautonomia and other life-changing chronic illnesses through social outreach, Hope Kits, Hospital Teen Program and Dysautonomia Awareness.  #dysautonomia #chronicillness #Hope4DysTeens #TheHidden Dysautonomia Teens

Please help spread awareness!  Like our Facebook and Twitter pages.

 Learn how you can help MHHA here.

We appreciate all of our angelic sponsors.  With every big or small donation, we are able to help more Hidden Teens.  Special thank you to our Gold Heart Sponsors at Lamb Foundation for Dysautonomia ResearchSpero Rehab and J Knesek & Assoc.

Aside  —  Posted: April 29, 2014 in Charity Events, Dysautonomia, Mikaela's Words, Teen Social, Uncategorized
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