Project Give Back Connects – Episode 4 Silver Linings
This episode brought with it such joy and inspiration. We met an incredible family, the Florence triplets; Cole, Taylor, and Brody, along with their mother, Dana Geall, and father, Jared Florence. Ellen introduced them all and spoke about heroes. She said, “heroes lead, teach and inspire, but not all wear capes. Heroes come in all sizes and demonstrate their heroics through their actions.” Case in point, meet the Florence/Geall family.
To start, Dana spoke about the lessons she has learned from her children, the triplets, who are now 12 years old. As babies, they were born prematurely and had to endure countless procedures and surgeries, just to keep them alive. Dana recalled the sage advise a nurse once gave her which encouraged her to carry on: “Don’t focus on the big picture, focus on the day/moment.” It took many months before all three triplets arrived home. They needed a lot of help and were told that they would always be behind. Many hours of therapy occupied the majority of their time. Then, at age two, the triplets were diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP), a Neurological disorder which affects how messages are sent to the body. They were given a severe diagnosis with no prognosis. Dana recalled how she wasn’t sure how she would cope, but knew one thing for certain; that she wasn’t going to let this diagnosis define them!
Moving forward, while therapies continued, Dana co-founded the charity, Three To Be, which, in its time, raised over $5 million in research for CP. It’s her children’s courage and bravery that has propelled Dana and continues to give her strength. Saying that, despite all their surgeries, set backs and challenges, they endure with infectious energy and a positive outlook. Their journey has inspired Dana to write a book, which revolves around Inclusion. The book is called, See Me For Me. It shares Dana’s story, while promoting inclusion and empathy. Inclusion is really about people with special needs teaching us about the world. Dana spoke about what inclusion means to her; ‘It’s not just about physical inclusion, like ramps and elevators, but rather the emotional connection’. Dana said that, “When people have empathy, they can embrace others for who they are and include them as part of the community.”
As for the triplets, we first got to meet Brody, whose beaming smile conveys more meaning than words can ever capture. Then, his brother Cole spoke so eloquently about what inclusion means to him. His advice was so pure and true. He told us that when meeting anyone who looks different, just say hi and don’t stare. Don’t judge, instead embrace! Wise words from an incredible young man.
Jared Florence, the triplets father, spoke about the life lessons that he learned from his children. He said that his children have always inspired him. Even after the insurmountable challenges and obstacles that face them, they continuously have smiles on their faces. These smiles give Jared his strength. When he’s down, Taylor tells him, “Chill out dad, just breath”. Things move quick; slow down and open your eyes to appreciate and see what is important. Be present and in the moment and just be you!
Next, we were treated to a beautiful performance by Taylor and Dana called, ‘Don’t Give Up’. This performance was followed by one from AJA Neinstein, who sang the song ‘Honesty’, by Pink Sweats. These performances captured the essence of this heartwarming evening.
We concluded by checking in with Lindsay @one2give. She spoke about her recent drop off to Youth Without Shelter and told us how they were really touched by all that was given but especially the art work. So her challenge to us this week, was to bring back the art; all the signs,quotes and rainbows that were posted throughout the city during the beginning of quarantine. We need those little things to bring us hope and they ultimately make a big difference.
Thank you to all our guests this evening, whose words, actions and heroics showed us the true meaning behind these silver linings!