Category Archives: Archives, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree! Oh Christmas Tree!

Turnkey Promotions Christmas Tree

November 29 and I am putting up my Christmas tree. I am not excited about what I know will be a struggle, though I am pleased with myself it’s still November.

Sometime during the year, my faux tree spawned. I am certain I had only one tree, yet now there are two with their little alphabetically labeled parts all mixed together. The parts look the same and almost fit together, but it’s virtually impossible to put together any single tree.

Why not use a fresh tree instead? I grew up with fresh trees. They’re dirty and have insects, and I fear it will burst into flames. And, if I use my absolutely unnatural tree for 437 years, I will give the environment a net gain. I am feeling very smug and “green” about that much as I take a break and sit at my kitchen table munching edamame, which is a very healthy new food that looks remarkably like the soy beans we grew on the farm to feed the cows. If we had sold those soy beans at 1/10 the price I am now paying for them, we would be very, very rich dirt farmers. Who knew people could eat that stuff?

My children think that the use of duct tape, tomato stakes, wine corks, and bungee cords are all a normal part of putting up the tree. This year, I am using color coordinated, festive bungees to add to the holiday spirit. The kids also think that minor injuries sustained while putting up the tree are part of the experience. This year, I believe I have found the perfect balance of bungees and wine corks around the tree base to keep it stable. It’s early yet, and I have time to add to the cork stability system if it weren’t for those pesky screw top bottles.

As we build, guessing at what pieces might work together, my youngest is giving me the, “It’s the beauty of the season, of Christ’s love, it’s not about the tree, Mom” speech. While I love the little bugger for his effort, I am frustrated by visions of my first guest who notices: a) the bungees holding the tree to the stand, and b) the tree is not only fake, but it’s two different colors. My son wisely suggests that he do his homework at the kitchen table for a bit. This is code for “You’re frustrated and I’m heading for the woods.”

I stuff in random excess tree pieces until I get the desired effect: no bungees showing, no wine corks showing, no unnatural center metal/plastic pole showing. Ready for lights. I have three Band-Aids on me already. My helper-son is doing better. The other two kids are, well, either smarter than the two of us, or less willing to risk bodily harm ─ they deserted us long ago.

Lights are on. It’s looking pretty good. I insert more excess spawn limbs. I end up with almost half a tree left over and, shockingly, one fabulous looking tree.

Then I think… did I actually PLAN this? Did I have the foresight last year to buy another tree at 50% off? DID I PLAN AHEAD? Was my forgotten thoughtfulness responsible for an ordeal less desperate this year? Did it save the life of pine tree in my yard? (Last year one got denuded so I could fill in the holes within the tree.)

This is for me a strong argument for planning in wrap up and not in crisis. It’s a lesson about looking forward with today’s experience and doing something about events yet unhappened. Or, it could just mean shopping for discounts after the holiday season is sure to bring peace and good will among men.

Happy holidays everyone!

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Lilly’s Story: A Perfect, Precious Gift

I have a daughter with Down Syndrome, autism, and type 1 diabetes. When I say that to people, they do a little half grimace, intake of breath with a hint of furrowed brow… all meant to convey: that’s a hard life for you, and how do you do it? And Thank God that I don’t have to and I’m here for you. I really appreciate all those sentiments, but only rarely do people add the missing – tell me how she makes your life wonderful. 

It seems impossible for people on the outside of our world to understand (including me before I got thrown into the deep end of the pool with a set of genetic testing results) that our children are far, far, far and away a net gain. Coline, an employee of mine, has a wonderful daughter who tells it best as she describes her precious daughter Lilly. 

During this season of reflection and giving thanks, I encourage you to share this story. And if you have a moment, tell me how your child enriches your life.


Lilly’s Story

Turnkey Promotions blog imageMy beautiful daughter, Lillian Josephine was born with a rare genetic disorder. It is called an unbalanced translocation of chromosomes 8 and 10. In simple terms, a portion of her 10th chromosome got stuck onto chromosome 8 and a portion of her 8th chromosome got stuck on to chromosome 10. While this doesn’t seem like such a big deal, when unbalanced, it actually causes a laundry list of congenital disorders and anomalies. 

Because we found out her diagnosis early in the pregnancy, doctors told us that there was a good chance that she would never make it to term, or if she did, she would not be born alive. We were told that “these mistakes usually take care of themselves.” They also told us that there was a good chance she would not thrive if she did make it. Needless to say, it was a long and stressful pregnancy. I prayed and pleaded each and every minute of those 40 weeks. I clung to each kick, hiccup, and roll as a sign that she was going to make it. And on her due date 2/26/10 she was born by emergency c-section, weighing 4 lbs 10 oz.

She spent the first 7 days of her life in the NICU.

While she is only 8 1/2 months young, she has already been diagnosed with hydrocephalus (excess fluid on the brain), hearing loss in both ears (she wears hearing aids), eye abnormalities, central sleep apnea, feeding difficulties, heart disease (aortic stenosis), kidney disease, hydronephrosis (swelling and excess fluid on the kidneys) kidney reflux, GERD, low muscle tone, and developmental delays. In addition, her condition causes her to be very small for her age. She is almost 9 months old and weighs about 12 lbs 13 oz (the size of a small 3 month old).  

At 2 1/2 months Lilly had surgery to have a shunt placed into her brain to help drain fluid. This is something that will need to be monitored (and perhaps have revised) for the rest of her life. She has spent about 37 days in the hospital so far for things ranging from urinary tract infections, sleep apnea, respiratory issues, feeding difficulties, kidney issues, low calcium, high potassium, and numerous other complications. 

At home she receives physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/feeding therapy, infant massage, nutritional assistance. To date, she has about 11 specialists that monitor her health very closely. 

Along the way we have been told things like: “these children are a lot of work that will not pay off in the end” that we would “never get back what we put in” and that her future (if there is one) is “bleak.” They insinuated that she is a throw away and told us that we “deserve to go on to have a normal child.” 

Well, in my opinion, those doctors and their text books can all go to hell. She is an amazing blessing – a magical child whose smile can light up the room. She eats and plays and sleeps like a typical child, only with a twist here and there. While certain things take her longer and require more effort, she is tenacious and strong willed. She loves going for walks, listening to music, and exploring her world. She is patient and loving and has an infectious giggle that can bring a grown man to tears. 

There are no other reported cases, so little is known about this rare chromosome disorder. So for now, we take things one day at a time. And when possible, find humor wherever we can. She has taught us so much in her short life – things that we thought we knew, but could not, until now. Things like patience, tolerance, unconditional love, compassion, understanding, and strength. She has taught us about true beauty. And most of all, she has taught us to never take one minute, one smile, or even one coo for granted.  

And although it may seem weird to the world, we are excited for the future, ready to face the challenges, ready to prove them all wrong. She is not a diagnosis or a mistake. She is not broken or incomplete. She is not temporary or less than. 

She is my perfect daughter.

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Clever Audience Targeting Pays Off Big for Special Olympics

Over the Edge event logoSpecial Olympics, one of our favorite nonprofit clients, recently started a new event in Iowa called Over the Edge. For those of you who don’t know, Special Olympics is well-known for extreme fundraising events. In an Over the Edge event, one fundraises for the privilege of rappelling down a really, really, really, (hands are sweating) tall building… on a rope without a parachute. The rope part may be normal to some of you but it looked really, really small and thin and weak to me (feeling nauseated now).

My company, Turnkey Promotions, administered the incentive program used by SOIA to motivate the participant fundraisers. The income goal for this first time was $80,000. The affiliate ended up raising $122,000. That’s 53% over goal! How did they do it?

First of all, the organizers drew heavily on well-known best practices, like our pre-event promotions and our recognition gift program. But, what they also did extremely well was to identify and tap into more than one potential audience.

They realized that there are people like me who love Special Olympics because of their own little Special Olympian in their life, and there are those who just can’t wait to jump off tall buildings. These are not necessarily the same people… although most of us who love a Special Olympian would jump off a building for that person.

Tapping into both those audiences – the SO-loving audience through known and well-used channels and lists, and the thrill seeker audience through other PR efforts – made for high income and new SO advocates for this organization. Clever of them to recognize and mobilize both audiences. Yeah! I am a fan.

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