Loudoun Foundation president Tracey Parent does not believe in coincidences. So when she read about Taylor Love of Ashburn, a 2-year-old who has neuroblastoma, a cancer that occurs in the sympathetic nervous system, she knew she had to act.
"I felt compelled to do something," Parent said.
And do something she did.
Just nine days after reading about Taylor, Parent helped organize a fund-raising event for the Love family at the Loudoun Summer Music Fest’s Taylor Hicks concert. She was also able to introduce the Love family to David Smith, CEO of Special Love, a nonprofit that supports children with cancer and their families.
"I love making these connections," Parent said. "Taylor with Taylor; the Love family with Special Love."
Smith said it can sometimes be difficult for Special Love to reach new families, like the Loves who had not previously known about the organization, because of privacy restrictions.
"It’s either word of mouth or someone tells us we have to meet a family," he said. "And this is a case in point."
TO HELP RAISE money for the Love family, Parent organized a raffle to be held during the event, where the winner would be able to meet Taylor Hicks after the show.
"Taylor Hick’s people were very supportive," she said. "And all the money goes to the family."
In addition, family friends Jennifer Hubacker and Lara Bryson set up a table where they sold the bracelets they designed specifically for Taylor. The Love family helped make about 80 bracelets for the event.
"My friends have been very supportive," Aimee Love, Taylor’s mother, said Sunday night.
"We wanted to raise money in a way that did not interfere with our other charities," Parent said. Nonprofits Special Love and Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers receive a portion of the Loudoun Summer Music Fest’s proceeds to help support their programs.
By 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 8, members of the 3,500-person audience lined up along the booth and the raffle tickets were selling fast.
"People are being so generous," Hubacker said. "They are selling like hotcakes."
With the support of Taylor Hicks, more than $3,500 was raised for the Love family.
"It was so nice that they thought of the raffle because it’s so simple and yet so successful," Hubacker said.
SHORTLY BEFORE HICKS took the stage the two Taylors came together in a backstage trailer. Crouching on the ground, Hicks spoke with Taylor, even helping her search through the drink bin for ice. The Love family also presented Hicks with a special bracelet made for him the evening before. Using navy beads and silver, the bracelet spelled out their shared name.
"It’s all so overwhelming," Aimee Love said of the outpouring of support. "We really didn’t know what to think when we got the call. It’s very exciting for us, while we are still trying to focus on what’s most important."
It was less than 10 days ago that Taylor was allowed to come home from the hospital. She arrived home the evening of June 27, her second birthday.
"She’s been home for eight days, which has been wonderful," Aimee Love said. "She’s been so happy."