Causes leader Heather Sheets saw an opportunity to make sick children feel better about themselves and she ran with it. Heather created a Causes.com fundraiser for The Oldham Project, a nonprofit that provides photo portraits to people suffering from life threatening and terminal illnesses. Heather movingly articulated the portrait experience as “capturing the beautiful and painful moments of a person’s life.” Heather’s fundraiser for the Oldham Project will enable the organization to purchase $1,100 worth of photography supplies this year and she’s not stopping there. We caught up with her this week to talk about where she started.
In 2011, Heather began participating in a volunteer program founded by NFL running back Todd “T.J.” Duckett. “It was basically ‘doing lunch for a purpose.’ I would donate one lunch hour a week to volunteer for an organization. Through there, I met T.J. because he was one of the founders of that group.” T.J. was also the founder of the Jacquelyn Barham Challenge — an event in honor of his mother who passed away from cancer in 2000.
This year, the Jacquleyn Barham Challenge focused on fundraising for one of the Oldham Project’s programs called “Kourageous Kids” — an initiative “offering families with children suffering from various cancers, as well as other life threatening illnesses, the opportunity to live a fantasy through portraiture.” Heather jumped at the opportunity to help and took the lead by launching a fundraiser on Causes. Full of emotion during our chat last week, Heather emphasized the significance of giving a child the chance to forget about his or her illness, at least for a few hours, and dream about something else. “One little girl told me about how she always wanted to go into modeling. [Oldham Project photographer] Terry told her to bring whatever clothes she wanted, and told her it was her photo shoot. She prepared everything the night before: She had her outfit, her jewelry and marked the accessories and outfits.”
Heather knew she wanted to build a formidable social media campaign and sought out Causes. “We wanted to show kids and students how easy it was to generate some buzz about something. The cause page allowed for this and it showed kids how to meet a goal.” She launched her campaign hoping to raise enough to inspire high school students to start their own fundraisers.
To date, Heather has raised more than $1,100 for Kourageous Kids, providing ample photo supplies to the program. “When kids hit that point when they’re seeking treatment and are down, the last thing they want is to have a picture taken. But with the support of the Oldham Project, and the partnerships with salons and spas, they end up feeling beautiful.” As the old adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousands words.” In this case, giving a sick child the chance to dream is priceless.
Causes leader Heather Sheets is currently in the process of launching her own nonprofit, New World Flood, which will help motivate young people to participate in social good.