People who have already been through their struggles and come out on top get lots of accolades, don’t they? And rightly so. They have been to the top of the mountain and back down again, and survived. But what about when you are in the middle of the struggle, or you are just beginning? Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone say, “I believe in you and what you are doing; how can I help?”
There’s nothing better than that.
The Bernabe Family: In Support of Holly’s Dream
Let me introduce you to two people who could use just that. We will start with Holly, because she is the first one of these two that I met. Holly Bernabe has had a long time dream of walking across the United States. In 2009, she was financially prepared, physically prepared, and she set off. The decision had been made that Holly’s husband, Micah, would be her support person, travelling along in a hi-lo travel trailer with their seven year old daughter, Willow, who they would homeschool for a year. After having worked and attended college full time, Holly was burnt out. The year before, her husband, Micah had lost his leg. The whole family needed some time away to reconnect as a family and enjoy one another. Holly may have been about to face the challenge of a lifetime, but she was ready. The family was ready.
Willow, Holly and Micah’s daughter on the day she walked her furthest with her mom: 4 miles. Image titled: Willow Marches On
It was not long after Holly started her walk across the United States that things began to fall apart, and it became clear that Holly would not be able to complete her walk that year. Holly looks at it as an experience worth having though. “There were many reasons we came home, and I was very disappointed about the whole thing. But at least we got to spend a very nice summer having fun as a family and reconnecting. . . and I felt happy that I had done something that nobody else in my family had ever done. ”
If not being able to go through with your dream wasn’t enough, shortly after they came back home, Micah found out that he had kidney failure.
Holly Didn’t Quit Her Dream
In 2011, Holly started preparing again. Enter her blog, where I soon found her. Holly posted regularly about her preparations, debating over what kind of walking shoes to wear, posting about her “Portland Walkabouts” where she took tons of pictures, contending with local unleashed dogs, walking her daughter to school and her husband to dialysis.
One thing Holly was missing, was a cause that she could walk for. She figured if she was going to walk that far, she should have a cause. But nothing was popping out at her. With or without a cause though, Holly had a dream. And the day was set: April 1, 2012. She would begin her walk in Oregon, and walk across the United States, more than 2,000 miles.
She put her truck up for sale, the final factor to her financial preparations, and she waited for a taker.
As April 1 approached, Holly felt like April Fool’s day was raining on her parade. As April 1 came and went, I wondered if Holly would keep blogging about her walk. What would she do? I wondered. Would she give up her dream?
Dream Reformed: A Dream with a Cause
Holly kept posting, and I kept reading. She hadn’t given up. She realized this year wouldn’t be the year she would walk across the United States, so she set her eyes on next year. In the meantime, she decided to walk the 2000 miles around the Portland area (and each week she has a delightful photo display of what she sees), and her posts started becoming more peppered with her personal life. And one in particular piqued my interest.
Holly was frustrated with the situation her husband was in. She pounded out her frustrations on the keyboard, instead of taking the worst of them out on her husband, and she openly and vulnerably wrote about how she felt about her husband’s kidney situation, and how she blamed him for a lot of it in her post titled, “Confessions of a Lousy Wife”. But in the same post, she told her readers how she came to a new understanding of her husband’s kidney failure, and his process of dealing with it.
While attending a kidney health symposium, Holly listened as a woman named Patty Danielson talked about her process of acceptance of her own renal failure: “She described her coming to terms with her own kidney failure as going through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. She described what each phase was like. I couldn’t help but notice the parallels in Micah’s life.”
In the midst of this frustration, Holly came to an epiphany. She was missing it all along, she wrote in her post titled, “Call Me the Reformed Idiot”. “Being there [at the kidney health symposium] was like lifting this veil off my face. My vision became much more clear. I think my own grief issues over my husband’s condition caused me to look the other way when it came down to it. I didn’t want to THINK about his disease because I was so mad at the world and mad at him that he had it. Silly, I know, but all part of the process, I guess.”
Here her “cause,” her purpose for walking the United States was, staring at her in the face and because she was dealing with her own grief about it, she could not see it! Her husband’s struggle with kidney failure, his many trips to the hospital for dialysis, the toll it had taken on their family, and the waiting for a kidney replacement, were all a part of this cause. She would walk the United States to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation!
Holly and Micah Dream Together
Recently, Holly wrote about a new project that she and her husband are undertaking. Holly’s education is in Film, and she has always had a desire to produce a documentary. Micah has a similar desire (thanks to Holly). One thing Micah has found as he has struggled with renal failure for the past three years, is that many people who go through this feel they are struggling alone. He would like to change this. Holly would like to help him.
The two of them are working together to create a documentary about renal failure, and what people go through when they find out their kidney has failed, and what they have to face as they wait for a new kidney. They have created a fundraiser on RocketHub that ends at the end of this month. If they reach their goal of $6,000, they will be able to create the documentary of their vision. Funds will help pay for purchase and rental of equipment, transportation expenses for interviews, editing station time, and so on. RocketHub will release the money that is raised, even if the goal isn’t met. However, Rockethub charges a higher fee for those who do not make their goal.
Holly told me this about making their film: “We NEED these things to make it happen. We can buy and rent cheaper stuff, cut out some interviews, try to get as much as we can from volunteers, but it ties our hands the less money we have and the end documentary wouldn’t be of very good quality. Considering $250,000 is considered a low budget film, $6,000 joins the ranks of no budget. We are doing this all ourselves. It is a labor of love and will take time and without the money—I’m just not sure how we can even finish it! Every little bit helps! “
Maybe You Can Help
If this cause strikes a chord with you, there are several things you can do.
1. Click this link http://www.rockethub.com/projects/9073-the-opposite-direction to go to their fundraising page, and select an amount you think you can afford. They have made allotments so that you can donate as little as a dollar.
2. Tweet about this. Tweet about it more than once. Tweet this article, or tweet Holly’s article where she talks about this film.
3. You can also “like” their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TalkingKidneyProductions . The more likes they have, the more likely they are to acquire investors.
4. Blog about this. The more people who hear about this, the better chance Holly and Micah will reach their goal.
5. Put this on Facebook—or whatever social media platform you prefer.
In the midst of all this, one thing I love about Holly is her never-say-quit spirit. She has had a lot come up against her to make it impossible to achieve her dream of walking across the United States. But she hasn’t let that dream go. And while she could remain bitter against her husband, instead, she took a bad situation and made good of it, turning it into her cause for walking the U.S. and working with her husband on his filmmaking project. This is the type of person I like to be around.