Monthly Archives: January 2012

James Cole – Overcoming Adversity – “A Life of Long Odds” Part 1 of 3


James Cole

“A Life of Long Odds”  Part 1 of 3

By James Cole 

I was born on an August day in 1966 with a birth defect the doctors at our local hospital could not identify. My parents were only told that my bladder was on the outside, and that I was in critical condition. It wasn’t until I was taken to Columbia Presbyterian hospital in New York City that a capable pediatric surgeon identified my condition as bladder exstrophy. He performed emergency surgery and discovered that I had no colon, so he was forced to create an ileostomy – a variation of a colostomy. As my birth defect had also affected my digestive system, it meant I actually had cloacal exstrophy, the most severe type. Despite the doctor’s efforts, my prognosis was poor: at this point in medical history, few cloacal exstrophy babies had

James Cole at New York Hospital in May 1974. Not feeling well.

survived. Yet I had a strong will, and just happened to have come into the world on “The Day of Long Odds” on the Astrological calendar. Within several days I was fighting back – a fight that would continue throughout my entire life.

My ileostomy and lack of colon made me susceptible to frequent fluid loss and dehydration, so keeping me alive was a challenge. My first hospitalization lasted six months, and my early years were filled with repeated hospital stays and surgeries, as doctors tried to build me a functional urinary system. Without a functioning bladder, the ureters – the tubes from my kidneys – were brought to the outside, necessitating me to wear diapers for several years beyond the normal time for toilet training, something impossible for me. Having ureters exposed to the outside was dangerous, resulting in frequent hydronephrosis – the backing up of urine into the kidneys – and infections. Despite my condition, I was blessed with loving parents and siblings. I learned to

The All-American Family, July 4, 1971. I’m the youngest, in front

walk and reached many developmental milestones ahead of schedule. I was even able to attend preschool and later public school with the help of caring staff and teachers.

My early years were nevertheless a struggle, filled with frequent pain, and emergency operations. Yet whenever I was not sick or hospitalized, I had the happiest childhood a kid could imagine. We were The All American Family. I lived in an historic farmhouse with a barn

and woods where I spent countless hours playing. We did birthday parties, vacations at the lake and beach, all the things other families did. When I was seven, ostomy products for young children finally became available, allowing me to finally shed the diapers, a huge a milestone. I still required three pouches: two for my ureters, one for my ileostomy, which came off frequently. This did restrict my life in some cases. For example, I was never able to spend the night at a friend’s house or do as much physically as my peers, and I would often end up in the ER from something as simple as a stomach flu.

At age twelve, I underwent a major reconstruction of my birth defect, when a

Playing in the woods with our beloved family dog Tippy, 1972

talented surgeon built a urostomy, which allowed my ureters to be placed back inside my body where they belonged. This safer and more dependable urinary outlet eliminated the hydronephrosis and infections, marking a dramatic improvement in my health. It also made it much easier for me to care for myself, now that I wore two pouches instead of three. I became more independent, and continued the predictable process of growing up. And at age 14, the same surgeon rebuilt my reproductive system. After this “final” corrective surgery, my doctor basically said, “Have a nice life.” Yet I was far from normal in appearance and function, and the trauma of so many surgeries resulted in my lagging far behind my friends in terms of growth, let alone my entering puberty.

On Long Island, 1973. I’m wearing coveralls because I’m still in diapers at age 7.

It was during these painful adolescent years that I concentrated on my artistic talents. I had discovered filmmaking at a young age, and I continued making movies during the lonely Junior High years. After my mother and I moved to a small town on Cape Cod during high school, my film endeavors attracted many new friends. Thus began one of the happiest times of my life – one ironically also marked by complete denial of my exstrophy…a state in which I would live for many years.

© Copyright 2012 James Cole, all rights reserved

If you would like to contact James Cole you can do so by e-mail us at contact@courage-to-shine.org with James Cole in the subject line, and we will forward him all e-mails we receive.

Making my first movie during 5th grade.

Part 2 of  “A Life of Long Odds” – Film making leads James Cole to Hollywood, where he eventually has  a short film produced, based on one of his short Stories  – “The Night Before” –  Coming in Part3 in  February 2012

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Megg Rose – Inspirational Story of Triumphing over Medical Adversity – Part 3 of 3


Editor’s Note from Thomas Exler:  I first met Megg Rose in 1996 in Boulder, Colorado while attending a medical based camp program, and over the years we have continued to stay in touch, and no matter if she was shooting a TV Movie or competing in pageants, or raising her family.  If you wanted to know more about Megg Rose please go to her website www.meggrose.com   Part 3 of 3

Part 1 of “Pain Free & Blood Free”

Part 2  of “Pain Free & Blood Free”

Megg Rose

“Pain Free & Blood Free” Part 3 of 3

By Megg Rose

Megg Rose Moving on with Her Life

I could go on with a bunch of hospital stories but this was the most important story I wanted to share because still to this day I tell everyone this very same story. I survived throughout my high school years because of this wonderful IlleoBESTostmy being pain free and blood free! I never felt so alive and healthy and I almost forgotten what it’s like to be healthy again. I know the first 2 years was a struggle adapting to how my intestine works from eating the wrong kind of food that caused blockage where I had to go to the ER to pump out the food. I can’t digest celeries, nuts or any hard food that doesn’t break down easily.  That’s the only pain in the butt I can’t stand but everything else I am just so darn thankful to be alive. I refused to let this stop me from doing what I wanted to do with my life.

I have travelled all over the USA performing on numerous of stage works, music videos, filming, featured in two Lifetime movies and many more. I certainly did not have any negative experience with my dating life, the guys were just great! The funniest question I would be asked if I had my vagina still. I said how is anus and vagina related? I would always make jokes out of it because laughter is the best medicine we need! It was a perfect bat to test to see if this guy is a keeper.

Megg Rose with her son Kai Davis

Today I have two beautiful children who love me unconditionally, and I have taught a lot of nurses who had no experience with Illeostomy patients in the ER how to work on my Illeostomy.

They would always ask my husband, how does she survive this? He laughed, and says, “My wife is born to be a survivor, she had never allowed her ILLEOBESTOSTOMY to change who she is negatively. It had molded her to be the strongest grateful human being. who is thankful to be alive, pain free and blood free. This had never stopped her from doing what she wanted to do.”

The latest traumatic experience I had was on June 2, 2009. I survived my c-section on my 2nd child birth that ends up disastrous. My first

Megg Rose’s Kids, Kai & Yamila Davis

child I had a normal vaginal healthy birth but the 2nd one, my son decided to stay in to surf in mommy’s belly. The doctors were no t experienced with an Illeostomy patient & after the c section, I learned after 4 days later that my small intestines were hanging out of my stoma in the bag! Stanford Hospital, Palo Alto

accidentally cut my intestine during my c-section. It was so painful but I survived and would go through it again to have a beautiful healthy baby! My son was worth the whole experience. It was interesting to go through this reconstructive surgery and it brought back so many memories from my first surgery in 1995. I had to go through the same recovery process but only I knew what to do with it.

Megg Rose on Stage

If you ask me how do I do it?   First and foremost, have a relationship with GOD, he truly cared for me and had performed numerous of miracles in my life.  Second, it’s all about choosing positive attitude. I continue to remind myself that there are far worst problems and suffering out there in this world that is far worse than my condition. With this constant reminder I am free from pain and depression. I am so thankful to be alive because I would have not had my two beautiful deaf children and a deaf husband who would just not give up on me. Third, forgive, you must forgive others including yourself, it is the only way to break free from pain and anger.  I have accepted my childhood and has brought me to where I am today, because I know I would not be the person I am today if I didn’t have an ileoBESTostomy of come from a broken home.

I want to be a role model for others who have an illeostomy because I know what it’s like before & after life of having an Illeostomy. I want every person to be thankful to be alive & use this as an opportunity to help others. Beauty is nothing compared to what it is comes from within. I believe it’s all about how YOU present yourself with any obstacles that come your way. You fight it, accept it, & ask yourself, what I can do to help others with this condition. That’s your where your fate should be.

Follow more on Megg, visit www.meggrose.com & Facebook add her at “MEGG ROSE

Megg Rose from movie “The Deaf Family”

Megg on Stage

Megg Rose with the actors of a play she directed

Megg Rose with two actresses from the show Annie in which she directed

© Copyright 2012 Megg Rose & Courage to Shine, all rights reserved

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Megg Rose – Inspirational Story of Triumphing over Medical Adversity – Part 2 of 3


Editor’s Note from Thomas Exler:  I first met Megg Rose in 1996 in Boulder, Colorado while attending a medical based camp program, and over the years we have continued to stay in touch, and no matter if she was shooting a TV Movie or competing in pageants, or raising her family.  If you wanted to know more about Megg Rose please go to her website www.meggrose.com  Part 2 of 3

Part 1  “Pain Free & Blood Free”

Megg Rose

“Pain Free & Blood Free”    Part 2 0f 3

By Megg Rose

The Morning When I Decided on Surgery

One morning I woke up, a beautiful tall woman walked in and I thought she was an American Sign Language interpreter who was changing shifts with the interpreter who was with me all night. She smiled at me, and said “Hi Megg, I remember being where you are today and I want to tell you that you’re not alone. I have an illeostomy.”

I looked at her trying to find that bag but it was nowhere to be found. I said “Where is your Illeostomy? I thought you were an interpreter or a model” She smiled and proudly showed me her bag. I was appalled how little it was & I was so relieved that it was not as bad as my imagination had leaded me to believe.

I looked at her & asked, “Are you in pain? I can’t stand the pain. Oh can I ask you something personal? How do guys handle you with having this bag?”

She laughed & said, “Honey it will be a good test to find your good future mate. I have a wonderful loving husband and a son who loves me so much. I am positive you will have no problem in that department because look at your eyes!! They’re a killer! They’re goanna forget that you even have a bag 🙂 I am pain-free because of this choice & I strongly recommend you to take this on because God isn’t finished with you”

I smiled and quickly pushed the nurse’s button. The nurse came in and I said “Call Dr Marshall, I’m going to stick with #1. I am ready to take on a new chapter in my life, let’s get me an Illeostomy.”

Megg Rose and her Grandmother Rosalie

My grandmother immediately drove to the hospital & wanted to convince the doctors to find another way. I had to comfort my overbearing grandmother and said “Grandma, stop!  I know you love me but God gave me peace with this decision. I want to go forward with this as I know he will use me for his purpose. Let’s continue to trust in him & I really want to be pain-free. I can’t stand the passing out, ongoing cramps that 10 times worst that PMS, and the smelly bloody stools.” My grandmother sighed & had to leave the room to burst in tears. She came back in within 30 minutes later and said, “Sigh, oh Meagan, I love you so much and if I could I would take this awful disease away from you but I can’t. That what frustrates me the most?  While I was crying, I overheard a boy next to your room, he was crying and he’s only 6 years old with bronchitis. I wondered where his parents are so I asked the nurse, where are his parents? Why is he alone? The nurse said that the boy’s mother is at another hospital that is also sick with bronchitis so his father is going back in forth trying to meet his family’s need.”

I said “Grandmother what are you doing in my room? Go next door and read that boy a story. Go take my stuff animals that my friends from school have given me and go give it to him please. Take them all!”  She smiled, “This is my Meagan that I know, you bet I will.”

Megg Rose on Stage

When she left the room I looked up and said “God, if you are real, please give me that boy’s bronchitis so he can be home for Christmas with his family. Please, it devastates me to see an innocent child in pain & I know children are your favorite thing. -Amen”

That evening, Dr Marshall & Dr Cambell, my surgeon had come in to get me in to get my IlleoBESTostmy. Before I entered the surgery room, I was hoping my mother would come but as expected she didn’t. I was grateful that my grandmother was there so I told her what I prayed for, and she cried. She said “stay strong Meagan, worry about yourself and don’t worry about anyone else. I love you so much. Go get them warrior!”

The next morning, I remember my grandmother shaking me trying to get me to wake up and she said, “Meagan look, it’s the boy you prayed for! He is going home with his family for Christmas, just as you prayed for. They’re at the door wanting to thank you for your prayer request. They have a gift for you.”

I was so weak but I fought to take one look at the boy, and then the boy smiled! Then suddenly coughed, and my grandmother looked over, “OH no don’t tell me you have bronchitis?” The doctors were shocked with this whole scene and

Megg Rose on Stage

said “This takes a miracle and a courageous unselfish being to take on another challenge when you just got out of surgery. You are one brave girl, I will not forget this day.”

I fell right back to sleep, then my grandmother end up shoving Jello down my throat while I was asleep. I said“Grandmother why are you shoving Jello down my throat when I’m sleeping. You could at least wake me up first.”

She said “I tried waking you up but you won’t wake up and you need to eat.” I looked over my right hand, the nurse remembered to leave the dolphin with me and you bet I squirt my own grandmother! She such in shock but I had to tell her to back off. I’m sleeping!!

End Part 2 – In Part 3 of 3 – Megg Rose Moving on with Her Life

© Copyright 2012 Megg Rose & Courage to Shine, all rights reserved

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Megg Rose – Inspirational Story of Triumphing over Medical Adversity – Part 1 of 3


Editor’s Note from Thomas Exler:  I first met Megg Rose in 1996 in Boulder, Colorado while attending a medical based camp program, and over the years we have continued to stay in touch, and no matter if she was shooting a TV Movie or competing in pageants, or raising her family.  If you wanted to know more about Megg Rose please go to her website www.meggrose.com  Part 1 of 3.

Megg Rose

“Pain Free & Blood Free”

By Megg Rose

Hi my name is Megg Rose and I am deaf, a Christian, a mother, a wife, a licensed aesthetician, a make-up artist, a actress, a director, a model, and I have rheumatoid arthritis and an illeostomy.

Yup that’s right I have an amazing best friend name, “Illeo-BESTstomy”. The correct spelling is illeostomy, as you can see I’ve added BEST because it truly saved my life in 1995. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis for 3 years at 12 years ago. I remember looking back; I was on the toilet & got so terrified by blood from my anus. I didn’t understand it and I screamed for my wonderful loving step father Lance Turner to come check on what the heck was in the toilet?! He said “Oh my goodness, we have to get you to the doctors ASAP.” I remember walking to my room and blacking out.

I was sent to see Portland Children’s Hospital to see Dr. Marshall who had helped me throughout 3 years to find a solution for my horrible painful disease. After multiple treatments from steroids, enemas and prednisone etc had failed & caused my condition to worsen. I remember going to school so embarrassed that I did not want anyone to know what I was going through. I couldn’t control my passing out and bloody stools. Then suddenly an odd rumor went around the school assuming I was bulimic because they see me run out of the classroom so quickly without having one minute to ask the teacher “May i go to the restroom?” My weight loss was so drastic that I can understand why the rumor

Megg Rose with her sister

started in the first place and you know what? I rather them assuming I was bulimic than telling them a bunch of14 year olds that I have an anus problem. I was terrified what they would have thought of me so I was happy with where the rumor was.

Finally one day at 15 years old, my 3 year old little sister Alivia had found me on the floor passed out after my shower.

She tried to wake me up then she screamed “mommy! Help, Help! Meagan is not waking up!!. Did she die on me?” My family calls me Meagan but I’ve changed it to Megg because I was tired of the teachers calling me “Deaf Meagan” during name roll call. Back to the story, Alivia had to run downstairs to wake our drunken mother who works all night & sleeps all day during the day in all of our childhood years. After a good 20 minutes, finally she woke up & my little sister had to tell her to call 911.

I was hospitalized for 6 long months and stayed throughout Christmas and New Years. The nurses were my parents while my mother would never show up unless she was to meet a friend, she would say “Look at my amazing daughter who is a fighter like me, listen honey I love you and you know

Megg Rose and Her Sisters

mama gotta work.” She left without a kiss or a hug. I’ll never forget the look on the nurses’ face; she was furious and rolled her eyes. She gently grasps my arm to tell me that everything will be ok.  She filled in my mother’s shoes, when she would not.

I remember tearing up telling myself what will it take for my mother to stay next to me and tell me that everything will be OK?  Yah you bet I’m fighting to get my mother’s attention, and careless to live any longer, because it sucked NOT being loved. I was tired of seeing my friends complain about their parents being over strict or how they wish they had my mother. I would kill to be in their shoes but never wish on anyone to have a mother like I had. I was deprived of love. I asked God, why it is OK that I have to care for 5 beautiful sisters who needed their mom, more than their big sister, to tucking them in at night?  So many sleepless nights wondering if my mom will come home safely because she’s a drug addict, stripper and an alcoholic. I had to grow up with this all my life and the doctors believed that she was the reason that I have ulcerative colitis because due to statistics say the flare-ups of ulcerative colitis is due to unhealthy stress.  Up to this day I won’t place the blame on my mother because I know she was a hurting child too. I love my mom and I’ve forgiven her so I can be free from anger and depression.  She is my first love.  She’s been through a lot from her childhood and teen years.  She is a survivor like me and she was also a hurting child too.   I know this will be hard for her to read but this is my story through the eyes of her first born child.

Megg Rose with her Grandmother Rosalie

I have a wonderful loving protective overbearing grandmother name Rosalie who would call the hospital 20 times a day everyday which annoyed the nurses greatly. They gave me a dolphin water gun to squirt at my grandmother if she won’t stop nagging 🙂 I know she loves me and her intentions are always good but sometimes she just has to know where the line is drawn! From the hospital, she lived two hours away in Keizer, Oregon and she could not see well at night so she was afraid to drive in Oregon’s weather.  It was also snowing which prevented her to even try to visit. BUT, she would not give up the phone calls.

Megg in the hospital

The news broke from Dr Marshall that I have 2 choices to decide my fate.  1. To pull out my small intestine to create a stoma, so I can get a bag that will be placed outside your lower abdominal so I can go #2 in with closed anus or 2. Bleed to death, at the age of 15 with no one besides me to help me decide what I need to do. I looked up and said “God, it’s just me and you. I need you. I don’t know what to do, what do you want me to do? Please give me a sign so I can decide. Amen”

End Part 1 – In Part 2 of 3 – The Morning When I Decided on Surgery

© Copyright 2012 Megg Rose & Courage to Shine, all rights reserved

Please read Courage-to-Shine.org disclaimer

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Enrique Escajada – Aerialist Overcomes Adversity to Fly


Aerialist Overcomes Adversity to Fly

by Enrique Escajeda

Hello, My name Is Enrique Escajeda and I was born with Bladder Exstrophy. For those that don’t know bladder exstrophy is when a person is born with their bladder on the outside of the body.  It’s a complicated ailment that demands many surgeries especially throughout childhood. The reason for my post hear would be that despite all that I happen to be a very physically active individual holding over 5 jobs in physical performance. Some wonder, how does one such as myself, enter a world such as this with a bed ridden history that’s so extensive?  I suppose the only answer I have for that is my view on choices and control. i owe much of my perspective to my mother due to the fact that if it wasn’t for her I’m sure I wouldn’t be doing the things I am today or even thinking the way I do.  So here is my story in how my mom raised me followed with the dark adolescent period and then how her old tactics brought me to where I am today.

When I was a child she noticed that whenever I was in the hospital (which was a lot) doctors and nurses would never ask me if they could take my blood or remove my stitches or bandages. They would all tell me what they were going to do and when they would do it.  Nothing was ever my choice and I didn’t have any control with what they did to my body. It was then that she began to give me small choices. Whenever she saw an opportunity my mother would ask me to make little decisions with 2 choices.  Most often it was about where I wanted to eat. Did I want McDonald’s or Carl’s Jr.?  It was small but gave me a sense of what was within my control. Later this became a fun little game for me. Whenever my mom would ask me to do something I would respond with “do I have a choice?” If it was about cleaning my room though the answer was usually NO.

After spending more years in the hospital I began to form relationships with the staff and develop certain preferences. I knew I would have no choice in getting an I.V. in my arm but I could choose where I wanted the I.V. to be. I have always preferred it to be in my forearm for maximum mobility of drawing and eating. These were things doctors didn’t usually mind accommodating. looking for moment when I could have a say or choice that was my own was something that turned out to be more important than I ever would have realized.

Like anyone else I still had really bad days and some dark times. It could be really frustrating having to deal with surgeries, pain, and having to have tutors all the time to catch up in school. Plus being that I was never open about my condition I would also have to try and think about what I would tell people after being absent for so long. Over time I began to ask “why me?” Being so frustrated with what I didn’t have or couldn’t do made it difficult to see any choice. I hid behind a happy exterior and did theater throughout high school as a form of escape. All the while my darkened thoughts began to evolve from “why me” to “what’s the point of my existence?” This wasn’t a happy curiosity of existence as it was seeing myself as useless because I was incapable of simple human reproduction. I figured if I couldn’t do that then what’s the point of getting involved in romantic relationships. If there was no point in forming relationships then what was the point of even living. This one thought was a plague in my brain throughout my late high school early college years.

I can’t tell you when it all changed or why but I do know that at one point I had a conversation with my mother where she reminded me of the choice game when I was younger. And I remembered the happy times of my younger days both in and out of the hospital. Those memories that seemed to be buried in the loud chaos of angry thoughts all came to the surface. It was at this turning point where I began to try things I wasn’t good at. I began to make new choices and try new things because the act of trying something new was just such a perfect distraction.

One of the first things I chose to do was take aerial classes at a school known as “Hollywood Aerial Arts” in Inglewood California. I always loved climbing and I thought I would give this a shot since it was something I had never done before. There I was a 21 year old guy having no formal physical training, taking aerial circus classes. I recall I couldn’t even hunch over and touch my toes at the time. I chose to stay with it though. Not sure why exactly, I guess something in me just made it too important to quit. I later began a gymnastic course at school and after a while landed a job at Knott’s Berry Farm on the stunt team.

I have since been enjoying the excitement and surprises life brings me everyday just doing what’s fun. I do not believe any of this would have been possible through negatively questioning my existence or wondering why I’m different. I can’t help but feel extremely grateful to my mother for her life lesson in choices.  Without that understanding I’m not sure what would be going through my head today. The power of choice I believe to be one that many take for granted and something everyone needs to be more aware of. I try to pass it on as much as I can in hope that those who think like I once did can change their way of thinking and begin to truly live a happy life. For those of you that think in such a way I leave you with this quote:

 “We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us….And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same”               – Marianne Williams

It is with this quote that tells us by leading a happy life of your own definition then you are unconsciously inspiring others to do the same.  Make inspiration contagious and choose to live life, your way that is within your means. Who knows you may find that you will go beyond what you think your limits truly are.

If you would like to contact Enrique Escajeda you can do so by e-mail us at contact@courage-to-shine.org with Enrique Escajeda in the subject line, and we will forward him all e-mails we receive.

Please read Courage-to-Shine.org disclaimer & please do not try any of the stunts Enrique Ecajada performs without proper professional supervision.

© Copyright 2012 Enrique Escajada & Courage to Shine™

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JAMIE HOLMES – Courage To Shine™ – Role Model of the Month for January 2012


DREAMS BY HOLMES, A YOUNG LADY WHO TRULY MAKES DREAMS COME TRUE.

By Thomas Exler

Jamie Holmes, Founder of Jamie’s Dream Team

Twenty-four year old Jamie Holmes, from White Oak, Pennsylvania  has been named as the first Courage to Shine™ – Role Model of the Month for the Courage to Shine™ program.  Jamie has earned this recognition because she has turned her lifelong medical issues from a negative into a positive, by helping children and adults dealing with life threatening, chronic illness or overcoming traumatic accidents, through an organization she founded in 2005 at the age of 18 called “Jamie’s Dream Team”  www.jamiesdreamteam.org

Jamie has lived her entire life through the daily motto of Courage to Shine™, “Turning Adversity to Triumph” and with “Jamie’s Dream Team” she is the glue that holds everything together.  Furthermore over the last few months I have personally seen some of the magic she makes happen, while at the same time she is  personally recovering from major surgery herself.

Jamie with Mallory the first kid she helped

Jamie with Mallory the first kid she helped

I first became aware about Jamie in August 2011 through another Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area agency I volunteer with, because she was personally dealing with some gastro-intestinal issues herself, and just came through a personally very difficult surgical procedure.   She proceeded to explain that she was diagnosed with V.A.T.E.R. Syndrome shortly after birth, and has had chronic health problems over the years including having more than 45+ surgeries.  At the age of 18  she founded the organization that is now known as “Jamie’s Dream Team”.  So of course I was wanted to know more.

Jamie's Dream Team article in this issue of Phoenix

Jamie’s Dream Team article in this issue of Phoenix

In the short time I have known Jamie, the media is always close behind her, and this fall she wrote an article for the Phoenix Magazine  (Article: The Phoenix Magazine – Jamies Dream Team – Dec 2011)  the official magazine of the United Ostomy Associations of America.   In early December she was featured by Uromed on their blog site as one of UroMed Hometown Heroes over a 5 day period (see blog Links below), and in early December she was on TV promoting Jamie’s Dream Team, but I personally did not realize the amazing magic that she and her organization  could accomplish until the afternoon of Thursday December 22, 2011.

Shortly after noon on Thursday December 22, I received a call at work from Jamie, that we needed to raise money today to help a young lady (age 15) who was just released from a local hospital dealing with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and they needed to raise money for a iPad so she has contact with her friends while in the hospital and at home recovering, but the catch was this project had to be off budget and we and had to raise it by tonight, before we could do anything.

UroMed Hometown Heroes Blog

UroMed Hometown Heroes Blog

However during the phone calls back and forth a young man who attends the same school gets a call that he won an iPad, and turns over to Jamie’s Dream Team over $200, it was the money  he was saving up for his own iPad.  He stated to his mother, “I got my iPad, now this money is for Jamie’s Dream Team to purchase an iPad for Haley.”   Miracles do happen; needless to say Haley received her iPad and other gifts from Jamie’s Dream Team the next evening, with media in tow.

First is a link from the Steve Harvey Show on December 12 2013, with Jamie Holmes on it.

A link to KDKA Channel 2 in Pittsburgh “Paying it Forward”  http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=6579161  and the second from Jamie’s Dream Team YouTube site.

Newspaper Article: McKeesport Daily News: Jamie’s Dream Team brings Christmas cheer to Smithton teen  http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/dailynewsmckeesport/s_773618.html#ixzz1i4yCwrOo

However this was not the end of it, because of the media coverage from the night before, Jamie’s Dream Team received another request on Christmas Eve to pull off another miracle, for a young girl who is not only facing major medical issues, but is also facing her father’s National Guard unit  to be redeployed in the upcoming few months.  Jamie, her mother and the entire team pulled off another miracle in only a few hours left before Christmas Day.

Hope you can see why Jamie has been named as the first Courage to Shine™  – Role Model of the Month for January 2012, Congratulations Jaime we know we will be hearing more about you in the upcoming months and years.

If you would like to donate to Jamie’s Dream Team or would like more information on Jamie’s Dream Team please go to www.jamiesdreamteam.org or send an e-mail to Jamie at jamiesdreamteam@gmail.com

Please feel free to read more about Jamie through the links below.

Additional Stories about Jamie Holmes & Jamie’s Dream Team

For more information about Jamie Holmes and Jamie’s Dream Team please read the articles posted below.

Award: Jamie Holmes named Runner-Up in Pittsburgh’s Next Reality Star

  • Jamie was named Runner-UP – NextRealityStar.com – Pittsburgh, PA – August 29, 2013

Article in Woman’s World Magazine:

Award: Jamie Holmes named the Daily Points of Light Award for June 10 2013

  • Jamie was honored by The Points of Light Foundation – pointsoflights.org – Atlanta, GA – June 10 2013

Award:  2012 Jefferson Awards for Volunteerism

  • Jamie Holmes iintroduction and acceptance speech at the Jefferson Awards on April 29 2013
  • Jamie has been named as a finalist for the 2012 Jefferson Award for volunteering in Western Pennsylvania

  • Article: Jefferson Awards: Her wish: Make others happy – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Pittsburgh, PA – April 17 2013
  • Jamie has been notified she was one of 50 – 2012 Jefferson Award Winners for volunteering in Western Pennsylvania and for her work with Jamie’s Dream Team.  2012 Jefferson Awards – June 20 2012 – Jamie will be presented the Jefferson metal on April 29 2013

Award: 2013 Champion Enterprise “Heroes” Annual Pittsburgh and Allegheny County “Public Service Awards”

  • Jamie was honored with many others fom Pittsburgh and Allegheny County

Award: KDKA NewsRadio 1020: Larry Richert Honors Hometown Heroes

Award: Whirl Magazine Presents: 13 Under 30:

Video:  BUS 52 – Jamie’s Dream Team –  Filmed in October of 2012 – Released November 21,2012

  • In October of 2012,  BUS 52, a internet production company that crossed the USA looking for Inspirational Stories followed Jamie Holmes and her team around for a day.  Video was released on November 21, 2012

Original Song:  “Dreams Come True”  by the Neids Hotel Band for Jamie Holmes and Jamie’s Dream Team

  • On October 1, 2012 The Nied’s Hotel Band released their latest hit, DREAMS COME TRUEthat was written for Jamie Holmes & Jamie’s Dream Team, by John Vento, Bert Lauble, & Tim Hadley, produced by Klint Macro for Jamie’s Dream Team, and performed by The Nied’s Hotel Band, along with special guest vocalist Rhonda Watson.

Story about Jamie Holmes in the Phoenix Magazine:

The Phoenix Magazine – Jamies Dream Team – Dec 2011

Phoenix Magazine site: https://www.phoenixuoaa.org/

UroMed Hometown Hero: Jamie Holmes

Part 1: December 6, 2011:

Jamie Holmes of Jamie’s Dream Team Explains You Have to Know What Your Focus Is    http://uromed.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/jamie-holmes-of-jamies-dream-team-explains-you-have-to-know-what-your-focus-is/

Part 2: December 7, 2011:

A Life-Changing Decision: Jamie Holmes Decides Christmas is About Giving, Not Receiving    http://uromed.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/a-life-changing-decision-jamie-holmes-decides-christmas-is-about-giving-not-receiving/

Part 3: December 9, 2011:

Jamie Holmes Founded Jamie’s Dream Team to Help Others http://uromed.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/jamie-holmes-founded-jamies-dream-team-to-help-others/

Part 4: December 10, 2011:

Jamie Holmes of Jamie’s Dream Team Learns That Helping Others Cures Most of Her Illnesses http://uromed.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/jamie-holmes-of-jamies-dream-team-learns-that-helping-others-cures-most-of-her-illnesses/

Other Links about Jamie’s Dream Team activities in the recent past:

Jamie’s Dream Team brings Christmas cheer to Smithton teen – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/dailynewsmckeesport/s_773618.html#ixzz1i4yCwrOo

Other Videos with Jamie Holmes in:

© Copyright 2012-2013 Thomas Exler, Jamie Holmes, Jamie’s Dream Team & Courage to Shine™

Categories: Courage to Shine News, Inspirational Stories, Role Models | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

TOM FLOOD – The 2010 –Tom Sylva – Courage to Shine™ – Australia Recipient


Tom Flood after receiving the Courage To Shine – Australia Award

On June 12, 2010 at the Coogee Bay Hotel in Coogee Bay, Sydney, NSW, Australia held in connection with the 2010 BEECHAC (Bladder Exstrophy, Epispadias, Cloacal exstrophy, Hypospadias, Australian Community) International Conference “Towards the Future”, Tom Flood was given the 2010 Tom Sylva – Courage to Shine – Australia Award for his long term dedication of helping other fellow patients.

Tom Flood is currently the president of the Ostomy NSW Ltd and is living in the state of New South Wales, Australia.

Tom Flood with Thomas Exler, Founder of Courage to Shine

The following two film clips:

First, Tom Flood being awarded the 2010 – Tom Sylva – Courage to Shine – Australia Award at Coogee Bay Hotel in Coogee Bay, Sydney, NSW, Australia on Saturday June 12, 2010

Second, is a portion of Tom Flood’s presentation at the 2010 BEECHAC Conference on Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tom Flood was awarded the ‘Order of Australia Medal’ (OAM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honors for service to community health through leadership and advocacy for people living with stomas. You can view by click here

Tom Flood Order of Australia MedalClick here to view this as a .pdf file http://www.ostomynsw.org.au/docs/newsletters/ONLSpringNewsletter2014.pdf

For more information on Courage to Shine Awards or Courage to Shine, please go www.courage-to-shine.org to e-mail contact@courage-to-shine.org

© Copyright 2012 Courage to Shine™

Categories: Award Recipients, Courage to Shine News, Inspirational Stories, Role Models | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy New Year’s and Welcome to Courage to Shine


Welcome to Courage to Shine and our New website at www.courage-to-shine.org!!

Courage to Shine other sites: 

Courage to Shine YouTube Site: http://www.youtube.com/couragetoshine

Courage to Shine Facebook Site: http://www.facebook.com/pages/COURAGE-TO-SHINE/104427046255572

Courage To Shine ™ a website that will contain some of the most inspirational stories of people overcoming medical challenges and “Turning Adversity to Triumph.”

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Courage to Shine Logo

Courage To Shine ™, Turning Adversity to Triumph,

Courage to Shine™ was founded to acknowledge, motivational and inspirational individuals and/or groups of patients whom have overcome congenital genitourinary birth defects and/or major urological surgeries in their childhood, and have the courage, strength and determination, to transform that adversity to triumph later in life.

Courage to Shine™ is dedicated to the memories of Lisha Martinez of Utah and Adam Young of Maine, as a celebration of their short lives. Lisha & Adam lived their lives to the fullest and they were pure examples of what is means to have the Courage to Shine™

Courage To Shine ™ is the patient awards program of the Association for the Bladder Exstrophy Community http://www.bladderexstrophy.com

The Association for the Bladder Exstrophy Community (ABC) is an international support network of individuals with bladder exstrophy (including classic exstrophy, cloacal exstrophy, and epispadias), local parent exstrophy support groups. and health care providers working with patients and families living with bladder exstrophy.

The Association for the Bladder Exstrophy Community (ABC)

© Copyright 2012 Courage to Shine™

Categories: Courage to Shine News | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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