This article was written by a guest, Felisa Hilbert. She has worked so hard in her own state and now nationwide as a child advocate. Please read carefully and hopefully you can feel the sweet soul that this woman is just by reading her work. A big thanks to Felisa for allowing us to share the Shot@Life Campaign with her.
Wow! It has been an incredible couple of weeks! I left Broken Arrow and flew to Atlanta April 25th to be part of the national launch of the Shot@Life Campaign April 26. To be there for a cause I have believed in all my life was a humbling experience. Meeting with the foundation’s incredible team from the United Nations and its many honorable guests was fantastic. However, my greatest pleasure that night at the dinner table was meeting the philanthropists, directors, doctors, and the group of press journalists who cared enough to cover health issues – especially the lack of vaccines for children.
I was amazed to see all of these prominent people forgetting who they were and just concentrating on what we were going to do to make this campaign as successful as possible. The goal is to provide vaccines for children throughout the world where they cannot afford it. I, myself, belong to several civic and volunteer groups and it makes me sad how people sometimes forget why and for whom we are doing these things. As I watched so much of what I have lived for and believed in unfold into action was awe inspiring. My personal optimistic outlook and beliefs were truly validated by these wonderful people who cared enough for others to do everything they could to help. The conversations at the dinner table were fascinating, and the supporting facts and stories were of great interest to me. I felt like, “Wow! Here I am, and I will do whatever I can to make sure all children receive the vaccines they need to survive!” What a marvelous opportunity for the world’s mothers to be able to see their children live and grow older! What better gift can we give to a mother than the gift of life for her children?
My morning went briskly and after a quick breakfast, I arrived at the Atlanta Aquarian. I was so excited because it was the big day and everything was set to welcome our guests and moms to the national launch of the Shot@Life Campaign. I was delighted to work at the donation table with Aimee Mead (Shot@Life team) and Emma Dashiell (Shot@Life Champion from Georgia). What a great place and opportunity to tell our guests of the importance of this campaign! We discussed why we were participating and how they could help to save lives. It was so very rewarding to watch the little children and their mothers helping, who wanted to give the gift of life to other kids. What a beautiful example these mothers are setting for their children to follow!
I thought, already, that I had a wonderful experience – but it was an unimaginable surprise to see former First Lady, Roselyn Carter and Anne Geddes, a world-renowned photographer, and many other famous people associated with the Shot@Life team at our donation table. Wow! At that moment, I realized that the Shot@Life Launch brought together hundreds of parents and their children, celebrities, VIPs, the media, medical experts, top of-the-line Moms, U.N. officials and policy makers – all in support of children and the value of vaccines around the globe.
Their experiences, knowledge, support, and love for the children and the campaign were undeniable. As I sat there at the press conference launch, It really struck me that this campaign has the power to save hundreds, no, thousands of children! We, that is all of the champions around the country and myself, can help promote and be a united voice as to amplify this message and make history. I thought of our minority families back home in Oklahoma who do not speak English and how beneficial it will be to educate them in their own language or with interpreters. Then they can educate and share this message with their families back on their own countries. Imagine the impact we can make here in our home country just by informing the public in our own communities. The effect a single individual itself could lead to a great chain reaction, pulling along the support of hundreds! I think I just found my next project for the summer.
Our lunch was delicious and I can honestly say that I had lunch with famous people! Anne Geddes, First Lady Rosalynn Carter, deputy editor Noelle Howey of Parent Magazine; CEO of UN Foundations Kathy Calvin; Foundation, Dr. Anne Schuchat, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Ambassador Andrew Young, and our Kimberly Hagen, wonderful Georgian Champions Lori Grice and @ Lyssa Shavahan, Emma Dashiell and many more. My favorite was John Rutherford, officer of United Nations Foundation; board member of the Turner foundation, etc. I was so grateful to him and his family for all the good that they are doing for developing countries and especially for their support with vaccines. To my great surprise, he thanked me for my dedication and help with this campaign. He even communicated to me in Spanish, which by the way was very well spoken. Wow! We had a wonderful conversion about Mexico and his experiences in my own language! How cool is that! Overall, I can only describe everything (again) as a very emotional and humbling experience.
After lunch Kimberly Hagen, Emma Dashiell and I spoke to the National Press Fellows journalists I was a little nervous but not for long. To talk about the effects of lack of vaccines is something that I know very well. Sharing my experiences as a nurse in Mexico was a blessing in disguise. As a nurse, I have witnessed the terrible effects, which occur when one does not have the resources needed as to have a full and healthy life. Therefore, it is now my great honor to serve as an instrument, through Shot@Life, to ensure that children in developing countries can live, play and have a happy ending. I want to create awareness and understanding that this really is an issue around the globe. Kids are dying now at this moment when I am writing this blog. As a matter of facts “Every 20 seconds a child died for lack of access to vaccines. Many mothers walk 15 miles on a hot summer day to get to a clinic and get their children vaccinated.”
Thank you, Shot@Life, for giving me the opportunity to share my story and give back to my community children and children around the globe.
Proud Shot@Life Champion