Hi everyone, my name is Samantha and I have been a friend of Lending Hearts for 10 years now! When I first heard from Vasso about Lending Hearts turning 10 this year I was first in shock that it has been 10 years already and second I was honored that she asked me to share my story of Lending Hearts and the significance of the past 10 years it has had on my life. I really don’t know where the time has gone! On May 3, 2011 I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 15. Little did I know at the time, just a few short weeks later, Vasso would share her concept for Lending Hearts and the organization would officially come to be in June of 2011.
My family and I got to first meet Vasso back in December of 2011 when Lending Hearts had their first programing activity and we were lucky enough to be the first friends of Lending Hearts! I will always remember that day, I was in the middle of my radiation treatments and had just had a very long, rough hospitalization. My hair had finally begun to grow back and one of the first things I had said to Vasso was that I was so excited because that morning was the first time that I finally had enough hair to use a blow dryer again! Thanks to Lending Hearts I have had a chance to do things that I never imagined I would do, like paint with the Penguins at the National Aviary, dance on stage at the Byham Theater (which introduced me to one of my best friends), and share my story at the 2016 Lending Hearts Gala, just to name a few!
Meeting Vasso and becoming a part of Lending Hearts has been one of the biggest blessings in my life and will always hold a special place in my heart. She inspires me to show compassion in everything I do and the importance of lending your heart to those who need it. It’s been 10 years since I was diagnosed with cancer and reflecting over the last 10 years of my life and looking back at the last 10 years of Lending Hearts it is amazing at the growth that can happen and how far you can come when you are surrounded by those that truly care and work together to make a difference. My battle with cancer has forever changed the person I am and it has brought me to where I am today. I am forever grateful for Vasso and all of the amazing things that she does and all of the wonderful things I know that she and Lending Hearts will continue to do for many, many years to come!