Avs Better Halves joined us to fill the Bags they sponsored!

Bags of Fun is blessed to be one of four beneficiaries of the Avs Better halves Christmas Tree Sale. Every year, the Avs better Halves decorate Christmas trees that are auctioned off to the public. Their donation will help us deliver over 30 Bags of Fun to adolescents facing a mental health challenge, as well as 15 Bags of Fun to kids fighting long term life threatening medical conditions.

On May 23rd, the Avs Better Halves joined us to fill the Bags they sponsored. We had a great morning getting to know the ladies and filling bags that will bring joy, laughter, and relief to kids all over Colorado.

We are so grateful for the continued support of Kroenke Community relations department and the Colorado Avalanche Avs Better Halves. Thank you, Melissa, Tracy, Maya ,Kailey, Kendra, Charlotte Susanna, Jacklyn Madison! We are so appreciative of your support and HANDS ON help! And a huge Thanks to Deb and Heather from Kroenke Community relations for all their hard work for the Colorado Community.

Let’s Get Together

Bags of Fun believes in the power of play to encourage happiness through a tough time. There is no better way to celebrate the power of play than to invite you to join us at our fantastic events!

These events are also a place where our bag recipients, caregivers, medical providers, donors and volunteers come together to celebrate. This year, we look forward to seeing you as we celebrate the power of play, community, and togetherness.

Owen’s Story

Owen was diagnosed with a brain mass on March 15th 2015. We went to the Children’s Hospital just expecting to do an MRI to see that everything was fine and that Owen’s primary care doctor was wrong about his head size. When we got to the hospital even the doctor said “we will do an MRI but nothing is wrong with your son” so we were planning our day as he went back to for the MRI.

When we went back to the room for the results, I could tell something was up. The doctor came in and just looked at me and said, “ I don’t know how to tell you this but your son has a mass on his brain and we have to admit you.” My world was turned upside down. Not only was I not expecting this in a million years, every part of my body felt like it shattered. I just remember crying every night.

We were probably in the hospital for 3 weeks waiting for a plan, when one day after we were wandering the hospital floors, we came back to our room and there was a backpack waiting on Owen’s bed. It said Bags of Fun. I just remember in that moment thinking how amazing this was. To everyone else this was just a bag filled with toys to keep Owen busy in the hospital but to me it was more. It made me think that someone packing this bag was thinking of my son. They probably had no idea what we were going through, the pain, the heartbreak and to receive this bag gave us smiles. Our son could be a kid and play with toys and they were just for him. We love our backpack too, we now use it as Owen’s diaper bag because it just reminds me that people out there do care about these kids with cancer and just this thoughtful gesture means the world to families like mine when you’re alone and sad in the hospital. It actually brings a smile in a time of darkness.

Kyndall’s Bag of Fun

Kyndall was diagnosed with a very rare Telomere Biology Disorder. The telomere length in all her cells are critically short. This can potentially lead to various organs failing throughout the course of her life. Her bone marrow has been the first organ to fail. We found out in 2020 that she would need a bone marrow transplant. Her 12 year old sister was a perfect match and donated her bone marrow to her little sister.

Kyndall was admitted to University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska at the end of August 2020 to begin 8 days of chemo. She received her Bags of Fun after she had a dose of radiation. We were both blown away by how amazing the bag was. There were TONS of amazing crafts, games and activities that were perfect for a 6 year old girl. The items included unicorns, princesses, crafts and jewelry which were all of her favorite things! Every single pocket of the backpack was full! All of those gifts helped us all feel extra special and loved. It was a true blessing to have so many choices of crafts and activities to help keep her busy over the next 4 weeks of her hospital stay. Thank you for so generously bringing joy to our family during that time. We are forever grateful!

Mile’s Bag Story

Miles is our sweet spunky 4year old that was diagnosed with a Glioma on his optic nerve 10/7/2020. While his tumor is not removable the docs had to preform a craniotomy to collect a biopsy. Miles started chemo therapy 12/7 and is undergoing weekly treatments at Children’s Hospital in Colorado Springs. Miles was so excited about his Bag of Fun. With the help of his 10 year old brother Liam he unpacked loads of stuff (his favorites are the stack um robots, the squiggle worms and the back pack itself!) It comes with us each doctor visit – it’s become our routine to “pack our bag of fun for the doctor” and Miles proudly shows up to get his treatments.
Thank you, truly from the bottom of our hearts. It’s organizations like Gaby’s foundation and Bags of fun that really are instrumental in healing Miles spirits as he navigates his journey to health!

– From Mile’s mom, Alainna Rankins

Volunteer Spotlight: Meet The Zimmerman’s

When Gabby was fighting her brain tumor, Gabby’s mom, Tammy, obviously spent time praying for her to get better. But, Tammy also spent a lot time thinking about what her world would look like when this was all over. Little did she know the amount of support she would have surrounding Gabby’s idea that other kids should have a Bag of Fun like hers. Tammy went to friends, family and anyone who would listen and asked them to help me make Gabby’s dream come true.

One of the relationships that came out of this was the Zimmerman’s. Tara and Royce got involved in this organization about 10 years in. They presented Bags of Fun with a model of philanthropy that we had never heard of and to be honest, never thought of. Tara and Royce were willing to put their story out there. The story of their daughter’s friend who passed away of a brain tumor at a young age, very similar to Gabby’s. Tara and Royce are extremely involved in the Colorado community and when they asked us about bringing their clients in to volunteer monthly, we were honored. What they really did, though, is change the way we look at philanthropy and how to engage people in Bags of Fun. Being involved with Tara’s and Royce’s monthly volunteer days has taught us that giving back creates relationships that can transform a program. From an organizational standpoint, we get to engage with new volunteers and donors each month and see the joy that volunteering gives them, while fulfilling Gabby’s dream that all kids in the fight of their lives get a Bag of Fun. Since Tara and Royce have been involved with Bags of Fun, we have grown from 300 Bags of Fun per year in Colorado to 500 per year. This growth is largely due to their long-term support and commitment to what we do. The entire Zimmerman family is committed to Bags of Fun. Their oldest Avery has done countless fundraisers for us, Charlie, Nora and Ruby are great ambassadors of the program, even doing TikTok videos for us.

Philanthropy is funny thing. People think about it lots of different ways; giving back, making a difference, being a part of the community. What we have learned is that philanthropy is all of those things. We know that people give to people. While we know whole-heartedly that the Bags of Fun program is amazing and that we are committed to continuing Gabby’s legacy, it is really the people around us that make a difference and are the reason that we can continue to give smiles to children in the fight of their lives.

If you want to learn more about how Tara and Royce stay passionate about giving back to the community and Bags of Fun, contact Tara at Royce Zimmerman and Associates. Tara is an incredible resource, has wonderful ideas and is an amazing person.