Hello My Angel!

April has felt like such a busy month for me and the foundation! School ended at the end of March so I’ve been enjoying my extra long “spring break” before heading back to class tomorrow. It has been an amazing break for sure. It definitely flew by in the blink of an eye. Such a whirlwind and so many memories made!

As I told you about in March – we had huge plans for your birthday! As soon as I got back from Alabama, it was straight into making sure each and every detail for your big day was perfect!

I wanted everyone who walked into the Joy Factory on your birthday to leave knowing you more, knowing they made a huge impact, knowing that they helped us get one step closer to your dream, knowing that we as a family appreciated them beyond what we could ever put into words, and to leave with the biggest smile across their face! I think we succeeded in this too Jess!! We set up the Joy Factory the night before because Saturday would be so early and so busy. Kylie flew in for the weekend and it was amazing to have her there on such a big day when no matter how crazy busy it feels, you still feel the loss and need your best friends and family around. We got to have Kimmy and Uncle T in for the weekend as well!

Kylie and I had the super fun job of picking up all your Sprinkles cupcakes Friday afternoon! I’d never seen such big cupcake boxes girlie. Since we ordered so many, they had boxes that held 48 cupcakes each! We needed two cars to get them all back to the Joy Factory and my car smelled like their cupcake bakery the whole way there 🙂 You would have loved it!! We ended up realizing that they gave us 4 dozen more cupcakes than we ordered so I don’t know if you snuck a few extra dozen in there for kicks or what but we had cupcakes for everyone!! I chose their sprinkles flavor and red velvet flavors because they seemed to encompass your big day perfectly. Sprinkles flavor for your birthday and red velvet because that flavor is so YOU!

We got to the foundation early Saturday morning, 5:30 am, and I was so excited I think I only slept about 4 hours the night before. It was like a long nap! hhaha. When we got there Diana Hughes was already there making sure the Joy Factory was perfect for stuffing! Did I tell you that we were able to fly her in for the weekend?! It was perfect and felt so special having the original Joy Factory coordinator leading each group for the whole day. From the time the first shift arrived (5:45 am) to the time the last (10:45 pm), it was nonstop JOY. I know you were right there with us giving us energy and JOY and love to share with each person! Everybody walked in with a smile on his or her face – one I think stayed on pretty much the whole time!!

Each group watched your video and learned how to stuff our special jar. To get to 1,800 Joy Jars, we had each hour shift complete 100 jars! It was so fun to watch each person figure out how they would put their first jar together and then grow with confidence by jar number 3 or 4. Every shift was full too Jess!! They even seemed to get bigger throughout the day! When the groups weren’t very big, all of us got to jump in and stuff jars to help out. I loved filling this jar because it was SO YOU. I hadn’t filled a jar in a while and I honestly forgot just how much fun it is. You created something so unique and life changing for so many. From just the motto, NEGU, to the items we get to send out, it makes a huge impact and days like April 8 completely blow me away to the power of your legacy. I love what I get to continue being apart of!

To finish off the final shifts, we had some very fun guests! Jaime, your personal vampire, joined us for a few shifts and he loved it! He gets to hand out your Joy Jars but never has had the opportunity to be on the “making” side. We also had the whole OCC Baseball team fill our last two shifts! These were the harder ones to get people into but Coach Alto was able to get all his guys to come. They are absolute rock stars and helped us move all 1,800 jars after midnight! We wouldn’t have been able to move all the jars without them.

After each group, the people could write on encouragement cards and hang out. I forgot to tell you that I took a Polaroid of each group on your camera after they finished! I love getting to still use it for special events that you are so much a part of. I love photographs and capturing memories through them since photographs are the best ways to look back at memories of you! I can’t wait to come up with some fun display for these Polaroid’s in the office.

Another fun piece of the day was getting to open the Joy Factory to all ages. Normally you have to be 12 years old to stuff Joy Jars, but we felt that this day should be an invitation to everyone since it was so unique! All the little kids that came in had a blast and especially loved the cupcakes at the end!! Some of the kids got a little frustrated at first trying to find the right way to get everything in and then they started having more fun! I thought it was fun seeing them really trying their hardest to make them perfectly. They would all have the biggest smiles across their faces as they dropped them off to be sealed by Kimmy and T.

The day was absolutely incredible and I am so excited still thinking about all the day held. You change so many lives Jessie and I loved getting to throw you the longest and best birthday party around!! I know you and Jesus were up there celebrating with us and I hope they have a Sprinkle’s Cupcakes up there so you were able to eat cupcakes with us!

I love you my angel,

your big sis