Ugly Sweater Party calls ‘all the jingle ladies’ to raise funds for local family
Every third Thursday of the month, there is a themed ladies night organized and hosted by The Monarch. Some of them involve creatives and other community partners. For December, they’re throwing an Ugly Sweater Christmas Party and fundraiser, calling “all the jingle ladies” to come out on Thursday, Dec. 16, from 6-9 p.m. to raise funds for a local family with a special boy named Jonah whose story hits close to home for The Monarch.
Chelsi Lasater, writer and social media manager at The Monarch, shares Jonah’s story in her own words:
I was 14 when I had my first seizure. Days later at my pediatric neurology appointment, my doctor asked me if I had any questions. I had received a whirlwind of scary and overwhelming information in just an hour … but I only had one question. “Can I still have kids?” He responded with a sweet smile and a little hug, “Let’s worry about that when you’re older, OK?” But I didn’t. I did six research papers about the effects of epilepsy during pregnancy in junior high, high school and college. They weren’t good. It should be said that many women with epilepsy have successful pregnancies with healthy babies. But my case was different.
Eight years after that first seizure, I got married under no pretenses of ever being pregnant and plans to adopt in the next few years. Unfortunately, I became sicker and sicker. It wasn’t till I was 31 years old, after countless medication changes, medical procedures and watching all of my friends have baby after baby, that I was finally healthy enough to become a mother. An open adoption seemed foreign and scary to me. Then I met them: Nate, Jade and their 13-month-old baby, Jonah.
It was love at first sight. I wanted nothing more than to be part of their lives forever. We “dated” for three months and they picked us to be Mom and Dad. It was one of the best moments of my life.
Life continued on and my perfect little girl was born. She is sweet and spicy and is the complete love of my life. And so are her birth parents. We talk weekly and try to get together for every holiday and at least every three months … not per any legal document but because we miss each other. This has further solidified as our babies have grown up and become the very best of friends. They look like each other, yes, but they act like each other too, which gives all of us both confidence and terror about our parenting.
“Can you marry someone in your family?” my innocent daughter asked me the other night after they came to her dance recital. “No,” I replied with a smile. “But who would you marry if you could?” “Um, Jonah. Duh,” she quipped. They are the best of friends and the best of siblings, the best of everything.
I still remember when I got that phone call from Jade’s mom, Tani. It was just days before my daughter’s fifth birthday. I was getting ready for my mom’s surprise bridal shower that night and thought I was stressed. “Something’s happened,” Tani said. My ears started ringing as Tani said it … leukemia. My baby jumped on the trampoline while Tani described her brother going into surgery to receive a port in his 6-year-old chest, a sample of his bone marrow, IVs, a spinal tap, blood work and his first dose of chemotherapy. I wanted to teleport myself to the hospital to hold everyone in my arms … but because of COVID, I couldn’t even get close. I hung up the phone and sobbed. “How am I going to tell my baby that her brother might die?” I asked the silence. I still haven’t. She cried when I said he was sick and couldn’t come to her birthday party.
Jonah has been sick for a very long time now, and he has endured so much. Spinal taps, steroids, daily chemotherapy, intravenous chemotherapy, surgeries, bone marrow aspirations, blood clots, COVID, hair loss, crippling pain, low energy, nausea, low blood sugar, a broken arm and enduring the effects of cancer every single day. As a little kid. His parents are still so young and are struggling to find the financial means to keep up with everyday life, let alone one in 2021. But through all of it, happiness has prevailed, love has prevailed (Nate and Jade got married last month!), family has prevailed.
Families come in all kinds of circumstances. But I think mine is the best. I’m honored to be the mother of my little girl, and I’m honored to be the Chelsi of Nate and Jade, and I’m honored that my little girl’s hero, best friend, confidant and other half is Jonah.
This month’s second Saturday Monarch Market, “Jingle Jangle Hop,” will also raise proceeds for Jonah and his family. Up to 25 kids may attend Churros and Cocoa with Santa and Mrs. Claus in the Workshop room at The Monarch from 10-11 a.m. Saturday during the market for $15 per child. The market will also have free hot chocolate and kids crafts, a scavenger hunt, cash bar and live music with the DaVinci Academy Choir and Orchestra and the local Standards and Substandards jazz group.
“All the Jingle Ladies” Ugly Sweater Party and fundraiser is Thursday, Dec. 16, from 6-9 p.m. at The Monarch. There will be a silent raffle, holiday shopping from local vendors, music by DJ Bryson, a Comedy Collective show and special workshops by Monarch creatives Wild Meraki, Hope and Evolution, and Art Box (tickets sold separately).
For more information and to purchase tickets for special workshops and events, visit themonarchogden.com/happenings.
Follow Jonah’s Journey on Facebook @JonahsJourneyCancerWarrior and donate on GoFundMe at https://gofund.me/4723896d or Jonah’s Leukemia Fund.