The Gift of Giving Back

Today is my birthday and I have already been showered with blessings and well wishes from friends around the world.

My 17 year old got up at the crack of dawn to prepare a special birthday breakfast for me before heading out to her baby sitting job — a perfectly cooked egg for my morning protein with a gluten free raw cacao and coconut pancake served with an extra dose of love.


I am so grateful to be surrounded with loving, beautiful, giving people… and to be vibrantly healthy!  At 48 I feel stronger and more confident than ever.  I have three gorgeous daughters and a loving husband, my business is blossoming and I have the opportunity to serve moms and their families daily.

One of the things I particularly cherish is my ability to give back … To share my gifts, my time, with people all around me — men, women, and especially children.

This past Sunday I had the privilege of doing just that with my daughters, as we participated in a truly magical event — introducing chronically ill children and their siblings to the art of FLYING with the amazing FOCUSfish!

I’m not sure I have the words to adequately describe how exhilarating it was to feel the intense joy that filled these precious children.

Their entire beings just radiated with pure, unfiltered, overflowing JOY!


I am so grateful that my 17 year old daughter captured these beautiful moments!

This event took place thanks to a partnership between FOCUSFish and CoachArt, two amazing nonprofit organizations dedicated to enriching the lives of children of all ages and abilities.  This was my first time volunteering for this event with my daughters and we cannot wait to do it again.

Eighteen children joined us — half of them living with an illness or special condition that makes physical activity challenging. The children or their parents told us what restrictions we needed to be aware of so that they could have a positive experience.

As the children experienced movement in a completely new way, I saw tears of joy…   Smiles so big they reached far beyond the moment at hand … I saw the pride that comes with overcoming fear … The exhilaration of defying gravity… The thrill of doing things that are supposed to be “impossible”.

I saw children free to be children, to move, run, dance, spin, and fall to the ground laughing so hard!

We lifted, supported, cradled, cheered and celebrated.

Those two and a half precious hours filled me to the brim. Through their unbridled happiness these children gave me the most beautiful and lasting gift of all. The gift of knowing that a small gesture can have such a profound impact. Their enthusiasm was contagious!  Their love wrapped itself around my heart and made it soar!

I have personally known the power of FOCUSFish’s unique approach to physical education and fitness for many years. I have witnessed it’s transforming power in my own life and now in that of my 7 year old.  This summer I had the immense pleasure of starting to teach with FOCUSFish, which has been a wonderful, enriching experience.

After witnessing the real magic of FOCUSFish on children of all abilities this past weekend I am more passionate about their mission than ever.

This coming weekend, Sabrina and I will be participating in the first ever FOCUSFish Fly-A-Thon, a special fundraiser to bring the gift of PE to underserved schools who cannot afford any “enrichment” programs, be they art, music or physical education.  I believe that every child deserves these programs as they are a fundamental part of their emotional and physical development, which is why I have set an ambitious goal for our family.

I invite you to support our fundraising efforts and touch the lives of children who deserve to feel vibrantly alive and free!

On Saturday Sabrina and I will each demonstrate 15 skills — 10 on silks and 5 on trapeze. You can make a flat donation or make a pledge per trick.

To pledge your support, please visit our page at  Your support no matter how big or small will make a real difference in the lives of these children.

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!!!


How do you give back? Do you have a favorite non-profit that you support?


  1. What an amazing thing you did! And I just learned about something I’d never even heard of before. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. That is a good thing you are doing Valerie and I admire your spunk and go-getter attitude. And btw, a very happy birthday to you.

  3. Aw, what a great thing your doing. What fun that must have been for those chronically ill kids. I know that showing them the art of FLYING with those amazing FOCUSfish must have been a highlight for many, if not all. 🙂

    • Those kids were amazing Susan! Truly happy in a way that is rare and priceless. I feel blessed to have been able to share something with them that always lifts my spirits and makes me feel so ALIVE!!!

  4. Your pictures are lovely. You can really see the joy in their faces! Way to pay it forward and make someone else’s day 🙂

  5. I have never heard of this before, what a wonderful thing!!! Looks like you had so much fun giving back! love all the pictures!! So sweet!

  6. Oh and happy birthday 🙂

  7. Happy birthday Valerie! I’m so glad you were surrounded by such joy and happiness on your special day – it’s awesome. And good job raising the 17 year old – the kid’s lookin like a mean cook!

  8. What a wonderful and heart-warming story. It actually made me tear up a bit. The wolrd is a better place with you in it:) Thank you for being such a great giver

  9. First- Happy Birthday. What you did was great as there is nothing like giving of yourself. You have raised your children well and I understand why you are so proud.

    • Thank you Arleen! I was raised with the best example of giving back. My mom and dad are two of the generous and giving people I know and I am eternally grateful they’ve shown me all my life the importance of giving of oneself without the expectation of a return. The reward is of course, as you can so clearly see in these children, the joy that you share!

  10. Happy birthday. Thank you for sharing such a heartwarming thing with us. Greatly appreciated.

  11. Happy Birthday!
    That event looks amazing! My kids would love playing in an area like that!

  12. I don’t think there is any place like this around here. Looks like a lot of fun… one of those things where kids won’t know they are exercising… they’ll just think they are having fun!

    • It is one of those places where kids get some of the best exercise and LOVE it Nicole! Every time I go I am awed at ho much the kids are capable of and how elated they are when they first climb the silks or sit on the trapeze. They have such a sense of accomplishment!

  13. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I love what you are doing – in your kids and in your giving back!

  14. Happy birthday. I love how you decided to spend it.

  15. Happy Birthday, and congratulations on making a mark on those young people’s lives. I did volunteer work for most of my adult life and got more joy out of it than effort put in. It is truly amazing how that happens.

  16. Happy Birthday! Looks like you are definitely well loved. What a great experience to have with your children teaching them how to give.

  17. Happy Birthday. What a special way for you and your daughter to bond for such a great cause!

  18. That was so sweet and thoughtful of her! 🙂

  19. The kids look like they are having a blast! I love that even though some may have had physical limitations, they aren’t missing out on any of the fun.

    • That is one of the things that I treasure about FOCUSFish’s approach to physical education. It is truly accessible to everyone and anyone regardless of limitations. It’s all in the mindset of the founder, Kristy Beauvais, who knows how to adapt the skills to meet children and adults of all abilities wherever they are.. That is how she trains all of her instructors which is a very special gift in and of itself.

  20. Happy birthday! I love that everyone had so much fun on your day! Can I get the recipe for that pancake?

    • Thank you Emily! There is no better way I know if celebrating my birthday that surrounded by loving and joyful people. I’ll ask my daughter for her pancake recipe. She made it up on Sunday morning 🙂

  21. Valerie – I like you ..a lot. What a passion you have and how wonderful that you share this. I have never heard of FocusFish before. I worked in the non-profit sector for years and the truly committed volunteers, like yourself, were a joy to work with. I hope you’ll keep us updated from time to time with your activities.

  22. An inspiring story. Nothing is as fulfilling as making physically challenged children happy. And Happy Birthday.

  23. This is amazing. What a heartwarming post.

  24. What a special breakfast! I love how your daughter captured all those amazing moments. It’s so wonderful to give back!

  25. That is so cool that you gave back, and I hope you had a wonderful birthday. Did your daughter make that egg herself? My fried eggs always end up so messy LOL

  26. This is beautiful (and those pictures really capture the joy)! I love that you say you were giving back, but it’s obvious that you were receiving something wonderful at the same time. That’s usually how it works, isn’t it? I love this idea, what a gift for those kids!

  27. Great picture, I hope you enjoyed your birthday.

  28. What a wonderful experience. A real win/win and such a good thing for your daughters to help with.

  29. The kids in the photos certainly look full of job. FOCUSFish sounds like a wonderful program.

  30. Must have been great fun, Valerie!! And, Happy Birthday!!

  31. Happy birthday 🙂 It’s great to see how you give back. I’ve been involved with the Humane Society for years. As for helping humans, I like to joke that my time spent in the classroom clocked in more than enough hours to quality as giving back. Truth is, I just can’t seem to settle on an organization to align myself with.

  32. Kudos to you and your family for bringing such joy into the lives of these children. How wonderful to give without the expectation of any return. Happy birthday!. August 19 was my mother’s birthday, too. It’s also Bill Clinton’s birthday, if you didn’t know.

  33. Happy Belated Birthday! I’m glad things are going so well for you. This is the first time I’ve heard of a fly-fishing fundraiser. I do agree that you have to believe in what a nonprofit offers to support it with your effort.

    • Thank you Deidre! This is going to be the first ever Fly-A-Thon and it’s going to be so much fun! We have 27 registered fliers!!! Yes there re so many worthy causes to support and its important to find one or several that really speak to our heart and we can support fully.

  34. Happy belated birthday! What a very cool thing to do with the kids. I’m not familiar with that organization so I’ll go check out your link. I wholeheartedly agree that art/music/PE is crucial for kiddos and love that you’re doing what you can to support that. I hope your fundraiser is successful!

  35. Hi Valerie; thanks for sharing this experience. I can feel your joy bubbling out through the words. and it reminds me of times where me and a bunch of other blind kids got to go places because of the bell telephone pioneers or the delta gamma foundation. I remember the circus, the ice capades, and a ski trip in winter park colorado. good luck to you with the fund raiser, max

    • Thank you Max.. I’m so happy you can feel my joy bubbling through! It was a day I will never forget. How wonderful that you were able to enjoy so many fun activities with bel pioneers and the delta gamma foundation!

  36. Happy Birthday Valerie, I sounds like you had a great day. I love the images and what you are doing do help others! 🙂

  37. Happy Birthday! It’s wonderful to see you teaching your children to be kind and of service to others. Such a valuable lesson…my mom did the same with her 3 girls. I’m sure this experience gave you all just as much joy as it gave the children. Keep up the good work.

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