Two inspiring moms, two amazing little girls and two heart-filled foundations share a common mission: that kindness matters. Moms, Bonnie Collins and Holly Gibson, share their stories and the ways their foundations, Live Like Maya and Shine Like Sable reflect the unselfish and tender way their young daughters, Maya Grace and Sable Paige, lived their lives.
Magnificent Maya was only seven when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and a chromosomal abnormality that made her cancer harder to treat. For more than six years, she and her family experienced the roller coaster of multiple life-saving bone marrow transplants, chemotherapies, relapses and remissions. On October 3, 2017, Maya received her “angel wings”. Having lived her 14 years as a thoughtful, generous young lady, her legacy would be to make this world a kinder and more loving place.
“Maya had an amazing zest for life. She was funny, feisty and quite a practical joker! She made every moment count and would go out of her way to be kind to others,” recalls her mother, Bonnie. “To live like Maya is to wear a big smile, enjoy life, love dance and art and have a tender, giving heart.”
Sweet Sable was only 10 years old when she passed away on February 20, 2019 from cardiac arrest, following a bout with strep throat and influenza. The loss of their little girl was unexpected and sudden, but her parents and siblings are choosing to laugh as often as they cry, and share Sable’s shining legacy of selfless kindness.
Sable’s mother, Holly, reflects, “Sable was witty, funny and so kind-hearted. The light shone through her big smile, spunky personality and selfless actions. Her Dad says she had a sixth sense, she just seemed to know when others were hurting or in need.”
These two Mason moms, who one year ago did not know each other, were encouraged by friends to meet and share their stories. What resulted is a special and supportive friendship and a realization that their beautiful, creative and kind daughters were very much alike.
Holly, with a smile, describes Bonnie, “She is an amazing and encouraging supporter, who being farther in this journey has helped me so much. We are in a club no one really wants to be in, but she reminds me we can do this, together.”
Bonnie warmly reflects, “Holly is a ray of sunshine that lights up any room she is in. When I am struggling, she is a model for me of keeping the faith. She is such a kind, sweet person.”
Both moms agree their foundations are a way to keep going after such a painful loss in their lives. They appreciate how much the community wants to remember and celebrate their daughters’ lives.
Holly states, “Having the Shine Like Sable foundation helps me redirect my grief towards helping others in ways Sable would have really loved.”
Holly shares that Sable asked her to pack extra food in her school lunch so she could share with kids who didn't have enough to eat. Now this kindness of Sable’s is still shining, through one outreach of the Shine Like Sable foundation. Supported by gifts to the foundation, every week volunteers assemble 600 Shine Packs, individual bags of food that needy students can take home for the weekend.
Even when Maya was receiving cancer treatments at St. Jude Hospital she would always look for ways to brighten the days of others.
Bonnie relates, “One day while we were out, Maya saw a homeless man and insisted we go through McDonalds and get him food. As Maya gave the man the food, he noticed her bald head and with tears, thanked her and said he would pray for her. Maya replied she would pray for him too.”
The two foundations share a similar mission of spreading kindness and goodwill throughout the community. In addition to the Shine Packs, Shine Like Sable supports Child Life Specialists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and offers Sable Random Acts of Kindness Cards to encourage everyone to do a good deed for a neighbor or a stranger. They also provide a therapy dog named Gibson for children at the Mason Early Childhood Center.
Live Like Maya continues Maya’s legacy of fostering kindness by providing financial assistance to families of children battling cancer; supporting pediatric cancer research, St. Jude Hospital, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. They also plan to establish a college scholarship for a student excelling in community service. To expand their fundraising efforts, Bonnie and her husband are opening a brewery in Sharonville this spring where they can host events.
Bonnie and Holly share a life experience that no mother ever wants to face. They are courageous and inspiring moms, willing to share their stories and their hearts to help others.
Bonnie encourages, “Be happy when your kids are home and be grateful for every minute.”
Holly echoes her friend, “Love on your kids. You don’t know what tomorrow brings. Treasure and appreciate the little things always.”
Kindness Matters Brunch
The special brunch is back on for 2021! It will take place at Manor House Event Center on Saturday, May 8 from 10:30am-3:00pm. To purchase tickets please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/kindness-matters-mothers-day-brunch-tickets-98486689339