Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sixth set of books delivered!

Many thanks to my dear friend, Dr. Rachel Smook in Massachusetts, for delivering a set of Bubbles for Isabelle books to the Rainbow Child Development Center. She did a beautiful job!

Here's what she had to say:
Kelley. Thank you again so much for entrusting me with the February delivery of Isabelle's books. Rarely have I had the chance to do something so meaningful, to participate in bringing so much joy to so many in such a short time. This morning I visited the amazing Rainbow Child Development Center in Worcester, MA. I had the chance to share Isabelle's books (and of course bubbles!) with sixty four preschool children, many of whom come from families that are Department of Children and Families-involved. These kids have had tough starts in life and their committed teachers, staff, and director are helping to make an incredible difference for them. I was blown away by the range of services they're able to access at this phenomenal facility. The kids were so excited to fill their classrooms with bubbles and to explore the new books we brought. I was truly touched to be able to be a part of Bubbles for Isabelle's beautiful outreach. Isabelle is never far from our minds and hearts around here, but this morning her love and joy made their way to children who really, really needed both. All any of us really have at the ends of our lives are the impacts we've made on the people with whom we share this planet. Isabelle's impact goes on and on. Today alone, sixty-four children who never met her were touched by her life and her gifts. It was an honor to be there to see it.

The Worcester local paper covered the book hand-over in a lovely article, which you can access here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Where there is love, there is life

A mosaic of all 515 bubble photos submitted between June 24-July 24, 2011 in honor of our sweet girl, Isabelle.

Around the end of the year we were told that over $5,600 had been donated by friends and family in Isabelle's memory to the University of Missouri Women's and Children's Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, where she was cared for and treated in her final days.  Wow - what an amazing amount donated and going to a truly top tier institution.  As a result of the generous donations, the hospital dedicated a bench in Isabelle's name in the children's garden (called TJ's Courtyard, named after the tiger mascot) in front of the hospital.

Recently, we were told the figure was actually shy, by about $7,000!  In fact, $12,685 has been donated to the hospital in Isabelle's memory.  Incredible.  Our sweet Isabelle is now about to rival the children's hospital mascot with her presence not only in the gardens (see here), but dedicated on a room in the pediatric ward.

Thank you everyone for your generous donations, your thoughts and prayers, your bubble photos, your letters, your poems, your artwork, your gifts, your skype calls...everything.  Never before in my life have I been so frequently left without the words to adequately express my feelings as I have in the past 9 months.  Just as there is no way to express the profound ways we ache in the absence of our cherished daughter, there are times like this that I cannot fully express how much we appreciate everything that's been done for us.  Thank you.

There have been some truly amazing acts of kindness bestowed upon us over these past months.  I will be dedicating a few future posts to these heartwarming gestures as they have been integral in helping us through our grieving process.

"Never have we been more aware of how much friends mean than at this time."
- excerpt from Isabelle's Celebration of Life thank you letter

TJ the Tiger, the children's mascot at the MU Women's & Children's Hospital

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fifth set of books delivered!

The Bubbles for Isabelle book collection arrives at The Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children!

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Maila, graciously delivering books in Hawaii.

Here's what Maila had to say:

"I had such a great time delivering the BFI books today.  Robyn Dolan, the philanthropy administrator, graciously gave me a tour of the children's wing.  The playroom is small, but sponsored by Hyundai and is receiving a full makeover.  Currently, they have a gaming area, a table for crafts and games, lots of fun artwork on the walls, and a wonderful child life staff to play with the children.  I was lucky to hang out quickly with two boys.  One was totally into his video game while another was playing UNO.  We opened the books up and the one playing UNO immediately fell in love with "Calm Down Boris" and "Animal Hide and Seek."  He enjoyed touching the animals on the cover.  The staff was also very moved by Isabelle's story and what her life has brought to so many others."

And from The Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children:
 "Please let Kelley know how much we appreciate the precious gift of Isabelle’s books, and how her memory lives on through the enjoyment of children who need comforting."

Friday, February 3, 2012

"I am hope" story

Our precious Isabelle is the honoree of the Midwest Transplant Network's "I am hope" story. As much as we wish we weren't the ones sitting here with this story to tell, we do greet each and every positive update on the recipients of her organs with relief and thanks. We have received an incredibly touching letter from one of Isabelle's cornea recipients who expressed his gratitude for the gift sight and what it means to him and his family. We really hope to hear from all of the families one day.

Here's what Midwest Transplant Network had to say:

"This story from Midwest Transplant Network touched my heart - please read about Isabelle, and visit the Bubbles for Isabelle Facebook page to learn more. Kelley Pelzer-Van Der Meer and her family are so inspirational in how they made a lifesaving choice for others, in the midst of the tragedy of losing their daughter, Isabelle. Even more amazing, the van der Meers have given so much back to others in need, in Isabelle's memory/honor."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In honor of Isabelle Anelies Van Der Meer and in celebration of the toddlers who received her heart and liver, the young man who received her kidneys and the two people whose sight was restored through Isabelle’s cornea donation, Midwest Transplant Network shares today’s “I am hope” story.

In May 2011, Kelley and Richard Van Der Meer lost their precious, happy, sparkling 2-year-old daughter, Isabelle, due to complications from a virus that had reached her brain. Upon her sudden and tragic death, Isabelle was able to give the gift of life as an organ donor and the gift of sight as a cornea donor. Truly lifesaving, Isabelle’s gifts would not have been possible without the heroic and generous spirit of Kelley and Richard, who made the decision for their daughter to help others.

Kelley and Richard continue to think about others, even in their own loss. They feel it’s their duty as Isabelle’s parents to see that her life – and her death – be met with beauty and meaning. In the wake of their grief, the Van Der Meers started “Bubbles for Isabelle” as a way for them and their family and friends to honor Isabelle’s life and memory. Bubbles for Isabelle pays tribute to its namesake’s brief but happy life filled with lots of joy, love and laughter. Bubbles for Isabelle also focuses on helping others in need.

On July 24, 2011, Isabelle would’ve turned three. To celebrate, Kelley launched the first Bubbles for Isabelle pay-it-forward project to benefit Joplin tornado victims. Isabelle’s death happened just days before the Joplin tornado, and the natural disaster struck a chord with them - no one is ever prepared to lose a loved one; loss is a universal feeling. Love and generosity are also universal feelings, Kelley said. So, participants took photos of themselves or their children blowing bubbles, one of Isabelle’s favorite activities, posted them to the Bubbles for Isabelle Facebook page. In return, the Van Der Meers partnered with Aden + Anais to donate a baby blanket for every bubbles photo posted to the children impacted by the Joplin tornado. Bubbles for Isabelle surpassed its goal of 300 photos, and in the end received 500 bubbles photos and donated that many blankets to children in need.

For 2012, Bubbles for Isabelle is collecting baby books (from a list of Isabelle’s favorites) to donate to facilities in need, commencing on Isabelle’s 4th birthday in July. So far, four facilities have received a donated set of books and the fifth is set to be delivered later this month. To learn more, visit

By: Donate Life Missouri

If you ever see anyone wearing one of these green bracelets, you can bet they have been impacted by the act of organ donation.  Maybe they are grieving the loss of a loved one who went on to save others, or maybe their loved one was the recipient of a life saving organ transplant.  Either way, you can be assured that person likely experienced fear, worry and heartache either directly or indirectly.  If you'd like to have one of these bracelets, you can contact me and I will mail you one.