A Little Help From My Friends (for Olivia Grace Armand)

In Giving Back, Pursuit of Happiness on January 6, 2010 at 12:28 am

We’ve all seen flocks of geese flying in a “V” formation across the sky. Most people probably don’t know why they fly in this pattern. I didn’t either until I was given an inspirational postcard years ago by a mentor that I have great respect for. Though I don’t have the card anymore, I still find it inspiring to watch the “V” formation as it passes overhead because I remember the teamwork message.

Today while driving, I saw a “V” formation off in the distance.  Usually I just marvel at the precision, and then the moment is gone.  However, today was different.  I didn’t just see the “V” formation passing overhead; I actually watched the teamwork taking place right before my eyes.  It was truly an amazing sight to behold.

The leader of the “V” formation feels the same resistance and drag as if it were flying alone, which is why the leader keeps rotating.  The benefit of the formation is that the flock increases its flying range by an astounding 71% in comparison to flying alone.  This is because the flapping wings create uplift for the next goose in line.  As fatigue sets in, the tired geese rotate to the back of the formation.  All the while, the geese in the back of the formation honk to encourage the geese in the front to maintain their speed.

Should one of the geese get injured or sick, two of the other geese will follow it to the ground to offer protection until the injured goose can fly again or dies.  They will then launch out and try and join another passing flock or try to catch up to their own flock.

Although teamwork is a nice buzzword that people tend to use in the business world, the reality is that it true teamwork (where each team member acts selflessly for the greater good) is not all that common.  However, it does exist in the world.

If you’ve been following my story, you know that my good friend, Trish, recently lost her daughter, Olivia, to a very rare disease called I-Cell.  When Olivia went into the hospital, a number of us checked in with Trish on a regular basis to see how Olivia was doing.  Through Facebook updates and e-mails, we all monitored the situation as if we were going through it ourselves.  And to some degree, we were.

Olivia Grace Armand (affectionately known as “Cookie”), touched all of our lives in ways that are difficult to put into words. When she passed away, a piece of each of us did as well.  At our age, it is not uncommon to have lost a parent.  I’ve been through it myself when I lost my father in 2001.  However, the loss of a child is something that most of us have not experienced until Olivia’s passing.

Right now, our friend Trish is hurting.  Like the geese, we want to offer her whatever support that we can.  She is an amazing woman, but she does not have the strength to fly on her own even if she wanted to.  As she mourns the loss of her daughter, she still has to take care of her son, Mikey, who, unfortunately, suffers from the same disease as his sister, Olivia.

Both Mikey and Olivia (before her passing) have spent countless days getting various treatments in hospitals.  Through it all, Trish recognized that the nurses that helped take care of her kids did so with tireless dedication and compassion.  The world needs more people like this, and Trish wants to help make it happen.

In her darkest hour, Trish has somehow mustered up the strength to start the Olivia Grace Armand Foundation. This foundation will provide scholarship funds from “The Cookie Jar” to inspired nursing students or nurses who want to further their education in pediatrics.  Annual fundraisers will be planned to help keep “The Cookie Jar” filled so that Olivia’s memory will live on for many years to come.  Trish has asked me (and some other friends) to help her with the foundation.  I am truly honored to do so.

If you would like to help Trish “pay it forward” to those who dedicate their lives to helping others, please consider making a donation to “The Cookie Jar.” I realize that the tough economy has tightened most household budgets, but any donation would be greatly appreciated.  I believe that we can all make a difference even if we only gave a dollar or two and help spread the word so that others can do the same.

If silly videos on YouTube can travel the world through sharing, there’s no reason why this message shouldn’t as well.  Please share this with your friends and family, and ask them to do the same.  You have my permission to copy and paste any part of this post that you want to use!

Donations can be mailed to:

Olivia Grace Armand Foundation

c/o Caprise

130 Sedona Way

Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418

To read Trish’s entire story, check out her website:

  1. As a former nurse turned agent, this speaks to me so loudly! The bravery and determination of children is truly astounding to behold. The heartache her mother is going through while trying to take care of another child is heart wrenching. I am so very sorry for this families pain. I would be honored to donate, I wish it could be tons of money, but it has to start somewhere right?! Thanks for bringing this to us Adam! I will pass it around!

    • Thanks Vanessa. I think that it’s more important that others help spread the word than donate large sums. I think that we will make a bigger difference having many contribute a little than a few contributing a lot.

  2. In an envelope going out today~

  3. Donation is on the way, may not be big, but I will send any amount that I can to keep this going. May small donations add up to something big. My daughter Kristen is in college, working on her nursing degree, and pediatrics is a high contender for the area she would like to practice. Thanks for the info and happy to pass it on.

    • Thanks Mary! Sorry that I didn’t get back to you sooner on this. That’s great to hear about Kristen. If she decides to pursue pediatrics, please let me know. We are all encouraged to submit people that we know for the scholarship. I can’t believe how fast she’s grown up. I still remember her coming to our office when she was my daughter’s age.

  4. Another good one, Adam! Something else you didn’t mention is the lengths to which a goose will protect its goslings. They will flap their wings, they will shout at the top of their lungs and will challenge anyone in their path. THAT is Trish. That summarizes Trish as a friend and a Mom.
    Thanks for helping spread the word about The Cookie Jar. I’ve told you this before and I’ll say it again that it’s so unfortunate that we “met” this way, but when we all get together to celebrate the first recipient of the Cookie Jar monies, it’s going to be a great, great day.

    • I always look forward to your input, Beth. I’m glad that we’re working together on this very worthy endeavor. Even though we all wish that we weren’t working on this for the reason that we are, I think that it’s a great team that will do great things in Olivia’s name.

  5. thank you all! My daughter was the amazing little girl who could light up a room…I miss her so much.

    Adam..thank you for doing this.


    • I only wish that I could do more, Trish. I will continue to promote her foundation as if it were my own. You, Olivia and Mikey are a big reason why this blog even exists in the first place. xoxo

  6. Adam, I just wanted to say I really loved the analogy of the goose formation with how we are rallying around Trish to help her through this time. It makes me feel as if my presence IS actually helping her when so many times I just feel helpless.

    The priest at the service made a remarkable statement. He said we all want to touch Trish and somehow take some of the pain away. But we can’t.

    This writing helps me remember that a loving act can maybe soften the blow just a little bit. Thanks.

    • Thanks Barb. I have realized from the beginning that we can’t take away Trish’s pain, but I didn’t realize that the priest said that. After I lost my father, I learned quickly that no words can ever fill the void that I was feeling, and continue to feel today. The pain isn’t always as deep, but it never truly goes away. I think that we’re all doing what we can to help Trish in our own way. The foundation is a huge step that I think will change Trish’s life permanently, and maybe help her to live a little bit easier with the “new normal.”

  7. Tthank you for your cookies!!!!

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