Special Events Stories & Photos
Taylor's Wish Founder Honored as Lady GODIVA Semi-Finalist: Shari Caffrey Shares How Taylor's Wish Began
Anaheim Hills, Calif., June, 2012
Shari Caffrey, founder of Taylor's Wish, an organization created in memory of her young daughter Taylor, is one of three 2012 Local Lady GODIVA Summer Honorees. According to GODIVA, every season the organization recognizes and awards "women in local communities who make a difference every day." Each honoree receives a grant of $1,000 toward her cause. At the end of the year, GODIVA will choose one Local Lady GODIVA Honoree and contribute $10,000 to her cause or organization.
Since its inception, Shari's organization has raised thousands for PH research. The following story is Shari's account of how Taylor's Wish came to be.
The Caffrey family: (clockwise from left) Shari,
Brooke, Shari's husband Michael and Taylor
On Sept. 19, 2009, my beautiful, 4-year-old daughter, Taylor Renee Caffrey, died from massive heart failure due to pulmonary hypertension. When Taylor passed I was overwhelmed with grief. Talking was not therapeutic; it only made me angry because I couldn’t believe I had lost my treasured baby to an adult disease I had never heard of before she was diagnosed. Fueled by love, anger and grief, I was determined to fight this awful disease even though it had already taken Taylor. I found it necessary to channel all my negative feelings into something positive if I was going to survive this loss. I knew I wanted to raise money for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, but I didn’t know how and I didn’t know if my efforts would even make a difference. The only thing I knew was that whatever fundraiser I did, it had to allow families to participate together.
The creation of Taylor’s Wish was serendipitous. The name came to me fairly easy because Taylor had shared with me that her family being together was the most important thing in the world. When she passed I struggled with the thought that our family, no longer being complete, would be troublesome to her, and for the rest of us remaining members. If Taylor could have one wish, it would be for everyone to be with their loved ones, thus “Taylor’s Wish.”
Six months after Taylor passed, I was introduced to a counselor who was also a running enthusiast and had an interest in starting a grassroots fundraising campaign for a local charity. She hadn’t picked a cause when we met, and she was moved by Taylor’s story. And so, Taylor’s Wish was created, and we immediately decided a 5K was a great way to raise funds and awareness.
I contacted PHA and was referred to Jessica McKearin, who handles all first-time events for PHA. I applied for a $1,000 grant through PHA, which provided the seed money for Taylor’s Wish 5K, Race 2 Cure PH. During this time, I ran into the owner of a local running store and asked him if he knew anyone who could offer me some guidance on starting a 5K. He gave me two contacts of local 5Ks in my community and right around the same time I applied for a grant from PHA’s Central Fund.
By March 2010, I held the first committee meeting for Taylor’s Wish. The committee was made up of a few close friends, my sister-in-law, my husband and myself, and we shared Taylor’s story with everyone we knew and met. We were touched by people’s generosity and willingness to help. We reached out to the community and all of our printing (brochures, tri-folds, posters and labels), participant race T-shirts, raffle/silent auction items, the digital billboard at Angels Stadium and two billboards from CBS Outdoor were 100 percent donated. The fees Taylor’s Wish incurred were for police, permits and other city fees. Our first race took place in June 2010, just a few months shy of the one-year anniversary of Taylor’s passing.
Taylor’s Wish 5K, Race 2 Cure PH has taken on a life of its own. We just held our third race on June 2, 2012, and Taylor’s Wish has now raised around $100,000 for PHA since its inception. Every year, our race grows with community involvement, participants and donations. I have learned so many things from Taylor and her passing, but mostly, I have learned not to be afraid to try and not to be afraid to ask for help. If I would have let fear and grief rule me, Taylor’s Wish wouldn’t exist, nor would the funding or awareness we generate to fight pulmonary hypertension.