Phoebe Carmody, an almost 6-year-old battling leukemia, has been embraced by the people of Hopkins County through fundraisers, yard signs and prayers.
Recently, Phoebe was presented an opportunity to help give back to other children who are battling childhood cancer.
She was asked by Persnickety Clothing owner and head designer Corinne Rickenbach to join Cami Carver, an 8-year-old she became fast friends with while both were at the hospital being treated for leukemia, as a model for the 2014 Princess Millie Dress, which goes to the Princess Millie Foundation, benefitting families impacted by childhood cancer.
The dress was designed by Cami in memory of her friend, Amelia “Millie” Flamm, whose dream to become a fashion designer was recognized in 2013, when the creative cancer-fighter was asked to collaborate with Rickenbach to create an outfit carried by Persnickety Clothing. The outfit included a multilayer ruffled skirt and a shirt featuring one of Millie’s drawings.
Persnickety and the Millie’s Princess Foundation now partner annually for a project to benefit families impacted by childhood cancer.
Millie lost her battle to cancer last year, so her friend and fellow “childhood cancer warrior” Cami was asked to work with Rickenbach to create the 2014 Princess Millie Dress.
“Cami designed the dress with purpose,” said Kelly Carmody, noting that from the pattern to the color and date of release, the dress was strategically designed.
The 2014 Princess Millie Dress, which features a Peter Pan collar and cuff, is gold, representative of “childhood cancer awareness” and Princess Millie Foundation’s motto, “Help Them Grow Old, Wear Gold.”
It will officially be released Sept. 1, the start of Child Cancer Awareness Month.
“When it came down to it, they couldn’t decide on just one version so there are two versions of the dress, one with a sash and one with an apron and sash,” Mrs. Carmody explained.
Phoebe was asked by Rickenbach to join Cami in Utah a couple of weeks ago as part of a professional photo shoot promoting the 2014 Princess Millie Dress. Being asked was an honor, but one Kelly said her family did not take lightly.
“It was big. This was not going to be just my friends and family, people at home, but the whole world who we’d be telling Phoebe has leukemia. But, lots of people will see the dress. Sulphur Springs needs to see it, what it’s for,” said Kelly, noting that it would be an opportunity to give back, and give Sulphur Springs residents interested an opportunity to order the dress for their girls and support others with cancer.
Phoebe was flown to Utah, whisked away in a limo to Rickenbach’s private offices for the official announcement June 14. Phoebe and Cami’s photos in the dresses now grace promotional material on Persnicketyclothing.com and milliesprincessfoundation.org.
“This was a big deal for Phoebe. Cami designed a dress Phoebe wore. She went into the personal home office. It’s really just amazing, the giving of heart from Corinne, who hosted us. She wants us to come back. It’s been overwhelming and exciting. Phoebe feels like a real model,” Kelly said.Anyone interested can view Cami and Phoebe in their Princess Millie dresses online at persnicketyclothing.com and place orders through the website.
Kelly said they are also available for pre-order through July 15 from Butler Hill, 202 Main St. in Sulphur Springs, or by contacting her at 903-918-6188 or at butlerhillboutique@yahoo. com. The business does not profit from sales, as all proceeds go to the foundation to benefit other families as their children are healing from cancer.
Phoebe’s giving back doesn’t stop with her newly-found modeling career.
The Carmodys are working on Phoebe Friends, a way to honor the legacy of generosity shown to them. Kelly said her family will be making goody bags to donate to the hospital to give to kids who are there whether for treatment, visiting a friend or relative or waiting while someone receives treatment or a diagnosis.
“Distractions are so important to keep kids occupied. We’ll bring them to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital for every child, not just patients but those at the hospital because their mom had a baby or grandma had a stroke or whatever reason,” Kelly explained.
The Carmodys know first hand just how appreciated something as simple as a coloring book and colors, small toy or something to draw on can be at a medical facility or hospital. Not only were those items much-appreciated at the Dallas hospital for Phoebe, but also for her siblings, 8-year-old Cason and 4-year-old Meredith.
The items don’t have to be expensive, just things handy to distract kids. She’s collecting items valued at about $1 each to place into the bags. A single bag would contain a $4-$5 assortment of items such as a coloring book, pack of colors, a Hot Wheels car for a boy or nail polish or other item for a girl, a small container of party-sized Play-doh and stickers.
Kelly and others have already put together some bags, but hope by July 7 to have enough supplies and funds to donate 200 goody bags to HCMH to support kids in this community, where others have helped them so much. The other larger facilities they’ve visited receive regular donations to keep them supplied. This, Kelly says, is something they can do and a project the Carmodys can start, to benefit local children.
The community has been very generous, embracing the Carmody family when they moved to town seven years ago, offering prayers and support through Phoebe’s diagnosis and treatment.
“We’ve been here seven years. Everyone took us under their wings. They’ve helped us to get through this. This town is as much my family as my family is. It’s been overwhelming. How do you thank everyone in the community? So many have prayed. There are signs at houses of people we don’t know. Thank you, Sulphur Springs,” Phoebe’s mom, Kelly Carmody said this week during a telephone interview while en route for Phoebe’s daily treatment.
While Phoebe has a year’s worth of chemotherapy still to go and will have surgery next month, Kelly says her daughter is “doing super.”
“She is doing so well thanks to this community who has lifted her up in prayer. She’s only had to be in the hospital a handful of times. I’m convinced it’s due to prayer and grace. She still has a year of chemo. She’s just walking right through it. She takes chemo in the morning and wants to play in the evening,” Kelly said. “July marks one year of treatment left. It’s only one year — 365 days isn’t long at all after the journey we’ve been on.”
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