Donor Spotlight: Choose Hope
Linda Nielsen and Paula Lundberg (pictured left) share in their own words how Choose Hope, a group dedicated to supporting cancer patients, began.
MADISON - Strangers once, cancer brought us together.
There were three of us then all sharing much needed courage: courage to fight, courage to laugh, courage to try, and the courage to live in the moment. We are Linda Nielsen of Oconomowoc, Paula Lundberg of DeForest, and the late Chris McHugh of DeForest. We are Choose Hope, Inc.
Meeting on an on-line support system, CHESS, Linda and Chris, diagnosed with breast cancer within months of each other in 1997, instantly clicked and became good friends. Finishing her own chemotherapy treatments at the UW Carbone Cancer Center, Linda often accompanied Chris there for her treatments. Paula was on-hand to support her friend as well.
Seeing such sadness in the chemo room gave Chris an idea. Her goal: to bring smiles to an otherwise gloomy situation. We started handing out homemade buttons, some humorous, some inspirational. Patients loved them. They opened up, they shared their story and they smiled.
An idea was born from a simple notion. Let's create a business. Let's band together and bring awareness, sell items created by cancer survivors for cancer survivors, and the best part, raise funds for research. It wasn't easy; none of us truly knew how to go about putting a business together. We each came from entirely different backgrounds, none of which included business or marketing. We asked, we learned, and by trial and error, Choose Hope, Inc. was born.
We rarely meet our customers. Almost all of our work is done over the phone. But still we like to think we're touching the lives of everyone we do business with. From that first hand-held button machine in 1999, Choose Hope has expanded to an on-line catalog of more than 500 products. Apparel, Jewelry, Gift Baskets, and much more with 26 acknowledged cancer awareness ribbon colors in our line, we are the go-to place for bringing awareness.
Since that first meeting around Chris' kitchen table we now warehouse out of Sun Prairie with eight employees. We fill over 1,000 orders per month and hospital gift shops nationwide offer Choose Hope products. We listen to our customers and offer meaningful items, filled with awareness, hope and humor. Each month we donate a portion of our profits to Cancer Research facilities across the country.
The UW Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center was our starting point and continues to be a focal point for our business. We've always felt incredibly lucky to live close to a National Cancer Institute-designated facility and support them whenever we can. They are the recipients of a portion of our donations and have our heartfelt thanks for everything they do. We have all sat on their Advisory Board Committee. Linda and Paula continue to do so.
Sadly, Chris lost her battle with cancer in 2003. While we miss her tremendously, the two of us remaining will continue to carry out our original goals. Our fervent wish is to see this disease halted; for us, for our families, our friends and for you. Every time a purchase is made, our dream of hope continues.
Date Published: 04/30/2009