This past Sunday, the 28th of April, was an amazing event in honor of Andrea Grace Lucas at the American Heritage School in Plantation, Florida. Not only was it an incredible showcase, put on by her classmates "Andrea's Angels", but it also was the official announcement and introduction of The Andrea Lucas Foundation.
The out pouring of support and love from the community, classmates and corporate sponsors was enormous. From the silent auctions, raffles and performances, the program witnessed by all who attended, was a true honor in memory of Andrea.
When looking for future leaders, who exemplify big hearts and compassion, you do not have to look any further than the Breathe Easy Showcase for Andrea Lucas, Giving for Cystic Fibrosis Committee Chairpersons comprised of Andrea's classmates: Karrah Goldberg, Ryan Civale, Courtney McDonough, Sara Lichterman, Melanie Foligno, Lindsay Sibio, Kirsten Sunderland, Liza Katz and Miranda Guzman.
The students put on one extraordinary performance after another.
Johanna Maytin of the Cystic Fibrosis Gold Coast Guild addressed the audience with a very heartfelt tribute to Andrea and her memories of Andrea's participation in all the events of the guild.
Towards the end of the program, Russell Parker, the CEO of The Andrea Lucas Foundation, took the stage and introduced the Foundation and unveiled the foundation logo to the audience.
This is his speech, along with an amazing letter that he read to the audience from Mr. Tony Alford, who is the Running Backs Coach for the University of Notre Dame. The letter is italicized and once you read it, you'll understand why Mr. Parker chose to share it.
Russell Parker, CEO, The Andrea Lucas Foundation
Let's have another wonderful round of applause for the amazing performances we have seen!
Nothing is so strong as gentleness and nothing is so gentle as real strength.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Good Afternoon. I would like to thank all of you who have come today, all the volunteers who have donated countless hours in the preparation of this program, American Heritage, everyone who is performing and to everyone who has given their loving support.
My name is Russell Parker and Andrea's parents, Robert and Patti Lucas, have asked me to speak today to introduce to you, something very special. I am both honored and humbled.
There are angels among us and there is an Angel above us.
Andrea Grace Lucas.
I am in awe of Andrea. Everyone she came in contact with, was touched by her spirit. They felt that something special had just happened to them. They felt love, compassion and her wisdom of what it means to care about others instead of yourself, even though she was in great pain and battling for her life.
Life is fragile. Everyday is a gift.
Challenges show up in our lives and how we deal with them defines who we are. Andrea met those challenges head on. She never gave up. She always looked on the bright side. The positive side. She always wanted to smile.
To quote the Dali Lama.
"I feel that my mission is, wherever I am, to express my feeling about the importance of kindness, compassion, and the true sense of brotherhood. I practice these things. It gives me more happiness, more success. If I practiced anger or jealousy or bitterness, no doubt my smile would disappear."
Andrea's smile never disappeared. Despite her life long battle with Cystic Fibrosis, she gave every ounce of her spirit to the cause and for making other people feel good about themselves. Andrea knew, you’ve got three choices in life: give up, give in, or give it all you’ve got.”
She gave life all she had and I would like to share with you at this time, a letter that was written to her parents Robert and Patti Lucas. An incredible letter that after you hear it, you'll know just how far Andrea's influence and big heart have only begun to reach.
(Mr. Parker reads the following letter)
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Robert and Patti,
Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Tony Alford and I am the Running Backs Coach here at the University of Notre Dame. You do not know me and have never met me. The purpose of this letter is for me to pass along my condolences for your loss. I never had the privilege of meeting your daughter Andrea, but all indications are that she was a very special young lady. Here is how I know about Andrea. I had the unbelievable privilege of recruiting Michael Deeb, a classmate of Andrea's, to come play football here at Notre Dame. I obviously have become extremely close to Michael and his family and Michael reached out to me last Monday night very upset and shaken about the loss of "the strongest fighter he knows in his life" and "the most positive person you will find".
I had a long conversation with Michael about the things that his friend, Andrea, presented in his life. It became very clear that she had a very profound effect on many people in the American Heritage High School Family. I know Michael Deeb to be a young man of great character and work ethic. He is a young man with boundless positive energy and a smile for everyone. I know Michael Deeb as a leader of young people and when he was touched as deeply as he was about Andrea, it was very clear to me the type of young lady she must have been. I wanted to tell you, being a father myself, your daughter had and will continue to have a positive affect on people she has never met and will never meet. Michael Deeb has affected me as his coach. It's really hard to be in a bad mood around Michael. He has a positive message for everyone he meets. Michael has a "gift". He has a "gift" to make those around him feel special and important.
It's the same "gift" that he described about Andrea. In talking with Michael, it appears that Andrea was able to share her many "gifts" with her classmates, who in turn are sharing those "gifts" with others that they touch every day. As I expressed to Michael, we all leave some sort of legacy. We all touch people in various ways and our messages/ "gifts” are delivered to the masses by these different people. I am thanking Andrea, through you, for her message that is delivered through Michael Deeb every single day. That's the message of fighting and being strong in times of strong adversity. That's the message of exuding positive energy when you are in pain yourself. To me, just a gentleman who only knows of Andrea Lucas through a mutual contact, she is having a profound effect.
She will have an effect on the University of Notre Dame Football Program because she has had an effect on Michael Deeb, who, in turn, is going to have a profound effect on his coaches and teammates alike. So again, I thank Andrea, through you.
I hope that I have not overstepped my bounds in writing this letter, but I care for Michael and thus, I wanted to reach out to you to let you know that there are many people that cared about Andrea and will miss her dearly; but those people took away many amazing "gifts' from her and therefore are grateful for the time they had with her.
(Audience loudly applauds Mr. Alford's letter. Mr. Parker resumes his presentation)
Wow. Amazing. It is a testament not only to Andrea, but to Robert and Patti Lucas who raised an angel and inspired her, nurtured her. Taught her the values that she so graciously passed on to everyone she met.
So how do we continue from here?
(Mr. Parker unveils Foundation Logo on easel)
It is my great honor to introduce to you the Andrea Lucas Foundation. Sharing Hope and Love.
The mission of Andrea's foundation is to help all those who are seeking and working on a cure for Cystic Fibrosis and to make sure that not another dream goes unfulfilled.
You can see the website at www.andrealucasfoundation.org.
In the center of the foundation is Andrea's heart. Her gifts. Her story will be a driving force in fighting this disease. Her spirit will be it’s guiding light. This is just the beginning.
When I think of the initials CF. I think of courage first. I think of Andrea.
(Mr.Parker unveils "Andrea's Angels" Courage First! Logo)
Andrea was courageous. She persevered and endured in spite of overwhelming obstacles and created her Angels. Andrea's Angels!
So I would like to direct my final comments to the angels in the audience. Andrea's classmates.
Over the past month I have had the privilege of meeting all of you and seeing how big your hearts are. You do great honor to your friend.
All of you have the same gifts Andre had. You just need courage first and use them. I want you to know that with courage first, you are at the beginning of being true leaders.
Don’t be afraid to be an influencer.
Don’t be afraid to be an instigator of hope and love.
Dream big and don’t let those dreams go unfulfilled.
Make your destiny a lasting legacy. Embrace everyday like Andrea did.
For by spreading Andrea’s message of hope and love, not only will you empower yourself, but you will send out ripples in the universe that will eventually collide and cause such a shift, that the world will take notice.
Lincoln did it!
Einstein did it
Gandi did it!
Picasso did it!
So did Elvis!
They changed our perception. They changed the world.
Andrea will do the same and so can you!
Let us make this a new beginning for Andrea.
Remember you can make the world whatever you want it to be. You can make it a better place just like she wanted.
So please, I would like everyone to stand up and join hands and lift them up to Andrea.
Because where there's a dream, there is hope, where there's hope, there is love and where there's love there is inspiration and where there is inspiration, there is Andreas Angels.
Courage First! Andreas Angels, your generation will solve it!
God Bless all of you! God Bless Andrea!