The Laurita Spina Bifida Project to launch at Hispanicize 2016

Why, yes. It has indeed been a while.

Mea culpa. I may not have been fully “present” on Holdin’ Out for a Hero, but please rest assured…incredible things have been happening behind the scenes– miracles, actually!

Today, after 19 years of wishing, learning, waiting, and hoping, after years of prayers, all answered, not all in the way I anticipated, after much hard work and informal advocacy, it’s happening.

My non-profit organization, The Laurita Spina Bifida Project, is launching today during Hispanicize 2016– in Miami, no less.

Don’t pinch me, please. I don’t want to wake up!

It’s been a long time coming. I mean, really. I remember growing up thinking that starting any kind of organization– for-profit or non-profit– required wealth, and lots of it.

I remember wondering why I wasn’t rich and able to fulfill my dream.

I remember writing my first letter to Oprah Winfrey, and pouring my heart into it, asking her to shoot an episode about spina bifida. And I remember very clearly the polite “no, thank you” letter I received from The Oprah Winfrey Show– at age eleven.

Sometimes I wonder why I just didn’t give up and pursue a different path. I believe anyone with spina bifida can be just about anything within some reason. I could have done anything.

Instead, I chose the road less traveled. The one that hadn’t been trodden before– the one I had to pave myself.

But I haven’t walked it alone. Oh, no. There have been angels. Dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of them. And they carried me on their wings whenever I was too exhausted, too angry, too bitter from the failed efforts to keep flying.

It is now that I realize it. My “failures” weren’t failures at all– they were practice; my boot camp. With teachers, mentors, trainers, fellow advocates, cheerleaders, I worked through these failures and got up again.

My initial vision was to host a launch event at a restaurant in Orlando, close to where I live. Instead, I am in the heart of Downtown Miami, surrounded by fellow bloggers, journalists, entertainers, photographers, marketers, and seasoned non-profit industry veterans. Many of these are people I call very close friends.

In retrospect, I cannot imagine launching my precious childhood dream anywhere else, surrounded by so many of the people who are actually helping to make it happen!

Today, as I prepare to meet friends, family, and colleagues for Happy Hour at Toro Toro Miami and our extended community on Twitter at 5:00 p.m., I’m sure we’ll have a lot of last-minute details to think of.

As for me, I’ll also be reflecting on everyone, everything, every incredible moment that has brought me– us– here.

Today, I finally know it was all for good.

Please join us today on Twitter using the hashtags #TheLSBProject and #SpinaBifida (#EspinaBífida para español, también). Be sure to RSVP here to be eligible to win some awesome prizes!

And if you’d like to contribute to our crowdfunding campaign, that’s here.

To see the fabulous press release that my friends and colleagues at Hispanicize Wire published about our launch, please click here.

 

Till tonight! And…thank you. 

Love,

Laurita

Keeping Perspective: ‘Hero’ Spencer Day Twitter Chat a Success!

When you’re going through life, struggling to keep up with everything that’s going on with you, around you, it can be a real challenge sometimes to remember why you “do what you do.”
Three years and eight months ago, I had the opportunity to meet my new musical “idol,” contemporary jazz singer and songwriter, Spencer Day. I was simply overjoyed to meet him, and I honestly never thought much would happen after that.

 

DSC01390Spencer and me, enjoying a cup of coffee in NYC in August 2010. 

 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Since our initial encounter in Clearwater for a jazz festival, after which we talked at length and I briefed him on my campaign for raising awareness of spina bifida, we have remained connected. He knows I’m moving forward, deciding what the next step will be for this cause, and he wants to be there to support it, in any way he can.

Several months ago, the opportunity arose for me to be involved in helping his career, by collaborating with his fan club and promoting events, music, and Spencer’s latest projects on different social media channels.

Out of all the work I’ve done thus far in my life– including past jobs– few things have been as rewarding for me as the experience of being a part of Spencer’s Fan Club Social Media Team. We started as a motley crew, an assortment of people who clearly share a common interest– an enthusiasm for Spencer Day’s music.

About a month ago, a crazy, random idea popped into my head: Hey, guys, why don’t we host a Twitter party for Spencer? 

It seemed like a harebrained project to take on, considering I’m always on the go, and everyone is busy during the holidays. But we decided to do it.

Yesterday evening, I hosted, along with Spencer as our guest of honor, a Twitter chat with many of Spencer’s biggest fans, in addition to quite a few people who are new to Spencer’s music. The conversation was lively, informal, and very funny at times! Attendees were encouraged to ask Spencer anything– and they did, and he responded. 😉 

As I sipped on my coffee (in my pajamas!) while trying to keep up with the conversation thread, I marveled that such an awesome cyber event could be pulled off in such a short window of time. I also couldn’t help but feel gratitude toward all of the people who participated– even if only for a few minutes during their busy evening.

As a social media consultant, the number of “impressions” or “pageviews” matters. It’s a measurement of quantifiable success, and it’s the most “tangible” evidence of whether or not an online event was a success.

As a person, however, I realized that shouldn’t matter to me. 

What mattered is that everywhere I looked in my Twitter feed, I could see familiar “faces,” avatars and usernames of my friends, some bloggers, some non-bloggers, who showed up in support of me– and in support of Spencer. 

We also got to reward some of Spencer’s fans and followers! We gave away 5 copies of Spencer’s latest album, “The Mystery of You,” as well as 6 digital copies of Spencer’s holiday album, “If Christmas Doesn’t Kill Me.” It was so rewarding to make people happy by sharing his music!

The report I generated afterwards showed that, in the past week, the hashtag #SpencerDay has had over 1.8 million impressions.  That’s not bad at all, considering how many holiday/Christmas parties, family gatherings, business events, and other commitments everyone has going on during this season, that make it difficult to participate in online events.

 

SpencerDayTwitterResults

 

For a social media consultant, those 1.8 million impressions are the definition of success. 

For me, however, it’s those familiar faces, the “avatars” I know so well, that made me feel like a winner. 

I’m truly blessed to have so many people who genuinely support and “get” what I do. Even my parents, who years ago found the words “blog” and “Tweet” intimidating, pitched in by Tweeting and making sure I had a hot mug of coffee to help me stay alert. 😉

Yes, it’s true– there are people who might measure success in different ways– by monetary earnings, job promotions, or how many conference speaking gigs they landed in a year.

That’s all good and enticing. (Hey, who wouldn’t want all that?!)

But sitting at my laptop, Tweeting furiously and watching as the stream flowed constantly with new comments, questions, and retweets from people both familiar and unfamiliar, I couldn’t help but feel like the luckiest girl in the world. 

Thank you, from the bottom of my grateful heart, to all of you who joined, shared, Tweeted, promoted, and encouraged. Thanks to all of you who had the most awesome things to say about Spencer’s music, whether it was the first song you’d heard or if you’ve been a longtime listener. 

Thanks for being there anytime I’ve wondered if I could do something. Thanks for lifting me up.

 

Thanks, above all, for helping me to keep my perspective.

 

If you aren’t already following Spencer, please do so here:

 

Spencer Day on Twitter 

Spencer Day on Facebook 

Spencer Day Fan Club on Twitter 

Spencer Day Fan Club on Facebook

 

 

Love,

Laurita ♥

Make the 2012 ‘Nice’ List: A BRITAX BOB Stroller Giveaway!

With the holidays already here, many families have already celebrated Hanukkah, and many more are gearing up for Christmas, as well as commemorating other special days with family and close friends.

But of course, the holidays aren’t just about getting presents, or even giving presents. They’re about taking the time to give of ourselves and reach out to others who are not as fortunate as we are.

This year, I was able to raise over $2,300 for the Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida. And guess what? Donations are still open! I’m not mentioning this at all to “toot my own horn,” so to speak. But really, it’s about the power of social media and a wonderful community to make a big difference. Donations are still open and definitely welcome!

This Christmas, I also decided I wanted to participate in one of the many “Angel Tree” gift collections going on, this particular one being held at my Church. Angel Trees are fast becoming a tradition for many non-profit organizations and charities. The way it works is that you visit an Angel Tree at a specific location (say, a mall, Church, or school) and take one of the paper angels from the tree. The angel has the information of a person (often a child) who might otherwise not be able to receive a gift this year. The person’s task is then to purchase a new, unwrapped gift for the child and return it to the Angel Tree location.

I was surprised at how eager I was to participate this year. I chose to buy for a little girl, and I enjoyed visiting the toys’ section of a retail store and picking out princess-themed toys and clothes.

Strangely enough, it was not the events of December 14th which inspired me to take part in the Angel Tree tradition. I did this before. But now, reflecting on the tragedy that has happened recently, it reminds me not to take the lives of anyone– particularly young children– for granted.

So, I encourage you all, whether it’s participating in a local or national charity event, making cards for children who are in a hospital, or simply taking the time to reach out to a friend or relative who’s going through a difficult time– to take that step and touch the life of someone else.

I’m probably nowhere near making the “nice list,” but I do enjoy giving back and hope that even the smallest of my actions will make a difference to someone, somewhere.

In celebration of the holidays, I’m giving away a BRITAX BOB stroller (valued at over $400) to a lucky reader!

 

*Pictured stroller is similar, but not necessarily the exact stroller, that the winner will receive.  

 

Last year, BRITAX announced the acquisition of BOB, “a leading, innovative, high-quality maker of jogging strollers.”

The BOB strollers are compatible with BRITAX’s line of car seats, making it super-easy for you to protect your child, no matter where you are on the go– in the car, or in the stroller.

How to Enter to Win a BRITAX BOB Stroller: 

  • Using the Rafflecopter form below, there will be one (1) mandatory entry and several optional entries you can choose for extra entries.
  • For the mandatory entry,  please comment below as to how you plan to make the “Nice List” this year. Good deeds should be done for their own merit, not for getting a pat on the back, but feel free to “brag” here and feel proud of what you’ve done or plan to do! The goal here is to inspire everyone to take action, in whatever way possible.
  • For additional entries, do any or all of the additional entries using the Rafflecopter form. Each action you take will earn you one (1) extra entry.
  • Entries will close on Wednesday, December 26th at 11:55 p.m.
  • A winner will be chosen at random on Thursday, December 27th and announced on this blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!!

Love & Blessings during the season and always,

Laurita ♥

 

**Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Britax (follow on Twitter) and I will be compensated. I am a member of the Britax Latina Advisory Board. All ideas and opinions are my own.

Announcing the Winners of Our First BRITAX Giveaway!

For a week, moms of young children, as well as expectant moms, filled this blog with excitement– and comments! I want to thank each and everyone of you who entered our very first giveaway with Britax.

And so, without further ado, the envelope, please…

The lucky winner of Prize Pack 1, which includes the Head & Body Support Pillow as well as an EZ-Cling Window Shade, is….

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
  Astrid Rivera!    And the winner of Prize Pack 2, which includes a Stroller Board and a Kick Mat, is…   a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Natalie Shmigelsky!

 

Congratulations to both winners! They will both be notified by E-mail today. Please be sure to respond to me with your shipping address so that Britax can send you your prizes. :)

Thanks again, and look forward to more giveaways– as well as more great content in general– on Holdin’ Out for a Hero.

 

Love,

Laurita ♥

Safe Travels for the Little Ones: Our First BRITAX Giveaway!

**Disclaimer: I did not  receive any compensation or products to write this post. All thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. 

 

Remember back in April when I made the exciting announcement about my partnership with BRITAX USA along with a dynamic team of Latina bloggers?

Well, back then, I promised there would be giveaways— and today, I tell you, I won’t disappoint. 😉

 

As I explained in my previous post about this partnership, BRITAX is all about child safety, particularly when you’re on the go. (And anyone with young kids is most likely “on the go” quite often!)

Traveling with a kid (or several kids) in the backseat ain’t easy. Any parent can attest to the hours of careful planning and preparation it requires– what snacks to bring for the road, what toys they’ll take along for when they get fussy. Sometimes the wrong decision will find a parent scraping cereal off the roof of the minivan!

But indeed, the most critical decision any parent will make before hitting the road is how to keep their child safe and secure in the backseat. So, it is with much excitement and great anticipation that I’m sharing with you all that I’m giving away several items to two lucky winners that will hopefully help you all hit the road more smoothly– and safely.

Here’s a cool graphic that my friend, Mirna Arce, of Ahorros con Cupones, created to show off the awesome prizes! (For more information and detailed descriptions of these and other products, please visit the BRITAX USA Web site.)

Image courtesy Mirna Arce of AhorrosConCupones.com

Image courtesy Mirna Arce of AhorrosConCupones.com

 

The Fabulous Prizes Packs:

Prize Pack 1:  

One (1) Head & Body Support Pillow                                                                                                          

One (1) EZ-Cling Window Shade              

 

Prize Pack 2:  

One (1)  Stroller Board

One (1) Kick Mat                                                      

 

And…you get to enter to win whichever prize pack you like/need the most! 

 

How to Enter: 

*Leave a comment below this post mentioning which prize pack you want to win the most (the “why” is optional!). Don’t forget to include your E-mail address to be notified if you win! This comment serves as your official entry for the giveaway.

 

Additional Entries: 

To get more chances to win, do any/all of the following as extra entries.

*”Like” Britax Los Lleva Seguros (“Britax takes you safely”) page on Facebook – 1 entry

*”Like” Holdin’ Out for a Hero on Facebook – 1 entry

*Follow @SafeConBritax on Twitter – 1 entry

*Follow me, @Laurita86, On Twitter – 1 entry

*Subscribe to Holdin’ Out via my RSS feed or by E-mail – 1 entry

*”Like” my other blog, Espresso con Leche, on Facebook – 1 entry

*Tweet the following: “Enter to #WIN 1 of 2 great prizes w/ @Laurita86 & @SafeConBritax:  http://wp.me/p1AfkV-3zF  #safety”  – 1 entry

 

**Make sure to fill out the Rafflecopter form below for either giveaway after you complete each task (i.e., indicate that you left a comment, Tweeted, etc.).

a Rafflecopter giveaway
  a Rafflecopter giveaway
You must reside in one of the 50 United States in order to enter.

You can only enter to win ONE of the fabulous prize packs. Please select the one you would like to win the most . 

You must leave a comment and mention which prize pack you’d like to win to be entered into the giveaway (1 entry), and include your E-mail address in the comment. 

Each additional task you complete will earn you one (1) entry

The giveaway ends on Wednesday, June 13th at 11:59 p.m. Entries submitted after that date/time will not be counted.

Winners will be announced on Holdin’ Out for a Hero on Thursday, June 14th and will be notified via E-mail. 

 

Best of luck!!

♥ Laurita