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  • Thomas Messier

Huge update! The big day is finally here!


Today is a pretty important day for me. Today marks the start of a new journey, the third time my life has been changed on this date. I am thrilled to officially announce we have created a 501(c)3 non-profit and named it January Thirty-1st! My crew and I have been working hard the last few months to bring this non-profit to fruition. We have achieved our goal and are now continuing to take the steps necessary to help those in need. January Thirty-1st aims to educate, inspire, and encourage patients and families of patients with Cystic Fibrosis, organ transplants, and kidney failure to live happier and healthier lives.


We’ve been working on Whitney Who as our first big project! Whitney who is bringing awareness to all of these diseases and is also showing people what it’s like to live day in and day out with these illnesses. The specific part of Whitney Who that I’m most excited about is taking other permanently disabled or terminally ill people on a beautiful outdoor adventure with us! One they may have never felt they would go on. We will also be doing smaller things, meet and greets to raise awareness, dropping off hospital and dialysis bags across the country while traveling, and helping transplant patients with direct costs of things not covered by insurance. I’m so proud of the hard work we have put in to start this non-profit, but I’m more excited for the public to learn about it and to help those in need!

The next big project January Thirty-1st will be working on is raising money for mobile tranquility spaces. We want to get another RV and retrofit it with a kitchen, meditation area, work out and yoga area. My mom would like to take this mobile unit around to different hospitals and schedule a time for family members to come out and get a healthy home cooked meal, exercise or meditate, to relax and unwind. It’s so important for everyone to take care of themselves while a family member is in the hospital. The healthier a parent or family member stays, the more they are able to help their child fight.


Today is one of the hardest days in my history. I got a life saving double lung transplant on this date, but nine years earlier my sister passed away on this date too. January 31st has been a weird day for me since I got my transplant. I want to hate this day because it took my sister, but I can’t because this day has now also saved me. It’s the absolute definition of bitter sweet. We are taking this day, perhaps one of the most significant days of our lives, and making it even better. My sister would want us to help others in need. She was always willing to give, she was a light in this world that was gone too soon. All we can do now is try to represent her as well as we can.


I asked everyone who’s been working on this directly for the past few months to say a few words about how they feel today, as our official launch day, peoples thoughts and ideas are all different. That’s why I love being part of a team, we push each other and make each other think about new things.


 

A note from Katie, my best friend and event coordinator for January Thirty-1st.


 

My best friend Whitney lost her sister to Cystic Fibrosis, the same day 9 years later, she received a life saving lung transplant. I feel Whitney is still here today because she has a mission to fulfill, in this new world of Covid Whitney is a light for families with chronic illnesses. I am so proud to be part of this amazing organization with her, we're going to help the people and families in our at risk communities!


 

Early morning thoughts from my brother Tom, secretary and CTO of January Thirty-1st.


 

It’s a huge day for me at the January Thirty1st headquarters ( my bedroom ). Today is the day that all of the hard work that went into building the website and setting up email contacting, will go into effect! When I say hard work, I mean it; the team and I have busted our butts to get this all ready for today and I cannot wait to start seeing the fruits of our labor!


I couldn’t even sleep last night. Thinking about today was causing excitement to course though me. I wanted to get up several times just to get work, unfortunately being part of a team means you rely on them for key pieces so everything can come together harmoniously and I needed things from them to complete my work. I cant complain though, everyone certainly earns their weekends.

First thing this morning. I forged my to do list for the day. This is usually my first step while I eat my breakfast. Short and sweet, the finishing touches, soon we will see how this all comes together. My first task was to polish up the website, I needed to make sure everything was working properly and all of the links actually went somewhere. Once I completed that I had to finalize our list of contacts for our first email blast, I was getting really excited, we were so close.


And now, after all that, I am sitting here writing this update and I’m itching to press send. The email is finalized and the list is ready, I can’t wait to see how this goes!


 

A quick promise to our donors from our board member, Matt.


 

Serving on January Thirty-1st’s board is an opportunity to help the organization advance it’s goals. After learning about this non-profit I felt that their aspirations aligned with those I have strived for and have always been passionate about. As a board member for several boards at all different levels, I hope I can bring helpful information to help build January Thirty-1st. I understand the importance of my role to all the donors who have entrusted me with the fiduciary responsibility to see that the funds are well spent, to protect their best interest, and the best interests of the organization. Which is exactly what I plan to do.


 

Finally, a beautifully tragic story written by my mom and treasurer, Heidi.

 

So, here it is, January 31st, again. No other day could mean as much to a person as this day means to me. As a mother of two girls with Cystic Fibrosis (C.F), this was the worst day and the best day of my life. My second daughter, Shea, was just 12 years old, when on top of having C.F. and Neurofibromatosis, one of the neurofibromas turned cancerous. She fought hard but was also realistic and knew what she wanted. After a brutal round of chemotherapy where she lost her hair and so much weight that she looked like a skeleton, and it did not do a thing to shrink the cancer, Shea decided she just wanted to spend the holidays with her family. That was the holiday season of 2008 into 2009. That is exactly what she did! She made it through the holidays and stayed out of the hospital..mostly. After the New Year, Shea really started going downhill. We tried an in-home hospice nurse for about a week, but it was still too much and spent the last few weeks of her life in the hospital. She held on like a champ, forever worried about how her family would feel. I had to write her a letter no mother should ever have to write, and told her we would all be ok.. I would be ok. It was now her time. She needed to let go and finally fly high and free! A few short hours later, she did. It was about 8:30pm on January 31st, 2009.


Fast forward to the holiday season of 2017 into 2018, nine years later. My oldest daughter, Whitney, was in the hospital for what we thought was one of her many “normal hospital visits”. Once again, things very quickly took a wrong turn, and we were moving Whitney from her normal hospital to the ICU at Mass General Hospital. The circumstances were quite different for each daughter, yet this felt all too horribly familiar to me. It was happening again, and I was told I was about to lose my other daughter. There is too much to tell about what we went through those couple of months, but it was very grim, and Whitney was in desperate need of lungs in order to survive. She was on life support for weeks. I was a mother at the bedside of her second daughter fighting to live, but truly on the edge of death. I couldn’t do this again, I just couldn’t. I would not survive myself, though I would have to because I still had my two handsome, wonderful boys at home to take care of.


Then late on January 30th, as I was just getting back to my hotel for a little rest, I got the call that there were lungs for Whitney! If all went well and everything looked good, she would be in surgery in the morning!!! I was so excited and scared, I didn’t think I would sleep, but I did. I needed to in order to make it through the VERY LONG next day. The lungs were good, and Whitney was getting the surgery we so hoped and prayed for. It was an all-day surgery and the toughest one the very experienced transplant doctor had ever done he told me afterward. So here we were again, it was January 31, 2018, at just about 8:30pm, holding our breaths waiting to see what would happen. That is exactly when the Doctor finally came out to tell that it was an extremely difficult surgery, and there were moments that things were not going so well at all, but he was finished, and the new lungs were working, and Whitney was ALIVE!!


So as you can see, January 31st is a bitter-sweet date for me, and I could not think of a better name for a non-profit that is designed to help C.F./transplant patients and their families!

Finally, I want to leave everyone with this..

I love and miss my sister everyday, I hope by starting this non-profit I can share her story and that she would be proud of all I’m doing. I can still hear her laugh and see her smile. I want everyone to smile upon this day and say, “Yea, this day started out full of pain and heart ache, however; time and the circumstances of life have made this day something beautiful and they chose to make it more so.”


- The January Thirty-1st Team and the Whitney Who Crew.


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