The below blog was written by Vitamin Angels’ supporter and mom, Lydia Chen Shah. When we saw donations being made in honor of her son, Ryley’s first birthday, we wanted to learn more about these generous gifts. Read on to learn more.
As a kid, I never liked taking my vitamins. Regardless, my mom diligently made sure I ate my daily vitamin. Little did I know the impact those chalky-tasting, orange, red, and purple chewables were making on my health, or how the lesson of proper nutrition would influence my own actions as a mom.
When it came time to start my own family, I started taking prenatal vitamins as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I educated myself about all of the special nutritional needs my body and baby needed during that important time. I ate right and took my vitamins hoping it would be enough to ensure my baby would be born healthy and strong. My diligence paid off - my son, Ryley was born healthy, weighing 7 pounds.
From the day we left the hospital with our baby boy, Ryley, our pediatrician instructed us to give him vitamins, starting with an over-the-counter infant supplement. We wanted to do the right thing to raise a strong and healthy boy. So, of course, we bought the vitamin without incident and gave him daily doses. The cost was reasonable and taking vitamins became part of his evening routine.
When our son hit 5 months, the doctor wanted him on a different multivitamin, one that is only available as a prescription. When I went to pick up the prescription, I gawked and even complained for a second, but only a second, when I learned his vitamin prescription cost more than $20 per bottle. What stopped me from thinking any more negative thoughts about the cost of my son’s vitamins – I’m happy I can afford to give him vitamins.
I thought about the children and the families that don’t have access to, or the resources for, obtaining vitamins. I thought about Vitamin Angels and the stories VA has shared about its work. Seriously, I had no reason to complain.
I think it’s easy to often take too much for granted when we forget we have everything we need and more. To complain about a prescription vitamin being “expensive,” when our boy is healthy, lively, and has an amazing group of family and friends, is simply unacceptable.
When my husband and I started planning our son’s first birthday party, I recalled that moment at the pharmacy. We talked about how our little guy has more than he needs. Clothes, diapers, food, toys, you name it. As a family and individuals, we have much more than we need and find ourselves particularly fortunate to have a village supporting us and helping raise our son.
As we created the invitation to his celebration, we decided to ask our family and friends to consider donating to Vitamin Angels in lieu of gifts. We didn’t know if people would give but hoped they would. We didn’t ask people to mention our son’s name or us in the donation but soon we started receiving email notifications from Vitamin Angels about donations being made in honor of our son.
Our hearts beamed.
Most of our family and friends ignored the “in lieu of” statement regarding gifts. They showered the baby boy with clothes, books, and toys, but they also gave to Vitamin Angels. In several of the birthday cards were notes inscribed that donations were also made to VA. Our village extended a generosity that truly warmed our hearts.
It’s pretty amazing how one line in a birthday party invitation can make a difference in the lives of others. We are inspired by our village becoming a part of a global village helping ensure children in need around the world are receiving critical vitamins. A little awareness, spurred by a little boy, can go a long way.
Photo credit: Brittanee Taylor