Supporting charities is a worthwhile cause and this fact is not lost on businesses. Many companies openly support charitable funds and foundations and toy producer Cloud b is no exception. For several years the company has supported the “MaxLove Project,” an organization that raises funds for cancer research and treatment.
May was Brain Cancer Awareness Month and, in conjunction with this, 130 pediatric cancer survivors presented care packages to hospitalized children around the world. This “unified day of giving” marked the official introduction of the new “Super Max the Turtle,” a unique nightlight designed specifically to help soothe children and promote the healing process.
Cloud b initially started working with the MaxLove Project due to a child suffering from brain cancer named Max Wilford. Cloud b and the MaxLove Project have been collaborating to support children facing serious diseases and illnesses since 2011, when Max’s parents first discovered the therapeutic potential of Cloud b’s Twilight Turtle. When Max first came home from more than three weeks in the hospital after brain surgery, he was very afraid of the dark, despite the four nightlights in his room, so his mom Audra bought him a Twilight Turtle hoping that its soothing stars projection would help. Max immediately identified with the green stars as “healing” stars as he held the Turtle up to the back of his head – green stars glowing – and said “Look mommy, I’m healing.” After witnessing this remarkable act of empowerment, Audra and her husband Justin decided to find a way to share the nightlight with other children fighting cancer and they reached out to Cloud b for help.
Audra wrote to Cloud b requesting support to purchase Twilight Turtle at a discounted rate to send to children fighting cancer across the nation. Instead, the company’s CEO agreed to donate the entire product. The MaxLove Project was born and since then, they and Cloud b have teamed up to donate and distribute more than $150,000 worth of Twilight Turtles to SuperKids fighting cancer and related rare diseases around the world.
“We have seen first-hand, time and time again, the therapeutic value of Cloud b’s products, both with our own children and those we serve in hospitals and critical care settings,” explains Audra. “The Twilight Turtle is more than a toy, more than a nightlight. It’s magical, therapeutic, and immediately helps children feel safe and at ease, facilitating the essential healing that comes with the sleep process. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to be a part of this collaboration, to bear witness to story after story of how the Cloud b products help children in need in the most vulnerable and critical medical situations.”
For the past several months, the MaxLove Project has been inviting families they’ve worked with to assist with the launch. “When kids help other kids, there’s an incredible ripple effect of positivity,” says MaxLove founder Audra Wilford, Max’s mom. “Max is passionate about helping others and has shown us how beneficial it can be for everyone, kids and adults alike.” Cloud b CEO Linda Suh agrees: “Super Max the Turtle is our little hero on a big mission. It’s a representation of Max’s strength and determination to end childhood cancer and his desire to share love with all who are battling this illness. We never dreamed our products could have this kind of impact and we’re thrilled to be taking this collaboration to the next level.”
The new Super Max the Turtle (featuring a sweet smile modeled on Max’s own) features the same glowing starlight projections of the original Twilight Turtle that first provided comfort to Max. It eases fear of the dark as it projects blue, red or green stars from its shell and kids can choose one color or set the Turtle to morph through all three colors. Developed with input from health professionals, Super Max the Turtle is a compact size to make it easy to take it anywhere and it’s entirely plastic to make it easy to keep clean and sterile if necessary. Just like the original, Super Max the Turtle has a 45-minute auto shut-off timer that ensures complete darkness during children’s deep sleep as recommended by pediatricians. An included booklet features the story of Max the Turtle – a regular turtle who becomes Super Max, a rainbow-caped super hero shining his light wherever he goes, healing those who need it most.
In honor of Max’s mission to make a difference in the lives of all kids fighting cancer, Cloud b is donating a portion of its proceeds from Super Max the Turtle to the MaxLove Project. Super Max the Turtle, for kids of all ages, will be available for $21.95 at specialty retailers and the Cloud b website.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Audra about her experiences running the MaxLove charity:
Q: What was the experience of starting the MaxLove Project like?
It might sound cheesy, but the experience is captured in the name MaxLove. It all grew out of love—love for our son Max, love from our families and community, love shared with families going through treatment and survivorship with us. When Max was first diagnosed, we spent almost a month in the hospital recovering from a very dangerous brain surgery that removed part of the tumor. During that time, we were just flooded with love and support from so many different directions (one small example: my colleagues at work had given me their hard-earned sick and vacation time to allow me to be home with Max during his first year of treatment). We knew that somehow, some way, we were going to pay all this forward. So, when we got home from the hospital Max’s sleep was messed up from being in a noisy, bright hospital room for so long. He was scared of the dark at home so we bought him a Twilight Turtle from Cloud b. On that night he fell right to sleep. So, I wrote to Cloud b and asked if they would give me a few turtles to give to families at Max’s hospital. The next thing I know, I have a garage full of turtles! I jumped onto LegalZoom and incorporated “Max’s Love Project” and applied for the IRS 501c3 tax exempt status. Pretty soon Max and I were delivering Twilight Turtles donated by Cloud b not just to our local hospital but to hospitals around the world. Things like this continued to happen: we’d discover something that really helped Max heal, recover, or thrive in treatment, and we’d try to find a way to give that to other families.
Q: Why was that particular name chosen?
It was all about sharing the love around Max’s cancer journey. It was our love for him, others’ love for us and him, and a whole community’s love for kids battling this scary disease. The name was originally “Max’s Love Project,” but we quickly discovered that this was so much bigger than Max. It was really a representation of “maximum” love that parents, communities, and the kids themselves will give anything to thrive in the face of grim odds.
Q: What kinds of goals does the MaxLove Project have?
Ultimately, we want change the way childhood cancer is treated. Today, a childhood cancer diagnosis is frightening and the journey is often disempowering: it is the doctors on one side and the cancer on the other. Families often feel like they’re on the sidelines. But we know through research evidence as well as first-hand experience that families have a lot more power than they know. By focusing on nutrient-dense foods, healthy sleep practices, appropriate physical activity, stress control, and rich social support, families can take back that sense of control and help their child thrive in treatment and beyond into survivorship. What families need, though, are whole-body wellness resources that include education, supportive doctors and nurses, and communities who will support these positive lifestyle changes. Right now, we serve families by funding online support groups directed by experienced professional dietitians, individualized nutritional counseling, local cooking classes in Southern California, and “Thrive Kits” full of nutrition, sleep, and stress-control resources. Our vision is to expand these programs so that they are woven into pediatric oncology units in every children’s hospital in the U.S.
Q: So far, what has been the most rewarding experience of working with the charity?
The most rewarding aspect of working on MaxLove Project is connecting with this amazing community of childhood cancer families around the world. Every day, we receive emails or Facebook posts from parents who thank us for our kids “Thrive Guide,” cooking classes, or online support group. They tell us that because of MaxLove Project, their kids are now sleeping better, eating new vegetables, and excited about shopping for healthy foods. And often, the entire family starts to get healthier. The strength, grace, and persistence these families show in the face of harrowing diagnoses, debilitating treatments, and long recoveries, inspire us every day. I often tell people that the work I do on MaxLove Project is just as therapeutic for me as it is for anyone else. Connecting with these beautiful families everyday also gives me hope in our personal journey with Max.
Q: MaxLove has a connection with the toy company Cloud b. Can you please explain how that came to be?
It all began in late-August 2011 when Max came home from almost a month in the hospital after brain surgery. He was 4 1/2 years-old, had difficulty moving the left side of his body, and was very afraid of the dark. The four nightlights in his room didn’t do much to soothe his fears. So, I immediately ran out to purchase something better and found the Cloud B Twilight Turtle, thinking that Max would like a nightlight he could also cuddle with. Sure enough, he loved it immediately. Max now sleeps with it every night, along with a few more Cloud b buddies, and loves how he’s able to turn on his “healing buddies” whenever he chooses.
What was especially cool about the Twilight Turtle was that it comes with three different colors of light: blue, yellow, and green. At that time we were telling Max “healing” stories about how he had super-powered good guy cells in his body who were fighting the bad guy cancer cells. And one of the things that gives his good guys their powers is green foods.
That first night when I brought home the Twilight Turtle, Max turned on the lights and flipped through the different colors. When he got to green he stared at the stars projecting on the ceiling and then held the turtle up to the back of his head. He said, “Look mommy! I’m healing!” This was such a remarkable display of empowerment, as well as the therapeutic aspects of positivity and stress relief, that I knew we had to find a way to share these amazing toys with other children fighting cancer.
I wrote an email to the Cloud b company requesting support to purchase the Twilight Turtle at a discounted rate to send to children fighting cancer across the nation. The company’s CEO promptly replied that Cloud b would be happy to donate product for this worthy cause. Three years later, MaxLove Project has partnered with Cloud b to donate and distribute approximately $200,000 worth of Twilight Turtles to SuperKids fighting cancer and related rare diseases around the world.
As of May 2015 our amazing friends at Cloud b introduced Super Max the Turtle, a little hero on a big mission! The new Super Max the Turtle (featuring a sweet smile modeled on Max’s own) features the same glowing starlight projections of the original Twilight Turtle that first provided comfort to Max. It eases fear of the dark as it projects blue, amber or green stars from its shell and kids can choose one color or set the Turtle to morph through all three colors.
Developed with input from health professionals at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Super Max the Turtle is a compact size to makes it completely portable and its entirely plastic shell makes it easy to clean and sterilize if necessary. Just like the original, Super Max the Turtle has a 45-minute auto shut-off timer that ensures complete darkness during children’s deep sleep as recommended by pediatricians. An included booklet features the story of Max the Turtle – a regular turtle who becomes Super Max, a rainbow-caped super hero shining his light wherever he goes, healing those who need it most. Given its medicinal intentions, Super Max the Turtle will actually be available by prescription for children who need it. Proceeds from the sales of this magical product will be donated to Maxlove Project.
Q: Are there any upcoming projects and/or charitable events that you would like to mention?
October 24th we are hosting an incredible farm-to-table dinner in Orange County, CA and Tanaka Farms. The event will support our Fierce Foods Academy. Details on the event can be found here. Just in time for the holidays our friends at Cloud b and Rainbow Loom will be releasing a special Super Max the Turtle + Alpha Loom hybrid gift set with a huge give-back for MaxLove Project. Be sure to look for it for gift-giving. There’s nothing better than a fully therapeutic product that gives back!
Q: What do you hope the MaxLove Project will have achieved ten years from now?
In ten years we will have changed the way childhood cancer is treated in this country. In addition to the standard treatments of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, we will give all families the whole-body wellness resources we focus on here at MaxLove Project: nutrition education, cooking classes, healthy sleeping practices, stress control skills, and targeted social support. In addition to this, we will help build teaching kitchens and educational gardens in every pediatric hospital in the U.S. Our central aim is to help all kids thrive in treatment and beyond by partnering with clinicians, families and hospitals to make whole-body wellness a top priority.
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About MaxLove Project:
Inspired by SuperMax Wilford, an 8-year-old fighting brain cancer, MaxLove Project is a volunteer-driven, grassroots nonprofit organization founded to help SuperKids thrive against cancer and life-threatening conditions. For more information about the MaxLove Project, please visit the official website.
About Cloud b:
Founded in 2002, the company has become a trusted name with parents worldwide with award-winning products that are developed in consultation with an Advisory Board of pediatricians and specialists. For more information, please email email@example.com or call 888-4CLOUDB. Follow Cloud b on Facebook and on Twitter.