Desperate times call for...

I have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for others, mostly dogs off death row without families of their own - we were their last, sometimes only, hope - and we lent them our time, affection and dedication, as a family. It's been easy for me to ask for help for helpless creatures and one might think it has been a tremendous burden to our family to have housed hundreds of dogs through our home but the blessings have far outweighed any trouble.

My children inspired my BullNannies program. The doctors tell you to have little hope for your kids (when handing you a diagnosis of autism) but what they didn't know is we are fighters and through saving dogs, hope filled jazz hands and a lot of music, my children have overcome and exceeded any expectations I was cautioned not to have at all.

Four years ago their dad walked out.
Four years ago I stood firm in remaining a stay-at-home mom.
Four years ago I chose my kids over money, a decision I've never regretted.

Four years ago we found CAST.

Through scholarships from CAST Academy for low income families, my children have benefited from the hours spent learning, rehearsing and performing through the many programs this local nonprofit offers. Although they were properly warned about attention spans and sensory issues prior to enrolling my children and entrusting them to their care, the directors, instructors and teachers took on my kids without hesitation. We are in our fourth year with our CAST family, third year of competitions. Without their scholarship program I wouldn't have jad the opportunity to enjoy the many performances that have brought huge smiles to my face or the memories our family now shares in that bank.

I am thankful for the creativity, fortitude and ability to run my small business from my home as to not miss a moment of their lives. I choose this in lieu of a lucrative career with which I could potentially provide many more "things" for them; like a vacation. That's something I've opted out of in order to be here every day. We do what we can with invitations from family and friends who are generous to include us, free tickets to this or that and the volunteer activities we involve ourselves with that provide many opportunities to make memories for our small family.

I stand today having made an unspoken promise to my children that I will always be there for them; emotionally, physically and psychologically and I have been fortunate to be able to keep that promise thus far. What I didn't promise was that it would be easy but I don't regret being there for every game, meet, rehearsal, performance, audition, debut performance, school assembly or parent-teacher conference. What I do regret is not having the funds to fulfill my little boy's desire to participate in his annual National Dance Competition this year. We made it last year, but were fortunate to have stayed with family (or we couldn't have made it at all).

This year's national competition is on a boat. Not a little boat, a cruise ship with the expenses that come with that. He has asked over and over why he isn't participating with his team and I apologetically explain that I cannot justify the trip on our modest income. What I can't admit to my boy is that I don't just have it. That he cannot finish off the dance season with his teammates.

I've been poked, prodded, pushed and gently nudged into giving the dance team one last effort to have their redheaded team mate on board with them to compete this year. My kid doesn't care where he dances, he just wants this experience with his team and it brings me to tears that I can't give it to him because of the choices I have made.

My kids might be embarrassed at this meager effort, they might even be mad at me for exposing our circumstances but I have to try just the way they do with all of the heart when they volunteer in their community. They don't know they are on the free-lunch program at their schools, they don't know they I stay up until the early hours of the morning to fit in my work week. They don't know we're poor. What I hope they know is that I love them, whether that's here or there or anywhere.

With your help of $1, $2, $5 dollars maybe this time, instead of saving a dog, I can save a little dance number for a kid who I've raised to DREAM BIG and a team who really wants him there with them when they're stealing that extra bow.

At the very least I can look him in the eye and tell him that I tried; as he knows I've tried hundreds of time for hundreds of dogs.

Humbly, please and thank you. ~ Julie aka Mommy
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Julie Marie Miller 
Fallbrook, CA
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