We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather Donatini and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heather, what are you inspired by?
Cancer kiddos are what inspires me. As a bereaved mother of a child diagnosed with liver cancer at the age of 3, I witnessed first-hand the resilience and innocence these children go through on a daily basis. For many, the hospital becomes their home away from home. They undergo countless pokes, chemotherapy treatments, surgeries, radiation, and scans. They experience unimaginable side effects. And yet, they still smile. They rise up. They exhibit incredible inner strength. They teach us what fortitude is. They teach us to be in the moment and remind us that life is precious, sometimes fragile and fleeting. My son. These kids. They are who inspire me.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
BumbleBee Foundation is a nonprofit organization established 10 years ago that supports pediatric cancer families. We currently support over 370 cancer kiddos throughout the state of California through our six (6) programs.
My husband and I didn’t choose cancer. No one does. Cancer chose our son Jarren just before his 3rd birthday. When Jarren passed at the age of 4 1/2, we knew that his life wasn’t in vain. There were other kiddos lying in the hospital beds at the same hospital we had just left. And there would be more. A lot of those kiddos didn’t have the same support we did from friends, family, and our community so we set out to provide that through BumbleBee.
Our story is unique in that BumbleBee is actually from the movie Transformers. BumbleBee was Jarren’s favorite and also the guardian of the main character, Sam. Our bee logo was something that Jarren created in a mommy & me class one year prior to his diagnosis. The wings of the bee are an outline of his little hands that I helped him trace and cut. Everything was literally meant to “bee.”
This journey has not been easy. Losing a child to cancer is beyond heartbreaking and is something a parent never gets over. We get through it. However, through this grief, a labor love and hope has been born. It is truly an honor to support other pediatric cancer families in memory of our beautiful little boy named Jarren.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my husband Jason. I’m a creature of comfort and a realist, he’s a shoot for the moon/outside-the-box kind of guy and we meet somewhere in the middle. Starting a nonprofit to help other families experiencing pediatric cancer like us wasn’t something I thought I would be able to successfully achieve. However, Jason’s love, unwavering support, and our faith coupled with incredible community support has allowed us to grow a small grassroots organization into something much bigger.
Judi Bumstead Photography, Wildflowers Photos