They say that when you are in your darkest hours, you find your light.
I never knew what that meant until 2008 when I was newly married to my ex-husband. I found myself in a very unhealthy relationship where neither of us was happy. We had been dating long-distance for a few years and finally tied the knot and were living together. I thought it was everything I had wanted, but I was very wrong.
We moved into a new home, where I met our sweet neighbor, a single mom and breast cancer survivor. She would tell me stories of her treatment, surgeries, and recovery. All of this melted my heart, and I knew I wanted to do something to help make a difference. I immediately started looking into non-profits that helped with breast cancer and awareness.
At the time, the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer 3-day walk was being advertised on tv. I called the number and received a DVD in the mail about the organization and the event. Registrants would walk 100 miles throughout 3-days, and to participate, each individual (at that time) was required to fundraise $1,200. I immediately knew I had to do this. I would raise funds needed to help with cancer research and increase awareness of the importance of breast health at the same time. Perfect!
Deep down, I always loved event planning. So I decided to host a few events to raise the money required to walk. As I was planning these fundraisers, I encouraged two of my friends to join me. However, this now meant that our team had to raise $3,600 (instead of the $1,200 for one person). Overwhelmed and scared because I had NEVER raised this amount of money, I threw my heart and soul into the challenge. I was convinced this was a goal we would make.
Fast forward several months. We made our fundraising goal and walked the 100 miles! I signed up and did the event again, this time in California, and it was incredible!
The entire experience changed my life. I immediately knew that I wanted to start a non-profit focused on local organizations that needed assistance raising awareness about their causes.
Whether it was to find volunteers, assist with fundraising goals, or a combination of something similar. It was also important to me to inspire women. To bring them together to make a difference. I knew we would be stronger together, and we could make a greater impact. Shortly after this revelation, High Hopes in High Heels was born.
At home, I was still unhappy. So I would go out most nights during the week to talk about High Hopes, recruit members, and network around town.
Separately, I decided that I wanted to change my career and switch from working as an insurance adjuster to the non-profit world. I started volunteering as much as possible. This allowed me to create a portfolio to take to my interviews showing the events I hosted, volunteering hours, and leadership roles.
Shortly after, an opportunity presented itself from one of my dear friends that I met at a Susan G. Komen event, a survivor. She worked at a Florida Hospital (now Advent Health) in the Breast Care Center and recommended I apply for a position in the Foundation. I would have to take a significant pay cut and take on an entry-level administrative role. However, it would allow me to get my foot in the door and make a difference daily by fundraising for the hospital!
Eventually, I was in charge of all of the Breast Center events. I also assisted in fundraising for the free mammogram program at the hospital. Everything finally came full circle. I was in my dream position working for a non-profit and planning special events. A few years later, I started my own special events company, High Hopes in High Heels, that allowed me to work with many other non-profits.
As I look back on it all, even though there were many times I was unhappy, I am thankful for the experience with my ex-husband. If things were different with him, I would have never started trying to find happiness in other areas of my life. High Hopes would have never been born, and my passion for event planning and working with non-profits may not have been brought to light.
It’s often difficult to see how things will unfold at the time. But I’ve learned when life is complicated, and you’re struggling, hang in there. Because once it passes, you can wind up in an even better situation than when it all started. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason! When I look back on my journey to where I am now, it all started with an unhappy marriage and trying to fill a void in my life. To this day, I’m forever thankful for those tough times and my path along the way.
I encourage you to never settle and find out what truly makes you happy inside. Then take that desire, turn it into something unstoppable and go for it!!
Have you ever experienced a hardship that changed your life for the better in the long run? Please share with us by commenting below, share on our social media pages or contact us. We would love to hear!