4/5 Dishing for Dana (or: we need your help)

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Bear with me here, this is the hardest post I’ve ever had to write. But it is also the most important, so please take the time to read it. I ain’t gonna lie: its long. (If you really need to cut to the chase, click here.)

For most of my adult life, I’ve lived with chronic autoimmune diseases that require frequent surgery (I’ve had 11 operations in the past 9 years) and regular ongoing care. It is the primary reason we’re Broke-Ass. You can read all about it here, and here, and here, and here. (or get the short version, here.) Being creative artists in a small business start-up, we are nowhere near a place to pay down the bills we’ve accrued as a result. The debt looms large and heavy over our lives and limit what we can do with the money we make. Its impossible to rationalize investing our earnings back into our business when the credit card bill is overdue and compounding interest, and the collections man is on the phone again. It is not a matter of fiscal irresponsibility, its simply that we are a struggling by-product of a broken system working over my broken body.

Don’t you wish your broke-ass was hot like me?

Recently, my doctor confirmed my fears. My left eye has come out of remission and they’ll need to implant another time-release capsule of drugs to control the inflammation for another 3 years or so. Yup, I will be undergoing my 12th surgery. The implant alone costs $18,000. Luckily, I have good (read: expensive) insurance, but it only covers a portion of my expenses, so there will be plenty of overage and my debt will compound once again. To tide me over until the surgery, they gave me an injection of steroids in the eye to reduce the inflammation and clear up my vision.

At least it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye… oh wait.

My medical debt is just one small portion of our overall debt (thanks to student loans, which are thankfully much more manageable to work with) but due to the frequency of my surgeries, the interest on the money we already owe, and the insanely high premiums to keep myself well-insured for future health care, there’s no end in sight. It’s overwhelming and the situation just keeps getting bigger and holds us back more and more.

Ironically, I owe many debts of gratitude to my disease and debt… because without them, this site would have never existed. It was born out of necessity when I found myself engaged and broke. When I started this site almost 3 years ago, we never fathomed that it would grow into this. I know that living with this illness has made me a much stronger, more resilient, creative and compassionate person than I would have been otherwise. I know that it has inspired me to push harder, dream bigger, and live more passionately than I would have otherwise. And I know that I have it to thank for the creation of this site, and the community is has built. And I am grateful.

The birth of the Broke-Ass Brand was organic and honest and community-driven, and we still cannot believe how far it has come. It has allowed me the freedom to pursue a creative career that complements my passions as a writer and performer, and I discover potential in myself and in the future of our business every day that inspires awe and motivation within me that I’ve never known before. It grew demanding enough to become my full-time job and has 9 amazing people working for peanuts (or less) to keep it afloat every day. But our sole income is from sponsorships, and we are not yet profitable as a business. But we’re close. Oh, so close.

It would break my heart to have to give this all up and go back into a cubicle just to fund my health care and surgery habit. And I think (I hope) that you all feel the same way. Whenever I hear from brides who need help, or who we have inspired… from vendors and companies who support us or fortify their business through partnership with us… from people who root us on from the sidelines of life, even if they have no interest in weddings at all…. these interactions fill my heart with pride and joy in ways beyond expression. We have big dreams for the Broke-Ass Brand. BIG ‘UNS. But we can’t grow or improve any more without your help.

Over the years, friends and strangers alike have offered to throw us a fundraiser of one kind or another. As much as it warmed our hearts, we were uncomfortable with accepting the help… even though we needed it. We just couldn’t say yes. But as time passed, and the “surgery toll” rose, and the debt grew… we thought maybe there’s a way we could produce something to offer in exchange for donations.

The Solution

Announcing…. Dishing for Dana: bad-ass bloggers cooking comforts for a cause! (cue uproarious applause)
Our (amazing) friends in the online community have encouraged us to hold an online fundraiser, but receiving without giving isn’t really our jam. To that end…
♥  We’re compiling beloved comfort food recipes and the stories behind them from the most bad-ass bloggers and beyond… available in varying forms, in exchange for donations to my medical care.
♥  There are incentives for varying levels of donation, which you can learn about here.
♥  The recipes, photos and stories will be teased on our Dishing for Dana blog, and once a donation is processed, a password to access the full recipe database will be released to each donor.

The Goal
♥  $13,000 to cover my current medical bills
♥  $7,000 to cover our health insurance premiums for the remainder of 2011
♥  $2,000 to donate to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association toward helping others with autoimmune disease
For a total minimum of $22,000.

***This does not include the costs that will be related to my upcoming surger(ies) and ongoing care, nor for prescriptions or post-surgical supplies***

Asking for this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I know times are tight for everyone. I know there’s tragedy in the world. I know you all have your own debt, and disease, and problems, and lives. But I believe that with your help, we can achieve enough financial freedom to continue improving this site, pay the people who lend their talents to our business, launch our lifestyle site, and revamp Bride$hare to all be bad-ass resources that will inspire people to spend wisely, live richly and thrive creatively, improving countless lives.

How you can help
♥  We need donations. Every little bit counts and is so appreciated. What is my healthcare and the health of The Broke-Ass Brand worth to you? Could you skip a cup of coffee at Starbucks today? Could you pack your own lunch for a week at work? Could you donate a little now, and a little later? We’ve made the payment process simple and flexible, and even a $1 donation is a buck more than we had yesterday. We’ve created fun incentives to reward donors at certain levels, which you can learn about here.

♥  We need HYPE. Please help us spread the word in any way you can. We have incentives for you, too! Anyone who blogs about the project will be linked to in a post here, linked to in the sidebar of our Dishing for Dana Blog and also receive a credit in the acknowledgments of the book. If you don’t have a blog, but can email, facebook or tweet about it to your network, we’ll credit you in the acknowledgments, too. This project will only work if we can get the word spread far and wide… from brides to foodies to mommies to the evening news, any help we can get would be tremendous!

♥  We need talent. Want to donate your blog design talent, graphic design skills, PR prowess, or layout mojo? We could use all the help we can get. Have a skill to offer that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know – we’d love to have your support, and we’ll do everything we can to give you the exposure and credit you deserve.

We need recipes. If you a blogger who would like to share your most treasured comfort food recipe, we’d love to have you involved. Contact us and we’ll send you more information. We aim to cover all kinds of comfort foods, from breakfast to dessert, from the utterly decadent to the calorie-conscious, from gluten-free to vegan to meat-topped-with-cheese… bring it all on!

The Details
♥  You can donate any amount you choose, no minimum, no rules. Because every quarter is a quarter more than we had yesterday. It all adds up.
♥  We will donate 10% of all proceeds up to our goal, to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association, so every dollar contributed not only goes toward my medical care, but also toward researching a cure to benefit everyone with autoimmune disease.
♥  Anything raised in excess of the goal will be split 50/50 with the AARDA – our portion of which will be saved in a dedicated, interest-bearing account toward any future surgeries and ongoing medical care.

Gulp. It seems like a lot to ask. But the internet is a big place. We see tens of thousands of readers come through here each week. If every blog visitor only parted with just $1 – we’d meet and surpass our goal within the first month alone.

Let’s see how far we can take this, so that millions of others with autoimmune disease can also benefit from this endeavor!

I sit here trembling as I type. Asking for and receiving help is not something I am used to doing. It is not in my nature. But, I am at a turning point, and am taking a leap of faith. After all… I’m the one who always says it never hurts to ask, right? So here I am… asking. I’m the one always sqwaking about taking leaps of faith and Making Things Happen, aren’t I?  I have to live my mission to my fullest extent, and that includes this.

My disease formed me into the creative, ambitious and irrepressible woman I am today, and it inspired the birth of this very site. While no one can yet cure my disease, the idea that this site and its community could rally up to ease my condition’s painful and limiting financial side effects gives me hope beyond expression.

What do you think? Will you help?


Thank you so much for reading!

The Broke-Ass Bride
Dana is the head woman in charge here, the original Broke-Ass Bride. Learn more about her here. And, follow her on Twitter (@brokeassbride), Pinterest (@brokeassbride), Facebook (/thebrokeassbride) and Instagram (@brokeassbride). Affiliate links, which might be included in the post above, help make her a few dollars here and there to keep her off the streets and in the business of blogging for your ass. So thanks for coming! :)