A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity of speaking with Alison and Ally, the founders of Glimmer of Hope Foundation. They shared insights into what makes their non-profit so special and important to children battling chronic illnesses and explained how their project came to life. Glimmer of Hope was created to donate bald dolls to children fighting cancer and we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share their amazing story with our community because we believe this is another example of how we can all make the world more inclusive and welcoming for all if we work collectively.
Alison and Ally, you are the founders of Glimmer of Hope Foundation, how did it all start?
“I started a business in March called Miracle Mask and it got so big that I was donating all the money to Childhood Cancer organizations. I eventually started giving out bald dolls with the money that I was making,” said Alison. “It was always my dream to start a 501 (c)(3) registered non-profit organization so I decided to start Glimmer of Hope. Miracle Masks now funds 50% of Glimmer of Hope’s operations and donors fund the other 50%.”
How did you decide you wanted to work on Glimmer of Hope together?
“It all started with a post on social media. Ali was looking for interns and I shared it with my network. We started talking and she mentioned that she was also looking for a board member and I jokingly volunteered. I thought about it that night and decided it would be something I would want to do, and I soon became a board member,” shared Ally. “We planned a photoshoot together and I was working on gaining sponsorships and gaining community partners and Ali asked me, “Do you want to be a partner” “Do you want to help run it?”
“For the amount Ally was doing she deserved more than a Board member position and nothing can be done alone. If I have learned anything from working on Childhood Cancer since I was 12, is that the more advocacy the better. And because Childhood Cancer awareness was something new to Ally but she came on it so passionately, I really thought “this is what we need” and we already worked so well together,” said Alison.
“We work with each other so seamlessly. It truly is the best. It’s a charm”
Can you share how you came about the name Glimmer of Hope for your non-profit?
“I chose “Glimmer” because the color of Childhood Cancer is gold and I wanted it to be something sparkly, shimmery. And “Hope” because my best friend and honorary little sister Ella passed away last year of Leukemia when she was 14. She was first diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 11 and she wrote a letter to American Girl about how she wanted a bald doll because she no longer matched with her American Doll, and that was her favorite part of having that doll. American Girl replied saying they had a ball doll but that it wasn’t on the catalog. Because of Ella, they put it online and it’s at the store and she named her doll “Hope” so this is a tribute to her,” said Alison.
What makes Glimmer of Hope so special?
“Glimmer of Hope was founded during a time when the Black Lives Matter movement was coming to fruition. Childhood Cancer affects everyone, it doesn’t discriminate against your socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, nothing. I really wanted that to be represented on Glimmer of Hope” said Alison. “Our mission is to give girls dolls that feel like themselves because every girl deserves it. American Doll offers dolls with different skin tones and from different races so I want to use all our resources to give all of these dolls to girls. We want to have an impact in this world not only by giving white dolls. On our logo, we have a girl from Venezuela, a girl from Utah, and a girl from Texas because we wanted to represent three different races because Childhood Cancer doesn’t discriminate.”
“What we do is so important because it gives children the ability to look at their toys and feel represented so they are not missing a fundamental part of their identity. It’s important to let children have toys that represent every stage of life,” added Ally. “Childhood Cancer is so hard to talk about that people will shy away from it. And because it is a hard conversation it needs to be continued to be had. Through organizations like Glimmer of Hope people have the ability to understand what is going on and feel like they can really be involved and help create change.”
“After we send the doll it’s not the end. We stay connected with the families. We let them know that they have a community that is completely invested and fighting along themselves. It’s nice to know that you have people behind you who are like-minded and are rooting for you and your children, and your family. It’s not just our non-profit. It’s a non-profit that we are running but that belongs to so many people and can function thanks to the community alongside us. It takes a village,” said Ally.
What has been your biggest accomplishment since starting this initiative? What about your greatest challenge?
“It’s so easy to look at big accomplishments like sending out 33 dolls and saying that we are in four countries but to me, the little things are so impactful. If we send out one doll that would be big enough. But having the ability to grow and having the ability to continue to affect numerous children in their own aspects is the most important thing. We hope to never lose sight of each individual child that we affect,” mentioned Ally.
“In the past year with my experience with grief of losing someone who was like a sister to me and honoring her in this way, a challenge is that there are parents out there that are grieving. 7 kids pass away from Childhood Cancer every single day and that’s very close to my heart” added Alison. “Every time I bring Ella up or other kids that have passed away, I do it happily because they lived. I think it’s still a challenge that it’s overlooked. We don’t forget about kids that have passed away and we like to let the parents know that their child lived.”
Do you have any unique or special stories of the impact your foundation has had on children that you would like to share?
“Carrigan is 19 and she’s fighting Osteosarcoma and got her leg amputated. I took her out to breakfast one morning and pulled the doll out of my car and she started crying. Her doll means so much to her especially now that she’s losing her hair. The doll’s name is Hope and it is a sign of hope for her” shared Alison. “She had a fundraiser hosted by someone and she donated all the money to us. She is incredible.”
How can our international community support the projects you are working on and make them grow? Where can they donate?
We always need volunteers and extra hands if people want to help us find local community partners in States that aren’t Rhode Island. We’ve reached numerous countries so we do need people who are localized in these places. If people are interested in getting involved, we have a lot of work for them!
What are your plans and goals with Glimmer of Hope Foundation? What do you wish to accomplish? Or where do you see yourself and the foundation in the future?
“After meeting some of the families and seeing their financial struggles, it is a goal to be able to help these families out financially more,” said Alison.
What is your message to kids and families of kids battling illnesses and lack of inclusion and representation in the world?
“I just want these families to know that they are never alone. And whether it’s us or someone else, they have people fighting with them. We go far beyond dolls and we will make things happen if families are struggling,” said Alison.
And there’s always Hope.
The Diversity Styling team thanks Alison and Ally for sharing the powerful story behind Glimmer of Hope!
If you would like to get more involved please visit their website https://glimmerofhopefoundation.org/ where you can make a donation, apply for a doll and/or care package, and learn more about their fundraisers and projects! Don’t forget to also check Miracle Masks by Ali and their merchandise since all the proceeds will also go to Glimmer of Hope!