Vail Valley Charitable Fund: A mission to empower families dealing with illness |

Vail Valley Charitable Fund: A mission to empower families dealing with illness

Michael and Aja Welle
Valley Voices
The Welle family.
Special to the Daily

Our entire world was turned upside down shortly after our daughter Emery was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer at just five months old. Absolutely everything in our lives was up in the air, including how we were going to pay our mortgage and keep food on the table during this ordeal. 

As we focused on the intense treatment young Emmy needed to save her life, some wonderful members of this great community, along with the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, stepped up huge and put together a beautiful fundraiser that brought together friends, family and strangers alike, all of whom came out to support our family. 

The funds raised there, as well as an additional grant from the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, helped to ensure we could keep our focus and energy where it needed to be. It also instilled a tremendous amount of confidence in us as a family knowing that there were so many incredible people who had our backs, supporting us every step of the way along our journey.

Today, young Emmy is thriving! Now 3 (and a half), she is everything that a little kid should be: happy, healthy, hair growing like crazy, and filled with nonstop energy that only fuels her already boundless curiosity. She gets up each day and takes on the world with gusto, just like she always has — only now, she can stop working so hard to feel better and just focus on being Emmy.  

Something we have said since the beginning of this journey is that the best possible outcome we could wish for is a healthy little girl who won’t remember the years of hospitals, doctors, nurses, needles, surgeries, chemo, and radiation that she had to endure. As parents, we are beyond grateful that today she remembers very little of this difficult journey, hardly recognizing her doctor and medical team who worked so hard to get her better. 

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We chose to write and share this experience openly from the onset, hoping to help other families going through similar situations, but also to remember all that we went through as a family. To remember the details — the terrible moments right alongside the good ones — is exceptionally important when looking back. We also owe it to her, when she is ready, a full recounting of the challenges we all faced so that she can best understand how she came to be the incredible little lady that she is today.  

We dealt with many wonderful organizations along that journey of ours, humbled by the incredible good that is being done each and every day. It has inspired us to launch our very own nonprofit called Emmy’s Friends Foundation.

Our mission: Empowering families experiencing illness to achieve optimal wellness through nourishing foods, wellness activities and meaningful gatherings.

Emmy’s Friends Foundation is designed to help young patients and their families who are facing life-threatening illnesses receive better access to fresh and wholesome organic foods, nutritional guidance and bountiful resources for healthy living — all of the essential parts of both a thriving existence and battling sickness that are often grossly overlooked.

We are so thankful to the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, not just for the financial help that carried us through an exceptionally difficult time, but also for providing that inspiration from which Emmy’s Friends Foundation was born. We’re looking forward to working side-by-side with the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, assisting those in our community and beyond who need it most.

Michael and Aja Welle are VVCF grant and extended grant fundraiser recipients and the parents of a happy, healthy 3-year-old daughter.

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