It’s a reminder to all parents to let children be just that — children.
Gloria Darmanin’s niece, Molly, 7, gets messy alongside Darmanin’s son Hudson,
2. Darmanin turned her backyard into a giant mud pit party in honor of the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation and The Muddy Puddles Project. The project encourages
kids to be kids, and the
joy found in the simple act of jumping in a muddy puddle is a perfect
demonstration of how incredibly beautiful childhood can be.
“Don’t jump in that puddle!” usually comes
out of a parent’s mouth at the exact moment that our children are already ankle
deep. We cringe at the messes left behind from our little ones. The chocolate
candy smeared across their hands as they touch our shirts or the finger paints
that managed to decorate our walls.
The way I looked at these every day nuisances,
changed forever the night that I read the story of “Super Ty.”
Ty Louis Campbell, who succumbed to cancer in 2012 at the
age of 5. He loved to jump in puddles. After Ty passed away, instead of gifts
of flowers, his family launched The Muddy Puddles Project, asking his
supporters to celebrate the joys of childhood in his honor.
In 2012, Ty
Campbell passed away from cancer at 5 years old. The thing he spoke about the
most while living in the hospital was jumping in muddy puddles.
A simple thing that we take for granted was
another child’s dream. His parents were committed to finding ways to fund more
research towards safer and more effective treatments of pediatric cancer.
This was how The “Muddy Puddles Project” came
to be. It’s a reminder to all parents to let children be just that — children —
and to not sweat the small stuff, all while also raising money for the Ty Louis
After staying up half the night reading his
website, I knew that that I needed to do something immediately. I began working
on my own “mess fest” in honor of Ty and to make a donation to the TLC
foundation. You don’t need a reason to have one, but wouldn’t a “mess fest” be
a great alternative for a birthday party?
“After reminding my husband that grass grows back and
what the fundraiser was for, he agreed to use our home to host,” says Darmanin.
Pick a date and location:
This can be held at a school, community
center, or your own backyard! After reminding my husband that grass grows back
and what the fundraiser was for, he agreed to use our home to host.
Plan your event:
How messy are you going to get? Arts and crafts?
Water balloons? The possibilities are endless, but don’t forget the muddy
puddles! Perhaps a plastic swimming pool full of mud or just some mud pies? I
had the “go big” mentality and chose to make a huge mud pit perfect for
everyone jumping together.
Reach out to businesses:
First things first, I needed mud! Yes, I
could have just started digging my own dirt but a local construction company
stepped right up. J Mullen & Sons Inc. in Saugerties
dropped off a truck full of fresh dirt. Score!
Next up, snacks! What’s the messiest snack I
could think of? Ice cream sundaes. I did have to go to a couple local stores
in Kingston gave us buckets of ice cream and toppings. PriceChopper
in Saugerties contributed a gift card for the paper goods. My BrotherBobby’s Salsa
supplied us with my personal favorite salsa and Adams Faireacre Farms
with the chips.
The local fire station allowed us to use a
big water cooler. I love when a community comes together to make a difference.
Don’t be afraid to ask: the worst someone will say is “I’m sorry, we can’t.”
Depending how you choose to plan your party,
you will want to either make public signage or a private invite. I used
Facebook events and started inviting every family I knew. I carried a couple of
handmade invites to give while I was out as well. Include what is to be
expected so they can bring a change of clothes and towels. On the invitation,
we included links to the websites and asked for a donation of any amount at
time of the party.
Set everything up and remember the most
important part is to have fun! This goes for the adults, too. I gave fair
notice that no adult was going to be safe from the mess. We did give a courtesy
hose off to everyone before they left.
Take lots of photos! Besides the memories,
you can upload them to The Muddy Puddles Project
website along with your
Send a “thank you” to everyone who
participated by attending, donating or contributing from a business. I included
photos from the event when sending a “thank you” to the businesses.
We collected over $400 between those who
attended and those who couldn’t but still contributed. Ty’s family was happy
that we honored their son with a special day by letting kids be kids for all
those that can’t.
There is a quote by Ty’s mother, Cindy, that
has stuck with me ever since I first read it: “Let your kids jump in muddy
puddles! Let them get wild with finger paints and glitter. Soon they’ll be all
grown up and see dirty clothes and wet shoes as nothing but a nuisance. Help
them find joy in the simple things that we no longer appreciate as adults.”
My wish is that everyone will find joy in making
your own beautiful messes from this day forward.
Gloria Darmanin lives in
Saugerties with her husband and two sons.