There is no doubt that the ever-changing world of technology has immense power. It can help you learn faster, persuade you to try something new, open up the world, even give you a voice. For one family, it was a source of comfort in the wake of an unimaginable challenge, and the result has become a great gift to others and an even greater legacy.
When Vicki and Sheldon Eaton of Billings, Montana found out their son Ryan was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma, a two-year battle began that took the family to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. During the many months that Ryan went through cancer treatments, he often used an iPad to help pass the time by listening to music, playing games with family and keeping in touch with friends. When he saw that many fellow patients, many of them children, had many long and lonely hours during their treatment, an idea was born.
Ryan, a graphic designer, and his brother Dallas, a business major, began United Luv and committed to donating 10 percent of the proceeds from apparel sales to purchase iPads for patients at hospitals and cancer treatment centers. Set up as a 501(c)3, United Luv also gives 100 percent of monetary donations made to the purchase of iPads. Beginning with iPad donations to St. Vincent Hospital and the Billings Clinic, United Luv was on its way.
Sadly, Vicki and her husband Sheldon lost their son Ryan to cancer at the age of 26, two years ago today on February 9, 2013, but the legacy of giving continues. As of last month, the company has donated a total of 191 iPads to hospitals, including The Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Hospital Billings, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s Hospital. That includes twenty new iPads to The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for use in their clinic and at SCCA House where patients and families stay during treatment.
I became aware of United Luv because I have known Ryan Eaton’s mother, Vicki Eaton, from the time I was a teenager. She was my first boss, and later a great co-worker, and always the most lovely person you could ever meet. Beyond that, I personally understand the power of technology in the midst of a medical crisis. My beloved mother slowly lost her ability to speak during her three-year battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. My three aunts sent my mother an iPad as a gift and we installed a program on it that spoke the words my mother was able to type. It was an utter godsend for both my parents and our family, and gave her a voice when she no longer had her own.
Need a Valentine that really comes from the heart? Before February 14 comes along, why not get yourself and someone you love a gift with real meaning. My daughter’s Valentine this year is a United Luv tee in her favorite shade of purple, and the real gift behind the gift—pure love.
For more information, to learn about Ryan’s story and to purchase go to www.unitedluv.com