WhatFriendsDo.com was inspired by the love and support for Laura Crawley and her family as Laura faced the challenges of brain cancer. Through a "team approach" and lots of good cheer, not only were Laura and her family being nurtured, but everyone on "Laura's Team" felt a wonderful sense of joy by being part of the team. The unique way cheer was provided enabled a large number of people to participate and stay connected. Sharing what we were doing with others evolved into WhatFriendsDo.com.
WhatFriendsDo.com was started by Fran, Aimee, and Stephanie Kandrac, a family blessed by incredible friends, without whom much of this site would not have been possible. Throughout challenges and joys in our own lives, our friends have been by our sides. The ways they helped us, both large and small, always amazed us. We try to treat others as we like to be treated, because that is just "what friends do."
Here is the story of how this site was born:
In 1985 five-year-old Stephanie started kindergarten. She formed an instant friendship with a cute little blond haired girl named Laura. Laura soon started coming to our house to play and spend the night. As years went on, Laura and Stephanie often vacationed with each other's family. The girls were inseparable as they went to school together through eighth grade. Although the girls went to different high schools and colleges, they remained best friends.
In September 2005, Laura was hospitalized after learning she had a brain tumor. Stephanie was at the hospital daily and started frequent email updates with a list of addresses provided by Laura and her family. Stephanie and her mom, Fran, enlisted a few other friends to brainstorm ideas of ways to show our support and love. Another childhood friend, Bryan Grimes, volunteered to create a website. Fran developed the content; Bryan did the mechanics and his friends at NonToxic volunteered to host the site. Stephanie had the idea to order wristbands with "♥ Laura's Team ♥" imprinted on them for friends to wear. The wristbands arrived the day of Laura's first brain surgery. When Stephanie arrived at the hospital with the gift of the wristbands, the symbol of unity they represented immediately brought a bond and strength to support Laura. This was the beginning of Laura's Team.
News of Laura's condition and arrangements for meals and various ways to help Laura and her family were coordinated via emails from an account called Laura's Team.
Laura spent the next several months undergoing surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. She was weak and had constant headaches, so she was not able to get out and about. As Christmas approached, treatments were not slowing Laura's cancer and the news was continually discouraging. Laura's sister, Caroline, sent an email to Fran asking if there might be a few people who would go caroling at Laura's house. An email was sent to "the team" and a chorus was formed! Most of the carolers, ages 6 months to 70 years, did not know one another. The group surprised Laura with a beautiful start to the holidays for her and her family. From this activity the idea was formed to celebrate "the twelve days of Christmas" to try to stave off post-holiday blues. Fun surprises were left on Laura's doorstep each day to celebrate each of the twelve days, tied in to the song we all know. The joy that activity brought to Laura and to all of her team was magical. When Laura said she hated to see it end, our reaction was, "Well then, it won't stop!"
Every few weeks emails were sent out to the team with a list of fun 'events' and ideas of how to celebrate, such as National Popcorn Day, Puzzle Day, Plant A Flower Day, Random Acts of Kindness Day.
The team concept enabled people from all aspects of Laura's life to be involved and connected. Her "team" consisted of friends from childhood through college, work colleagues, neighbors, family members, church friends. The team grew to include friends of friends, many who never met Laura or her family. Like teams we traditionally think of - sports teams, medical teams, and business teams - each team member has a different skill set and a different interest. Different activities appeal to different team members, thus, nobody was "doing it all" - but the cheer and support for Laura and her family was always happening.
The generosity and eagerness to assist was amazing. Messages were frequently sent to Laura's Team requesting assistance in one way or another - sometimes for funds to purchase a particular item, sometimes for labor to accomplish a specific task. Without fail, the response was always overwhelming, and quite often offers to help were politely declined because the need had already been fulfilled.
Over and over again we heard that "everyone needs a Laura's Team" when going through something difficult. Because of our background both personally and professionally, the creators of this website have the skills and insight to help friends help friends. It's What Friends Do!
Even though Laura did not see WhatFriendsDo.com launch, she participated in the planning of the site and was honored that it would be dedicated to her. She will live in our hearts forever, and any joy WhatFriendsDo.com can bring to someone else's journey will be a tribute to Laura.