“Mom, who will take care of me when you die.” That’s the question Trish O’Neill’s son, Matt, asked when she told him and his brother, Dominic, that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
In so many ways, his question reflects a child’s understanding of what being diagnosed with cancer means. By Matt’s age, 10 years old at the time, he was aware that a diagnosis of cancer all too often carries with it a death sentence. The battle against cancer certainly becomes a lifestyle and a constant fight.
Of course, Trish had no intention of surrendering to cancer and dying. As much as anyone, Trish is a fighter, but one who has managed to maintain an amazing optimism and a mindfulness of the opportunities that even great adversity can bring into ones’ life. She has also tried to instill in her sons these same kinds of attitudes – particularly as they have come alongside her to offer her spiritual and emotional support when she’s needed it.
Her mother, Mary Jo has been absolutely crucial to Trish’s journey, loving and supporting her every step of the way, lending her energy, faith and hope for a speedy and full recovery.
Along the way, Trish noticed that there is a dizzying variety and depth to the support groups and organizations available for patients being treated for cancer. For adult caregivers, there is a definite lack of emphasis given to supporting children and adolescents who are traveling this journey with their own parents or siblings.
Recognizing this as an opportunity instead of an obstacle, and understanding that no one can talk to a child in this situation like peers who have experienced it, Trish has founded a non-profit called ‘Kids Embracing Hope’. This organization will connect children, caregivers and parents fighting cancer to peers who are further along in that journey.
Kid’s Embracing Hope will provide access to interactivity with other kids, advocacy, material resources, and support services for professional counseling, group counseling, and other needs like recreational opportunities.
Everyone is affected by cancer and it does not discriminate. Our mission is to educate kids and families about cancer and use communication tools to assist them in caring for their loved one. Trish’s boy’s are often asked why Trish looks the way she does if she is fighting cancer. They’ve learned to respond with the question, “What does cancer look like?”
Trish – Founder
Being bold, brave, unique, flashy and sassy, Trish O’Neill, Founder and COO of CowgirlzSurf.com, is a proactive cancer survivor and avid advocate for single mothers. Her two boys are her inspiration to excel in all she endeavors. She melds her love of all things classy with her sincere belief that “All things are better at the beach.” On her journey toward providing exciting and authentic products that spark confidence and fun, Trish has courageously surfed many waves of adversity and magically gained countless supporters who have been drawn into her vision by her enthusiastic devotion and endless positive energy. Knowing that cancer doesn’t discriminate, Trish believes in making a grand entrance and fighting like a cowgirl. No surprise, Hope Faith & Surf is making a splash in the fashion industry.
James de Leon – Creative Director
With a background in branding, advertising and marketing along with years of experience designing apparel, accessories and product for companies like O’Neill, Nike and Surftech, James de Leon brings a unique skill set to the team at CGS. James is the driving force behind the creation of the brand identity, print advertising, web look and feel, apparel design, merchandising and sourcing. He works closely with the rest of the team to ensure a consistent deployment of the branding and graphic assets, representing the vibe of the company. A lifelong surfer, splitting time between Kauai and Santa Cruz, he’s stoked to bring his love of the ocean to the creative process at CGS.
Dave Perry is a San Jose, Ca native. He is honored at the privilege to serve as CEO & Cofounder of the Kids Embracing Hope Foundation and Cowgirlz Surf LLC apparel company. His most recent accomplishment was serving as CEO for the Campbell Chamber of Commerce. The scope and variety of the Campbell Chamber activities include; the representation and promotion of the area’s business economy, the encouragement of business investment in the local community, the expansion of the tax base, and, laying the foundation for employment. Through the Campbell Chambers Charitable reach, he was also able to help serve the needs of the entire community. Prior to serving the chamber, Dave was CEO and Owner of three fitness gyms where he helped thousands of clients achieve their Dreams with Personal Training, Nutrition, Life Coaching, and Overall Health & Wellness Consulting – Dave learned his business skills from many years as General Manager in a Fortune 500 Company managing all aspects of a 50 million dollar per year Steel Distribution & Processing center in Santa Clara, CA. Dave earned his discipline as an Army Sniper stationed in S. Korea, on DMZ Warrior Camp – Dave is a graduate of San Jose State University where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.
Ernest Kong is a San Jose, Ca. Native, splitting time between California and Oahu. He recently retired as a Police Lt. from the City of San Jose. His duties included Commanding the San Jose Police Family Violence center which collaboratively worked with community based organizations addressing, Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, and Threat Assessment -Workplace Violence. Ernest currently is a licensed realtor and donates services to the Santa Clara County Housing Services assisting clients who are facing foreclosure.
In his spare time, he enjoys competitive outrigger canoe racing, and has performed as a background actor for such television shows as Hawaii Five-O, and Mad Men.
Reading the Kids Embracing Hope brochure “Mom who will take care of me when you die”, spoke volumes. Ernest has family members who were affected by losing a close family member to cancer, and had no outlet and were resistant to traditional therapy. Ernest recognized that the concept of KEH filled a need in helping kids deal with the loss of a family member and is honored to assist Trish in seeing her dream for assisting kids become a reality.