Riding on Sunshine

A dream trip across the United States to make memories

Embracing Life by Riding on Sunshine

If you knew you only had months, weeks maybe even days with your child, what would you do?

Marissa is 16 years old and time is running short. Diagnosed with Freidreich’s Ataxia, Marissa and her family know their time together is limited. Their dreams of travel had to be now or never.

So Spreading Sunshine helped Dawn and Marissa experience their dream of taking a cross-country trip and fully embracing life. Our generous donor volunteers stepped up to provide this family with life-changing memories.

Dawn blogged throughout the trip sharing the reality of living with a child with limited mobility who is facing a progressive disease. Her thoughts and insights are powerful reminders of the many challenges that our Sunshine Families face. We invite you to read their story.

Five Ways Medical Mamas Love Their Children

Five Ways Medical Mamas Love Their Children

by Dawn Graczyk, Sunshine Mom As we are approaching Valentine’s Day, love is everywhere. The candy aisles are loaded with red, heart-shaped boxes and jewelry commercials abound. But what does it really mean to love someone? We need look no further than our Sunshine...

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Numbered Days

Numbered Days

By Dawn Graczyk Teach us to number our days… Psalm 90:12 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14 How Will I Die?  It started with a question...

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Faith Isn’t Easy

Faith Isn’t Easy

By Dawn Graczyk, Sunshine Mom My faith has sustained me, but has it guided me?  I’d like to think so.   There are many times faith is hard fought for me: a struggle, a conscious CHOICE to believe that God is good and loving and has a beautiful...

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The Journey: Embracing Each Moment

The Journey: Embracing Each Moment

By Dawn Graczyk, Sunshine Mom The plan is in motion.  The first stops are confirmed.  It's crazy and risky but so is the life we are living right here.  I hope you will follow me on this journey.  It's sure to have it's ups and downs.  I may...

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When Laughing is a Victory

When Laughing is a Victory

By Dawn Graczyk We were slow loading up to leave.  In part because I was doing my best to be meticulous, in part because my brain was fighting a battle about whether or not we really should go. My thoughts sound like this:  If something happens, you are on...

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Three Small Steps

Three Small Steps

It’s just three steps. Three small steps. It could have been the Great Wall last night.  A year ago, I didn’t worry about ramps and handicap accessibility.  Only a year ago, but it’s also a lifetime.  I simply assisted her up, had her hang on to the...

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God Sent Hairstylists

God Sent Hairstylists

“Do you by chance have a secret talent for cutting hair?  I really want my hair cut on this trip.” I’d just met Diane for the first time in Nashville, and I was hoping she’d say yes. She assured me she had no secret talent in that area.  But on our very next...

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How We Journey through this Terrible, Beautiful, Crazy Life

How We Journey through this Terrible, Beautiful, Crazy Life

By Dawn Graczyk, Sunshine Mom As the night winds down, I find myself in awe of the intentionality of my Father, who has indeed worked all things together for a purpose and for my good, whether or not I understand it.  The Beauty of God’s Divine Orchestration...

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Four Simple Ways to Support Someone Who Uses a Wheelchair

Four Simple Ways to Support Someone Who Uses a Wheelchair

By Dawn Graczyk, Sunshine Mom I don’t know what it is like to feel my body failing.  I’ve never been in a wheelchair.  On occasion I may trip over a word or two, but I have never been unable to control the rate and volume of my speech.  As short as I am, I have never...

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The Gracious Gifts God Gives Us: Connection and Hope

The Gracious Gifts God Gives Us: Connection and Hope

By Dawn Graczyk, Sunshine Mom And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.  The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint Exupéry Friedreich’s Ataxia occurs in about 1/50,000...

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Following our Wanderlust and Seeing our Dream Come True

Following our Wanderlust and Seeing our Dream Come True

By Dawn Graczyk, Sunshine Mom Marissa and I have inherited my grandmother’s wanderlust. For most of Marissa’s life, I put off travel as unaffordable; irresponsible; impractical; impossible. I told her she could do these things when she was older and had the money to...

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How to Find Hope in Heart Shattering News

How to Find Hope in Heart Shattering News

By Dawn Graczyk, Sunshine Mom My day began with heart shattering news. My uncontrolled tears lasted well into the afternoon, at which point I finally gave in and took my anti-anxiety medication.  I’ve decided that being able to function after repeated trauma is a...

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How Do We Let the Light Shine Through?

How Do We Let the Light Shine Through?

By Dawn Graczyk, Sunshine Mom We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:7 I am broken.  I am...

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The Race isn’t Over Yet. Run Your Race Well.

The Race isn’t Over Yet. Run Your Race Well.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that...

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Thank You for Helping Write this Chapter of Our Story

Thank You for Helping Write this Chapter of Our Story

By Dawn Graczyk, Sunshine Mom To those who have donated, prayed, followed, helped— It is time to express what this trip meant to me and my girls. Normally, what I want to write flows right through my fingertips onto the keyboard. One idea leads to another with great...

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How Riding on Sunshine Inspired Me

How Riding on Sunshine Inspired Me

By Joy Bullis This summer Spreading Sunshine had the unique opportunity to walk deeply with one of our Sunshine Families to help fulfill a God-sized dream. Marissa is 16 years old. Diagnosed with Freidreich’s Ataxia, Marissa and her family know their time together is...

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Tomorrow is not guaranteed. We are taking this trip now, because this only gets harder. Now because it makes my daughter smile. Now because we’ve missed out on so much by putting it off for a time of more money, more stability, greater safety.  NOW is all we have.”

Dawn, Marissa's Mother