HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – Saturday will be a very special day for several families who will be celebrating the gift of life while being recognized in the process. The organization honoring these families is called Sparkles of Life. It is a non-profit organization designed to support women and families that have endured infertility, miscarriages, or delayed parenting. Sparkles of Life utilizes a number of resources with the aid of advocacy and education to help women transition through different stages of conception and delivery.
Rhonda Nwosu is the founder and has been through similar experiences herself. She is now supporting others through her organization with their journey.
“We’re excited that we’re able to partner and just mainstream the topic of infertility delayed parenting and miscarriage; a very exciting time for us! (This is) just an exciting way to let them know that their work hasn’t gone unnoticed and we’re continuing to keep those women encouraged.”
Several women will be honored during the Saturday brunch which features keynote speaker, Mariah Huq. She is the producer and co-star of Bravo’s hit series Married to Medicine.
TRIUMPH THROUGH ENDURING
Thirteen families that have actually endured such a hardship will be recognized on Saturday including the Mothers of superstar athletes, Dwight Howard and Andre Johnson. But if you ask the sons, they will tell you that the Mothers are actually the superstars.
Sheryl Howard is the mother of one Dwight Howard and the recipient of the first-ever Sparkles of Life ‘Woman of Courage’ award. This is a big moment for Mrs. Howard as she needed to catch a flight to Houston to attend the event and receive her award.
“First of all, I’ve never really been honored like this. So, to me, it’s a tremendous blessing for someone to think that. I say that I am a woman of courage because it does take a lot of courage for women in general to have a child. Then to go thru several miscarriages and still continue to try, that’s a lot of courage.”
It might be difficult to understand or even fathom their story, but the story of the Howard family is simply a miracle which is why to Mrs. Howard, Dwight is her ‘miracle baby’.
“By me being able to have him is a great miracle because we lost seven children, two sets of twins, and three singles. We call him the ‘miracle baby’ because first of all, he was a preemie (premature). After losing seven children and then you have one, he’s a preemie! So, it was just a miracle to look at him and hold him and say, wow; this is a child that God has blessed me with. It’s just a ‘miracle’ in itself. We’re so thankful as a family. My husband and I are just so thankful that we have Dwight. We love all of our children. But, because of the miscarriages before Dwight, it was something special!
Mrs. Howard’s story has been well-chronicled. But, just to reinforce the fact for shock value, she stated a reminder that the Dwight Howard we see today weighed 5 pounds, 5 ounces, and was only 21 inches long at birth.
The mother of Pro Bowl Receiver Andre Johnson also had to catch a flight to Houston to be honored. Karen Johnson’s story has also been well-chronicled. She’s also received awards. But, this situation is a little different.
“I’m very honored! It’s a surprise and I wasn’t expecting it. When I got the call and Rebecca (Briscoe – Houston Style Magazine) said they wanted to honor me, I was wondering why; what have I done. But, I’m greatly appreciative and very humbled. I am excited and to be honest with you, this is my very first award for something like this. I received awards for sports, (track-400 meter sprinter), that kind of thing. But, something like this, yes! I am so honored. I’ve been smiling. I came to Georgia to visit my family, just told them about it, and they’re excited.”
Excited is not exactly a word that we use to associate with Andre in the Houston media. Talk about handling pressure and excitement, the seven-time Pro Bowler is a true ‘pro’ who never flinches; good or bad. However, while speaking with him about his Mom, we got some excitement.
“I have never seen her receive an award. This is my first time. Just going to take it all in, and once I get there and see it…but the tables are turned this time so she’ll be receiving the award I’ll be there in support of her.”
But, it hasn’t always been easy for the Johnson’s. There were some real struggles as Andre was born while Karen was a student-athlete at Tennessee State. She eventually left school to enter the military. But, regardless there was the reality of raising children looking her squarely in the face.
“It was a struggle raising two sons and Andre always said that if he ever made it that he wanted to give back to the community because no one ever did it while he was growing up,” said Mrs. Johnson. “So, for him, to be living his childhood dream and for me to be there to see it happening and even to participate and also to give back, it’s a great feeling.”
The Johnson’s have made it through which is probably an understatement. Andre has an appreciation for what his Mother has done, but keeps it all in perspective.
“A lot of times people do things, especially in a career. I don’t think people do it for awards. I just think people do it because it’s something they enjoy doing. But, it’s good to see her being recognized for doing something like that.”
MAKING AN IMPACT
Sparkles of Life will also recognize the following who are and have been making an impact in the City of Houston. Honorees include Kysha Reid, Executive Producer Fox 26 News, Krista Bourne, President Houston/Gulf Coast Region Verizon Wireless, and Kandi Eastman of Magic 102.
The remaining honorees include Barbara Harris Curtis, Sr. Director of Lakewood Church, Debbie Festari, Dr. Joanie Hare, OB/GYN, Kristyn Page of Macy’s, Dr. Docia Rudley, First Lady of Texas Southern University, Hawa Stinson of Busy Bee Wellness Center, and Lashica Salter-Velazquez of Wal-Mart.
Andre Johnson put it best in reference to the people who are to be recognized at this event.
“It goes to show that they are involved in the community. And that’s big for your parents to get out there and get involved and reach out to people. I’m very proud of what they’ve done and what they continue to do.”