It was supposed to be a standard business day for UHY Advisors employee Laura Holmes. Notepad in hand, she walked down the office hallway toward the meeting room for a 10 a.m. conference call on Tuesday, Sept. 30.
But when she stepped into the room, it didn't look much like a meeting at all.
Her colleagues and friends were standing to greet her. In the place of tables, chairs and phones were pink balloons, Mardi Gras beads, cupcakes and cookies.
And standing in the back of the room were the Houston Texans Cheerleaders and cornerback Kareem Jackson bearing gifts, including four tickets to the Pink Ribbon Day Game.
"I walk in and all of my coworkers and a Houston Texan were here, thinking there's no way," Laura said. "I'm just very surprised."
Laura has reason to celebrate. Eighteen months ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and today she can call herself "cancer free." During her battle with the disease, she never lost sight of her goal: Not to let cancer rule her life.
A fierce triathlete and dedicated mother, Laura attended her six-year-old son's baseball game just two days after her first chemotherapy session. She has participated in Tour de Pink as a breast cancer survivor twice and once while going through treatment.
The NFL's Breast Cancer Awareness initiative provides players and coaches with the opportunity to share moments with survivors like Laura. Jackson, whose mother Rossalyn is a two-time breast cancer survivor, established a foundation that creates innovative programs for families with children affected by cancer.
"It's very exciting anytime we can honor women like Laura, especially in their fight against cancer and just kind of let them know everything's OK definitely now that she's beaten it," Jackson said. "Just kind of help keep her spirits up and give her something for her fight with breast cancer. Let her know that we're all here for her."
Laura's story strikes a chord with Jackson. The years haven't erased memories of struggles he and his family endured throughout Rossalyn's battle with the illness.
"I was young, but at the same time I still understood that my mom was going through some things and having a tough time the first time," he said. "The second time I was a lot older and definitely understood everything. It was a tough time for our family, her going through cancer
and being weak and not being able to do much, us having to help her fight through it and be there for her like she was always there for me and my sister. It was definitely a tough time for us."
'Tough' is an understatement for what cancer patients withstand in those treacherous months of treatment. For Laura, she could not have made it through without the love and support of her fellow UHY employees.
"Going through this, I really had no idea what was gonna happen, but it just shows this is really my family, my support," she said. "They were there with me over the last 18 months when I couldn't make it or I just didn't feel well. So this is great that they were here to see this surprise."
Breast Cancer Awareness will be in the forefront of many people's minds when the Texans take on the Indianapolis Colts in the Pink Ribbon Game on Thursday. Jackson is pleased that the issue is highlighted on such a big stage.
"I'm excited, definitely, for something like this to get that kind of exposure with the NFL is definitely a big time in a lot of families' lives, definitely if they're affected by it. So to be able to go on Thursday night and wear pink for the world to see and let everybody know that I personally support it."
Sitting in the stands on Thursday night will be one very happy kid and the "coolest mom ever."
"My son is six years old and he just started flag football," Laura said, "so he's gonna be so excited to be watching the Texans."
- This story was part of the Texans' Random Acts of Kindness 2014 program.*
Five Breast Cancer Survivors were surprised with Houston Texans Pink Ribbon Day Game Experience, four tickets and parking to the Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts game, and a Pink Ribbon Day Swag Bag.
Individually, the ladies received:
-Tickets for 4 to Churrascos Club, a VIP tailgate atmosphere inside of the Houston Methodist Training Center
-One-Year Family Plus Membership to the Children's Museum of Houston
-One-Year Family Level Membership to the Houston Zoo
-Dinner for 10 at a Cordua Restaurant of Your Choice
-Three Months of Catering for Las Rosas Vivas (Value of $150)
-Dinner and Play for Two (Alley Theater; Cordua Restaurants)
-Two passes for Dinner and Play for Two (Alley Theater; Cordua Restaurants)
-Gift Card to Sur La Table
-Gift Card to Sur La Table Cooking Classes
-$100 Gas Card
-$150 of Meal Cards to be used at any of the MD Anderson cafeterias
-A Plant A Month (starting in December 2014)