Two weeks ago we asked you to suggest someone you thought should be our Valentine. Whether it was someone who needed a little cheering up, someone who is just totally awesome and deserving of some recognition, a dear friend, or someone you admire from afar, we wanted to know.
The response was overwhelming. We had over 1,000 people nominated! Whittling down so many worthy nominees to just 5 winners was way too hard, so we took the easy way out and decided to have more winners!
But even with more winners, it was an impossible task. How do you decide to send some Valentine's Day love to someone bravely fighting an illness, but not to someone who's just overcome that illness? How do you pick the person who's taking a bold risk by venturing out in a new direction in their life over the person who has just got some bad news and needs some cheering up?
Well, we couldn't. In the end, we narrowed it down to a shortlist of 50 finalists and then selected the winners randomly.
While we're thrilled to be sending some Cherry Republic goodness to the people below, the most amazing thing for us in all of this was the massive outpouring of love we witnessed. It was so touching to see depth of feeling you have for the people you nominated. Even if we didn't choose your nominee, please take a moment to reach out to them, whether for Valentine's Day or at some other time very soon. Please tell them what you told us.
Here then are some of the people we chose to be our Valentines, accompanied by your words nominating them.
Elliot and Christina
"In 2011, at the end of his Freshman year at MSU, Elliot was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. He returned to MSU for his Sophomore year, determined to become a Doctor, but the return of his cancer ended his college career after the 1st semester.
He has repeatedly overcome bleak prognoses during the ensuing years as the cancer gradually spread through his body. He has chosen to share his journey of unwavering faith and courage on a blog sponsored by "Caring Bridge". He and his High School sweetheart, Christina, declared their unconditional love for each other by continuing with their plans for marriage. Christina continued at MSU, and has graduated, but has devoted her life to caring for her husband.
They have both been an inspiration to friends/family/and the numerous followers of the Caring Bridge blog. He is an incredible pianist, composer, and soccer coach. His illness has taken away his ability to participate in these passions. Over the past 3 1/2 years, with Christina steadfast at his side, he has maintained his positive attitude, and has been a beacon of hope when most of us would have despaired. Some cheering up is in order. Thank you."
"Last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The thing I was most concerned about besides the cancer was losing my hair. What would my husband of 34 years think of me?
As the chemo started to do its thing I finally had to get my head shaved and I cried all the way home. When I pulled in the driveway a delivery truck followed. A man got out and handed me two dozen roses with a note that read "Short, long or bald you will always be the love of my life!"
Do I even need to say any more why my husband is the best man in the world?"
"Dan decided he wanted to use his law degree to do good for people rather than to do well for himself; with that as his goal, he just finished 6 years as a member of the Army JAG-Corps, including a year in southern Iraq.
When he got home from Iraq, he planned to propose to his girlfriend. He bought the ring, he had reservations at a French restaurant and tickets to the ballet. A week before the big day, she broke up with him via text message.
I think a young man like that needs something special on Valentine's Day. He is still as kind, caring and good natured as can be - the first things he says when he comes home for a visit are, "I LOVE YOU MOM" and "what do you need me to do for you?" He's about a foot taller than I am, so I usually need him to reach high places for me! I hope he meets a young woman who is as good, kind and caring as he is."
"On Friday January 16, a boy named Lucas, a freshman in high school was hit crossing the street to get to his bus stop. He died from his injuries at only 15. Lucas was a friend and classmate of my son, Caleb.
Lucas' mother Melissa so strong in faith, has started a blog and continues to share her thoughts and beliefs with others. It would be nice to send her a Cherry Republic "hug".
I can only imagine how hard it is to face each day and go forward, she seems to be doing it and caring for her other 4 children despite the loss of her son. Lucas was a great kid and his death has left a huge whole in her heart. She is so brave and is a really caring mother.
Lucas had a life threatening illness 4 years ago and I remember how strong her faith was then and she was at the hospital every day praying for him and with him. She is an inspiration.
So if you sent her a care package and it brought her one smile it would be worth it. She has lost so much. No one can replace the wonderful, smart, athletic, smiling son that she had to bury in January."
"Lauren is my older sister who has always been my biggest role model. Over the past 8 years or so we have grown unbelievably close (closer than sisters, if that's even possible). She is my best friend.
I recently moved away from her to pursue my passions in California, leaving her in Michigan at a job she hates but needs to have to pay back her loans. Since my leaving, she has been having a hard time and could really use some extra loving.
Last week she decided to quit her job to begin pursuing her passions (such a bold move that many people never have the guts to do) so it would be awesome if Cherry Republic could send her their love and support for finally following her dreams!"
Jason and Tammi
"Chad (aged 4) was diagnosed last fall with an inoperable brain tumor. Jason and Tammi are dear friends and neighbors of our's here in Ann Arbor, as well as being a real inspiration to the entire community.
Jason & Tammi have worked tirelessly over the past four months to find all ways that Chad can be healed. They have also devoted a lot of focus to awareness and fundraising for DIPG. They are in the midst of spending a lot of time in New York City for a clinical trial that we're all hoping will remove the tumor altogether. Original radiation shrunk it by 90%.
Needless to say, they have and will continue to go through a lot. My hope is that a Cherry Republic Valentine's Day Gift for that family will put a smile on their face during this incredibly difficult time."
"Hannah first learned to hike and love the outdoors in the Sleeping Bear Dunes on our yearly visits since she was born! She is currently studying at John's Hopkins Univ. in Baltimore. Whenever she gets too homesick we send her a little love from the Republic!
She needs a little pick me up right now because in the last week her boyfriend unexpectedly broke up with her and she spent a day in the Emergency Room after accidentally eating some kale chips contaminated with cashews (deathly allergic to all nuts & mustard). She sure could use a touch of the Republic to get rid of the blues!"
"Abby is a teacher at the Leelanau Montessori Public School Academy in Suttons Bay. She puts in unbelievably long hours and is selflessly dedicated to her students. She volunteers for the Leelanau Conservancy and Inland Seas Education Association. She is passionate about the environment and Northern Michigan.
I am her mother and I am extremely proud and continually amazed by how hard she works and how comitted she is to making the world a better place. She is a perfect representation of all of the Cherry Republic's Core Values. She is generous, she touches the lives of others, she loves Northern Michigan and cherries, and she is FUN!"
"Emary is a strong, beautiful, and brilliant young woman who, at the age of 16, is battling Hodgkins Lynphoma for the second time. She fills everyone around her with light and is always smiling. In her free time she reads, writes, and spends time with her loving friends and family."
"Rachel is my sister, best friend and confidante, and well she's basically the bees' knees. She's kind, thoughtful, hilarious, sweet and she works SO hard at everything she does. She graduated last year with her Masters in Education and she's been subbing full time while also working at a coffee shop during the evenings in order to pay off more of her student loans.
I think receiving some goodies from Cherry Republic would be a "super fab" way to remind her that nice, hardworking people finish FIRST!"
"Mimi is a retired LPN from Mercy Hospital, Grayling. She always puts others needs before her own. Just yesterday while taking her husband to Munson for serious leg vein problems she stepped in to visit a close friend who was in the last stages of Pancreatic Cancer.
The lady's family were all in the room with her at this time, however, the family being exhausted decided to return home to Grayling for the night. Mimi decided after spending a little time with her friend that she may be near the end of her life.
Mimi sent her husband home to Grayling alone and stayed with her friend so she wouldn't be alone that night. She spent the entire night there in her friends room, and at 7am she was with her friend when her friend slipped into eternity.
This selfless person that Mimi is tells me she is the #1 person to be considered for your Valentine's Day Gift Basket. We Love Mimi. She is so deserving!"