Category Archives: Giving

There is no appropriate way to begin this post without a confession and apology for the 2014 Challenge! While the team did just amazingly (raising more than $4000!!), I, personally dropped the proverbial ball when it came to organization and support and then rounded out my failure as a captain by getting stuck in an airport across the big blue sea and missing the entire event! Yikes. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to everyone who participated and rallied those donations despite my shortcomings and I am overwhelmed again and again by just how amazing the people I get to call “clients” really are!


The 2015 Dempsey Challenge.

It’s ON. And I am ready to make up for last year’s slack like you wouldn’t believe!

In case you missed why this event has come to pass and why it’s so important to me to contribute in a real and tangible way to the phenomenal Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing, take a look at this post from 2013. My own history with cancer and the many stories I’ve been touched by over the years has me convinced that there is a real need being met by the Center. It shouldn’t cost a dime to get the support needed to cope with all of the ways cancer affects a person’s life beyond the fact of illness. From reiki to nutrition to support groups to simply being a place of understanding and restfulness, the Center offers an incredible array of integrative medicine and services to all those affected in any way, be them patients, survivors, family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors. And they offer that array absolutely free of charge.

Over the last two years, Team Cuppa has raised nearly $10,000 to help keep the Center able to continue to offer free services to those in need and I am asking you now to consider doing it a third time with me.

A few helpful things:

(1) If you are a Cuppa client, this is an amazing opportunity to earn yourself some free product credit! By joining Team Cuppa (either as an active member or a “virtual” one), I will match each and every dollar you raise for the team with a dollar of product credit to use toward prints, albums, etc! It’s a win-win proposition! Want a wedding album? Join the team and get to fundraising and you could earn yourself a beautiful handcrafted album’s worth of credit!

(2) You can join Team Cuppa or make a donation right here or find us on the general Dempsey Challenge website!

(3) The Dempsey Challenge will take place this year on the Saturday and Sunday of October 17-18. If you join the team, please feel free to sign up for any of the events that you are interested in participating in and I promise you a support crew to cheer you along (as well as having hot coffee and snacks when you’re done!)!

(4) I will be hosting a Team Cuppa s’mores bonfire get together on Saturday, October 10th from 5-9pm! There will be snacks, drinks, plenty of s’mores fixin’s as well as info and goody-bags for the event! Mark your calendars now and plan to bring your kiddos for a little pre-event fun!

Thank you again for all of the support this community has given this project over the last two years! It’s been just phenomenal and utterly humbling and I am just more grateful than I can begin to find words for! You guys are awesome.


Meet Dempsey Challenge Team Cuppa member, Sarah!!! Sarah was one of the very first people to join our team this year and I am so excited to have her on board! She has such a generous and giving heart…last year she raised money for cancer research through Tri For a Cure, completing a triathlon while she was at it! This year we’ve recruited her to work that hard for the Dempsey Center and wanted to share her words about why she joined us {bear with me as I blush just a little bit, but these are Sarah’s words!}:

I was inspired to be a part of The Dempsey Challenge by the captain of Team Cuppa, Cindy Giovignoli! I wanted to be a part of her team & help a cause that is near and dear to so many. I met Cindy a couple years ago, and right away I sensed this awesomeness to her. As I got to know her better, I have learned much about her past and all that she has overcome. She is a thriving survivor who does so with great ease! I really want my daughter, Danica to see that helping others and doing something good and healthy for yourself is a win-win. Danica inspires me to be a better example in life!


Photos courtesy of Sarah Pleu

Photos courtesy of Sarah Pleu

To support Sarah’s Dempsey Challenge run, visit her fundraising page here!

To join or support Team Cuppa, you can visit the team page here!

To learn about how and why Cuppa is involved (and how you can earn product credit by joining us!), read this!

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for all of your support!!!!!!!!!

We are a mere FOUR weeks away from this year’s Dempsey Challenge and I want to share a little with you about each of the amazing people who make up this year’s Team Cuppa! As many of you know, Team Cuppa was able to raise more than $5000 last year in support of The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing, an integrative medicine and support center that offers a vast amount of services to ANYONE affected by cancer absolutely and entirely free of charge. It is a truly amazing and inspiring place and I am so proud to have Cuppa be involved! This year, I’ve asked our team members to share a little about what has motivated them to take part in The Dempsey Challenge and how cancer has touched their life. Shelley so beautifully wrote the following:

Running is typically a solo endeavor for me. It is a way to wake up and get focused at the start of a new day. I use it to clear my head at the end of a stressful day. And sometimes it becomes sacred time and space where I can work through thoughts or problems.

On Saturday, September 27th my run will become our run. I will be running together with hundreds of others to remember loved ones, celebrate successes and to raise money and awareness for The Dempsey Cancer Center. The thing that impresses me about this organization is that it was started by one Maine family experiencing the challenges of fighting cancer and recognizing a need for support in their community. It is amazing to me that their vision has touched and inspired so many to take part in this event.

My partner, Peter, and I lost some dear friends, Rick and Cheryl, to cancer. We think of them often. They were a couple who truly knew how to enjoy life and cherish family and friends. One of the things that Rick and I shared was a love of plants and gardening. Each time I saw him he had some new tidbits of information to share with me. He would send me home with catalogs marked by dogeared pages and hand written notes. We shared knowledge and memories that I will forever carry with me when I step into my garden.

I am grateful to also have friends who have battled cancer with positive outcomes. We celebrate their success and hope that with continued support of organizations like the Dempsey Center there will always be access to the resources that patients need for successful results.

Photo by Shelley Snodgrass

Photo by Shelley Snodgrass

To support Shelley’s Dempsey Challenge run, visit her fundraising page here! {She is also auctioning off a piece of her incredible artwork to donors, so be sure to check it out and donate a few bucks!}

To join or support Team Cuppa, you can visit the team page here!

To learn about how and why Cuppa is involved (and how you can earn product credit by joining us!), read this!

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for all of your support!!!!!!!!!

Did you know that today is World Cancer Day? It’s a day dedicated to “debunking the myths” associated with cancer and cancer care and there are a ton of informative articles, links, and resources on the World Cancer Day website…take a moment today to take a look and to pause for a moment and reflect on the impact, direct or indirect, that cancer has had on your life.

My own life came into crashing contact with cancer when I was 22 years old. I was diagnosed with uteran cancer and suddenly had to face not only my own very real mortality, but also figure out how to navigate a system that basically said, “If you are uninsured, then we can’t help you.” I was terrified on levels that had previously been unfathomable to me and was utterly overwhelmed by how to figure out how to survive. As I’ve mentioned before, a series of events unfolded culminating in an amazing anonymous individual paying out of pocket for the care that I required then as well as every bit I’ve needed since, including a later diagnosis of ovarian cancer and all of the scans and secondary issues that follow treatment. This person saved my life. More than once. Saved me not because I was famous or smart or athletic or special in any way, but simply because I was a human life and needed help and he or she had the ability to provide it.

That is a truly magnificent thing.

A truly magnificent thing that I am more deeply grateful for on a daily basis than I will ever have the words to fully articulate. And I feel a debt in that gratitude that I will never be able to fully assuage, a debt to “pay it forward” in whatever way I can, big or small. A debt to not only share what I am with others, but also to bring a small bit of meaning to this life that someone so generously gave back to me.

Since I began this business back in 2008, I’ve donated a percentage of every session and wedding to CancerCare {if you didn’t realize that, you can read a little more about it here!}. It’s been so exciting over the years to watch the grand total of donated dollars reach from the hundreds to the thousands and awesome to see how many of you have taken it one step further and matched my donation!

Last year I decided to take Cuppa’s role in giving to a new level. I had a small dream that we could reach a few more people, touch a few more lives, by actively engaging in some tangible enterprise and thus the inaugural 2013 Team Cuppa for the Dempsey Challenge was born {read more about it here!}. Not only did we have a BLAST at the event (check out more of the photos and details here!), but our team raised more than $5000!!

That bears repeating. More than $5000!! A seriously impressive first go!!

So we’re back. We’re going to do it again and maybe even see if we can outdo last year’s success!

I’ve just created the 2014 Team Cuppa and you can visit our team page here if you’d like to join or donate!

A few things to keep in mind:

(1) You don’t have to attend the event to join the team! You can join as a “virtual participant” and support our efforts from afar!

(2) Cuppa clients: I will match you DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR in product credit for every dollar that you raise. Want a $3000 wedding album? Start hounding everyone you know to donate to this amazing cancer center that provides resources, education, and integrative medicine absolutely free to anyone affected by cancer in any way…hound them in to donating $3000 and you not only get that album, but you’ll have contributed to supporting the Center as well as brought awareness to the needs being fulfilled by it. Win-win!!

(3) Cuppa clients: in order for the above to happen, you must actually JOIN the team and raise the money. I will look at how much you actually raised and apply that credit to your account. If you’d prefer to simply donate to the team, we will DEFINITELY appreciate it, but it won’t be matched with credit. Part of what you are being rewarded for is helping spread the awareness to a larger community and helping to involve as much of that community as possible in the effort!

(4) If you have committed to another charity or cause that has meaning to you and have focused your fundraising efforts there, I am more than happy to discuss extending the product credit match to your efforts there. Reach out and let me know what you are doing!

For more information on the phenomenal Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing, visit their website here!


Thank you all so much for enabling this small dream of mine to become such a powerful reality. You are an incredible group of people. Now head on over and join the team!!!


Back in January of this year, I resolved to make more happen with my business this year. I was tired of beginning each year with goals that centered on my personal success and was ready to be a part of something bigger and to make my business part of something more meaningful. Already donating a percentage of each booking to CancerCare, I wanted something more active, more engaged…something that would require more than money, but also time and interest and I hoped to find something that could spread the word further than my limited sphere of influence.

And thus Team Cuppa was born!

I’d heard of The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing (you can’t really spend any time in a cancer center in Maine for any reason and not have heard of it!), but I didn’t fully grasp what it was. So I scheduled a meeting with a member of the amazing staff and spent an afternoon touring the facility and talking with the incredible people who work there. I was blown away. On every level.

Not only is it a warm, welcoming, beautiful space that emanates gentle healing energy from every nook and cranny, but it is embracing in every conceivable way. The mission is to support anyone affected by cancer in any way. So patients and survivors, certainly, but also family members, friends, co-workers…anyone affected by cancer in any way. There is reiki and massage. Nutrition classes and yoga. Support groups and counselors. Resource counseling and an extensive lending library. Their program offerings are ever expanding as the Center finds new and innovative ways to extend their integrative services in order to strengthen and heal the cancer community.

And they do it all free of charge.

That is huge. Crazy huge. Out-of-this-world-huge.

I know I shared a bit of my own story with cancer, but I cannot overstate how devastating and overwhelming it is to not only be faced with a life-threatening disease, but how to pay for getting what might save your life. Not just drugs, but care. Real care. Help navigating the complicated decisions and emotions. Identifying what support services are available. Coping with the side effects of a disease that affects more than just the person diagnosed, but their entire community of friends, family, and support…all those people who are caregivers in some way, whether big or small, and side effects that range from nausea to diminished income.

When I announced that Cuppa was going to have a team take part in the Dempsey Center’s largest fundraiser of the year, The Dempsey Challenge, I had no idea if anyone would take part. I had this fear that I would be knocking on doors with a can, begging for donations as the sole member of Team Cuppa. How could I have so underestimated all of you? Not only was I not alone in this endeavor, but the level of support and enthusiasm was just incredible!

Ali & Cesar came down from Canada for the event. Diana & Luigi came up from Manhattan. Kerri & Phil got their families involved. Josee brought her entire family to be the cheering section for everyone! And donations poured in from all of you who couldn’t make it. Former clients. Parents of clients whose weddings I shot years ago. People I’ve never met. We even had a 2014 couple go through the team roster and donate to each person so that every single member of our team would make the participation minimum and be able to take part on race day, donating several hundred dollars in total even though they couldn’t personally make the event.

And with all of that effort and pouring forth of love and support, our team raised more than $5000 total.


That total comes from people choosing to give rather than go out for dinner. To give rather than buying those new shoes or that new purse. To give rather than putting it into their personal travel fund. Or retirement fund. Or wedding fund. There are a million things that we could choose to spend our hard earned dollars on every day, but you guys put $5000 of yours toward the welfare and benefit of others.

You amaze and move me more than you could ever know and I am deeply grateful for every single one of you. Thank you. Thank you.


Justin and I hosted a little bonfire & s’mores Friday evening to kick off the weekend’s events…and I had my first-ever Reese’s peanut butter cup s’mores. Game changer, that one.

Who knew that glow sticks would e such amazing entertainment?!?!

Even Talitha & Josh stopped by, having just returned from their honeymoon in Aruba!!

Saturday morning the run came bright & early, but everyone showed up smiling and ready to rock! I’m sure that it had nothing with the possibility of spotting McDreamy!

Go Team Cuppa!!

Diana even made signs!!

Kerri’s whole family joined the Team!!
Ali & Cesar came down from Ottawa for the event!!
The little girls kept us all laughing and were more than happy to make sure that we didn’t have donuts leftover to go to waste!
So. We set up our tent Friday evening and when we left it, it was alone in the field designated the “team tent” area. When we arrived Saturday morning, it turned out that the “Boot Camp Challenge” (you know, the world’s most gigantic bounce house EVER) had set up directly beside us. Hilarious.

Messages of love and support written on fabric flags were strung across the bridge before the finish.

Ali & Cesar re-enacting the bridge shot from their Ottawa engagement session…so funny!!

With that, Team Cuppa’s inaugural Dempsey Challenge is behind us!! I’m already brainstorming ways to make next year even better…as soon as 2014 team registrations open, Team Cuppa 2014 will be ready!!

THANK YOU!!!!!!!