Friday, April 19, 2013

The inspiring story behind Robin Hoods

Last April, East Village resident Tracey Van Vooris learned that her mom was diagnosed with a terminal, grade 4 glioblastoma, or has she put it — "one nasty SOB of a brain tumor."

This devastating news eventually led Van Vooris to launch a line of head covers (turbans, modified head scarves, etc.) under the name Robin Hoods. (Robin is her mother's middle name.)

With the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Van Vooris was able to design her line of accessories inspired by her mother. The launch party is tomorrow night. (Details here.)

Here's her story, via an email interview with EVG.

How did Robin Hoods come about?

The inspiration for Robin Hoods came after my mom's diagnosis with terminal brain cancer in April 2012. After two brain surgeries, 46 radiation treatments, and non-stop chemotherapy, her head was left scarred, bald, and extremely sensitive. After many fruitless attempts to find her a head cover that was both fashionable and functional, I decided to create my own line. Many of the causes of hair loss and hair hardship are bad enough, I didn't want women to have to suffer further by not being able to comfortably conceal that hardship if desired.

Any trepidation about launching the Kickstarter campaign?

Absolutely! Much to my surprise, launching the Kickstarter campaign was one of the most intimidating things that I've ever done. For starters, I realized how terrified of being on camera I was. Additionally, it was such a vulnerable thing to put my story, my product, and myself out there for anyone and everyone to see. Aside from that, it is so difficult to ask people for money, no matter how worthy the cause, so I definitely felt the pressure to reach my fundraising goal. Luckily, I made my goal with a nail-biting 40 hours before the deadline, which was overwhelmingly exciting.

You're celebrating the launch tomorrow. Did you ever think you'd reach this point — looking back one year?

After I successfully met my Kickstarter goal, everything seemed to be more real. Looking back a year ago, I would have never guessed I'd be here, about to celebrate the launch of Robin Hoods. There have been so many life events (good and bad) that have put me on this course, and in this moment, I'm really trying to soak in this moment. The support and love from my friends, family, and even total strangers has been really, truly incredible. There is no better feeling than having purpose to what you do, and I definitely feel like I've found mine.

How is your mother doing today? What does she think about what you have done?

Unfortunately, my mother is not doing very well as of late March. The real nastiness of brain tumors, particularly those as aggressive as stage 4 glioblastomas, is that the slightest change in the tumor can cause massive disturbances in the brain. As a result, my mom's mental and physical abilities have really declined. She is the strongest woman I know though, and is fighting tooth and nail. Much of the celebration for Robin Hoods is in her honor and to thank those that have so selflessly helped make it a reality. For me, her trip to New York and celebration on Saturday, carry so much extra meaning and importance given the circumstances.

Mom is not able to express too much these days, but on the day I reached my Kickstarter goal, she emailed me that she was really proud of me and my accomplishment and that meant the world. She also loves wearing the product, so that says a lot.


You can find more information at the Robin Hoods Facebook page here. The Robin Hoods website is coming soon.

[Image via the Robin Hoods Facebook page]


kaitlin van voorhis said...

I love you Tray. Asher and I are so proud of your huge accomplishment. Turning our families grief into a way to help others is beautiful and inspiring and I hope my son, your nephew, will inherit his aunties amazing drive and compassion for others :) love you! K

Anonymous said...

What a tragic story but a beautiful tribute to her mom. My thoughts are with mom and daughter.