One Good Deed Leads to Another
Liz Gaudet had just started her second year in college when the devastating news arrived: her best friend, Kieli, had cancer. Liz was 19, Kieli just 18.
Overnight, Kieli was plunged into a completely foreign, terrifying world. While Kieli, a vibrant, honor society student who had just graduated high school, began aggressive treatment for stage 4 anaplastic large cell lymphoma, Liz wasted no time identifying ways to help.
From donating a percentage of the sales from her Etsy shop, to participating in the Dempsey Challenge, to connecting her with Hair Matters, Liz poured heart and soul into supporting her friend. It proved to be a short-lived effort. Around a year after her diagnosis, on Nov. 3, 2018, Kieli passed away.
Liz may have lost her cherished friend, but she gained a new raison d’étre—upholding Kieli’s legacy.
Never give up, no matter how hard things get.
“She was always radiating joy, even when she was going through some of the most unbelievable treatments,” Liz said of Kieli. “Even when she was in the hospital getting chemo, it’s the message she gave me: keep going, keep fighting, and be positive through it all. Because the goodness in the world, it’s still there. Even though you’re struggling, it’s still there.”
Today, one of the many ways Liz channels that message is through her volunteer work with Hair Matters.
Liz has played a key role in establishing Hair Matters’ new online shop. Her artful eye, attention to detail, and expertise with web-based tools have given Hair Matters an array of beautiful merchandise. Sales will support the many programs Hair Matters offers its clients.
“It’s healing knowing that in some small way I’m making a difference in the bigger picture,” she said. “I get a feeling of accomplishment and helping others.”
Liz has known Hair Matters founder Debby Porter all her life, and it was their friendship that brought Kieli to Hair Matters. Debby helped Kieli shave her head and then fitted her with a wig. “I remember getting Snapchats from Kieli,” Liz said. “There were pictures of her and Debby and this neon purple wig. She was having so much fun, laughing and just having a great time.”
That memory is one of several that brings a smile to Liz’s face. Another stems from her push to raise money to offset Kieli’s medical expenses. Twice during Kieli’s ordeal, Liz donated a percentage of the proceeds from the sales from her Etsy business to Kieli’s GoFundMe site.
One day, Liz saw a Twitter post from model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen, who tweeted about a recent Etsy purchase. Determined to raise as much money as possible, Liz responded to the tweet, explaining her shop and her fundraising mission. In return, Chrissy Teigen purchased two of Liz’s products—and responded to Liz’s tweet, which led to an “unbelievable amount of orders from Chrissy’s followers,” Liz said.
“I FaceTimed Kieli immediately after seeing Chrissy’s purchase, and neither of us could believe it. We were both star-struck and unbelievably grateful,” Liz said. “I still am.”
Liz has found much to be grateful for, even in the wake of her friend’s death. Knowing Kieli was an honor, said Liz, who described her friend as “radiant, kind, caring, genuine, compassionate,” and someone who “strove to ‘do something amazing every day.’”
Helping others brings one deep satisfaction, Liz has learned. And no kind gesture, Kieli taught her, is too small.
“I definitely try to embody a lot of her characteristics. Staying positive, seeing the glass half full, and rather than dwelling on the bad things,” Liz said, “focusing on the good.”