Since childhood, I’ve looked up to someone who fits my definition of a “hero.” When you’re a child, it’s easy to pick a hero. I have a favorite quote about heroes that’s origin is unknown, “Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, but rather the hero’s heart.” In my native tongue, “hero,” translates as, atsi lv gwo-ti, “one who is loved, honored, cherished.”
As we age, we get fairly jaded about the whole hero thing. Negativity overwhelms us sometimes. I realized I’ve been living my life rather uninspired, until recently.
Quite by accident, I ran across a Facebook post about a fundraiser hosted by, Tahnee’s Kids. The logo features a children’s drawing of children, of different races, arms linked, all smiling gleefully. I followed a link to the website and my world opened up; it was as if my cloud had parted and in came beautiful rays of sunshine.
Tahnee’s Kids is a nonprofit organization, its namesake is a person by the name of Tahnee Arkansas. It’s dedicated to improving the lives of Cherokee children who find themselves deprived of the basic essentials, like school supplies, clothes, and meals, but they also make sure these kids get Christmas gifts, Easter baskets, and anything else that rises up as a need. Sometimes these children live with family, and sometimes they are in foster care, but all are treated equally as children who need a little love and care. Funding comes from the Cherokee community through 5K events, calls for food donations, community basketball tournaments and ducky derby events.
“Tahnee was only 21 when a car accident took her from us,” her sister Emra Arkansas told me. “She was happiest in the presence of young children; particularly kids with special needs. At the time of her accident, Tahnee worked for the local Head Start program. Kids called her, “Miss Nanee,” because they couldn’t say “Tahnee” Emra says as she gives me a tearful laugh. The tears flowed harder as she shared the pain of the children who realized their beloved Tahnee would not be returning to them. “One of them had to undergo surgery some time after Tahnee’s passing. When the little girl woke up, she said, ‘Miss Nanee, came to see me!’” Emra continues, “I’d like to think that she is an angel now, watching over the little ones from higher ground.”
I asked Emra about the essence of Tahnee? She laughed and immediately said, “pink was her signature color. One day, during a beauty salon makeover, someone dressed 3-year old Tahnee in red. It was a pretty red dress, but that look on her face! She was not having it!”
The essence of Tahnee Arkansas cannot be confined to a color. This “She-ro’s” super powers were her ability to see the world as a child would. No prejudice, no hate, no grudges. “Make the people around you feel important,” was her motto. Again, Emra giggles with a memory, “one time she jumped into the lap of an African-American lady and said, “you’re dark like me! She thought it was awesome!”
This angel made her journey to Heaven five years ago, June 28, 2014. Her family is female-dominant and they always have each other’s backs. More importantly, they have the backs of the community’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens as well. Tahnee’s Kids will make sure of that.
On Friday June 28, 2019, there will be a candlelight vigil at the Unity Fields in Cherokee, NC. Come join us, or donate to the work of an angel who walked among us, even if just for a little while.