illuminare series: Talaya Frazier, the founder and director of CC4C
CC4C is an Austin-based nonprofit that provides children with rare or undiagnosed conditions and their families in the Central Texas area with resources to help meet the child’s medical needs not covered by insurance or other financial assistance. Through community building, CC4C uplifts these children to bring joy and inspiration to their lives and gives families the support they need during the long journey to healing.It was a blessing to get together with Talaya, the Executive Director and Founder of CC4C, and hear her story of how her family struggle transformed to triumph for families and their children in Texas.
Talaya, for our readers who don’t know about your ministry, tell us why it’s called CC4C?
CC4C stands for Cheyanna’s Champions 4 Children and it’s named after my daughter, Cheyanna. We’ve faced a long journey together as a family since she was a toddler. She was a failure to thrive and turned over to Dell Children’s Center at a year old. At that point, she was eating more than a full grown man and she’d scream from the time she woke up to the time she went to bed for food. She’d eat a can of sardines or a lemon with the peel. She’d never stop eating. She’d eat it from a stranger or out the trash cans. So, during that pursuit of trying to find a diagnosis and having repeated “I don’t know”s from doctors, I realized that there was no community of support for children, or their families, that have rare or undiagnosed conditions. That is why I founded CC4C: because I’ve been in the footsteps of those mothers. I just give thanks to God every day because Cheyanna is now 12 and has healed and is well.
A lot of times, we all go through trials, but we can use those trials to bring glory to His name. Every single morning that I was crying and praying with all my heart for healing, I was promising Him that I would bring glory to Him, saying, “Just heal my little girl, please”. That is why it’s called Cheyanna’s Champions 4 Children.
There’s a number in the name CC4C and it represents the four members of our team. So, the first, who we call the MVP, is the child that has a rare or undiagnosed condition. We place these children on their dream high school athletic teams. That’s the second “C”: a champion high school team. We ask what the child’s dream team is and match them. It is probably one of the only times that these children will ever be able to partake in athletics. We have little kids on state champion football teams and little girls on drill teams. This component has grown tremendously. We can never replace what those high schoolers have done. It is amazing how many times a parent will tell us the child was so sick in bed Monday or Tuesday, but they knew their Friday night game was coming and they needed to get well, and they did.
People think you just need to be able to write a check. People need money, but it’s a whole lot more than just money. I could go on testimony after testimony from the children and their families, but the impact of having high school communities is just growing. Now, we have high schools asking us if they can be a part of CC4C. The coaches say the players are playing harder and praying in the locker rooms for these children. They said there is a new level of compassion. Any time they want to quit or give up, they have a little teammate sitting on the sidelines that wishes they could be out there.
When I go and talk to the high school teams, a lot of times I tell them: “This is your opportunity to be the hands and feet of a child that would do anything to be out there with you. So every time you’re playing and every time you’re practicing and every thought that enters your mind remember: You’re hands and feet of that little child right there. They asked to be part of your team. They could have chosen any team in this whole city and they chose your team. This is your chance to give them the best season of their life.”
The third C is the champion teammate. It’s a person that has a platform or a celebrity that can get them once in a lifetime experience. For example, the famous wrestler, “The Undertaker”, met with one of the teenage boys and took him as a VIP to WrestleMania. But, not only that, he would also show up at his football games. So, that’s been special. Also, a lot of those people bring things like Circuit of America tickets that we know we can use in cases of children being in ICU or if parents reach out saying they’re really battling depression. Depression is faced quite often in most of our kids. We use these tokens and gifts to get them out of the house and uplift them with once-in-a-lifetime experiences. It’s just wonderful to have these generously donated items that we use in times of need.
The last “C” is a community of support. That’s family services. We connect them to the top medical institutes and therapies. We have nationwide partnerships and then we pay for things health care will not cover. That’s why my Cheyanna is well today. It is because I was able to seek out the box. We break down the walls of isolation and we allow hope, opportunity, and funding so that they can seek outside of their immediate network.
This nonprofit is truly a success story for children and their families. In your own words, what is the mission for CC4C?
Our mission is to support the community of children between the ages of 5 and 18 who have a rare or undiagnosed condition and their families. Rare and undiagnosed conditions are affecting more Americans than AIDS and cancer combined, but most people don’t realize it. One in 10 people has a rare disease. These are the children that are falling through the cracks. In fact, I was asked to speak in Washington D.C. last October because the National Institute for Health is funding programs and research on these undiagnosed and very rare conditions. We are one of the very few charities that support this.
The one thing I realized was the whole family needs support. There are tremendous financial burdens because a lot of times when you’re undiagnosed, it doesn’t really classify as anything existing. Therefore, a lot of the things you need are not covered by your healthcare provider. Financially, your other children are suffering as you’re trying to lead a normal lifestyle, but you have another child that’s needing a tremendous amount of time. When we were developing the programs that we really wanted for CC4C, the first was to take care of the whole family and support them. The second was to handle both the emotional wellness for the child, as well as the physical.
Depression is faced quite often by many of our kids. If you’re emotionally uplifted, then you can have the physical fight to continue on. We could pour money into things to try to get them well but if their hearts are depressed and they don’t want to get out of bed, it’s hard to get that person well. Each of us faces that in different areas. You’ve been through that if you’ve been depressed. It’s really hard to continue on, much less go through the physical aspect.
When a family comes in, they feel depressed, isolated, and alone. They’re kind of facing this cloud of uncertainty. They don’t have doctors they can go to. They don’t have a support group. They feel alone. There’s a lot of unknowns out there. So what do we do to combat that?
When you started CC4C, what kind of fears and struggles did you have and how have you used your faith to overcome those fears?
The reasons we have fears and doubts all come back to how we see ourselves in other people’s eyes. A lot of times fear is what if something doesn’t happen, or if something isn’t successful, what will people think?. Instead, I’ve always said live for the audience of one: The Lord Jesus Christ. The minute you go back to living for the audience of one, all of a sudden these other fears of “what if” transform into “why is”.
In the beginning, when I finally decided to start CC4C, I had people saying, “How are you going to get awareness? How are you going to get funding? How many kids are you going to have?” I remember when I was asked those, I almost felt like it was spiritual warfare to make me not start it. I know God chose me but I had no clue what I was getting into. I just knew I really want to help kids. I didn’t know what 501(c)3 meant. I didn’t know anything and I said that God took the most unqualified person he knew. All I was thinking is that I just really want more children to have a story like Cheyanna. All of a sudden, I thought that even if we help one or 10 kids here in Austin, that would be awesome. Then, I started praying, “God this is yours for just whatever you want. If it’s one child and then find that one child. If it’s 10 children, then maybe someday we’ll get 100 children”. My desire was that if we change one child, it’s all worth it. Two weeks later, I opened the 501(c)3 receipt. We received it on Valentine’s Day even though they said it would take months and months to get it approved. Then, two weeks after that, after those multitudes of questions, I just finally just prayed, “It’s yours, God, and I’m fine”.
I always remind our women when we put on big events or there’s an issue that first this is His. It’s not for you, it’s not for anybody here. It’s His for His children and however many He brings. If we stop right now, I know we have impacted amazing families and we’ve impacted thousands of high schoolers that will never forget it. It just goes back to the focus of whatever we do, it is His. If we make sure they have a smile on their face, then that’s all that matters.
Truly, just live for Him.
Going back before CC4C, I had done a lot of racing and had started a platform for speaking about world vision and helping people get connected with doctors and proper diet and all these things I had been using to get Cheyanna healed. Everyone started to say you have a platform already why don’t you start a charity here and I thought well that will be fun, I just want to help kids! I had no idea what I was getting into.
Fast forward, about two weeks after getting the 501(c)3 for CC4C, I got a call from Runner’s World magazine saying that they’d found my picture and wanted to put me on the cover of Runner’s World. I told them that I’d only do the cover if they have the first child of the foundation recognized too, and I want her in my story of why I run the Boston Marathon. Then we go to Boston and it was all about CC4C. I had wristbands saying “Pray for Skylar”, the little girl I was running for. Skylar had strep that had gone septic, which settled in her hip. She was open from the hip down to the knee for 38 days in ICU. We didn’t know if she would make it so I went to see her and I told Skylar that I was going to run Boston for her, the first child of the foundation CC4C. I asked her what color she’d like and she said purple. That’s what gave rise to our color purple everywhere. I then told her that I was going to have wristbands made, and asked what does she wanted them to say. She replied, “Pray for Skylar.” I said, “OK, from Austin to Boston, everybody’s cheering you on. I’m going to come back with your medal and that’s your symbol that You are going to walk again.” Those wristbands went all over Boston by thousands and thousands and thousands.
I start running with Desiree Ficker, who’s a very well-known runner, as she filled in to run beside me for Skylar. We were both passing out those bracelets and, at the halfway mark, she’s like, “you’re going to run the fastest marathon you’ve ever run!” and asked me if I wanted to know what my time is. I said no because I’m not doing it for time. This is for joy and Skyler. I didn’t want to watch my time because this was her medal. This was her medal of someday getting out of Dell Children’s. Next mile, I got this horrendous pain in the identical location of Skyler’s broken hip.
I knew I was going under spiritual warfare, and that Satan was trying to make me stop. So I continued to run. It was horrific. I had “Skyler’s Finish Line” on my shirt and everybody was saying “Go Skyler Go! Go Go horrific. I had “Skyler’s Finish Line” on my shirt and everybody was saying “Go Skyler Go! Go Go Go!” and cheering me on. Everybody was wearing her wristbands. The minute I crossed the finish line, I was rushed to the hospital. I go in and they said my femur was completely broken and it started in the same location as Skyler’s. It zig-zagged all the way down my femur. They wanted to put me into immediate surgery and put in a rod. Every doctor looked at it and said I had to have a rod. I wouldn’t run again, or I would run very little. However, finally, one doctor here in Austin said, “Something’s telling me, if you lay completely still since it hasn’t displaced, it might heal on its own. It’s like bed rest for three months with no movement.” I looked at him and I said, “I believe in a mighty healer.” During the race, I really didn’t think my leg was broken. I was in pain, but I truly wasn’t fathoming that. I truly thought that Satan was trying to make me not finish. So I went to bed rest and my leg healed completely. What I didn’t know until later was God gave me that precious time of healing and stillness to develop CC4C! I never turned the TV on once in those 3 months.
When I came out of the hospital with that injury in Boston, this man came up to me and was like, “I was looking for you at the expo. I’m the global manager of PowerBar and we want to sponsor you.” I told him he shouldn’t want to sponsor me, as I’m done with the marathon. He said no and looked at me, and said, “you’ve already done what needs to be done, I want to sponsor you.” I told him I had just found out my leg’s broken and I’m not going to be able to do anything. He had heard the stories. He said that he was catching a plane from here and they were trying to figure out what our national campaign is going to be for the “You’re Stronger Than You Think” feature.
He said, “this is the story, I have to use this.” I replied that you’re stronger than you think when you do things for reasons beyond yourself. That’s why we do it all. It doesn’t matter if it’s nonprofit, profit, whatever we do, it’s what is the reason behind it. So, they came in and shot my story and I said, if you’re going to use my story, what I want in return is 10 coveted entries at the Boston marathon because I’m coming back next year. I’m bringing 10 champions for 10 children and we’re going to be back ten times stronger. So we did just that!
Talaya, you seem to have a serious prayer life. Can you share with us what that looks like to give other Christians hope that their prayers are heard?
First thing in the morning, I set my alarm. It started when Cheyanna was really sick and my husband had to leave for work at 6:30 am. I decided I’d run during that time. I would run and cry and pray with all my heart every single morning like by 5:00 am. I’ve been doing this for over 12 years now. When I get out there when you can still see the stars and the birds aren’t even chirping yet, sometimes I’ll take just my Christian music and put one earphone in and pray and pray and pray. If there are times you do cry, you can cry and nobody’s distracting you. By the time I come back, all the birds are chirping. It’s just such a beautiful time to be out in nature. There’s something about being outside in His stillness, in His air. It’s been a tradition every morning with the Lord.
I keep a prayer journal, and I sometimes look back on these stories and the trials of creating a foundation. This always is what truly gives me hope and faith that He’s at work. The minute I don’t know what to do, I feel confused, or it doesn’t feel right, I tell myself that this is when I need my armor on more than ever and to be still and pray, as He always provides the answers. We’re doing the work of Him and glorifying him. It’s bringing the Lord into locker rooms and it’s bringing the Lord into public places. When I’m on stage and it’s a CC4C event, we start it with prayer. We have a lot of spiritual attacks but now I am able to be aware of it and have it in a prayer journal. I can see all these different times that I faced it and see it in the light. It is Satan who wants fear. He thrives on it.
When I’m feeling anxious, it is usually because I feel like I’m having less of my prayer time because I’m getting too busy. Before I know it, I’m doing all these tasks but inside I’m in turmoil. I feel scattered and I can’t think clearly. It takes a lot more self-discipline to really carve out that time for yourself and God. I have said to myself that I have put my phone away. I have to go to a quiet place like a coffee shop where I know that I’m not getting distracted. That’s when I get my books out and I’ll get my warm little cappuccino and my prayer journal. That’s what has been really powerful for me.
God is with us all the time and I see prayer as a conversation. Sometimes, people think we have to be with our Bible, seated, in order to be praying. However, He wants a conversation all the time and I’ve even found that even if I’m in a grocery line, and there’s someone in front of me that I can tell is hurting or suffering, I just pray to God.
Just think of it as a conversation all the time.
All Things Faithful would like to thank Talaya and her team and volunteers at CC4C for working to create hope, support, and community. Their purpose and calling changes lives and instills joy in all those impacted. We are blessed for the opportunity to share their calling with others and inspire others to pursue the purpose God is calling them to do.