Time to make a difference



Happy New Year.  I need to thank all of Gabby’s supporters and the people that helped us and continue to help us.  When Gabby first got sick, people stepped up and so much on. We will never be able to express how truly grateful we are.  After Gabby earned her wings we vanished, didn’t want to talk or deal with anything or anyone. Some understood that, others felt it was a slap in the face. It wasn’t, we were numb (still are at times). Thank you all from the bottom of my heart





I can’t lie. It was pretty bad. However we made sure the girls didn’t realize that. We didn’t decorate or listen to music till the week before. No one in the house seemed to notice.  Carolynn’s parents came to visit, I broke down when they told the girls they put some money in each of their savings accounts, purely because last year there were three savings accounts.


 New Years

Carolynn wanted to go back and start the year over, I just wanted it to be over. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Who cares!  We visited Gabby’s bench, saw old friends, and stayed up for the ball. Actually the girls woke me from in front of the TV to see the ball drop. The next morning we went out for breakfast, I stripped down to my boxers and ran into the ocean since I overslept the polar bear plunge.  Maddie said “don’t do it dad, you’ll embarrass yourself”. Maddie learned something that day: That’s what dads do.

 Ten Things

 When Gabby first started her journey and I started writing I would always end each update with ten things that made Gabby laugh and smile. I can’t promise ten right now but I’ll give it a shot of ten things that made us smile.

  1. Maddie smiled

  2. Katie smiled

  3. Maddie Laughed

  4. Katie Laughed

  5. They both said I love you

  6. I have bird feeders in the yard, watching them helps me relax. I don’t have binoculars and can’t get close enough to see them. So while the girls watched me like I had gone crazy, I put on all brown clothes, lifted a plastic lil tyke’s log cabin house onto the fire pit, sat in the fire pit for an hour sneaking peeks at the birdfeeder hiding behind my bird watching wall. Don’t try this at home! I hurt my back and have been in pain since. No more bird wall!

  7. The Vogel New Year’s Day plunge! ( not cold just very refreshing)

  8. Had a birthday party for Posey

  9. Ran in the bay with Shep

  10. Katie now speaks in a new language. Whatever is now : What Ev,  Later is Lates and every statement ends with like RIGHT?

 The why and how we can go on



The other night I sat in bed and just instantly realized Gabby was gone and wasn’t coming back.   I also  have another thought that constantly goes through my head. I sit outside and wonder when this pain will end? Then I think to myself: I can’t let this pain end. Because if I do that means I’m not hurting and if I’m not hurting it isn’t fair to Gabby.  I realize this isn’t the right way to think, but it’s a thought I have. Second guessing is also another tremendous weight families like mine carry. For others just starting this journey I’ll say this: It’s not bad to second guess yourself as long as you don’t fixate. I do it and move on.  Just another part of the process.   

I wanted this update to be more uplifting, so I’ll say this:  Have I ever thought of driving head first into a tree? Yes.  Will I? Of course not! Life is a gift, a true miracle that should be cherished. I have a family I love very much and would never want them go through this again. I love life, I love the pink skies, and I love looking at Gabby’s smile in pictures. I love holding Maddie and Katie’s hand, I love watching Carolynn laugh with them, And I love the fact that my little angel will make a difference. With her story we will create a foundation bigger than any that exist. We will find a cure; we will help others, We Believe!

 What we need

The paperwork for the foundation is almost ready to file. Plans are in place for fundraisers that will change the face of childhood. We are already planning the celebration for the 9th October.

We are moving full speed ahead with the foundation, with the awareness, and most importantly fighting to find a cure! Who’s in? How many friends can you get to hop on to Gabby’s page and help our children?

We will never get over this or put it behind us; we will live with a hole in our hearts forever. But we will move forward, carrying Gabby’s message every step of the way.  The past is painful, the future is promising. I say that now, I believe it now; I believe in you, I believe in Gabby and I believe a cure is out there. Don’t you all want to say you played a part in something that made a difference? The power is in all of us. Alone we will lose every time. If we unite we will win and do something that matters. Gabby we will make a difference and all of you that helped will as well.


Go give a loved one a hug and a kiss right now

Tell them you love them

If you’re fighting make up, it’s not worth it

Believe in yourself

Believe in your family

Believe in Gabby


32 thoughts on “Time to make a difference

  1. Count us in!! We are sharing Gabby’s story and the story of your family in our new town, I tell everyone I know about you all, and will continue to do so! We Believe!

  2. John, Carolyn, Katie & Maggie,

    ThankYou! Thank you for Gabby, your courage, your words, your love & passion for to.spread the.awareness & find a cure for this disease. My eldest gave me a Believe bracelet for Christmas. I wear it in honor of Gabby & all the others who are fighting. I will always Believe!

  3. I wish I was able to make a donation…but I am on Disability due to MS. I will keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers!

  4. We believe! We will do whatever we can to help spread the word about Gabby and help other families. We will do what we can to take part in raising awareness and finding a cure. <3

  5. I am with you!!!! there is power in numbers!!! united we stand!!! God Bless you John & YOUR INCREDIBLE FAMILY.. your strength is inspiring, and your honesty is refreshing!!! again thanks for sharing your journey with us!!!
    p.s. you should start writing a book , your a AMAZING WRITER !!
    take care {{{{{hugs}}}}}

  6. Thank you for continuing to keep us updated on ur family..you have a very special family..ur strength really encourages me to make my life better. I’m not sure i can tell u that the pain will not go away for awhile but Gabby is with you no matter where u go..she’ll always be beside u and in ur heart..I beleive in Gabby..I will continue to keep u in our prayers..God bless you and ur family..I’m sending your family good thoughts , lots of prayers and hugss..

  7. John, Carolyn, Katie and Maddie,
    I wish I could explain why Gabby and your family have touched me so but I can’t. Your sweet angel earned her wings on my daughter’s twenty-fifth birthday is that why? I choose to believe that she and your whole family are teaching me something and pushing me into sharing the awareness of childhood cancers so that a cure WILL be found! I believe that with all my heart.
    Hugs from San Diego, CA,
    P.S. I had “Believe” tattooed on my wrist about 5 years ago for my daughter. I would like to ask your permission to have “Believe” with a butterfly put on my ankle to honor Gabby and to help bring awareness.

  8. I believe there is a cure out there for every child suffering, I do believe it will be found with the help of Gabby’s foundation. I believe that Gabby’s life made a difference in people’s lives and that she has brought awareness to this horrible disease. I believe that you, the Vogel’s and all of us who loved Gabby can do this. I BELIEVE !!!

  9. I’m in. I believe. I try and talk about Gabby’s fight to anyone I can. My oldest daughter, Cora, who had a rough and uncertain start at life from a different disease, is trying to figure out how to raise money for Gabby’s foundation. Gabby inspired her, she’s 13. Cora believes. She believe’s in Gabby, in you, in your family and in a cure. xoxo

  10. I BELIEVE and I will do whatever it is I can do to help with this FIGHT!! COUNT ME IN! ♥

  11. The hurt will always be there. As you said “there is a hole that can never be filled” But don’t be afraid to let it go, and let it fall to the back of your mind and let yourself be happy. You know that is what Gabby would want. She wants to look down and see her family enjoying life. You can’t stop living because she did….at least here on this earth. Of course she lives forever now in a perfect pink palace in heaven, I’m sure. She will live forever here through her foundation. I’m honored that you asked me to be a part of it! I BELIEVE it will make a difference. It will change the lives of children and families facing this horrible monster. Love you guys!

  12. I Believe !!! and when your foundation is ready ….of course count on help and support. Thank You for sharing Gabby with us and for this uplifting tribute to her…

  13. I believe!! I would love to help with anything you need for Gabbys foundation! Always thinking of you and your family <3

  14. Dear John,
    It was uplifting. You can see Gabby inching her hope into your spirit. You can see you starting to believe again. Believe that Gabby would want all of you to go on with her a forever piece of you mind and body. Your beautiful family inspires me every day. Thank you for writing through the pain, thank you for sharing Gabby’s world and your family’s world with us. Who knew you could love strangers on the internet. In a noncreepy way, of course. 😉

  15. john, worked with you at citi, God bless you and your family. will help in any way that we can. i pray for you and your family, that peace, love and faith continue to shine down on you for 2012. all the best.

  16. I love the bird feeder story! I am glad watching them gives you an outlet to relax. And I agree with the comment above that you should write a book, when/if you are ready. I think your honesty and writing style will help so many others. I think of your family so often though we have never met and I believe that you and Gabby are going to be the change. May seem like empty words from a stranger, but I hope not because I truly mean it. God Bless you all as you continue with this important work.

  17. I’m ALL in! On one condition…you don’t make me jump in the ocean in December LOL! (just kidding! you’re a brave man for that, john vogel!). You guys say the word, and I’ll bend over backwards to help you out in any way I can. Hugs and prayers to you and the family!!!

  18. To the Vogels,

    Your story truly touched my familys soul, I have a daughter named Gabbriella also shes 3 and a half and I look at her every day and love her more. I am so very sorry for what your family went through.I will help in any way I can I live in upper darby pa .

  19. John – I believe! I will help the foundation however I can! Tonight the sky was pink as I looked out of the cafeteria window of the school and RTF I work at for special needs individuals! I thought of Gabby and all of you! However I can help – I am in! God bless you all and know that Gabby is always with you! Sending love and prayers!

  20. This was the absolute best post…I can’t explain the feeling in my heart. <3 I BELIEVE in God's love, I BELIEVE in all your family, I BELIEVE, together, WE CAN. <3 Thank you, so much. <3

  21. Your family is wonderful, your strength and courage are inspiring, and Gabby will live on through all you do.
    My family has followed Gabby’s fight, we’ve cried for your loss, we’ve sent you wishes for strength and happiness. You have touched countless lives, and Gabby has left her mark on countless hearts.
    I choke up every time I read your posts. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  22. As you may already know, Vogel is German for “bird.” I love your story of the bird house. How beautiful to watch those little birds and maybe see a little bit of the joyful spirit of your little bird in them. I know she is in the arms of God now and when you have those tough times and are sad that you can’t hold her and squeeze her, be sure that He will do it for you. And in those same tough times, close your eyes, open your heart and you will feel those same arms around you, as I’m sure she’s asking Him right now, “please give my dad and my mom and my sisters a big hug from me?”
    What a wonderful family you are. Thanks for being real and sharing your experiences. It gives us all strength. We are praying for you.

  23. You are a remarkable man.You and your family has touched me deeply, I am forever changed by Gabbys story. I pray that you and your family find peace with this and continue to love..laugh….make memories and hold Gabby in your heart forever.

  24. Dear John,Carolynn,Maddie and Katie.

    Their is some special bond in between Gabby ,you all and me,that always gets tears to my eyes when I read the Updates and see her photographs.Keep sweet memories of her and always hold her forever in your hearts.

    Sapna Bhandari