Disney Moms Panel Monday – Amy

Straight from my heart – A glimpse into what makes my fellow Panelists so very precious to me.

I am so excited to share one of the Moms Panel’s most inspirational Members with you today. When you first meet Amy, there is no doubt that you will immediately notice how she lights up the room with her beautiful smile. She is as sweet as sugar, and yet is arguably the strongest person I know.

Amy was one of the first 2010 Panelists that I met. We first hugged in the baggage claim area when we arrived in Orlando for our Moms Panel Training Weekend in December 2009. Upon returning home from I wrote a Trip Report. This is how I described her: “From the moment I met her in the airport, I knew I loved her. I can still see her smiling at me from across the table at Kouzzina. Her personality bubbles over with Southern Hospitality and she is a treasure.”

Amy & I - 12/09

Each morning during Training, a group of Moms and Dads would head down to the lobby early enough to grab a cup of coffee. Here’s Marc, Suzannah, Amy, Jonas and Amanda W gathering in the Contemporary lobby as we awaited the shuttle.

Gathering for morning coffee while awaiting the shuttle. 12/09

On the morning the photo above was taken, we were headed to breakfast at Kouzzina. I sat across the table from Joel and Amy and I had a wonderful time getting to know both of them.

Amy and Joel - 12/09

Amy has a true appreciation and zest for life, and it shows in her smile.

Amy and Kay enjoying the parade - 12/09

Disney World holds a special place in the hearts of all Panelists, and Amy is no exception.  Her favorite vacation advice is to “slow down and take a look around you because for her family, the magic is in the details!”

Chris, Allison, Amy and Suzannah - 12/09

Amy and Allison with Mickey in Epcot.

Amy and Allison with Mickey - 12/09

Amy watching Holiday Wishes in the Rose Garden during Training Weekend.

Panelists in the Rose Garden - 12/09

During Training Weekend, new Panelists traditionally present Laura and her crew with “hometown gifts”. These are symbolic of our home states and often have special meaning.

2010 Gifts

When the gifts were set up on the table, I looked closely and noticed a cookbook and spices. I would soon learn the incredible story behind those items…

Gifts from Panelists - 12/09

The blessed parents of 2 beautiful children, Amy and her husband Hans own a restaurant and small hotel. A girl of many talents, she is a freelance photographer, avid reader, gardener and is incredibly crafty. In fact, she is the creator of “Lumplings”! These adorable one of a kind rag dolls are handmade by Amy and are quite possibly the cutest things you’ll ever see. You can read the story of Amy’s Lumplings on her site: amyrue.com . She has just created a new herd of Lumplings which are up for adoption and looking for new homes. These are listed on her Etsy site.

Amy’s Southern charm is quite captivating and her eyes shine with the strength and pride of a woman who has learned what is really important in life. You see, Amy’s husband is a cancer survivor and she has been by his side every single step of the way. Amy has shared that her motto is that “every day is a gift and we must never take that for granted – life is too short not to strive for happiness.”

After being diagnosed with Gastric Cancer in 2005, Hans wrote a memoir cookbook called “Eat Like There’s No Tomorrow”.  It features Amy’s photography. As described by Amy, “Hans approaches food from a fresh & natural perspective. In the book he introduces you to his favorite recipes and our daily life in the Rueffert household, our garden and restaurant.”

"Eat Like There's No Tomorrow" - Hans and Amy's book

In 2005, just 2 weeks after taping the finale for the “Next Food Network Star”, Hans was diagnosed with stomach cancer. After multiple surgeries, he eventually had to have his stomach removed. His story is incredibly moving. There was a time that Hans was battling infections while Amy was active on the Panel. Whenever she gave us updates, they were always written with such immense strength and courage. She loves Hans so deeply and I have no doubt that her support is what helped him to conquor this disease. You can read about his incredible story HERE.

Hans now teaches classes at a Cancer Wellness Center. He has inspired countless people with his story and he now helps other cancer patients to eat healthy. In fact, he was recently featured on CNN’s “Human Factor” (survivors who have overcome the odds). You can read Hans’ powerful words HERE.

CNN video of Hans:

You can also find spices on Amy’s Etsy site which were created by her amazing husband…TV chef, restaurant owner, and cookbook author Hans. He has a wonderful blog, which I love to read. Be sure to check it out for yourself: HansCooks.com

Last year, Amy and Hans traveled with their family on a European culinary tour and they are in the process of planning another one for 2012. They have learned first hand that you should never, ever take anything for granted. Together, they have faced some of life’s darkest moments. They are an incredible, inspirational couple and are a blessing to everyone they meet. Their story is a testimony to what true love can endure.

I last saw Amy and her beautiful family in 2010 at the Moms Panel Reunion…

Allison, Amy and Hans - 10/10

She is on hiatus and focusing on her precious family these days. I miss her terribly, think of her often and am so very thankful for the gift of her friendship. I look forward to the day when our paths will cross again. I hope you’ll take some time to browse all of Amy and Hans different sites. Perhaps there is a special place in your home for one of her Lumplings?

You can follow Amy on Twitter: @lumpling

Want to get to know some more Walt Disney World Moms Panel Moms & Dads? I share a different Panelist with you each Monday! Here’s the link to all of them so far: http://www.memorymakermom.com/category/disney-moms-panel-monday/

Love ya, Amy!

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  • Janice B4rady

    What a great and moving story! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Jackie Psarianos

    Thank you for sharing Kaylene, thank you :)

  • Drumsandpianos

    Kaylene, I cried during this read….the lump is still in my throat. What lessons to be learned and implemented here. Thank you.
    Jackie Psarianos