A History of PotterWar

    Earlier today my Mom was digging through her basement & she found a notebook filled with magazines, news clippings, and print outs of various online blurbs all about PotterWar & The Daily Prophet. It was a fun trip down memory lane.
    But my favorite discovery in this notebook of memories was a speech I wrote in 2002, all about PotterWar. I prepared the speech for an event at a church I was attending at the time, where the young teenage girls between the ages of 16 & 18 were encouraged to prepare a “Laurel Project” - basically some kind of mid-to-long term service project, where they used their talents to do some sort of good. I had decided my charity work with the Daily Prophet & PotterWar certainly counted, thus my Laurel Project presentation was all about my battle with Warner Brothers.


    Now, over a decade later, it was fun reading this little mini history of PotterWar. I had forgotten some of the details it talked about. All in all, it’s a pretty decent synopsis of events. I figured it’d be good to post it here.


    So here we go!


A History of PotterWar, As Told by 17-Year-Old Heather
by Heather Lawver


    I’ll be the first to admit, my laurel projects this year were far from conventional. I’ll tell you about the first one, one that my family and I have been laughingly referring to as the strangest laurel project ever.
    As an on-going service project, I run an educational website for children, based around the ‘Harry Potter’ book series by J.K. Rowling. The site is based on the book because they’ve gotten children excited about reading. I’ve fancied myself a writer for a while, and I’ve always enjoyed creative writing. I saw the Potter books as an opportunity to take that love of reading and turn it into a love of writing, by hiring children to write for a faux newspaper, written as if the wizarding world were true.
    Running such a site means I’m in constant contact with Harry Potter fans of all ages. This is a truly wonderful thing. If you don’t know a Harry Potter fan, find one. They’re some of the most charming people you’ll ever meet. However, sadly, last year, Harry Potter fans were under attack by a bullying multi-national corporation.
    In 2000, Warner Brothers, the copyright owners of everything and anything Harry Potter, began sending threatening emails and letters to children who ran Harry Potter fan websites, like my own. I heard about this in December of 200, right after having surgery. A friend of mine, Lindsay Warde, a 12-year-old from Ohio, came to me in tears one day, explaining that she got a nasty letter from Warners, saying that Lindsay was infringing copyrights, violating trademarks, breaking the law, and making J.K. Rowling very upset, simply for owning the domain name BestHogwarts.com. I was infuriated. A giant company was upsetting a poor, innocent girl who had done nothing wrong. And what’s more, they stole her domain name. I was determined to take action, even though, at the time, I was bedridden. Oh, the joys of the Internet.
    I got in contact with a few friends, from California to Singapore, who ran Harry Potter sites of their own. I started to realize that Lindsay’s wasn’t an isolated case of misunderstanding. This was happening all over the globe, and yet no one was seriously trying to put a stop to it.


    Through my friend in Singapore I heard about a 33-year-old man in London, Alastair Alexander, who had set up a protest site against Warner Brothers when he heard about the infamous Claire Field case; a 15-year-old girl from Ipswich, England, who had the guts to stand up against Warners in the face of legal threats. She even had a hire a lawyer to protect her domain name, HarryPotterGuide.co.uk. Enraged by the threats, Alastair Alexander set up PotterWar, simply to spread the word about how nasty Warners was being.
    I immediately got in contact with Alastair via email. I proposed action, rather than just words. I formulated a plan for a boycott; what I referred to as ‘Teaching Warner Brothers a Lesson in Supply vs. Demand.’ Warner Brothers invested over $150 million dollars in simply buying the rights to the Harry Potter franchise. Imagine how devastating it would be if none of it paid off?
    Alastair loved the plan, and thought my overly-business-like introductory letter was horribly funny. So, naturally, he and I teamed up. On February 19, 2001, the boycott officially launched. PotterWar was on its feet.

    But, of course, no one quite knew about us on that day. On February 22, however, the entire world started clogging our phone lines. On that day - incidentally, my Father’s birthday - USA Today published an article about our efforts on the front page of the Life section, calling for an immediate settlement on behalf of the children. The PR chess match had begun.
    Alastair and I kept in constant contact, bouncing reporters between us, switching tactics mid-stream simply to confuse Warner Brothers. The press fancied making me look like an innocent 12-year-old, which honesty, didn’t hurt the campaign. They’d focus on Alastair for the rants and general bullying, while making me look like the innocent victim. When it came time for negotiations, however, the tides turned; I turned into the evil one, sending off threatening emails of our own to Warner Brothers Vice President Diane Nelson, the Head of the Family Entertainment division. Unluckily for her, she was assigned to handle “the PotterWar problem.”


    Press coverage and behind-the-scenes negotiations went on for a few months. I was kept incredibly busy by keeping up with email, interviews, and such. The story was covered by more than one hundred news organizations around the world, from Project Eyeball in Singapore, to ABC News. La Nuit France to The Ottawa Citizen. Detikcom in Germany, to Jewish World News. Epoca in Mexico, to the BBC. World Socialist News, to Lowbrow London. MSNBC, to the CBC, and even the Associated Press. Along with many, many others. It even went so far that it made it into certain Priests’ Easter Sermons & a few Rabbis’ Passover messages.


    Diane Nelson at Warner Brothers continued to deny that they had any knowledge of the fact that they were threatening children. The denials lasted for months, until finally in late April, I received a very nasty email from Diane. She started blaming me for extensive monetary losses in the Harry Potter franchise. That was no surprise to me; Alastair and I had received plenty of emails from small businesses, especially here in Virginia, saying that they had lost upwards of $5,000 because they invested in Potter merchandise, and none of it was selling. Some even reported that they were getting nasty phone calls from parents, saying, “How could you support Warner Brothers with what they’re doing to that poor little girl in Sterling?!”
    Diane went on to say that I was spreading lies, that I was liable for their losses. I didn’t reply to this one at first, I opted to send it off to the PotterWar lawyer, just to double-check if my inclinations were accurate. Sure enough, I was right; Diane Nelson was laying the groundwork for a liable suit against me. Basically meaning AOL/Time Warner could haul me off to court, and make me pay for their losses from the boycott.
    Needless to say, I was a bit miffed. I wanted nothing more than to show her off. To stick my metaphorical tongue out at her. Thankfully, I had an ace up my sleeve. I sent Diane an email, slightly scolding her saying, “Don’t you dare try that with me.” And then I contacted the reporter who published the first article in USA Today, and proposed she write a follow-up article. Which she gracious agreed to do, because she, to, has learned to loathe the machine that is Warner Brothers. And my what a flaming article it was! It hit the presses on April 24, 2001. And Warner Brothers was very upset.


    But, I had something else to worry about. My site quit working. I’ll spare you the technical details, but basically after speaking with my webhoster (the people who house my site), they gave me a bogus reason for shutting down my site. I smelled a rat, and that rat was named Diane Nelson. It had her name written all over it. The theory goes that she contacted my webhoster, mentioned the words “AOL/Time Warner” and “copyright infringement.” Within a blink of an eye, my website was gone. After several threats of calling the Justice Department, I finally got the $300 back that I had paid for their services. Thankfully Alastair had a server of his own and let me transfer the site over there, so I could at least be operating again. That was dreadfully important, because all of the information for the press was on my website.

    At this point, my health was failing. Negotiating was getting incredibly hard. At that point I had pins in my foot, an IV line in my chest, and a brain infection. I was not doing well, and the stress of the campaign wasn’t really helping.
    News came shortly thereafter that after six months of debating, Warner Brothers finally settled Claire Field’s case. That sweet little 15-year-old in Ipswich. They decided to let her keep her domain and never bother her again. Thank heavens.


    Although, there were still other children that needed cases sorted out. Over the next few months, however, the PotterWar machine simply lost steam because the press died down, and my health was getting worse. And, Warner Brothers very sneakily took away our last “poster children” by settling their cases behind closed doors. Our last remaining children whose parents had agreed to let us use their names had been taken away from us, leaving multiple cases of children hidden in obscurity unheard of and unsettled.


    Alastair and I decided to end on the moral high ground. We had given Warner Brothers an awfully good beating. Diane Nelson got demoted. (I was pleased about that, that woman was awfully nasty to us.) And most of the cases got settled. There were a few here and there that I still wish we could have settled, but hey ho. All in all, it was a good fight, and a landmark case. I’ve been told it was the only fan organization to win a domain dispute against a major corporation. And we made it out without a single formal lawsuit. Just a lot of public name-calling, well-placed innocent victims, and a lot of hard work.
    And the case wasn’t without its little personal rewards for Alastair and I. I now have the pleasure of knowing that Warner Brothers’ PR department knows me, and loathes me, by name. A reporter from the Washington Times was preparing a story about me a few months ago, and she wanted a statement from Warners. She called their PR department and said, “I’m writing a story about a young girl who started a boycott against you.”
    She was stopped mid-sentence by a bland voice saying, “Can you tell us who the young girl is?”
    The reporter replied, “I’m sorry, she’s a minor, I don’t believe I should do that.”
    The voice said, “Can we take a wild guess?” The reporter couldn’t say no to that. “Is it Heather Lawver?”
    She gave in and said yes.
    “No comment,” and the line went dead.


    Alastair Alexander and I recently met up in London, and we’re working on a new website to educate fan site owners in copyright and trademark law, and the ways they can protect themselves. And if ever our services are needed in the future, we’ll be standing ready to jump in and do what we can. The Batman and Batgirl of domain disputes. And so far, our services have been needed more often than we thought. Since July I’ve been debating with yet another company with the help of PotterWar’s attorney, and hopefully, they’ll crack before the week’s out.


    There you have it; the strangest laurel project ever.

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#HarryPotter

#PotterWar

#FanWebsites

#Fandom

#Copyright

#WarnerBrothers

amysvideopicture

Do you know where I can get those batman key chains

I found mine on eBay, then ended up doing business with a single seller. I’ve just gone through my eBay history, but unfortunately it’s not saved anywhere in there. Sorry!! I’ll keep looking & see if I can find the seller’s name. But if you keep an eye on eBay, hopefully more will pop up. 

Just found this darling love poem in a Munsey magazine from Nov 1908. It’s so sweet! Originally written by Eugene C. Dolson. Enjoy!

Just found this darling love poem in a Munsey magazine from Nov 1908. It’s so sweet! Originally written by Eugene C. Dolson. Enjoy!

This poem - again from a June 1899 issue of Munsey Magazine - was apparently written in response to one hospital’s policy of refusing to hire “pretty nurses”. At first this poetic retort made me giggle at its wit, then warmed my heart with its sincere sentiment of gratitude for nurses & its description of the beauty inherent in the healer’s art. 

As someone who has spent half their life under the constant care of doctors & nurses, I can certainly affirm that there’s no such thing as an “ugly” nurse who lovingly devotes their time, effort, and care to the betterment & comfort of others.

But of course, the author of this poem, Joel Benton, expressed that far better than I ever could. And he did so over a century ago.

Here’s to the nurses of the world, of both yesterday and today! Thank you for your care, and for the beauty you bring to the world!

This poem - again from a June 1899 issue of Munsey Magazine - was apparently written in response to one hospital’s policy of refusing to hire “pretty nurses”. At first this poetic retort made me giggle at its wit, then warmed my heart with its sincere sentiment of gratitude for nurses & its description of the beauty inherent in the healer’s art.

As someone who has spent half their life under the constant care of doctors & nurses, I can certainly affirm that there’s no such thing as an “ugly” nurse who lovingly devotes their time, effort, and care to the betterment & comfort of others.

But of course, the author of this poem, Joel Benton, expressed that far better than I ever could. And he did so over a century ago.

Here’s to the nurses of the world, of both yesterday and today! Thank you for your care, and for the beauty you bring to the world!

#poem

#poetry

#nurse

#nursing

#healthcare

#medicine

#beauty

#pretty

#Munsey

#19th century

#gratitude

In the same June 1899 issue of Munsey Magazine as my previous post, I also found this darling poem expressing a brother’s love for his sister. It’s incredibly sweet. Plus, how can you not love the ornate, flowery language of the 19th century? :)

In the same June 1899 issue of Munsey Magazine as my previous post, I also found this darling poem expressing a brother’s love for his sister. It’s incredibly sweet. Plus, how can you not love the ornate, flowery language of the 19th century? :)

4 notes

#poetry

#poem

#sister

#sisterhood

#writing

#art

#Munsey

#19th century

#antique

I’ve been working on a new super secret art project, which involves going through incredibly old magazines & scanning whatever gems I find hidden inside. While I normally look for cool pictures, I happened to find a collection of cute poetry in an issue of Munsey Magazine from June 1899. These words from over a century ago made me smile, so I thought I’d share them. It’s funny, even after all this time and progression in culture & society, the sentiments of a frustrated writer remain the same.

I’ve been working on a new super secret art project, which involves going through incredibly old magazines & scanning whatever gems I find hidden inside. While I normally look for cool pictures, I happened to find a collection of cute poetry in an issue of Munsey Magazine from June 1899. These words from over a century ago made me smile, so I thought I’d share them. It’s funny, even after all this time and progression in culture & society, the sentiments of a frustrated writer remain the same.

1 note

#poem

#poetry

#antique

#magazine

#writers

#inspiration

#creative writing

#vintage

All done. Finally. I have created an absolute sea of #wedding gift bags!

All done. Finally. I have created an absolute sea of #wedding gift bags!

#wedding

These turned out SO beautifully!! Pendants to hang from my #bridal bouquet! One features my #wedding ribbon & heather flowers. The other is a memorial for my best friend Alastair. It has my favorite photo of him, heather flowers from my wedding, and heather flowers from his funeral.

These turned out SO beautifully!! Pendants to hang from my #bridal bouquet! One features my #wedding ribbon & heather flowers. The other is a memorial for my best friend Alastair. It has my favorite photo of him, heather flowers from my wedding, and heather flowers from his funeral.

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#bridal

#wedding

Fireworks

   Nineteen days. I’ve had the most beautiful nineteen days of my entire life. Filled with more happiness than I could ever imagine, thanks to a wonderful man & myriad magical moments with him.

   If you haven’t already heard the news that I’ve been shouting like crazy over Twitter, I have a boyfriend! His name is Marshall. Things have gone rather quickly… We only met for the first time on November 1st. Believe me, I always used to shake my head at people who jumped into relationships so quickly, who seemed too terribly antsy to fall in love. I never understood it before.

   I take it all back. I get it now.

   We still can’t help but shake the feeling that we’re either caught in some kind of time vortex, or are simply dating in dog years. Because it sure as hell feels like we’ve known each other for more like 19 months - maybe even 19 years - rather than 19 days.

   Throughout these past nineteen days, so many strange coincidences have occurred. So many magical little moments filled with perfect timing & events unfolding in precise concert. What’s more, apparently these coincidences have been happening long before we ever met.

   Only a few days after we first met, Marshall was telling me a story when we first felt a hint in our hearts that maybe there was something bigger going on. The story went like this.

   Several years ago, one of Marshall’s sisters was getting married on some private land here in Virginia. They had asked the owner if they could shoot off fireworks, to which the owner replied, “Sure, so long as they’re quiet fireworks!”
   Thinking that was a bit of an oxymoron, they decided to just go for it. His Father purchased a massive amount of professional-grade fireworks, rigged in mixed sets. Since Marshall was the only one underage at the time & didn’t get to partake in the libations, he was given the coveted duty of setting off the fireworks.
   Just after they set off the first rigging, they suddenly saw a frantic figure racing toward them across a wide open field, waving their arms & shouting to stop. The fireworks had spooked the horses, so they were left with a huge cache of fireworks. They easily could have supplied a small city’s Independence Day celebration with what they had left.

   Not wanting to be wasteful, Marshall & a friend later figured out a sneaky way to use up the remaining fireworks. He discovered a rather sizeable park situated right behind a middle school near where he lived at the time. The entrances to each property were on completely opposite roads & quite far apart. He parked at the middle school, carried the fireworks through a thicket into the park, dug a trench, and set them up. Once lit, the fuse lasted just long enough for he & his friend to make a mad dash back to the car, watch the fireworks, then leave the middle school just as the police arrived on the far side of the park. They were free & clear!

   As he recounted this story, a vivid memory popped into my mind. I started to get a quizzical look on my face & could no longer hold in my curiosity. Close to the end of this story I started asking seemingly random questions.

   ”Was this in Reston?” Yes.

   ”Were there six fireworks?” Um, yes.

   ”Around what year would this have been?” Uhh… 2005 or 2006.

   ”And it wasn’t anywhere close to the Fourth of July, Veteran’s Day, or any other holiday that could possibly be celebrated with fireworks?” Nope.

   ”Which side of Reston was it on? If you’re driving on the Dulles Toll Road, is it on the same side as Reston Town Center?” Mmhmm.

   ”From that vantage point, would it look like the fireworks were set off from a little ways back from the tall buildings, but still visible from the road?” Yes…

   Clearly at this point Marshall was a little taken aback. He asked what exactly I was getting at. At which point I recounted a memory of my own.

   Around that precise time frame, my Father, brother & I were driving home along the Dulles Toll Road - a major highway running from the National Beltway out through the Northern Virginia tech corridor. Just as we passed the town of Reston, with its gorgeous tall buildings, I looked out my window & saw a sudden series of six beautiful, gigantic, professional fireworks. Only six.

   It seemed incredibly odd to met at the time. I asked my Dad if he knew of anything was going on in Reston Town Center that night. Reston Town Center is a large shopping center situated right by the highway. Imagine if Disney tried to replicate a few blocks of New York City; that’s Reston Town Center. Large tall buildings, cute shop-lined streets, and a large plaza in the center with a fountain & a covered theater area. They frequently host concerts, festivals, and even ice skating in the winter. My natural guess was that something fun was happening, and that we were missing it!
   But as we drove by, I started to think, the fireworks seemed a little too far away to be coming from Reston Town Center itself. I tried to think what other areas in that part of Reston would be shooting off fireworks at such a random time of year, but nothing came to mind.
   As soon as we got back home, I immediately started googling. After all, if there was something fun going on, I didn’t want to miss out. But much to my surprise & dismay, nothing came up. I simply couldn’t find a reason for sudden professional-grade fireworks.

   Turns out that reason was Marshall.

   Naturally, as we compared our memories, went over additional details - all of which matched up flawlessly - we were both quite surprised. Impressed & a little bit overwhelmed, we both decided that Marshall somehow knew his love would drive by at just that moment, so he put on a little show just for me.
   If only I had driven toward those fireworks, maybe I would have found him so much sooner.

   Since the night of that rather awe-inspiring discovery, we’ve been surrounded by similar magical moments, both large & small. For instance, when Marshall told this story to his Mother, they heard random fireworks going off in the neighborhood. In November.
   Then again tonight, another magical moment happened out of the blue while we were driving back from a quick shopping trip. As we pulled up to a red light, Marshall looked me in the eyes & told me he loved me. Just as we kissed, Sirius XM started playing ‘I’ve Never Been in Love Before’ from Guys & Dolls. Not only did the lyrics describe so perfectly the way we both felt, but we were watching ‘Guys & Dolls’ when I felt the very first inkling that I was falling in love with him. We were caught up in the moment for a few seconds, before yet again we started laughing at being smacked upside the face by the universe’s impeccable timing. For about the hundredth time, it couldn’t be more obvious that there’s something a little bit bigger going on than we currently realize.

   Although we did get a good giggle out of the idea that - between the fireworks, this, and everything else - Marshall is clearly a remarkable romantic planner! I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for him to get the timing of the red light just right, let alone convince Sirius XM to play that specific song at precisely 7:26pm! Then to ensure no other cars cut us off on the way there! He is quite a man though, so hey, I wouldn’t put it past him!

   In all seriousness, it is quite funny how the universe works such things out. Neither one of us was looking to fall in love. Hell, I was in a way actively trying to avoid it. I haven’t exactly felt it fair to fall in love given my current medical circumstances. But as it turns out, the universe had other plans. And now it seems to be taking great pride in reminding us on a nearly daily basis that it’s in charge & oh boy how we were wrong!
   Although, of all the times in life to be proven so thoroughly wrong, I’m incredibly, eternally grateful it was this time. Because I’ve never been happier & I never in a million years thought love could feel this way.

   Let alone in only nineteen glorious, miraculous, serendipitous days.

#Marshall

#boyfriend

#relationship

#love

#coincidence

#timing

#romance

#fireworks

#happiness

Huey Lewis Was Right. And So Was I.

   The past four years have been hell. Absolute hell. My body exploded, swelling up like a giant balloon. The pain was so intense most of the time I couldn’t get out of bed. My central nervous system refused to cooperate. My veins & arteries were constantly spasming, interrupting blood flow, leading to cognitive dysfuntion, improper heart rhythms, and essentially, just a whole lot of suckiness. My nerve endings were constantly screaming, every minute of every day.
   My body was tearing itself apart, bit by bit.

   In all that time, my doctors tried everything they could to help. I saw hundreds of specialists (literally), had what felt like millions of tests, took trillions of pills. We got nowhere.

   Through the last two years of this agony, I had a sneaking suspicion about something that I thought might help. But I kept doubting myself. For a while I even thought maybe I was crazy; nothing but wishful thinking from a sad heart.
   I thought that maybe - just maybe - like in all those fairy tales we heard as kids, a kiss might reverse this curse. Maybe all this time I was stuck, like that prince trapped in the body of a frog, just waiting for the right person to come along.

   I talked to doctors about it. I actually had some data to back up my suspicions. At the time, only a single friend believed me & saw any merit in the idea. So he kindly flirted with me long distance. We tracked every piece of information. I weighed myself multiple times every day. After a few weeks, I lost twenty pounds. It seemed to be working.

   But I kept getting funny sideways glances from my doctors. It just didn’t seem to make any sense. So I trusted in their judgement & cast my silly notions aside.

   Then in February, as my blood vessels continued to worsen & I found myself facing a constant game of Russian Roulette with my own cardiac system, I met with a doctor at Johns Hopkins. He seemed to tie together all the loose threads created by myriad specialists. He took each random test result, each sporadic opinion, weaving them together into a tapestry that seemed to finally make sense.
   After 27 years of constant pain & agony, my central nervous system could no longer take it. It was trapped in the sympathetic nervous state - a state of high alert, ‘fight or flight’ - and could no longer return to the parasympathetic state of rest.

   As he said those words & explained each little detail of how the body behaves differently between those two states of being, I couldn’t help but think about my crazy fairy tale. After all, I knew from basic biology there were only two ways to force the central nervous system into the parasympathetic state - vigorous exercise & arousal.
   I started to think, maybe I wasn’t so crazy after all.

   I worked up the nerve to open my mouth, confess my suspicions, and face yet another sideways glance from yet another doctor.
   Except this time, there was no sideways glance. There was no reaction of incredulity & concern for my sanity.
   Dr. Levine cocked his head, leaned against the wall & said, “Hmm… you might be on to something there… Let me think about this.”

   I sat there in silence for what felt like an eternity, waiting for him as he leaned up against that wall & contemplated. Much to my surprise, his conclusion matched mine. Besides, as he said, it couldn’t hurt to try, right? If nothing else, it was far superior to the only other option he could think of - an experimental drug that could either freeze my symptoms & keep them from getting any worse, or… make them drastically worse & kill me faster.

   Finally with a prominent doctor to back me up, I embarked on my search. I had tried everything I could with friends over long distances, but it wasn’t enough. I needed to find a willing partner nearby, someone I could trust. Someone I connected with. Someone who would understand.
   First I searched quietly, asking friends & family if they happened to know anyone in the area. When that didn’t work, I turned to my wonderful band of friends in Twitterland. I kept looking & looking, all the while my symptoms getting worse & worse. In desperation, I confessed my entire story here on my blog, all red-faced & filled with embarrassment.
   Yet after all of that, still nothing. No one. I was just about to give up…

   And then I found Marshall.

   It’s been a week so far. A blissful bubble of a week. I’ve already lost 12 pounds. For the first time in my entire life, I woke up this morning without any pain. I’ve gotten so used to hurting every minute of every day, that occasionally now when I stand up, my legs feel so foreign I fall right back down again. It’s an adjustment, but a marvelous one.

   This morning when I weighed myself yet again, I was overwhelmed when I saw the scale. I’ve lost enough weight that for the first time in four years, I no longer have to say that I’m carrying around over 100 pounds of fluid. I was so relieved, so grateful, so happy, that I immediately started crying.

   It feels like the beginning of the end of a nearly life-long nightmare. As verbose as I usually am, I still can’t quite find the words to encapsulate just how incredibly, joyously happy I am. How relieved I am. How profoundly grateful. For the longest time now, I’ve suspected that the only way to find answers to my illness would be an autopsy. I thought all I could hope for would be to prolong that inevitability as long as possible.

   Now there’s hope. Now I’m happy. All because Huey Lewis was right. And so was I.
   It’s the power of love.

1 note

#Love

#Happy

#Medical

#Huey Lewis

#Illness