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A blog post image showing a colorful zippy zebra vinyl sticker design by Sunny Day Designs that helps support rare disease patients and raises money for charity NORD, the National Organization for Rare Disorders

We Care About Rare: Supporting The Rare Disease Community With Zebra Stickers That Give Back To Charity NORD - Sunny Day Designs

We Care About Rare: Supporting The Rare Disease Community With Zebra Stickers That Give Back To Charity NORD - Sunny Day Designs

In 2016, when I started creating and designing the initial product line for my business (now called Sunny Day Designs) I knew that, eventually, I wanted to find a way to support at least 1 charity through the sale of my playfully patterned products.

Soon after, I found a fun way to make that dream a reality when I designed and introduced my first product in our line that gives back to charity: our Zippy Zebra vinyl sticker.

This colorful zebra vinyl sticker helps Sunny Day Designs give back as a business by supporting one of our favorite charities: The National Organization for Rare Disorders (more commonly known as NORD).

This wonderful organization is an invaluable and trustworthy resource for the rare disease community.

I've added a lot of information about them in this blog post, but I also encourage you to head to NORD's website to find out more:


Read on for more about:

  • How this sticker helps Sunny Day Designs give back a percentage of our sales to a wonderful charity
  • Who this cute zebra sticker helps supports
  • What zebras symbolize
  • The amount of money that we donate per sticker
  • Some surprising facts about rare diseases (including how common they are)
  • The impact our sticker's design has had on the lives of several of our customers
  • How you can participate in Rare Disease Day (the last day in February!)
  • ...and more!


close up image of Shelley Schmidt holding a colorful zippy zebra vinyl sticker by Sunny Day Designs in front of an open sketchbook with drawings

All of our stickers are designed by Shelley Schmidt, founder of Sunny Day Designs.


"Giving Is Not Just About Making A Donation. It Is About Making A Difference."  - Kathy Calvin


I've always been a firm believer in donating to charities - not just monetarily, but also by volunteering my time and talents.

It may sound corny, but I truly believe that the greatest gift you can receive is the joy that you feel when you give back to others.

Because of this mindset, it's always been important to me for my business, Sunny Day Designs, to find a way to give back to causes that share many of the same values as our business.

Additionally, I wanted to have a personal connection to the charity in some way, since I knew that it would help me feel more motivated while designing the product!


When You Hear Hoofbeats, Sometimes It Actually IS A Zebra.

There's a frequently-spoken phrase that's drilled into medical staff while they're training and learning how to diagnose patients with the correct condition.


The famous phrase, which was coined in the 1940s and is attributed to Dr. Theodore Woodward, is:

"When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras."


You may know (possibly from watching episodes of ER, Scrubs or Gray's Anatomy) that, in the medical world, the term "zebra" refers to a rare condition.

The meaning of this phrase is to remind medical staff that they should always be focusing on the most likely scenario...which is that the patient is probably dealing with a common condition that can be easily explained and diagnosed (a "horse").

Looking for more common causes of illness first allows medical staff to be more efficient and avoid the inefficiencies and exorbitant costs that can come along with testing for rare disorders.

Medical tests aren't cheap & staff are often pressed for time - so hospitals can provide the best care to patients when they test for the most common conditions first.

That all makes sense.

But...something surprising that I've come to realize over the years is that the probability of a person (like you or someone else that you love) being diagnosed with a rare condition isn't actually as rare as you might imagine!


black and white zebra stripes pattern

Rare diseases affect patients differently, just like each zebra's stripes are unique.


A personal connection

Looking back, it's clear to me now that rare disease awareness has always felt pretty personal to me - although I'll admit that I wasn't consciously aware of that fact until shortly after founding Sunny Day Designs.

While I was in preschool, a friend and classmate of mine passed away from a rare form of leukemia and it was heartbreaking. To this day, every time I see a firetruck I think of him and the last time that I saw him before he passed away.

Dogwood trees always remind me of the memorial tree that my preschool planted in his memory after he passed on. I can still smell the scent of those flowering petals.

In kindergarten (at a different school), another friend of mine was diagnosed with leukemia.

A decade after, while I was in high school, yet another friend was diagnosed with leukemia.

Then, when I was in college, I befriended another person who had battled leukemia as a child and survived. never really occured to me that this was unusual. I just assumed that leukemia must be pretty common because, growing up, it felt like I knew SO many people who had that condition.

So when I found out in my 20s that leukemia was actually a rare form of cancer it completely blew my mind. I couldn't wrap my head around how I could possibly know SO many people who had been diagnosed with it if it was such a rare condition!


10% of the sales from each zebra sticker will be donated to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), a 501(C)(3) organization that funds research & provides support to people living with rare diseases.

 Sunny Day Designs is proud to donate 10% of our zebra sticker sales to NORD.


Since my college years, several friends, family members, and previous coworkers have also been diagnosed with a wide variety of rare disorders. Watching them go from getting their initial diagnosis to finding a way to live their lives to the fullest, despite their symptoms, has been inspiring.

As a member of the rare disease community myself, I also felt compelled to give back on a personal level and I knew that designing my Zippy Zebra vinyl stickers was one way to do that.

Additionally, my husband's career involves him researching and helping to treat a rare blood cancer called multiple myeloma, so...let's just say, the topic of rare diseases comes up pretty frequently during our nightly dinner conversations!


What about you?

Think back on the people you know and who you've met during your life.

I'd be willing to bet a lot of money that you also personally know at least 1 person who is living with a rare disease.

In fact...the odds are pretty good that you know multiple people who are affected by a medical condition that is considered to be rare.

There are many well-known conditons that are also considered to be rare!


How many of these rare disorders and conditions have you heard of?

  • Leukemia
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Hemophilia
  • Narcolepsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Ehlers –Danlos Syndrome (EDS)
  • Sickle Cell Disease
  • ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease)
  • ...most forms of Cancer are also rare (though not all)


A colorful and cute zebra sticker is held in a hand in front of a turquoise and white printed pillow. This zebra sticker helps raise money for charity and supports the rare disease community.

Our rare zebra stickers are durable, waterproof & made in the USA from vinyl.


Here's some facts about rare disorders that may surprise you:


  • 1 in 10 Americans is living with a rare disease - that's 10% of the current US population!

When you do the math (don't worry, I did it for you!)...that comes out to 30 million American people who are living with a rare disease.

...and that's just the number of people who have 1 rare disorder (remember, it's completely possible for patients to have more than 1 rare condition).


  • A rare disorder is defined in the U.S. as any disease or condition that affects less than 200,000 people.

Sure, when you think about it, 200,000 people is a small percentage of the American population, but...that's still an awful lot of people!

...especially when you think about the fact that the average NFL football stadium holds between 70,000-80,000 people (the largest holds 82,500 people).

If you're anything like me, thinking about that amount of people in visual terms really helps put the 200,000 number into perspective!


Of course, some rare conditions are extremely rare, meaning that they affect just a handful of people.

But there are lots of rare diseases that affect an amount of the population that's fairly close to 200,000 people, but just under the threshold - which makes it very difficult to get funding to research on those conditions, even though it may seem like there are lots of people who are living with a specific rare condition.


  •  There are currently more than 7,000 known rare diseases.
This number always surprises me. It's such a large number of conditions!


  • An estimated 15 Million children in the USA are living with a rare disease.

This statistic always hits me hard. Reading that such a large number of American children have been diagnosed with a rare condition is heartbreaking. It always feels so unfair for a child to be living with any kind of complex health issue, let alone something as unpredictable as a rare disease diagnosed in childhood.


  • Approximately 80% of all rare disorders are genetic.

The important thing to keep in mind about this statistic is that genetic mutations can affect anyone from any family.

Sometimes symptoms show up in childhood, while other genetic conditions do not appear until later in life.

You truly never know when someone you know and love will be touched by a rare disease diagnosis.


A colorful and cute zebra rare disease awareness sticker design shown on a macbook laptop
Our vinyl stickers are perfectly sized to decorate laptops, phone cases & more.


Why should people donate to a rare disease charity?

In general, the more rare a condition is, the less likely it is to receive funding for research and clinical trials.

That also means that patients who are living with a rare condition are much less likely to have the same opportunities for medications, treatments and possibilities for a cure when compared to patients with more common conditions.

That's why donations made to rare disease awareness charities, like the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), are so needed and can be so impactful!

  • Feel free to donate directly to NORD on their website by clicking here!

Although they're encouraged to develop treatments even for rare conditions, pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers both have less of a financial incentive to go through the complicated, expensive, and time-consuming research and development process needed in order to create life-changing medications or curative solutions for rare disorders.

The reason is that there are, typically, not enough people for them to ever come close to making their money back.

It's much more profitable for them to create drugs and develop treatment methods that can be sold to more people for the foreseeable future.


As a result:

  • Less than 5% of all rare diseases have an FDA-approved treatment
  • 30% of children diagnosed with a rare disorder will pass away before their 5th birthday.
  • Medical costs for patients living with a rare condition are typically 3-5 times more expensive than the costs incurred by patients with a common condition.

Every year, rare disease patients in the United States collectively spend 400 billion dollars in medical costs.

Yes, you read that right - that's "billion", with a "b".


Rare Disease Facts by NORD, the National Organization for Rare Disorders at

Rare Disease Facts graphic created by NORD |


How much money from your zebra sticker sales do you donate to charity?

For every Zippy Zebra vinyl sticker that Sunny Day Designs sells, we donate 10% of the sales price to a charity that is close to our heart: The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD).

We originally started off by donating 8% of the sales from our stickers to charity, but after a great first year of zebra stickers sales, we decided to increase the percentage of sales per sticker that we donate to NORD to be 10% - and we've been donating 10% from every zebra sticker sold ever since!

That means that for every 25 Zippy Zebra stickers that Sunny Day Designs sells we're able to donate $10 to NORD!


Image with a black/white zebra stripe charity ribbon & text stating that Sunny Day Designs donates 10% of the sales from each cute zebra sticker to NORD, a rare disease charity


Tell me more about where the donations go:

The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) exists to help provide valuable knowledge and support about rare medical disorders to patients who are living with rare diseases and their families.

NORD was founded in 1983, so it's been around for over 40 years!

It's a reputable and highly trusted organization that exists to help not just patients and their families, but also to help and support the medical community. They're a bridge between these 2 groups.

NORD is also a source of research grant funding and information for medical doctors, scientists, and researchers who want to study rare conditions.

They also maintain a valuable online database with important information about rare diseases, patient resources, clinical trial information for rare conditions, and so much more!

You can search NORD's rare disease information database by visiting their website here!


Rare Disease Diagnosis & Treatment Fact  on a green background by the National Organization for Rare Disorders



Why Sunny Day Designs loves raising money for NORD:

For starters, NORD is a wonderful charity whose mission aligns with several of Sunny Day Designs' own business goals and values:

  • We love supporting other USA-focused organizations and businesses who are making a difference in the lives of people right here in America.

    • NORD provides an incredibly important sense of optimism (one of our own business values) to rare disease patients, researchers, and the entire rare disease community. Having hope for a better future is so important when you're in the rare disease community. NORD helps foster optimism by making detailed knowledge about rare diseases accessible to all, collaborating with other organizations around the country to raise awareness about rare disorders, fighting to make sure that the nation's laws and policies protect rare disease patients, and raising money for important medical research grants and potential treatments for rare disease patients.


      • Integrity is another one of our core business values here at Sunny Day Designs, so we really appreciate and admire the fact that NORD has received an extremely high 4-Star charity rating of 99% on the Charity Navigator website. It's clear that transparency and accountability is important to NORD and it's comforting to know that any money that we raise for NORD is being well-spent.


        • Kindness to all is another important value that NORD and Sunny Day Designs share in common. As a charity that represents patients from lots of different backgrounds and a wide variety of circumstances, abilities and conditions, NORD strives to approach every person with kindness, respect, and compassion.


          • Finally, NORD often uses a joyful and whimsical approach to it's rare disease awareness events and fundraising efforts - something that I love as the owner of a playful business myself.


          Rare Disease Day: February 29th (Leap Day)

          A great example of NORD's joyful sense of identity is Rare Disease Day, which is a national holiday that occurs on Leap Day: "the rarest day of the year".

          During years when there is no Leap Day, Rare Disease Day is held on the last day of February.

          On Rare Disease Day, NORD encourages people to "show their stripes" by wearing black and white striped clothing or zebra prints in order to bring awareness to all of the "zebras" who are living with a rare disorder.

          I love NORD's fun and whimsical approach to something that is typically a very serious topic.

          It feels refreshing and positive for the rare disease community to come together and celebrate their rareness with a fun zebra-themed celebration and day of awareness!


          Rare Disease Day Fact: 30 Million Americans Live With A Rare Disease - That's 1 In 10 of us | NORD


          Want to participate in Rare Disease Day?

          Head to NORD's Rare Disease Day website ( where you can download social media images that you can share on Rare Disease Day: February 29th.

          There are lots of different events happening locally around the country that you can be a part of!

          From running/walking to raise money for charity to attending rare disease-themed book readings at your local library...there's a way for everyone to get involved in their own community!

          It's also a great idea to wear something zebra striped!

          Last, but not least...making a donation to NORD would be a wonderful way to celebrate on Rare Disease Day.

          You can donate directly to the National Organization for Rare Disorders on the NORD website: Click here to donate directly to NORD!


            Show Your Stripes On Rare Disease Day zebra themed promotional banner by NORD. Learn more at



            Making an zebra at a time

            It might sound surprising - especially because Sunny Day Designs creates and sells SO many products - but this cute zebra sticker is, honestly, one of my favorite products that we sell!


            Because I love knowing that something as simple as a zebra animal sticker can give people in the rare disease community a much more positive, joyful, and approachable way to display and share with others that they're living with a rare disease.

            The zebra is a symbol for rare disease awareness and has been adopted by patients living with rare disorders as a symbol of support, strength, community and pride.

            Because of that, adding a zebra sticker to a phone, laptop, or car is an easy and fun way to say..."I'm here, world! I may be dealing with a lot, but I'm proud and grateful to be here and I'm bringing awareness to other people like me".


            A metal water bottle is decorated with lots of stickers, including a zippy zebra sticker by Sunny Day Designs. Also shown is a zebra figurine wearing a red cowboy hat
            This fun image was sent to us from a happy customer! It shows a water bottle decorated with our zippy zebra sticker & a fun zebra-themed stress toy wearing red boots and a cowboy hat. Zebras are an important symbol to rare disease patients.


            Choosing joy

            Displaying something with zebra stripes can also be a more lighthearted way to bring up the topic of rare disease awareness, which can often feel heavy, sad, overwhelming, or extremely emotional.

            This is especially true for children. Just because they live with rare disease doesn't mean they deserve to experience any less joy than healthy kids!

            Plus, I've come to learn that, for many patients and rare disease advocates, displaying a fun zebra sticker, wearing a zebra print charity ribbon, getting a black and white themed manicure, or showing some other type of zebra-themed item can become a badge of pride.

            Maybe it's a beautiful zebra print scarf, a zebra bumper sticker, or even a black and white striped phone case - these simple things can become a positive reminder to themselves that they're still here, despite the challenging circumstances and the uncertainty that so often comes with a rare disease diagnosis.


            I've learned from our customers that something as simple as displaying a cute zebra sticker can:

            • Provide patients with an added boost of encouragement to keep going on days when life (or treatment) feels extra rough.
            • Help children and teens living with a rare illness feel less self-conscious and more at-ease when talking to peers about their condition.
            • Give caregivers the confidence to talk to others about what they do in a more positive and honest way.
            • Make it easier for rare disease researchers to ask for funding and discuss the impact that their work can have on others.
            • Lead to more open lines of communication and greater awareness of rare disease prevalence.


            A positive customer review about the zippy zebra vinyl sticker by Sunny Day Designs, which helps raise money for a rare disease charity (NORD)


            I've been fortunate to receive several product reviews, emails, and even a few extremely touching handwritten letters from people who purchased my Zippy Zebra stickers.

            I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't cry after reading these notes.

            I don't know if I can adequately put into words how much it means as a small business owner to hear feedback like this from total strangers. I feel so honored.

            Knowing that something I've designed can have a positive, life-changing effect on another person is the best feeling in the world.

            Positive feedback is what keeps me going and what encourages me to develop new products for Sunny Day Designs.

            ...after all, our brand exists to infuse a little more joy into your everyday life!


            YOU are the reason that we design and create playful products and I am so proud to be able to raise funds for NORD through the sales of our Zippy Zebra stickers!


            a turquoise water bottle decorated with a colorful and cute zebra sticker by Sunny Day Designs, which helps raise money for the National Organization for Rare Disorders.

            Our zebra stickers make great gifts for zebra lovers & we give 10% back to charity.


            Interested in a large amount of our Zippy Zebra vinyl stickers?

            If you're a company, hospital, or even an individual who would like to purchase our zebra stickers in bulk quantities (for employee gifts, patients, wedding favors, etc.), please contact Sunny Day Designs directly via email here.

            Rest assured that donations will still be made to NORD for each and every sticker that is purchased directly from Sunny Day Designs!


            Support the rare disease community by donating directly to NORD:

            Purple image showing colorful zebras with text about donating today to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
            Click on the purple image above to donate directly to NORD today!
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