Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rest and Remembrance

Roger and I have had some opportunity for rest and relaxation over the last few days.  For those of you who don't know, we retreated to the VA foothills (Charlottesville area) for some time at a B&B.  It was nice to have not much of an agenda and to truly rest and regroup.  We got to visit a few wineries in the area and re-stocked for the year.  I must say that I love living in Virginia!

As many of you know, the anniversary of Charlotte's death is January 7th.  We have decided that we would like to mark the day with an informal moment of remembrance.  This will not be anything fancy or super-structured.  Sunset is at 5:07 PM and given that Roger and I both need to work earlier in the day, we will be holding "the moment" at 4:30 PM in front of the Butterfly Bush (at our house).  The plan is to release a few pink and purple balloons, sing a song or two, and maybe share some memories. 

Anyone who would like to attend is welcome.  We have an official invitation on our Facebook site.  Maybe we'll have some hot chocolate afterwards.  Contact us if you have any questions. 

If you do not live close by or cannot attend and want to hold your own Moment of Remembrance, we encourage you to do whatever you feel is right.  If you release a balloon, please use natural twine if possible (it's more eco-friendly). 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Onward to 2011

Sorry that the blog has been kind of quiet lately.  There have been a couple of reasons for this.  Although we haven't had any official Foundation events to promote, I am happy to report that since our last post we have received some very generous year-end donations.  Thank you for helping us keep our mission alive.    

Another very exciting announcement is that CJSTUF is hiring its very first paid employee.  In assessing our goals and needs, the board determined that the best way to accomplish our aims was to have a part-time Foundation Administrator and Event Coordinator who can help us accomplish this.  In a perfect world, it would be great if Roger and I could fill this role but our other professional obligations are keeping us otherwise occupied at the moment.  Anyway, we received a LARGE number of applications and have narrowed the field to a few select candidates.  We hope to have a decision by the end of the year.  We're very excited about this so stay tuned!

Finally, in case you haven't heard through the grapevine, Rachel has started her very own personal blog.  She's aiming for it to be an equal mix of social commentary, personal musings, and cultural discoveries.  If you want to follow some of her "non-foundation-related" writing, check it out. 

We hope everyone is staying warm during what is definitely WINTER weather.  If you have a chance to make a snowman, take a picture for us and email it or post it to our Facebook page.  Here are some of our favorites from 2009:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Winding down the year

So much has happened in the last two weeks!  Roger ran the Richmond Marathon.  Thanks to many of your last minute donations (as well as a wonderful anonymous matching gift), we reached the $10,000 fundraising goal.  As promised, Roger ran the 26.2 miles in his hot pink running skirt.  He finished the race in somewhere between 5 and 6 hours (depending on whether you go by the "chip time" or the "official time") and after a few days of recovery, he was fit as a fiddle (or at least no worse for wear).

Thanks again to Rachel Pustilnik of Stroller Strides and the Mother Runners fitness group for providing training and moral support during this last year.  Special thanks to Dr. Anna of Atlee Chiropractic for the regular adjustments that keep Roger's joints limber!

Roger's next marathon will be the Big Sur race in California in May.  If anyone is interested in running this race (or the many smaller races associated with the event), please contact Roger so we can build a Race Team

One week after the marathon, Ashland was abuzz with Citations for CJ.  This event helped us raise over $650 for the Foundation.  Special thanks to everyone that helped make this event a success, including:
    Kellan Morris tries to get bailed out!
  • Ashland Police Chief Doug Goodman
  • Celebrity Judges Faye Prichard and Mark Joy
  • Chick-Fil-A Virginia Center
  • Susan Greenbaum
  • Alpha Phi Omega chapter at Randolph-Macon College
  •  Henry Clay Elementary School 
  • Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at Randolph-Macon College 
    Ashland resident Dan McCaffrey gets cited for "failure to trim beard"

Roger and Celebrity Judge Mark Joy give the "thumbs up"

Board Member Meredith Hayes gets a "sobriety check"

We finish off the year with another distribution of Financial Assistance Grants.  We received over 17 applications for this round and we were able to award 12 grants for a total of $6000.  The remaining applications will be held "in place" until our next distribution period in 2011.  For more information about the good work we have been able to do thanks to your generous donations, please check out our Annual Report

On the personal front, Roger and I have been inundated by all kinds of emotions over the last few weeks.  Any of you who have experienced a personal loss know that the holidays can be a difficult time.  We are flooded with memories of holidays of the past and sad that we cannot share this year's holidays with our dear Charlotte.  In all honesty, it is difficult to have a Happy Holiday.  Last year at this time, we were preparing for our amazing Make-A-Wish trip to Florida and I think often of those days.  We are grateful for the support and space that our friends and family continue to provide for us at this time.  Though the year is coming to a close, there is still much to do at work and that will keep us busy and (somewhat) distracted.  In addition, we plan to take a few days after Christmas for some personal "retreat" time.  I am definitely looking forward to that. 

Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Thank you for helping CJSTUF become a reality.

Thank you for helping us give back to the community that gave us so much in 2009.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chicago Part II

Saturday was a day of rest and trying to make sure I got as much healing time in for my feet as possible. I was kind of nervous about how they were going to feel the next day and not running the race was most definitely NOT an option so I had to baby them.

Mike and Rebecca Connelly took us to a matinee of the revival/revamped version of the musical Candide in the Goodman Theater downtown. The music was written by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by a bunch of guys, “and re-envisioned” by Mary Zimmerman.

Supposedly it was made simpler to follow. It was quite odd as it was. Not sure if I want to see the harder-to-follow version.

But let me say one thing…It was phenomenal! Everything from the singing to the orchestra to the strangely perspective-skewed set was top notch and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. (High praise coming from a quartet of musical snobs!)

After the show, we dodged the two and a half trillion kids going to see Yo Gabba Gabba Live and headed off to an Italian restaurant for some serious carbo-loading. I had no trouble downing a basket of bread and a big ole plate of pasta.

Then it was back to the “flat” for an early night of tossing and turning. I get rather nervous before a race and sometimes I don’t sleep so well. I sure am thankful that we were staying so close to everything because, for a 7:30 start time, we didn’t have to leave our place until after 6:30.

Rachel and I walked up toward Grant Park and since we were getting there relatively close to the start time, we were greeted by quite the mass of humanity. We got a picture of ourselves taken, we stood around for a bit, and then Rachel headed off toward the first meeting point and to hook up with the Connellys.

Before I committed myself to the race by joining with the crowd, I got to talk to a running celebrity. It was the guy who juggles while running. I have forgotten his name and I can’t find it online but here’s a pic: The first time I ever saw him was in my first ever marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon up in DC. I actually got to talk to him this time and he seemed pretty cool.

The start line of the Chicago Marathon is in the north end of Grant Park and runners are herded north on Columbus through the tunnel. It took me almost a half hour to get to the start line but that’s ok. I got to talk to several people as we moseyed forward.

I also got another try at proving my theory of races: The farther back you start, the fewer people pass you.” (I came up with that. It’s copyrighted. Don’t steal it!)

As I waited in the crowd, I met a guy named Jaimie who was running his first marathon ever. He was pretty excited as were his relatives who were hanging with him until the throng started moving. One of his relatives had a big odd and ugly Mylar vampire balloon. He said his wife originally tried to get him to run with it so that they could find him in the crowd. Fortunately he was able to talk her out of that idea and the family members ended up taking it with them so that HE could see THEM and veer toward the balloon if he needed something.

Then there was the quartet of college boys all running the race for the first time together as a sort of defacto team. It was cool to witness that camaraderie.

I also ran into a couple of women, both of whom were running their first marathon. As we reassured each other, I told them, “Just think. After you finish this race, and you WILL finish, you’ll be a marathoner forever!”

We finally made it to the official start line and I remember thinking, “No turning back now!” which is kind of silly but I guess I needed the mental lockdown at the beginning.

Talking to other runners and being nosey about what they do and all that is probably my favorite part of running races. It all comes from a documentary I saw several years ago about a guy who ran the Boston Marathon and filmed his conversations with people as he went. I thought that was the coolest thing and decided to talk to people like that when I ran.

The next guy I met was Chris (I think). He was running his first race of any kind EVER! Crazy dude. He was a Physical Therapy student at a nearby college and really didn’t have a plan for the race. I tried to warn him about the “walls” and told him to wave when he passed me later on in the race. As slow as I went, I never saw him after he stopped for water and I kept going.

Susan was the next person I met and she was a marathon vet. She was trying to do all the high-profile marathons like Los Angeles, Chicago, NY and all that. Her husband was usually the support crew (her version of Rachel) but he decided to run this one (much slower than her) so she was on her own. Her next race was supposed to be London and then Berlin. Not a bad existence.

One of the nicest persons I met along the way (beside the “joggler”) was Bob Spielberger. He works downtown, has run the Chicago Marathon for 12 years, and was planning on going back to his office to do some paperwork after finishing the marathon. As I ran with him, he pointed out historic buildings and made sure I knew where Rod Blogojevitch’s office was located!

We separated at another water stop and I kept going.

I saw Rachel, Punkin’, and Mike here and there along the way but I guess they saw me a couple of times, including the halfway point, when I didn’t see them. They seemed to get around very well and in the end they calculated that they had walked over 7 miles following me around.

I was very amazed at how quickly the miles seemed to be melting away. Before I knew it, I was at 18 miles! I almost let myself believe that this would be the race I finish without walking very much. Famous last words…

Right around mile 18 there was an Accel Gel point where packets of the nutrient replenishing goo were being distributed. I went ahead and took one and by doing so violated the first rule of running. “Don’t do something new during a race that you’ve never done before.” I hadn’t ever had Accel Gel before but I was feeling the need to get something in my belly. Bad idea because within a mile I was getting a very nervous stomach and that was the beginning of the end for Mr. Roger.

I had to walk an awful lot after that but found myself surrounded by many, many others in the same boat. As it warmed up, and it ended up in the 80’s, there were more and more people dropping out and needing attention by the side of the road. Fortunately, the marathon officials learned their lesson from a few years ago and had plenty of medical personnel along the route to assist runners in need.

One very cool thing was the neighborhoods through which we ran/walked. We went through Chinatown, Little Italy, Little Mexico, there were little patches of Koreans and other ethnicities that were all out cheering on the runners. We passed Elvis, a fortune cookie factory…There was even a mariachi band that I’ll bet was out playing for most of the day. More power to ‘em.

As we came up to the last few miles, my brain started getting a little “altered.” I started thinking about Charlotte and why I was there and started getting pretty emotional as we turned north on Michigan Ave. for the last three or so miles.

What kept me from losing it was the annoyingly loud music that blasted from huge speakers located about every tenth of a mile along Michigan. I also saw the “joggler” guy and we moseyed together for a little bit until we turned the corner to head up the hill before turning into Grant Park and the last tenth or so. I guess The support crew was there cheering me on at the end but I never saw or heard them. I did finish running but it wasn’t very pretty.

The best part of the entire run was the free beer they gave out at the end. MAN! Was that tasty! And they gave everyone TWO of them! One at the finish line and one at a special booth at the “Runners’ Park.” I also got a quick massage there from two therapists and started looking for Rachel and the Connellys.

I actually had to walk back past the finish line to the forest-of-metal-guys piece of art to meet up with them. Mike actually had to leave to relieve grandma who was watching their son so it was just the girls waiting for me.

On the way back, I wanted to stop for ice cream and we popped into a shopcalled the Marble Slab Creamery that was right on the way. The owner saw me and a couple of other runners and gave us all free ice cream! What a great way to end the day.

The next day was Monday and after one last visit with Rebecca and the very verbal rug rat, we headed home with little fanfare. It was interesting to see the number of people wearing their metals as they walked through the airport.

Let me just say this about Chicago: For all the corruption that everyone keeps talking about, everything works. The marathon was very well organized and run and as we were walking back, they already had the streets pretty much cleaned. I was very impressed.

One of the street sweepers was painted up with White Sox logos and the one right behind it had Cubs colors.

Next post…Richmond!

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Turn To Post

I haven’t posted on the blog in quite some time. Rachel’s been doing most of it lately and she has done a fine job of keeping everyone updated and all the announcements flowing.

My offering today will be more of the personal type. Much of it will be repeat information so I apologize for that.

Let’s start with Chicago. I know, it seems a little past its freshness date to talk about our trip to Chicago but I’ve been meaning to for a bit and I finally sat myself down to do it.

Traveling up to and back from Chicago was pretty much uneventful except for the silly things they make everyone do at the security checkpoints. Not sure if that will change any time soon. I personally don’t see how me taking my belt off will help thwart a would-be terrorist, especially when a nut with explosives in his underwear got through anyway.

When we got to the Windy City on Thursday, we had no trouble navigating the “L” from Midway Airport to downtown. We stopped at a great little restaurant called the 11 City Diner where I had a most amazing turkey burger.

After lunch, we went walking around the Grant Park area while we waited to meet our hostess, Susan. She met us near the Congress hotel and walked us down to her very cool condo, which was located just a couple blocks south of the park. It was less than a mile from the finish line of the Chicago Marathon, which was why we were there in the first place and which ended up being very convenient on Sunday.

One of the side bonuses of being in Chicago was the fact that our very good friends, the Connelly’s, live nearby. Rebecca (a.k.a. “Punkin”) is probably Rachel’s best friend from the University of Miami (and Sigma Alpha Iota) and they’ve stayed relatively close over the years. Her husband, Mike, is a fellow Sinfonian from UM and has probably one of the way coolest jobs on the planet: Composing music for gaming machines using actual elements of the original soundtracks of movies as well as much of his own creative effluvia.

They also have an amazing son who put me squarely back on my “read-to-your-children” soapbox. He’s smart, communicative, and can THINK and I give most of the credit to the fact that his parents have been reading to him since birth.

So read to your children no matter how old they are or whether or not they SEEM to be getting anything out of it. They are.

It was great, and very therapeutic, to spend so much quality time with them while we were there. We ate several meals with them, hung out at their house a good deal, and they accompanied Rachel as marathon support crew on Sunday.

On Friday morning, Rachel and I walked the mile or so down to the marathon expo to pick up my race packet and “run the gauntlet” of vendors who always set up between the front door and the packet pick-up area so that you have to get through all that before you can get your bib, t-shirt, etc…

I actually don’t mind it as there’s always interesting stuff to see and people to meet. We found several non-profit booths and talked to people from Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Open Heart Magic, and Running Skirts (who donated the pink skirt I wore when the Mother Runners raised $1000 for the Double Marathon Challenge)

You also always end up with a bag o’ accumulated crap that includes the official program, extra course maps, cowbells and kazoos, posters, food samples (some of which were quite good), fliers from every marathon on the planet, and a foot shaped refrigerator magnet from a local podiatrist (I sure needed him by the end of this day).

After the expo, we walked the mile back to Susan’s place to drop off the bag o’ accumulated crap and set off on the plan for the rest of the day, which was to walk up through Grant Park, see The Bean (the big shiny silver art piece on the north end), and we weren’t sure what else.

There was a ton of last minute setting up going on where the start and finish lines would be in the park and a large part of it was inaccessible but we did get up to The Bean, saw the “Spitting Fountains,” and found ourselves surrounded by lots of country music fans. Didn’t know that there were that many in Chicago but the Country Music Festival was going on up there and they had come out in droves! (Probably a lot of the “urban cowboy” types.)

I had worn my “Bald Chicks Rock” shirt (sent to me by the New Mexico contingent) with the picture of CJ on the back and I loved all the looks I got. One guy out in front of a store trying to get people excited about whatever they were selling saw my shirt and started whooping it up saying, “That’s right! Bald Chicks Rock! Yeah!” until we passed him and he saw Charlotte’s picture on the back. He realized what it meant and we could hear an, “oh…” It was like someone hit him with a shovel or something.

Actually we didn’t mind rocking his world a bit. Maybe it will stay in his mind a bit and next time he sees a commercial about one organization or another, he’ll consider it a bit more deeply.

I don’t go out to ruin people’s days but I love spreading the word. At another point, a woman walked by us as we ate a snack and noticed my shirt. She actually came back after passing us with her friend asking about what it means. She then proceeded to whip off her own wig and let her beautiful baldness shine. Literally! It was quite the moment.

We then made our way down to the Navy Pier where we walked by the tour boats and makeshift haunted houses. I actually wasn't all that impressed with it but I'm sure it's a rockin' place in the summer.

By the time we headed back, my feet were starting to hurt and I was thinking, "Uh-oh!" Just what I needed to do, injure myself two days before the race.

We ended the day by eating dinner at an Irish pub and restaurant nearly across the street from where we were staying. It was quite the full day.

There’s more to talk about and the Richmond Marathon is TOMORROW!!! (Yikes) But I don’t want to completely overwhelm everyone. There will be more, later. Fair warning.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Peace Train...Crazy Train...Love Train

So we made it to November.  Oh my goodness.  There is SO much to share and talk about with CJSTUF I don't know where to begin.  I think I will just direct you to the website.  Your attention please to the following announcements:

  • First and foremost: VOTE!  Yes, Election Day was yesterday but CJSTUF has applied for a Pespi Refresh grant.  We are hoping for $50K to help us get the CJ's Meal Fairies program off and running.  We need EVERYONE's help.  Voting can happen through Facebook, the Pepsi Refresh website, or text 103934 to PEPSI (73774).  Most importantly, you need to vote EVERY DAY.  We are currently ranked 352 and we need to crack the top 10 to win.  Tell all your friends.  Links to the site are on our website
  • Did you get an email from us recently?  If not, sign up for your email newsletter here.  If you don't follow us on Facebook or Twitter, it's another great way to know about all the things we are doing.  We will try not to harass you with spammy emails but we hope this will be another way to keep everyone up to date and informed. 
  • Start your holiday shopping with our jewelry auction.  Twenty-one original pieces created by Sarah Blankenship of Crystal Paintbrush on ebay.  Just search for CJSTUF to find the pieces.  100% of the proceeds will benefit our organization and eBay credits our listing and final fees so it's a great way to support our organization.  Each piece was inspired by Charlotte and many feature pink and purple Swarovski crystal butterflies. 
  • Wanna see a DUDE run the Richmond Marathon  in a skirt?  If we raise $3000 before November 12th Roger will don the pink skirt and wear it as he runs all 26.2 miles!  The goal is $10,000 total.  We can do it!
  • Citations for CJ is coming November 20th.  This is an easy way to support our organization.  The Alpha Phi Omega chapter at Randolph Macon is building our jail and our celebrity judges are getting ready to hand out their "verdicts".  Come on out for a fun morning and donate from the comfort of your own car.  Tell your friends!
  • Finally, our Biz of the Month is our corporate sponsor, Jade Enterprises.  This family business specializes in web design, web hosting, data management, and many other business applications.  Jade Enterprises is donating 25% of all contracts signed during the month of November to CJSTUF.  If you run your own business and are looking for a great way to improve your web performance and visibility in the marketplace, please give them a call. 
Now that the business is out of the way, let's talk.  It's been a crazy year.  As we approach the end of 2010, it seems that my emotions are ramped up as well.  November 6th was the day last year when we learned that there was nothing else we could do.  That was the day that we had to accept what we had seen coming down the pike for about 5 months: the treatment was not working.  We prepared to say goodbye to our girl. I miss her so much.  I know that many of you do too.  I look at her pictures every day and I just think: DAMN.   

I don't understand why she is gone and I don't think it's fair in any way.  I am so grateful for the time I spent with her, especially the last 10 weeks of her life.  We were so blessed with the generosity of friends, family, and strangers who moved mountains to bring us amazing experiences: pro football games and field trips to the aquarium; meetings with Giant Pandas; horseback rides in our cul de sac; spa days at the salon; the most amazing Disney World vacation that a kid could ever have (slight aside: have you seen the new Disney commercials where they show the home movies of  the kids who get all excited when they hear they are going to Disney World?  It makes me cry every time.); days sitting by the ocean; days spent reading and singing; days when her firsts were often also her lasts. 

Some of you know that I took the opportunity this past weekend to go to the Rally to Restore Sanity (and/or Fear) in Washington, DC.  It was a fun event with tons of people.  My aunt and I were squarely in the middle of the craziness and we were fortunate to fix ourselves in front of a jumbotron so while we couldn't see the stage directly, we got a great view of the event.  Great music, funny sketches, and a throng of people to watch.  If you've seen the show on TV, you know that there was a bit where Jon Stewart brought out Yusuf Islam (AKA Cat Stevens) to sing Peace Train.  Not to be outdone by "hippy music", Colbert brings out Ozzy Osbourne for a rendition of Crazy Train and a musical mashup ensues.  Finally, the compromise is to bring out the O' Jays for a unifying version of Love Train.  It was a creative skit.  It also seems like a somehow apt metaphor for my life right now. 

We feel so supported and comforted by our friends and family. That Love Train  is pushing us down the road, allowing us to give back through CJSTUF and to support others in their individual journeys.  At the same time, no matter how much love we feel, I'm still rockin' and rollin' on the Crazy Train.  Each day the stress in my life continues and every stressor is like a freight car adding to the length of the train.  It weighs down each aspect of my daily responsibilities and threatens to derail at the slightest hiccup.  Sometimes it takes three engines just to make the train run on the track.  There are times when I feel the Peace Train coming.  I have moments when I sense its presence and I hope that someday it will be the guiding force in my life.  Someday I hope to leave those freight cars at the depot or abandon them in the railyard.  Then my engine will run smoother, faster....more peacefully.  For now, the Crazy Train seems to rule the roost. 

Anyway, thanks for all the love and support.  The holiday season is going to be rough this year.  We've already acknowledged it and sometimes that's half the battle.  The more you do to support our cause, the more we are able to feel at peace with what is, in all honesty, a crappy situation for everyone involved. 


Sunday, October 24, 2010

3 weeks till the Richmond Marathon!

Can we raise $3319 in three weeks?

The Double Marathon Challenge continues.  If our supporters can raise a total of $10,000 by November 13th, Roger will run the Richmond Marathon in his PINK running skirt.  (ooh la la!).  We know that our supportive network can help make this happen!

Two other major events are coming soon.  Get ready to start your holiday shopping because we have some beautiful, original pieces of jewelry inspired by CJSTUF and created by Sarah Blankenship of Crystal Paintbrush.  These pieces will be auctioned on eBay and 100% of the proceeds will go to CJSTUF.  The auction is scheduled to run from November 1-15th.  We will post more details on the website and the blog when the auction is LIVE.  If you missed the announcement in our last blog post, you can view some of the necklaces here.  Here's a preview of a few more pieces:

Finally, we are starting to plan for the 2nd annual Thumbs Up Ball!  Mark your calendars for Saturday, February 12th.  This event was our first official CJSTUF fundraiser and a  tremendous success this year thanks to the Mechanicsville Moms (Cool Spring Chapter).  This year, the baton has been passed to CJSTUF and Alyssa Johansen has stepped up as our Events Chair.  She is currently seeking volunteers who are willing to help with gathering sponsors and planning the event.  If you are interested in helping with this project, contact her directly at

That's all the major news to report.  Please continue to keep up with our Facebook and website updates. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A long overdue update

So as many of you knew, Roger survived the Chicago Marathon.  Official finish time was 5 hours and 55 minutes.  Roger would like to thank our chiropractor (and CJSTUF board member) Dr. Anna Madland of Atlee Chiropractic for her diligent care before the race and Rachel Pustilnik of Stroller Strides for her exceptional training.  It was a warm day with temperatures reaching above 80 degrees by the end of the race so all things considered, he did a fantastic job!  His recovery has been exceptional as well.  I don't think I've ever seen him in such great condition 24 hours after a long race.

Now on to Richmond....

The typical recommended recovery between one marathon and another is 6 weeks but Roger is going to run ANOTHER marathon in Richmond on November 13th.  That's just a month away.  His goal for the Double Marathon Challenge is to raise $10,000.  Our current fundraising update is that we have collected about $6400.  The University of Miami fans are still leading the charge in pledge donations; however, Roger has raised a new challenge.  If Virginia Tech fans manage to raise more money than UM fans before November 13th, Roger will still run the Richmond Marathon in Hokie gear.  If we reach our $10,000 goal, regardless of pledges, Roger will run in the PINK running skirt!  Yes, folks.  You heard it right here.  If you want to see Roger run in a skirt, we have about a month to gain $3600 more in donations.  You can send donations directly to PO Box 854, Ashland, VA 23005 or donate directly on our website via PayPal.

Speaking of PayPal, I am excited to report that we are now able to accept all forms of payment for orders of T-shirts and window clings.  Just go to our CJSTUF store and place your order directly.  What are you waiting for? Christmas and Hanukkah are right around the corner!

October is quickly waning but mark your calendars for some very important November events:

Local jewelry artist Sarah Blankenship of Crystal Paintbrush has created a limited edition set of jewelry exclusively for CJSTUF.  We will be auctioning these pieces on eBay from November 1-November 15th.  100% of the proceeds will go to CJSTUF.  There will be necklaces, earrings, pins, and bracelets.  There will be about 20 pieces in total.  All pieces will be one of a kind, hand crafted with semi-precious beads and stones, freshwater pearls, and swarovski crystal butterflies.  Here's a preview:

Word has it that Richmond Magazine will be running a feature on Sarah's jewelry and the charity auction so we are excited for the publicity!

Our other major November event is set for Saturday November 20th.  Come out to the parking lot at Henry Clay Elementary School from 9 AM-12 PM for Citations for CJ.  Here's your chance to get a "moving violation" for a great cause.  All you have to do is drive through the parking lot, select your "fine" (ranging from $5-25).  Ashland's Chief of Police will cite you accordingly and then our celebrity judges (Ashland's Mayor Faye Pritchard and the Sheehy Ford judge "Mark Down" (AKA Mark Joy) will collect your fines.  We will also have opportunities for you to get thrown in "jail", getting friends and family to bail you out.  All for a good cause!  Mark you calendars, tell your friends, and get ready to get Ex-Cited for CJ!

I think Roger will share his own post-marathon update so I will end it here.  Thanks for the continued support.  I can't believe 2010 is almost coming to a close.  This has been a great inaugural year for CJSTUF.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Marathon Update-CHICAGO!

Hello friends! We apologize for not updating earlier. Not only have we been busy but we haven’t been near a regular wi-fi connection so this blog post is a little late in coming. BUT HERE IT IS!

First of all, a fundraising update: the Double Marathon Challenge has raised over $300 in the last few days. Way to go and much thanks for the donations. We still have some donations coming in from Chicago folks and we will give you an update by Monday (hopefully) with totals.

Our trip to Chicago was very stress-free. Our good friend Carolyn offered us a ride to the airport even though we had to leave our house at 4:30 AM. It was so nice to have a chauffer that early in the morning (not to mention not having to leave one of our cars in the park n’ go lot). Both flights were smooth and easy. Once we got to Chicago, we hopped on the L train and made our way downtown to find our hostess.

Carolyn also hooked us up with a friend of hers who lives right down on Michigan Avenue. She is our hostess for the weekend. Her loft is just down the block from the 25 mile mark and Grant Park where the race begins and ends. Perfect!

The rest of Thursday was spent resting and settling in. Mid-afternoon, we journeyed out to the ‘burbs on commuter rail to see our college friends, Mike and Rebecca. We had a great dinner with them and were more than entertained by their almost 18-month old son who is chattering like a parrot these days.

Friday was a WALKING day. We walked to the Convention Center (probably about a mile or so from our place) to get the race packet and “walk the gauntlet” (as Roger likes to say) with all the vendors hocking their wares. We got lots of yummy food samples, pulled in lots of swag and met a few other charitable organizations that are fundraising through races. It was great to get in touch with these people and swap stories, business cards, and ideas. You never know where a contact like that may go.

Roger wore his new BALD CHICKS ROCK shirt that came from the New Mexico cancer walk earlier this month. His sister Becky designed the shirts and they look great! Roger got lots of interesting comments and inquiries about the shirt throughout the day. You can't tell in this picture, but the back of the shirt has one of Charlotte's pics in her 'bald chicks' shirt along with the CJSTUF logo on the back.  We saw one woman in Grant Park that commented on his shirt. When she saw it, she pulled off her own wig and showed off her bald head! She is not a cancer survivor but has alopecia.

After our trip to the convention center, we played tourist for the afternoon, walking through Grant and Millennium Park and then down Michigan Avenue and out to Navy Pier. By the time dinner time rolled around, we had walked at least 6 miles (whew!) so we headed back towards our lodgings via bus and L train and ended up at an Irish Pub across the street from our loft for dinner.

I must have been exhausted because not long after returning to the loft and changing our clothes, I was ASLEEP!

So today we begin the final countdown for the Marathon. We have been invited to a matinee performance of Candide and then a carb-loading dinner for Roger with our friends. Tomorrow will begin bright and early. The race starts at 7:30 AM (Central Time); however, Roger’s corral will probably cross the start line at about 8 AM or so. If you text and want to receive text updates of Roger’s progress, you can go to and click on runner tracking. Enter Roger’s bib number (26761) and updates on his progress will be sent to your cell phone. I will try to keep facebook updated as well.

He is hoping to finish in about 5 hours.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Change of seasons

We woke this morning to the sound of raindrops against the window.  I haven't heard a better sound in WEEKS.  Here in Richmond, we have gone almost a month without any significant rainfall and with the regional water restrictions, we have had to water CJ's Butterfly Bush sparingly.  This has been a great year for the butterfly garden.  Our yard was visited by many butterflies and bumblebees.  I have seen butterflies everywhere this summer.  I know some of that is just the power of suggestion.  It's like when you buy a new car and all of a sudden you see how many people on the road drive the same, exact car.  They were always there.  You just didn't notice. 

Now I cherish those butterfly visits.  A few weeks ago, I was working the front desk at Romp n' Roll and a small monarch flew right up to the front door, perched on the glass for a few minutes, and gently opened and closed her wings.  She stayed there for what seemed like a long time and then flew away again.  It's moments like those that are gentle reminders of CJ's presence in our lives.

How many butterflies have you seen this summer?

Now that fall is upon us, we are preparing for the change that is to come.  Roger and I both spent some time in the yard yesterday, chopping wood for the winter wood pile and clearing out the window boxes and pots on the back deck. You can definitely feel the change that is coming in the air.

On that note, let me share some news and announcements to bring you up to speed on all the CJSTUF...stuff. 

This week is your last opportunity to get a copy of childrens book Richmond Rocks at Romp n' Roll-Mechanicsville.  The autographed hardback books are $15.70 (tax included) and 30% of the proceeds will go back to CJSTUF.  We can accept cash, check, or credit cards for the books at Romp n' Roll. 

With October right around the corner, we have another Business of the Month to feature:

Madison Fairburn of M. Chase Photography is hosting family photo sessions on October 16th at Pole Green Park to benefit CJSTUF.  This is a perfect opportunity to schedule your family portraits for upcoming holiday pictures.  If that date doesn't work for you or you want a different setting for your portraits, contact her and schedule CJ's Storybook Package any time between October and March.  25% of the proceeds will benefit our organization. 

Doris Hassell of Arbonne skin care will also be a featured business for October.  We will give you more details about opportunities to give back to CJSTUF through Arbonne soon.

The Double Marathon Challenge continues!  Roger has been running quite a bit lately.  His weekly totals are around 35-40 miles at this point.  Two weeks from today, he will be running the Chicago Marathon.  Six weeks from yesterday, he will be running the Richmond Marathon.  For anyone curious about our pledge totals, you can visit our Double Marathon page.  If anyone has been collecting pledges for the UM or VT teams, please begin to turn them in to us.  The University of Miami fans (or non-Hokie fans?) have been leading the charge almost 2:1.  We have received a little over $5000 in pledges and Roger's goal is $10,000 by the November 13th Richmond Marathon. 

Coming Soon in November: 
First, we will be holding an online auction for about 20 unique jewelry pieces that have been created exclusively for CJSTUF by Crystal Paintbrush artist Sarah Blankenship.  The collection will include necklaces, earrings, pins, and bracelets that have been designed with pink, purple, and white semiprecious stones and beads. The butterfly is a prominent theme in many of the pieces.  We are planning for the online auction to take place on eBay during the first two weeks in November.  On that note, we are now registered through eBay Giving Works.  If you are selling items on eBay and want to give a portion of your proceeds to our organization, it's easy through this program.  Simply follow the links to set up your sale.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale (whatever you decide) will automatically be donated to us and you will receive a listing credit for your item. 

Mark your calendars for Saturday November 20th.  From 9 AM-12 PM, the Henry Clay Elementary school parking lot in Ashland will be the site of Citations for CJ.  This will be a fun, easy way to give back to our organization and we are hoping to attract some publicity for the Foundation with this unique event.  More information to come soon. 

There always seems to be more news to report.  Thanks for continuing to follow our blog and website as well as our many musings on Facebook. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I don't feel old...or do I?

It's been a busy week. I celebrated my 35th birthday yesterday.  I'm not sure if I feel my age.  I mean, what does 35 feel like?  I guess it depends on the day.  Most days I don't feel like that is an old number.  Then I look at everything that's happened to me in the last year...5 years...10 years.  Wow! 

We just hired a few a new staff member at Romp n' Roll.  She was born the year I went to college!  It's only when I hear things along those lines that I feel old.  Anyway, it was a good birthday.  As low key as I would like with well-wishes from many friends and family.  As with any holiday this year, though, something was missing.  A pretty big something.  I suppose that is the most difficult thing about life these days.  No matter how good things get, you remember that something (or someone) isn't there to share the experience. 

Earlier this week, Roger went down to the James Center where ASK launched the Kourageous Kids exhibit, showing all the courageous cancer warriors who are being served through the clinic this year. The theme this year was "Hats Off for Kourageous Kids" and we donated one of CJ's hats to the cause.  Another reminder that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  Also, it's not too late to register for the ReeseStrong 5K this Saturday, 9/18, in Mechanicsville.  Roger will be running in his Team CJ pink and purple.  Feel free to join him!

Richmond Rocks books are selling at Romp n' Roll-Mechanicsville all month to benefit CJSTUF.  Books are $14.95+ tax and 30% of the proceeds will benefit our organization.  This is an adorable children's book written and illustrated by local Richmonders.  Not only does it support CJSTUF but it also supports local small businesses!  You can pay for the books with checks, cash, or credit card so get your autographed copy today!

We received some more donations this week towards Roger's Double Marathon challenge.  So far, the vast majority of the donations are going towards the University of Miami Hurricanes side of things.  Are there any Hokies out there that want to see Roger run in a turkey suit?  If they are, they've been vewy vewy quiet!  The challenge continues till November 13th so let's see if we can meet the 10K fundraising goal!

Busy week ahead with Board meetings for the foundation.  By the way, if you haven't noticed yet, you can now access this blog directly through our website.  We've added a tab at the top of the page and the blog will feed there every time we update it.  Thanks to all our supporters who continue to follow us on Facebook and through this blog. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

September is Childhood Cancer Month...and we're busy!

If you didn't know already, September is Childhood Cancer Month. A few facts: 
  • Childhood cancers are the #1 disease killer of children.
  • The National Cancer Institute’s federal budget=$4.6 billion. Pediatric cancers received less than 3% of it.  
  • Overall, one out of every five children diagnosed with cancer dies. In some forms of cancer, as few as one out of every five children will live.. 
  • The cause of most childhood cancers are unknown and at present, cannot be prevented.  In contrast, adult cancers result from lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, occupation, and other exposure to cancer-causing agents.
  • Nationally, childhood cancer is 20 times more prevalent than pediatric AIDS yet pediatric AIDS receives four times the funding that childhood cancer receives.
  • On the average, 12,500 children and adolescents in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer each year.
  • In the U.S., about 46 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer every single school day.
What can you do to help?
  • Wear a gold ribbon to support childhood cancer.  Let's make Gold the new Pink!
  • Attend fundraising and awareness events in your area.  There is a Cookies for Kids Cancer fundraiser in Carytown and one in Short Pump next Saturday (September 11th). 
  • Contact your Senator or Congressperson and advocate in support of more research funding for pediatric cancer.  Visit the Advocacy section of our website for more information. 
  • Support our friends at ReeseStrong by registering for their 5K race (and one mile kids run) on September 18th.  Proceeds will benefit Aileen Jones, a local girl fighting cancer. 
CJSTUF is gearing up for its second distribution of Financial Assistance Grants. Our next deadline is November 1st.  If you know of a family that has a child with a life-threatening, chronic illness that requires frequent hospitalizations, direct them to the application on our website.  The application process is short and simple.  We will give away another $5000 to 10 deserving families on December 1st.  Help spread the word.

As usual, the calendar is full of CJSTUF events and opportunities so LISTEN UP!  We don't want you to miss out on anything

Business of the Month: As many of you head back to school, our September business of the month is Kate Hall and her children's book Richmond Rocks.  This fun book designed for kids ages 4-8 years of age is full of photos and illustrations of some of the fabulous landmarks in the Richmond, VA area.  Kate is donating 30% of sales to CJSTUF during the month of September and we will have autographed copies of the book at Romp n' Roll-Mechanicsville.  The books sell for $15.70 (tax included). 

For more information about our Business of the Month or to get a sneak peek at our October businesses, go to our website for more details. 

Word on the street is that the Hokies are playing some football today. 
Word on the street is that the 'Canes fans are TROUNCING the Hokies fans in the Double Marathon Challenge

Roger is almost halfway to his $10K goal and the 'Canes fans (or non-Hokies fans) are leading the Hokies almost 2:1.  How can you help?  Download a PLEDGE FORM and take it to your next Game Watch party.  Make sure your pledges indicate VT or UM and submit pledges back to us as soon as possible so we can keep a running tally of the results.  

Speaking of which: does anybody have access to a turkey costume?  It would need to be something Roger could run in (we're thinking a headdress, fantail feathers for the "tail" and maybe something for the arms?).  Roger certainly doesn't want to run in VT colors but we want to be prepared all the same!

Finally: This may be last minute notice for some but we are having a small work party at our house tomorrow (Tuesday, 9/6) at 7 PM.  We will be assembling CJSTUF Swag Bags and making cards for families staying at the Houston Ronald McDonald House.  Bring your crafty creativity, come one, come all.  Email Rachel or Roger if you have questions or need directions.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Summer Wrap Up...but wait...there's more!

As usual, there is so much to talk about you don't know where to start.

I will start with the most recent and pressing news and push forward.  Don't forget as August comes to a close that Nichole Frise is selling her Mary Kay wares for CJSTUF.  Any orders placed before Tuesday will benefit CJSTUF.  Treat yourself to a makeover or stock up on holiday gifts. 

Speaking of our Business of the Month I will take this time to let you know that we are BOOKED through February with local and home-based businesses who will be doing their part for CJSTUF.  Every little bit helps and we are excited and appreciative to partner with local entrepreneurs.  A sneak peek towards September and October:

September's Business of the Month will be local author and entrepreneur extraordinaire Kate Hall sharing her childrens book Richmond Rocks More info to come in a future post but we will be selling signed copies of her book and a portion of the sales will come back to CJSTUF in September.  Woo hoo!

October's Business of the Month will be M.Chase Photography.  Do you need beautiful family portraits for those ubiquitous holiday cards?  This is a great opportunity!  More details on Madison's beautiful website but mark your calendars for October 16th or give her a call today to set up your own photo session.  

In running news
Roger will be trekking it through Ashland this Saturday for the Patrick Henry Half Marathon.  I have duties at Romp n' Roll so if you're in the area, come out to cheer for the Mother Runner. No official word yet on whether the ladies raised that $1K and got him the pink running skirt BUT if they do, this is not an event to be missed.  I hope someone has a camera.

Roger's essay recalling his inspiration for running is featured in the August newsletter on the Chicago Marathon website.  Out of hundreds of entrants to the contest (and thousands of entrants in the marathon), Roger's essay was one of about a dozen chosen.   Hope it results in some good PR for CJSTUF too!

This fall weather reminds us that it's almost FOOTBALL SEASON!  In fact, College Game Day is coming soon.  The UM and VT camps are running neck and turkey-neck in the fundraising efforts so here is your challenge: take a pledge form to your next tailgate/gamewatch/football party.  You don't have to be a Hokie or a Hurricane.  We want Cavaliers and Spiders and Tribesmen (women) and even those Seminoles (I shudder as I write that) to do their part in Roger's Double Marathon effort.  Every little bit helps!  Our goal is $10K and we're already almost halfway there. 

We've got some 'Canes over here!
Now for a few moments of advocacy for some of our friends... 

The folks at Miras Movement contacted us about spreading the word regarding brain tumor research funding that is currently making its way through Congress.  If you are willing and able, please visit the Advocacy section of our website (it's new!) with information about WHY this bill is important and HOW you can contact your DC representatives to advocate for this important bill.  

ALSO our good friends at ReeseStrong are registering for the 2nd annual ReeseStrong 5K .  We were so fortunate to benefit from the event last year.  Much of the money that was raised for our cause actually became seed money for CJSTUF when we found it would not be necessary for medical bills.  This year, the Kids Run is benefitting a 9 year old girl named Aileen with a brain tumor.  Please register today for the race on September 18th!  Maybe we can have a butterfly brigade?!? 

Ok, I think that does it for our major news.  On a personal note, I was able to get away to Boone, NC for a few days and it was a great time for rest, relaxation, and reflection.  This has been a week of vacation for The Faison School so I'm using it as an opportunity to catch up on projects big and small. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Part II

As I write this, I'm listening to Tchaikovsky's"Pathétique" Symphony (#6 for you music geeks). Might not be a good idea. We'll see.

August is so crammed with stuf that we needed two blog posts to get it all in. The most immediate thing going on is Rompy's Summer Concert to Benefit CJSTUF. That's TOMORROW! All the final details are coming together and even if it rains, it will be a great time. Our featured performer will be Vinx. He's not to be missed.

It will be at Stonewall Square Shopping Center at 6300 Mechanicsville Tpke in Mechanicsville from 5:30-7:30. We've got a boatload of generous sponsors who are making it so that CJSTUF doesn't have to pay a thing which means all raffles and such are going to the Foundation 100%. We can't thank them enough.

There will also be other organizations present. The VA Blood Services Bloodmobile will be there so if you're eligible, please plan to give blood. I understand they will be bringing the "big" bus where people can do a "double" donation. That's a lot of lives affected by just one act of kindness. Many of the friends we've met in clinic or even via the internet still have serious struggles ahead of them including frequent blood/platelet transfusions. It's gotta come from somewhere so let's roll up our sleeves! I plan to be first in line.

The other cool organization is the 501st Legion Vader's Fist. A group of Star Wars enthusiasts who dress in officially sanctioned Start Wars costumes and raise funds for good causes. They were at one of our concerts last year and were a huge hit!

(TANGENT: As I listen to this music, I am reminded from where John Williams "borrowed" his theme for Indiana Jones. There might even be ideas for Star Wars lying around in there as well.)

So where was I? Oh yeah, the Star Wars guys will be on hand for photo ops and general tyrannical oppression (Suggested $5 donation, please).

That reminds me, we need some volunteers to help them collect money. That way, they don't have to mess with it. If you want to volunteer in any way, please show up sometime between 4:30-5:00pm. I'm sure we can find something for you to do.

Another fine organization coming to the party is the Hanover County Fire/EMS Engine #7. They'll be bringing at least one truck and will let the little ones climb on to check things out. No cost there.

Other possible vehicles showing up might include:
C&F Bank's "Toaster" car
A race car from Battlefield Service Center
A BMW from Richmond BMW on Midlothian

Romp n' Roll will be open

We are planning to have the concert outside but there is a chance for isolated thunder showers. If that happens, we'll move it inside Romp n' Roll and the vendors can set up under the overhang. It will happen no matter what and it will still be a hoot!

Please bring folding chairs if you'd like. We might actually need an extra table or two. Just throw one in the back of your car just in case! :-)

The next pressing item on the agenda is the Bluemont Concert Series in Ashland. The next concert, to be held at the Hanover Arts & Activity Center will be this Sunday from 7-9pm and CJSTUF has been invited to occupy a bake sale booth. We already have some folks baking things but small batches of very creative, butterfly themed (or just pink and purple) goodies might be very nice to have. They all have to be individually wrapped for sale (groups of things are O.K.). The concert is $10 and we get to keep what we make from the bake sale. We're actually as interested in raising awareness as anything so if you come, don't hesitate to let people know about us. The group is called Mandalele and looks to be very interesting.

Next (in the fourth movement, now. This is the one that really gets to me)

We are planning a special event in cooperation with the Ashland Police Department. It will be on the morning of Saturday, October 2 from 9-12 at a location yet to be determined.

Here's how it will work: We will have a clearly marked area in a parking lot or bus pick-up/drop-off area of a school or church and drivers will voluntarily pull in to be handed a "ticket" by an officer (looking suspiciously like Chief Doug Goodman). The levels of "fine" will be:

$5 for a minor traffic infraction
$10 for a "good tail chewin'" by an officer (think smackdown talk by pro wrestlers)
$25 for a full sobriety test (touch your nose, walk a straight line, ABC's backwards, etc...)

Then you'll proceed to our celebrity judge where the "bailiff" will conveniently take your fine...I mean donation to CJSTUF!

We also hope to have car-side entertainers in case you bring little ones with you. There may also be a playground nearby but that will only be bonus happenstance (love that word!) Any jugglers, stilt walkers, or acoustic musicians out there? Hanover Kids will probably play a roll in the festivities as well.

Here's yet another very cool thing that has just popped up. Unbeknown to us, the website has been setting aside a portion of sales of their discount card for CJSTUF. It seems she has set the deadline for TODAY! So if you would like to get a deal and help out CJSTUF, hop on over to right now. That's ok, I'll wait!

Good, now you're back.

Of course, this update has taken me all day and I've gone through several playlists, all of which were good but not too "moment" inducing. Kind of a nice relief.

I'll sign off for now but I'm sure we'll be back soon enough.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I told you August would be busy!

So the Wine Down Wednesday last week was a BLAST!  Final total for the fundraiser was $575 and it was a great way to get the word out about CJSTUF to a new crowd of people.  A huge thanks to Kate Hall from and the folks at Skirt magazine for sponsoring and promoting the event. 

As the saying goes, time and tide wait for no man so we are headed for MORE fun events this week.  As mentioned in the previous blog post, our Business of the Month for August is Mary Kay cosmetics and Nichole Frise is our Mary Kay representative.  Here are the details:

As you can see, there are opportunities to order online, in person (at the Fall Frenzy party on 8/12 or at the summer concert), or by phone. 

Speaking of the Summer Concert, make sure you have your calendars marked and join us for this great event.  We just added a new sponsor this week: Richmond BMW!  We are excited that they have contributed to our efforts.  Can't wait to see the sample car that they bring to the concert.

Finally, our PayPal account has been re-activated so the DONATE button on our website is fully functional again.  Spread the word!

With everything we have going on, you might be wondering how Roger and I are doing.  As might be expected, we are both extremely busy, easily working about 60 hours a week at the three jobs we are each balancing.  Roger and I can go for a day or two without even seeing each other.  Thank heaven for text messages and email!  I think we're both pretty exhausted and there just isn't enough time in the day. 

Thankfully, Roger's gig with Kings Dominion should end soon and we are slowly transitioning my Romp n' Roll duties to others.  We kind of see a light at the end of the tunnel (September) and hopefully things will calm down a bit.  Until then, we just keep pluggin'.  We are in the process of assembling a team of individuals who will compose our CJSTUF Advisory Council for the end of 2010 and going into 2011.  This team will work with us and our board to plan events, help with publicity, and help us organize and coordinate other volunteers.  Are you interested?  Some of you have already told us that you are. If we haven't called on you formally yet, don't fret.  BUT...if you want to make sure that we know you want to help, please go to the volunteer section of our website and become a part of our database.  I will be using this information over the next month to pull together some committees and get organized!

Roger and I had a chance to work a birthday party together today for the first time in months.  As usual, Roger was completely engaging and silly with the kids and we made a good team.  We had an interesting moment when one of the guests at the party turned out to be a little blonde girl of 4 or so named Charlotte...wearing a t-shirt with a purple butterfly design.  She really didn't look anything like CJ but it was a funny coincidence all the same.