Friday, April 29, 2011

Here In Monterey! (Seaside, Actually)

Rachel and I arrived in San Francisco, CA very late last night (in the wee hours of the morning, truth be told) and were promptly picked up and carted away by Shelley Wilkinson, our most gracious host, chauffeur, cook, and tour guide (not to mention West Coast Chairperson for TEAM CJ). We wasted no time completely collapsing into bed when we got to her and husband David’s house in Seaside but my body wouldn’t let me sleep past 6:00am Pacific Time (which is 9:00am Eastern) so it was another short night.

I’ll be napping as soon as I get done with this post!

Rachel, Shelley, and I went down to Monterey to check out Cannery Row, scope out wineries in the area, and find lunch. If you find yourself out here, I strongly recommend you stop off at the Pacific Grove Chamber Of Commerce Visitor Center across the street from the Science Museum and have them tell you stuff. They love to do that kind of thing and will give you awesome coupons to use at area establishments; like free appetizers at local restaurants, discounts for whale watching (might use that Monday), and maps. (I LOVE MAPS!!!) They also have a statue of John Steinbeck and Rachel couldn't help flirting with one of her favorite authors!

We used said coupons at a place on the bay called Fish Hopper Seafood & Steaks and had a VERY yummy lunch that included clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl (almost can’t come out here and NOT get that at least once), calamari, and artichoke heart. Rachel had fish, the name of which I can’t remotely remember (I had never heard of it before but it was good!).

We ate outside on a deck overlooking the bay and watched the waves come in and out and various birds do the same.

Then we headed around the bay to get a look at the “beaches” and snap some pics of the water smashing against the rocks but we didn’t stay out long as it is unseasonably cool with a brisk wind that made it a bit uncomfortable to be out for too long. What was amazing was what looked like this pink creeping flox (although I think Shelley said it wasn’t flox) covering a good portion of the hills up from the water. The blanket of pink wrapped all around the southern point of the bay and was striking to say the least.

Rachel was strongly reminded of the day we were in Daytona Beach after Charlotte’s Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World and CJ was sitting in a chair on the balcony all day, just enjoying the peace of the water. We asked her if she wanted to come in several times but she was comfy and we let her sit.

I agreed with Rachel and that photo is my Facebook profile pic again for a while.

Next was the short trek to the Fitness Expo to pick up race packet, shirt, and bus pass for the marathon on Sunday. It’s a smaller race overall (if you can call 13,000 participants small!) which translated to a much faster check-in experience. Strange but I was actually wanting more of “The Gauntlet.”

On an aside, here's a video of some of what we're in for.

Tomorrow we will join up with James Staudte and family for a day of Aquarium exploring and carbo-loading later at Shelley’s house. Some of the staff of the Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition will be coming over to the pasta-party and we’ll be presenting them with a check for 25% of the funds we’ve raised so far. Donations are still coming in and we’re so grateful to everyone who has helped.

Speaking of that, time for another bit of a family story:

“Yulisabel (Yuli) is a 3 year old with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). She routinely needs rides to treatment (a considerable distance) as her father works and is the main driver and supporter for the family. She has a 4 year old brother and they live with 3 other families in a house on the outskirts of town. They share one bedroom.

Yuli loves to listen to the radio. Her mother also has music on her phone and she puts it up to her ear and this young girl is mesmerized. Her mother has recordings of her son singing and Yuli making noises around the house which keeps Yuli happy during the long rides to treatment.”

Yuli’s is one of four local Monterey Bay area families who will benefit from TEAM CJ’s FUN-raising efforts this week. We always like to say that we aren’t finding a cure but we are helping to make an un-bearable situation more bearable. Please don’t forget that YOU are a big part of that “WE.” CJSTUF couldn’t do it without your help.

Wanna help some more? Demand for what we do has increased dramatically this year as word of our mission and success has gotten out. We are already on track to receive double the number of applications we received last year and we would like to fund them if possible. If you’ve donated to any of our events, that’s wonderful and we’re not asking you for more. We ARE asking that you tell your friends and families about us and see if they’ll send us just 4 bucks ($1 for every year of Charlotte’s life) or a multiple thereof: $8, $12, $16, etc… You’d be amazed how it adds up. Here's the link

As usual, Rachel and I can’t thank you enough for helping to keep Charlotte’s legacy alive so we can “take care of the living.”

Love on your little ones like there’s no tomorrow.

I’ll blog atchya later.


p.s. Finally: Good luck to all doing the ASK 5K tomorrow morning. Our thoughts are with the Parents of Lois and Abbie as they begin their own marathon

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Family Stories

Here is another one of the families we will be benefiting via the Big Sur International Marathon on Sunday. (SUNDAY!?!?!?)

"Maria is an almost 1 year old that has a gastro-tube and cleft palate. She is the baby of 4 children of a very hard working family. She has 2 sisters and one brother. Their family has just recently moved from a house to a small duplex. Living conditions sometimes can worsen as the toll of long term illness sets in. Not having enough to go around is the norm. This child was taken from the mother at birth and sent to LPCH for 6 months. The mother could only see her child occasionally as the hospital was far away and complicated with transportation difficulties. The mother worked until this child but had to forgo employment to meet the immediate family needs."

We leave for the West Coast tomorrow and I'm bolstered by the uptick in donations coming in this week. Here's my personal FUN-raising page but I don't really care how the donations come in. Don't forget that every $10 donated gets you entered into a drawing for one of 8 photography packages!

I'm convinced that this will be the most draining race I've done, both mentally and physically. Besides Charlotte, who is always with me, I will have a slew of beautiful children and their families on my mind as I gaze at some of the most breathtaking scenery on Earth. I hope the body holds out for one more round.

I've been getting some light physical therapy on my knee to help strengthen it and get me into good habits for recovery after the race. I would be very remiss if I didn't thank Jenn at Performance PT in Mechanicsville, VA for making a noticeable difference in a very short amount of time. She also has been willing to to wade into the murky waters of insurance weirdness to ensure that I get treatment no matter what. Of course, she was highly recommended by Dr. Anna so how else would she be but awesome?

Next post will hopefully be from Sunny California! Thanks again to everyone for helping me to make a difference.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Abbie Catherine Waters

Supposedly, when you break a bone, the place where it heals becomes stronger than before. I'm trying to figure out if the heart works the same way.

Another of the families we've met along our journey has been burdened with the ultimate sorrow. Abbie Waters, the girl who captured Charlotte's eye in the A.S.K clinic with her flowing purple outfit and beautiful bald head, passed away last night at Children's Hospital of Richmond. Her 9th birthday was this week.

I'm not sure how much warning her parents had but we all learned there were no more options just yesterday. The look in Jeff's and Mary Ann's eyes when I visited was so horribly familiar. I was very thankful that Abbie's room was filled with people who love them. They will need that love and support as they move through their grief.

Please keep them, and the (too many) other families dealing with this awful, crappy, sucks to the "N"th degree disease in your hearts and love on your own families like there's no tomorrow.

As for me, I fell in love with Abbie pretty much the same day Charlotte did. It's very simple: At that one particular moment in the clinic, when Charlotte caught sight of Abbie and would have rather looked at her than whatever Dora or Diego video was cued, Abbie helped make my daughter happy. To me, that was a priceless gift for which I will be forever grateful.

And my heart is broken again.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Here Comes Big Sur!

Now that the Monument Ave 10K is over and I finished in the mind numbing time of 1:03:58, it is time I focused on the ultimate challenge of the season and that’s the Big Sur International Marathon May 1 near Monterey, California.

As usual, I’m FUN-raising for and I have a personal FUN-raising page to gather pledges! Please click here to support me in my endeavors. My goal is to raise $10,000 overall which will make CJSTUF ready for the 2012 year.

The wonderful part is that I’m not alone in this. Some very special people are helping to make it a successful event including Shelley Wilkinson, my very good friend from my college days at the Univ. of Northern Colorado, and the amazing people at the Children’s Hospice & Palliative Care Coallition.

Because of them, we will be using some of the money raised to benefit families right there in the Monterey Peninsula so PLEASE tell any and all friends, family, acquaintances anywhere remotely near the west coast to pledge a few bucks to the cause.

The 26.2 mile course has been modified this year from a one-way, “point-to-point” race starting in Big Sur and finishing in Carmel to an “out-and-back” course beginning “just before the Carmel River Bridge and heading south on Highway One. The Marathoners will start first at 6:45 AM, followed by the 21-Milers. The turnaround is yet to be determined but will be in the vicinity of Rocky Creek Bridge. The 21-Milers will tentatively turn around at Rocky Point Restaurant. On the return trip the Marathoners will take an approximate 1.7 mile detour through Pt. Lobos State Park before returning to Highway One.”

This is due to a 40+ foot section of Highway 1 falling into the ocean making the traditional course impassable. There are many people griping about not being able to run the traditional course but as I’ve never run it, the scenery should still be breathtaking both ways for me.

It’s also convenient for me in that they have extended the maximum finish to 6-1/2 hours. I have the feeling I’ll need every second of that! I will finish triumphantly; in last place but triumphantly!

I expect this will be my last marathon for a while as my knee is still giving me fits but I plan on running smaller races after a little PT and sports rehab.

Thank you all very much for your support. Please remember that Every Day Is A Bonus.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Girl Scouts Give Back

CJSTUF would like to give a huge shout-out to Girl Scout Troop 3454.  These creative ladies are currently working on their Silver Service Award Project and dedicated the focus of their project to our organization.  

Girl Scouts can earn a butterfly badge so they used our symbol as an opportunity to spread the word about CJSTUF. Troop 3454 invited the Brownie and Junior troops from the area to a Butterfly Day. The event included 6 stations. At each station, the girl scouts shared information they had prepared about monarch migration, endangered butterflies, the butterfly life cycle, and instructions on how to create a butterfly garden at home.  They included butterfly crafts, planting seedlings, creating butterfly poems, and even butterfly-shaped snacks!  The centerpiece of the event was a HUGE pink and purple papier mache butterfly created by the scouts that was decorated by everyone in attendance.  

Learning about butterfly habitats

Planting Zinnia seeds

Learning about different butterflies

Monarch Migration Station
Re-enacting the Butterfly Life Cycle

The Papier Mache Butterfly

Looks cool, right? But wait....there's more! To build awareness about CJSTUF's programs, Troop 3454 distributed information about our foundation to the scouts in attendance and asked everyone to bring non-perishable, healthy snacks.  The troop will now sew pink and purple lunch/snack bags that they will fill with the healthy snacks and then deliver to our friends on the 7t floor of Children's Hospital of Richmond (MCV) as part of the CJ's Meal Fairies program. 

Kudos to these creative, motivated young ladies for their hard work and dedication!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

First Annual CJSTUF Butterfly Social

Wanted: Creative Hosts and Hostesses

Do you like to entertain? Welcome your friends & family to celebrate with dinner, drinks, or refreshments in exchange for a donation to CJ's Thumbs Up Foundation.  

Plan to host an event in your home (or any place of your choosing) sometime between May 23 and June 5, 2011. You decide on a theme and your guest list.  The options are limitless:
  • Pizza party
  • Family Movie night
  • Memorial Day Barbecue
  • Fancy Gourmet Dinner
  • Neighborhood Block Party  
  • Elegant Tea Party  
 After you pick a date, contact us so that we can provide a host toolkit to help with all your party planning needs. The toolkit includes invitations and reply cards (that can be sent electronically or via paper), CJSTUF fact sheet to share with guests, party ideas, and a step-by-step guide to creating a fabulous Butterfly Social.

For more information, you can visit our website or contact our Event Coordinator

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Announcing Our April Biz of the Month

Are you looking for an opportunity to work with a fabulous professional photographer for your family pictures?

Eight Richmond-area photographers have donated a 30-minute photo session and 10 digital pictures with unlimited printing rights. During the month of April, every $10 donation will be entered as a chance to win a photo session with a participating photographer.   

Special thanks to our participating photographers:
To enter the giveaway, make a donation to CJSTUF online between April 4th and April 30th. Cash or check donations will also be accepted at Romp n' Roll-Mechanicsville. Each $10 donation will equal one entry into the raffle. (i.e. a $100 donation = 10 entries) 

For more information, check out our Biz of the Month page on our website.