Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Shiner Down, Tahoe to Go….and video included!

For those keeping up with our posts, I apologize for the delay in getting the Shiner update. Things have been busy since the event – training, kids, work, more training, more kids, more work but that’s not excuse so here we go….

The Austin to Shiner Century Ride was fantastic. The entire event benefits the American Cancer Society and our Team rides for The Leukemia Society so over 1000 riders pedaled to Shiner raising a ton of money to help wipe out all sorts of cancer. Some were riding in honor of another, some were riding to train, and others were riding just for fun but everyone had 2 common goals – get to Shiner and raise some money in the effort to wipe out cancer…absolutely awesome!!

Prior to the ride, Courtney and Trevor Moore (Georgia’ parents) met us at the starting line. It was so great to have them there and I don’t think I could really express how much it meant to me personally to see them right before we left. It was like a little boost of energy and a little bit of calming for pre-race jitters at the same time. They watched as we rolled out which I think was exciting for them too as they saw hundreds of cyclists rolling down the street….pretty cool if you have never seen something like that before! We had another opportunity to spend time with Georgia and her whole family the next day when we went to a blood drive that was being held in Georgia’s honor. Once it was all said and done, the whole weekend was seemingly “dedicated” to fundraising and volunteering from thousands of people all for the same cause. Selfless (and of course inspiring) are what comes to mind when thinking about all the folks that gave their time on a beautiful weekend in Austin.

Now to the ride – wake up call at 5am – we were meeting downstairs at 6 to head to the start. The day started out a little overcast and cool but NO WIND….at least not yet – this after all is Texas and you never know what to expect weather-wise. As I mentioned in a previous post, my plan was to ride with my Team a little more since we have become close over the past few months and I think it is cool when you see a bunch of folks grouped together wearing the TNT jerseys….the jersey’s really stand out, everyone knows what they are and what they mean, and it really signifies the spirit of the Team. We all started out strong knowing that the faster we rode the less chance there was that we would get caught in the wind. Dianna, her mom, grandma, nephew, and our kids were at a rest stop at mile 35 – this was the first time the kids have seen “daddy” on event day so it was really special to me when I pulled up and saw them holding the signs they made to cheer me (and the Team) on. I saw them at 2 more stops and was looking forward to it knowing that I was only going to see them a few times on the course. I remember thinking as we all drove to Austin on Friday – all 7 of us – that this was going to be crazy and I was going to be worried about the kids and they weren’t going to sleep in the hotel etc, etc, etc…all that went away when I saw Dianna, Abi, and Beau at the first rest stop. Later, I confessed to Dianna that I did not think it was (initially) a good idea that we bring the kids with us, but ended up thanking her later for insisting. It was really special and Dianna and the family did a great job of making sure that I had plenty of time to rest and recover pre- and post- ride. Thank you Fran for all your help!

As ride day went on, there was a pack of us that rode together, sometimes spread over a mile or so and sometimes in a paceline. While I always find inspiration and strength from thinking about Georgia, Allie, and our other honored heroes, I found myself thinking a lot about the Team and why each of them were there. Nick for example, a young, early 20’s, recent Texas A&M grad that lost his brother to Leukemia a few years ago; and Matt (whose wife Jess is also on the Team) who lost a grandparent; and Tex, whose kids are grown and doesn’t have a real significant connection to LLS but is by far one of the most positive men I have ever met; and Kim who has 2 adult brothers that were both diagnosed with Leukemia and she pledges not to get off her bike until they are both in remission; and Coach Becky who gave bone marrow to someone she did not know so that he could live for another 9 months; and the list goes on but my thoughts kept coming back to the fact that some of our Team has a connection to Leukemia and some don’t but what brings everyone together is the CHOICE to do something. Each person on the Team, our Coaches Becky and Tracy, Amber our TNT coordinator, our captains Tommy and Becky, and every participant has made the decision to not sit back and do nothing – they get up and train, fundraise, work, raise families, and ultimately decide that they are going to use their good health in the best way they know how - to honor a loved one, to lead by example, and to make a difference in the lives of our honored heroes. The past few months have been amazing – I have talked about being inspired by Georgia and her family, I continue to talk about my gratitude to Dianna and Allie for introducing me to such a wonderful and meaningful cause, I talked about training and the benefits (physical and mental) that come from pushing yourself but I guess I always felt like I was leaving something out. During the Shiner event I realized that the Team was the “shout out” I was forgetting. In our lives we all come across a person/people that are inherently good, selfless, and inspiring. As luck has it for me, I have spent the last 6 months with a Team of people that live the qualities I admire. For that I am humbled and grateful.

Now it is on to Tahoe – just a few short weeks away! A special thanks to my Dad, Bill and stepmom Debbie for coming to Shiner for the afternoon to see me cross the finish line - we are looking forward to having them in Tahoe to cheer us on too.

More posts to come as we wind down the training season and prepare for America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride!! And instead of just a few pictures...Dianna put together a video of the weekend. GO TEAM!

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Life is a journey, a marathon (or a century ride!)

I know we promised a full blog entry about Shiner...but we've had a crazy week and if you don't know you kind of have to "feel it" when you are writing for a blog...you want it to be heart-felt yet entertaining. And I gotta cut Will some slack...that man has been busy training as the Lake Tahoe Century is right around the corner...22 days to be exact! But he says he is working on the update.

What I have to say is not funny but truly from the heart...and I wanted to share it with you. Some of you might be shocked because if you know us well....you know that Will and I are very private with our affection. Will sent this poem to me the day before we left for his Austin to Shiner ride and it touched me...he said he came across it on the internet and thought it was "timely". Well "timely" got me thinking about our life together. So if you spare me a couple minutes...I'm going to share some thoughts (and feelings!).

Will and I embarked upon our "journey" 10 years ago - it was fast and furious...getting to know each other, falling in love, traveling together and getting married in 2002. Over the next couple years we experienced all types of rolling hills...as most relationships do. We kept moving...pushing on towards something, but I don't think either of us knew exactly what that was. Both of us continuing to find our way as individuals and together as couple. Then in 2006, we were blessed with Abigail and the speed of life increased significantly because Beau came 15 months later...more blessings, but at times, the pace was hard to handle so we leaned on each other as well as family and friends. It was a whirlwind of growth, change and emotions...talk about peaks and valleys! We were no longer a couple but a family...a TEAM. And who doesn't want to be part of team? Life was good. This past year has been fast, flat and exciting....soaring at times yet in an odd way, we found our groove...the pace that makes you feel like you can go forever. Because simply stated, a team is less "me" and more "WE"...and I like that. I like that I have others who depend on me (mostly the kids) but I also like that I can depend on them (mostly Will). I like that together we will continue on this journey through life with every type of terrain before us with no end in sight. GO TEAM BACON!

Life is a journey, a marathon (or a century ride!)
It begins. It ends.
Life is a contest of endurance with hills and valleys, peaks and depths.
A roller coaster ride. One we have little say in the choosing.
Captives of the rail, we journey from beginning to end.
Along the way, we learn that what is important is not the speed with which we transverse the distance, but the determination by which we traverse it.
There will be those who begin with swiftness and sureness only to finish laboriously and with uncertainty.
Others will begin slowly and gain momentum to rage towards the finish line.
BUT, no matter.
We will all finish the line.
There will be no losers.
Each of us benefiting from the richness of the journey.
Sometimes, benefiting from the journey of others!

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The 2010 TIME 100

No, we didn't actually write this blog entry, but we had to share it.... And Yes...we know its been over a week since Shiner and we still have not updated our blog...Will is working on that post and it will be here soon with photos, I promise.

And even though I couldn't be more proud of Will's 100 miles from Austin to Shiner (in 5 hours and 23 minutes...a teaser to his entry) this letter below ROCKS...and had to be posted!

This is YOUR money...the money you give to individuals like Will and I. So all of us together, really make a difference in helping fund (and find) a cure! GO TEAM!

LLS Funded Researcher is on Time Magazine's List of 100 Most Influential People

Dear Friend of LLS:

I am pleased to share exciting news about Larry Kwak, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher funded by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Dr. Kwak was recently named one of TIME Magazine's "100 Most Influential People," for his role in advancing custom-made vaccines for patients with lymphoma.

Dr. Kwak, professor and chair of the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, has focused his work on harnessing the power of the immune system of patients with follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma to fight their cancer. The vaccines are developed by taking proteins from the patient's own tumor, training them to find and kill lymphoma cells and then injecting them back into the patient. Currently in late stage clinical trials, the vaccines have been shown to extend disease-free survival for more than a year.

In 2007, LLS awarded Dr. Kwak a five-year, $6.25 million Specialized Center of Research grant, our most prestigious research award. These grants are distinctive in that they encourage at least three laboratories at the same or different institutions to work together. In addition to continuing his work on the personalized lymphoma vaccines, this grant is enabling Dr. Kwak to expand his research to develop immunotherapies for patients with leukemia and myeloma as well.

Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Kwak has been on the cutting edge of researching and developing novel immunotherapies that are already showing a clear benefit for patients with cancer. We are proud of Dr. Kwak's well-deserved recognition and are honored to have played a role in helping to advance this life-saving work.

To read more about Dr. Kwak's inclusion in the "2010 Time 100" please visit
Time Magazine's website, and to learn more about our Research programs visit www.LLS.org. Please join us in taking pride in Dr. Kwak's achievements.

John E. Walter
President & CEO (LLS)

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