Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Every Little Thing...

I've always felt that "everything happens for a reason"we may not understand it then or ever but I do believe that there is reason. Maybe that is what I have to believe...maybe that is part of my faith.  I'm not one to talk about my faith out loud.  Those close to me know I believe deeply in God and that is where I put my trust and it is how I raise my children to believe.  

I also believe we are all part of a much larger that we can't see and we may never see until we reach the other side.  But while we are here on earth,  I feel it is our duty to do be kind, helpful, generous - to give and receive love.  

The saying goes that people come in and out of our lives. Some stay for a short time and others for a lifetime.  I've met some of the most compassionate, caring and dearest friends in the past five years since I've been heavily involved with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and fundraising for cancer research.  

In particular one of those women, Kelly Thomas...happened to live down the street from me.  We connected via an online neighborhood mom's group she started and at the time she donated an item to a Silent Auction I was participating in for a fundraising event. But we never met face-to-face.  Little did I know that less than two years later our paths would cross again when her 2 year old daughter, Lainey, was diagnosed with leukemia on August 23, 2013.  Lainey is currently in remission and doing well, but will receive treatment through November 2015.  After I reached out to Kelly to offer support, she signed up to run her first half marathon and fundraise for LLS.  Will, my husband, was her marathon coach.  I remember meeting with her at Market Street and her telling me Lainey's story and how she knew there was a reason or a purpose that this happened to their family.  We just seemed to become fast friends.  As if Lainey's cancer wasn't enough for their family....two weeks before our race, Kelly received some devastating news.  She was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in April 2014.  I remember that Friday afternoon when she called me because I was at school and I saw her number come up and I thought "Kelly wouldn't call unless something was wrong with Lainey" so I picked up.  She proceeded to tell me and I simply couldn't keep it together...and all I remember telling her was that Will and I would do WHATEVER we could to help her and Dave get through this.  And I meant it!  I hung up and called Will.  
Kelly ran that half marathon and ROCKED it!

On Tuesday, August 5 Kelly completed her 5th chemo treatment and also announced the beginning of a nonprofit organization that she founded and I'm proud to be a part of called Love is Louder than Cancer. 

And just one day later, Wednesday, sweet Lainey had to receive a spinal tap and chemo.  Kelly asked if I could join them since Dave was out of town helping his company, PepsiCo sign up hundreds of people to get swabbed with Delete Blood Cancer to be a potential match for someone.  Nothing can put life into perspective like sitting in a pediatric oncology floor watching your friend who isn't even 24 hours post chemo herself hold her daughter while she is getting her port accessed crying because it wasn't numb enough yet.  Big tears flowed from all three of us.  But there were also moments of laughter because children are resilient (and silly).  And moments of peace as I watched Kelly pray over Lainey as they put her to sleep for the spinal tap.  And then there was the BEST I dropped them off and was talking to Kelly at the door about the nonprofit stuff...Lainey came running over and said, "Thank you for helping me today."  My heart exploded...because that is what life is about!

Lainey and Kelly are both fighters and their family has a strong belief in God and His purpose for their lives. When Kelly began chemo treatments she asked her friends to do a random act of kindness on the day she was receiving help "Spread the Love" and show the world that #loveislouderthancancer.  And thus the name of the foundation was born!

Love is Louder than Cancer will spread love by providing financial and emotional support to families fighting cancer. Starting a non-profit though is expensive and to make an impact we need on-going funding. We are in the process of applying for our 501c3 status and Love is Louder Than Cancer Foundation is now an official LLC non-profit registered in the state of TX. Please consider making a donation to help us honor our fight through helping others with their fight. No amount is too small!

Stay tuned...we have BIG PLANS.  For now you can follow us on our Love is Louder than Cancer Facebook page.   Spread the love and spread the word!

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Houston Marathon: Round 2

It has been almost 2 years since my dear friend's son, Grant, experienced his first seizure and shortly after received a diagnosis of Epilepsy. It has been a learning experience not only for Grant but for the entire family. Grant's Gang started when I went to my friend (Jessica Watkins) and said "you wanna run Houston Marathon" and fund raise for epilepsy?"   Both charity runners already it seemed like the natural thing to do...Jessica needed to focus on something positive and I wanted to help her!  So there we were...Jessica, myself and Tony (Grant's grandfather) ran the  Houston Marathon in January 2013 and were the TOP FUNDRAISERS for the Epilepsy Foundation.  

This year more of our friends are joining Grant's Gang. Please welcome Robin Strong, Will Bacon, Andy Rose, Serene Simmons, Talya Sapienza, and Frank Payne! We are excited to have them training and running along side us. Granted it is nothing new...we are all long time TNT friends and you've probably seen their names mentioned in many of the previous posts on this blog.

Current statistics show that roughly 500 patients are diagnosed EVERY DAY with some form of epilepsy - 30% of those are children.  In addition to providing medical care, education, and therapy to epilepsy patients in Texas, The Epilepsy Foundation provides the largest residential epilepsy camping experience in the country! 

Grant attended The Epilepsy Foundation's Camp Spike N Wave last summer and will attend Camp Neuron this summer. It changed his entire perspective on his diagnosis Jessica said.  He was able to spend a week with kids just like him. Never having to be worried or embarassed that he might have a seizure. It was life changing! Jessica promised that moment that she would give back to the organization that has given so much to her son. 

Please consider a tax deductible donation today in honor of Grant. You may click on the donation link or the image on the right side under "DONATE".  Any amount will help us reach our goal and hopefully exceed it. We want to be the top fundraisers again!  

With love and gratitude!

Grant's Gang
Jessica Watkins, Dianna & Will Bacon, Robin Strong, Serene Simmons, Andy Rose, Talya Sapienza, Frank Payne and Tony Collins

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Sunday, May 11, 2014


This is LONG overdue - as in almost 2 months but we did it...we ran DC on Sunday, April 28, 2014.  It was a weekend full of emotions - lots of laughter and a few tears were shed along the way.

This was Will's first season as a coach for Team in Training.  Half our team participated in Rock & Roll Dallas Half marathon in March and the other half came to DC with us.  Of course there was tons of sight seeing - we have so many photos I can't post them all so I'll just stick with one of my favorites : )

Jessica and I ran the entire race together...and had #selfiesunday at every major monument along the course. But our favorite photo was by the Cherry Blossoms because it was the one photo Grant asked his mom to take : )

For LLS, the Nike Women’s Marathon Series attracted more than 44,000 participants in Team In Training (TNT), which is the flagship fundraising campaign that is celebrating 25 years as the original charity sports training program. TNT trained 1,500 runners this year for the D.C. race.  It was a SEA OF PURPLE to say the least.  We were proud to be a part of it...and even more proud to wear our Tiffany necklace.  The Nike DC race series gives a Tiffany necklace instead of a traditional race medal.

But the BEST part of the weekend was being there to celebrate Team Lainey.  Lainey was diagnosed on August 28, 2013 with leukemia and has undergone the last eight months of treatment...but still has roughly 18 months until treatment is complete.  However, two weeks before this event, Kelly (Lainey's mom) was diagnosed with breast cancer.   Kelly was surrounded by six of her dearest friends who also fundraised and ran the race.  

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness #bostonstrong

Today was the much anticipated 118th Boston Marathon following the tragic events of last year's bombing.  The marathon is always run on Patriot's day which marks the first bloodshed of the Civil War in America.  These are things I didn't know until about four years ago when I started running...BUT you don't have to be a runner to understand how important today was for the City of Boston or the running community -- simply put if you believe in the freedoms granted to the citizens of the United States of America -- today was an important day!

As I anxiously watched the marathon (while explaining some of the history to my students)....the Pledge of Allegiance came to mind which then led me to the second line of the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

It is easy in today's world to see all the negativity that surrounds us...just turn on the local news or the world is filled with so much crime against humanity.

April 15, 2013, was no different...tragedy had struck USA soil again.

Why?  That is what many of us asked a year ago as we watched the aftermath of the Boston bombings...three dead and injuring an estimated 260 individuals....lives forever changed.  Senseless tragedy!

I can't pretend or understand to know the answer to that question...I don't think anyone does.  But what I saw today as Meb Keflezighi, the first USA male to win the Boston Marathon since 1983, crossed the finish line was just that...."Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

To have an American win the Boston Marathon following last year spoke volumes to me!

Boston is #bostonstrong 

Like many friends of mine, I follow several survivors of April 15.  How can you not? Their stories are an incredible amount of inspiration and hope.  It is proof that good prevails over evil.

Two particular survivors came to mind as I thought about what Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness means to me on this day:

Life - the period of time a person is alive; also, the experience of being alive.

Jane Richard.  Jane is the younger sister of Martin, the eight year old boy who was killed in the bombing.  Jane, her older brother and both parents survived that day.  This photo was posted exactly one month ago on the Richard family blog page when Jane received her new "cheetah" running leg.  In her parents words, "There is much activity in our lives these days, which goes a long way toward distracting us from what is certain to be an emotional one-year anniversary on April 15.  A day doesn’t pass when we don’t cry over the loss of Martin, but we also laugh when we think about him, which feels like the right way to remember a little boy with a zest for life and a caring heart."

Liberty the state or condition of people who are able to act and speak freely; the power to do as one please; freedom from physical restraint. 

Adrianne Haslet-Davis. As I said, I follow several of the survivors; however, I didn't learn about Adrianne until earlier this month when I read this article and started seeing her name come up in several news stories with the marathon approaching.  She has spoken out publicly that Tsarnaev should receive the death penalty for his crimes.  Adrianne, by profession, is a ballroom dancer.   She has had a rather strong and rapid recovery and as you can see if already dancing again!  She is quoted saying, "I'm not suffering.  I'm thriving."  

Pursuit of Happiness - right to freely pursue joy and live life in a way that makes one happy without violating the law or rights of others

Meb Keflezighi is an American long distance runner and graduated from UCLA where he won four NCAA championships in track & field.  He is the 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist in the Marathon and finished in 4th place in the 2012 Summer Olympics. He won the 2009 New York City Marathon on November 1, 2009 and as of today the winner of the 118th Boston Marathon in a time of 2:08:37.

Meb is quoted in today's post-marathon interview saying "The crowd was phenomenal. I used them and they used me. The energy was just phenomenal. Toward the end I was remembering the victims who passed away. I said to myself 'I'm going to use the energy to win, just like the Red Sox did.'" 

And he did WIN...for Boston, for the USA and for himself...his time was 31 seconds faster than his personal best.  

“It was not about me,” said Keflezighi. “It was about Boston Strong.”

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

2013 boasted...$73.8 Million in Research

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is committed to curing leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Your support is invested wisely.  

LLS Investment

Because of the continued support of you and our partners and sponsors, in fiscal year 2013 we were able to:
  • invest $74 million in research, which includes funding for 122 new grants to researchers in academic institutions and $14 million in contracts through the LLS Therapy Acceleration Program
  • support 328 research projects (and 26 TAP partnerships) in the United States, Canada and 7 other countries
  • provide financial assistance to patients
  • sponsor scientific conferences around the country
  • produce educational materials and videos
  • run dozens of Family Support Groups nationwide

Check out the 2013 LLS Annual Report here!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Marvel Comic (Signed) - AUCTION Benefiting LLS & TNT for Andy & Tranette Rose

I am hosting this Charity Auction for my friend and fellow TNTer, Andy Rose.  He and his daughter, Tranette, are on our marathon team training for Nike DC Half Marathon with us this coming April.

Below you'll see three photos. Two signed Marvel comics and one of decals, patches, bracelet, and an LLS LED light. See all details below...


About the comics: 
These comics were sent to Aidan "80" Peterson by Marvel Comics while he was in the hospital with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. After he found peace and went home to Heaven, his Mom Lawson, gave them to Andy and asked him to keep one for himself as a memento of Aidan and to AUCTION one to raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through his and his daughter's TEAM in Training fundraising account. 

Both comics are in *mint* condition. THE HIGHEST BIDDER WILL HAVE CHOICE OF ONE OF THE TWO COMICS. ONLY ONE (not both)! The other as stated above is being framed and kept by Andy.

In addition to ONE of the two comics, the winner will also receive ONE LOVE 480 patches, ONE LOVE 480 decals, one "SOMEDAY IS TODAY" LED keychain light, and one CUSTOM MADE bracelet as shown made by Andy's wife, Dione. The bracelet shown is "by way of example". If you're not a runner and would rather have a bracelet made with orange (80's favorite color) or another color Dione can do that.  This bracelet is purple and green for Team in Training.

How to BID:

  1. BID in the comments below on this BLOG POST. You must have a google account to bid so there is verification (no anonymous posts allowed). 
  2. List your FULL name, email address and bid.  You may list your phone number if you are comfortable doing so.  We will REMOVE this post once the auction is over next week!
  3. The starting bid came directly from Andy at $100.00. 
  4. Bids must be in $5.00 increments or will not be counted. 
  5. This auction will go until Tuesday March 25th, at 12:00 NOON and the highest bidder will be awarded at that time via the 'time stamp' of the post.
  6. If highest bidder fails to make donation via website within 24 hours the next highest bidder will be contacted.
  7. 100% of the DONATION is to be DONATED DIRECTLY TO TEAM IN TRAINING VIA fundraising link provided.
If you have questions please email Andy directly at

Happy Bidding!

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Drink Beer for the Greater Good

Please join us to "Drink Beer for the Greater Good" on Saturday, March 15 at Community Beer Company while helping raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  The event is come &  go so you don't have to stay the entire time.  For a $10 admission you receive 3 beer tickets (full glasses not tasters) and a wonderful afternoon with friends.

Help us spread the word...invite friends and family as this is our final fundraiser for Nike DC Half Marathon. Jessica, Robin and I will receive $1.00 for each person who attends! GO TEAM!

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Be Strong. Fight On! In Memory of Zach Guillot.

On Friday, February 7, 2014 at the age of 9, Zach was granted his angel wings to "fly and love" with another honored hero Aidan "80" who battled the same type of blood cancer.  Even though I did not personally know Zach and his family I have been following their journey for quite some time.  Zach's family is originally from the Dallas area but he has spent the last year in Seattle at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center touching the lives of every person he met!

Zach battled AML for FOUR years and endured THREE bone marrow transplants!  AML is Acute myelogenous leukemia and one of the most aggressive forms of leukemia especially in children.  AML usually is given a 50/50 survival rate.  

His mother Julie said the doctors described him as a "medical marvel" and he "contributed much to the knowledge of how AML can be managed and treated."  He was also regarded by his medical team as one of the "toughest kids they had ever met."

Julie has asked that those who followed Zach's journey share the following "far and wide" and I'm honored to help spread Zach's journey to our friends and family because if this can help one family not lose their child to AML that is enough!  Childhood cancer isn't easy and it isn't is BRUTAL and from the mothers I personally know and ones like Julie who I've followed...the stories of what their precious children endured and what they had to witness is beyond comprehension.  My heart breaks for them.

If you'd like to make a are the items that Zach's mom listed:

1) Donate blood or platelets in Zach's honor.  Zach required bags and bags of blood and platelets to fight an internal bleeding transplant complication.  Visit the Red Cross website or Carter BloodCare for locations near you.

2) Enter the Bone Marrow Registry.  I've posted about this multiple times and the previous post lists a Bone Marrow drive on Friday, February 14 at Children's Medical Center in Dallas.  For other information please visit Be the Match or Delete Blood Cancer.  Both feed into the same database, so if you are registered with one you are technically on both.  If you are interested in hosting a drive at your place of business or church just let me know and I can put you in contact with individuals who can assist you!

3) Donate your baby's cord blood. If you are pregnant you can save a life by simply donating your baby's cord blood (from the umbilical cord). Cord blood donation through Be the Match is SAFE & FREE! Zach's last transplant was a double umbilical cord blood transplant....two unrelated anonymous mothers gave Zach a 3rd chance at life and Julie stated "on the day of his death, his new baby blood cells were proliferating wildly and he had new blood, free of leukemia!"

4) Help the Guillot family directly fund AML immunotherapy at the Fred Hutchinson Research CenterImmunotherapy involves engineering specific white blood cells to RECOGNIZE cancer cells as foreign and DESTORY them, without the toxic side effects of chemotherapy. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, the birthplace of the bone marrow transplant and world experts in the immune system, has developed killer T-cells that can recognize and kill AML…these cells are working right now in a small group of patients who remain in remission. 

Last I want to share a video that was made by someone who doesn't know Zach nor do I know this person but it was shared on Zach's facebook page which I strongly encourage you to visit.  This is a beautiful and inspiring video.  Listen past the young man talking at first...the song has always been one of my favorites and has remained on my race day playlist for the past 3 years...when I need that extra push this song does it...and now every time I hear it I will think of Zach. 

In closing, many still ask how or why we continue our involvement with LLS?!  

This is WHY...because no child should endure 4 years fighting cancer!  And HOW we do by being a part of Team in Training and raising funds for life-saving research.  LLS is funding the immunotherapy that was mentioned before...that is why I've posted the Fire for Fire video so many times to help bring attention to where your donations are going!

So I also ask that in addition to one of the above please consider making a donation to my current Nike DC half marathon event and help us continue to fight for a cure!

(the way Zach's mom signed every facebook post)

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Share you Heart...Show you Care this Valentine's Day

Children in the hospital this Valentine’s Day won’t be able to trade valentines with their friends, but with your help we can still make their day special! Check out the links below or visit the sites of children's hospitals in your area for a program.

1) Choose a valentine, designed by a Texas Children’s a patient (Houston), and type a personal note, or pick one of the fun notes provided. Cards will be delivered to patients on Valentine’s Day. Free of cost.

2)  Send an eCard to your friends & family and share the warmth of Valentine’s Day. eCards feature artwork created by children being treated at Texas Children’s Hospital (Houston).  When you make a donation and select the design you can send it to up to 25 recipients. 

3) Send an eCard to friends and family on any holiday including Valentines.  eCards are designed by children at Medical City DALLAS.  Donation is requested.

4) Become a registered Bone Marrow Donor with BE THE MATCH. Donor Registry Drive on Friday, February 14 at Children's Medical Center in DALLAS!  Please click the link to find out more and sign up to SAVE A LIFE!

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

One year closer to a world without blood cancers!

In 2013, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society invested $73.8 million in RESEARCH!  You can see further breakdown below by clicking on the image and viewing the 2013 annual report.

In total $185.3 million was raised by LLS campaigns such as Team in Training, Light the Night and School & Youth programs such as Pennies for Patients.

Help us celebrate by supporting our efforts to find a cure for cancer...DONATE TODAY to support Jessica, Robin and myself as we train and fundraise as team Heart & Sole for this year's Nike DC half marathon!

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Mission Monday: Where is my Money Going?

This serves as the first post of 2014 so....Happy New Year!

I've got 3 things I want to share as we dive fast and furiously into the year...and everyone gets so busy:

1) First and foremost...Georgia, our honored hero and friend, wrote the most beautiful end of year post on their family blog.  Please take a moment to read it and see what life is like through the eyes of a teenage cancer warrior and survivor.  Georgia and her family are never far from our hearts and always on our mind!

For the second and third item, I wanted to showcase to our family, friends and donors why we are so passionate about LLS and where those donor dollars are going that everyone so generously gives us:

2) Today, LLS announced that it awarded four new grants and one of those was given right here in Texas! LLS spends millions of dollars every year supporting the work of the best and brightest blood cancer researchers around the world. To learn more about the Texas-based researcher meet her here.

3) LLS-funded research has led to the discovery and development of lifesaving therapies, including targeted therapies that selectively kill cancer cells and immunotherapies that help a patient’s immune system destroy cancer cells. Watch one of those cutting edge therapies. Since 1954, LLS has invested almost $1 billion in blood cancer research. Some of the therapies first approved for blood cancer patients are now helping patients with different types of cancers and other serious diseases. New effective therapies, once unimaginable, are saving the lives of blood cancer patients today.

This is where your DONATIONS are going...this is the life-saving research you are helping LLS fund...not someday but TODAY!   

Emma, the little girl in the above video, is now 18 months cancer free. Over the holiday she was featured on the TV show The Doctors and you can visit her website to read more about her and the amazing team of researchers and doctors that made it all happen!

If you haven't had a chance to donate and would like to do so now...please click this link or the donate image in the right banner.  I'm currently fundraising and training for the Nike DC Half Marathon and Will is coaching the spring marathon season.  

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