Tuesday, December 29, 2009

18 Down, 24,982 to go

1274. 27.5.  10.2. 18. 24,982.

It's all a numbers game, right? That's what I'm always told. Whether it's sales, recruiting or fundraising, it's a numbers game. So, can you figure it out?

I'll help you with the last two. 18 down. The amount that is currently in my Austin LIVESTRONG Challenge account. 24,982 to go. Need I say more? $24,982 to go until I hit my goal for 2010.


That's a big number, isn't it? Or is it? Let's break it down...

I have approximately 10 months to raise $24,982. That's about $2,500 a month. $625 a week.

Still a big number.

Mind you, there will be events that, I hope, will yield bigger donations. And, along the way (why not today?) I'll meet "angel" donors that will make larger contributions.

If I'm lucky, as I hope to be, I may even find individuals and companies that will be willing to take a week and match any donations that come in dollar for dollar. (Oh, wouldn't that be great!)

The question is, how do I start? How's with this blog. When? This very moment.

2 days before the end of the tax year. It's a GREAT time to make a donation to a wonderful cause. It's an even better time to steer friends or family that are so inclined my way.

January and February are going to be tough fundraising months - this I know. Take the opportunity now.


If you do, I might tell you what 1274 is. :)

Let's just say... 2.0

And I ride for 18. And 26. And sadly counting.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Wait... you don't have cancer?

No, I don't. I've never had cancer. I hope I never will. My (non-existent) spouse does not. Thank G-d, neither do my children. Nor do my parents. An ex-boyfriend, after we broke up, beat testicular cancer. My grandmother died of cancer. My aunt survived breast cancer.

See, that's the question I get asked a lot when I tell people I'm a LIVESTRONG leader and "cancer fighter" and when they ask what kind of cancer I have/had. They expect that I have an amazing story, like I had cancer in all my organs, was doomed to die a slow and miserable death, with odds stacked against me, and I fought and beat cancer and made a miraculous recovery.


That's not me.

So why am I a LIVESTRONG Leader? And why do I seem so dedicated to a cause that is so far from me?

First, cancer isn't that far from you. One in three people around you will have cancer. Russian Roulette dictates you don't know who will get that bullet. Will it be you? Or one of the two people on either side of you? If you, personally, nor someone in your immediate family hasn't had cancer, count your blessings. Welcome to the minority.

Second, because we all know people who have cancer, either currently or in the past, it will touch us many different ways. What have I learned? That this is a disease that I had no idea was so close to me. Once I made people aware that I was involved in LIVESTRONG, I learned that several friends were, somewhat secretly, fighting cancer. They just felt that I didn't need to know so I wouldn't worry. Obviously, being involved in LIVESTRONG you befriend people who are currently battling cancer as well. So, yes, it may seem that, now, my circle of friends includes many more cancer fighters than before. But that may also just be a matter of how many of my friends were willing and open to talk about their battles vs. the LIVESTRONG friends that, clearly, are comfortable discussing it.

Ok. So these are all wonderfully high-level reasons. What's the real reason, the non-socially aware reason why? What drove you to LIVESTRONG in your gut.

I originally started cycling for the same reasons many people start doing things that seem out of the norm. To impress a boy. Yes, a grown woman with 2 children is subject to the same childhood stupidity as anyone.

But, as with all good things, this too shall end. And, while the relationship I was working towards didn't work out the way I'd hoped, I was left with one thing - cycling - and as much as I wanted to quit completely, because it reminded me of him, I couldn't. So, I had to try and find another reason, another thing to relate this new hobby to so that I didn't get nauseous everytime I get back on the bike.

I had become involved through a Grassroots effort, peripherally, as a result of a dare by him, so the LIVESTRONG program was already instilled in my thoughts. And I'd started to get involved with it a tad more through Twitter. Then, I met a former LIVESTRONG Challenge mentor, who encouraged me to become a leader. Which I did as soon as I got home.

And then I started speaking with other Leaders. Other LIVESTRONG cancer fighters. I started noticing the LIVESTRONG bands more and more and started to speak to them - we were from a similar pack. I started connecting with more and more people, befriending them, and then finding out that they were battling cancer. Or had just survived it. Or just lost someone to it.

I found my outlet. I found another purpose to continue cycling.

I'll tell you a  secret. Deep down, am I still cycling for the same, original purpose? Yes. My inner child and innermost parts of my heart still hope. (My curse). But it's not the only reason, anymore.

Anyway, I thought I'd share that so, next time, when people ask me "Why do you do so much for LIVESTRONG when you don't have/haven't had cancer?", I can just direct them to this blog.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Help My Friend Rica "Live Strong" | U N L O A D E D

Help My Friend Rica "Live Strong" | U N L O A D E D

My friend, Ricardo, kindly let me speak to his minions through his blog.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


There is a difference between commitment and ambition.

I will be the last to deny the fact that I am one ambitious individual, and that I often set very lofty, and possibly unrealistic goals for myself. Ambition opens your eyes to new horizons. Ambition drives you to see beyond the limits and see the next frontier of possibilities. The same can be said about a visionary.

But, when that ambition drives you beyond the mere possibility, and turns the desire to commitment, you're talking about an entirely different animal. When you commit, you do not leave any wiggle room. No exit. You commit to seeing the endeavor to the end.

Yes, I am ambitious. Yes, I am dedicated. But I am committed.

I am committing myself from this moment to hit my goal. My first year in Austin will not just be for the LIVESTRONG Challenge, but the Ride for the Roses.

Can you commit? Time to train with me? Encouragement from afar? Spreading the word? A dollar?


Commit yourself with me. Join the team, one way or another. Make a difference.

Monday, November 30, 2009

May 16, 2010 - Fairfield/Westchester "We Will Rock the Ride" Training Ride

Currently on calendar is a bike ride on Sunday, May 16. We will be running this as a club/training ride. We request a minimum registration donation of $18 towards our Grassroots Fundraising fund, however, to particpate per rider. If you would like to solicit additional donations from friends or family, you can direct them to http://www.livestrong.org/grassroots2010/westchesterfairfield.

At this time, there will definitely be a 75+ mile route ridden, as this will be used as a training ride for those participating in the Hope in Motion ride as part of the Fairfield/Westchester Benefiting LIVESTRONG Team, as well as those of us participating in the LIVESTRONG Challenges.

We'd like to see this become a recurring event, as well.

If you are interested in participating, and/or would be willing to volunteer as a guide or leader for this ride, or any others, please leave a comment here, "register" at http://www.livestrong.org/grassroots2010/westchesterfairfield or email me at rmendes.LIVESTRONG@gmail.com.

Thank you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2010 LIVESTRONG Fairfield/Westchester is REGISTERED!

Ok, gang...

After a chat with LIVESTRONG Headquarters today, we are set up and registered to accept funds for 2010!

For now, let's see if we can get a group of riders/runners together for some training rides and meetings! And get sponsors for your training!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

To Screen, or Not to Screen... why is it even a question?

This week, the internet and water-coolers near and far are abuzz regarding the latest positions taken by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (found at http://www.ahrq.gov/CLINIC/uspstf/uspsbrca.htm). Mammograms will no longer be recommended for women 40 and up, but rather 50 and up.

Here is the Lance Armstrong Foundation's official statement: http://www.livestrong.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=khLXK1PxHmF&b=2661079&ct=7675937

Now, here's my take. I will freely admit that I am terrible at remembering to perform self-exams. I've been told I've got "lumpy breasts" anyway - as some of us do - so, when I've done self-exams, and mentioned this to doctors in the past, they just tell me the same thing, "you've just got lumpy breasts." I'm under 40, and well under 50. So by any standard, I wouldn't require a mammogram. And, when I've said to my doctors, "Look, I know I have lumpy breasts, but, really? Are you sure there's nothing to worry about?" I'm told, "Nope, nothing, these are normal for lumpy breasts."

Which leads me to wonder: 1) Are lumpy breasts normal in the first place? 2) What if just ONE of those lumps isn't just a "normal" lumpiness lump, but a bad, malignant lump. And it's getting lumped in with all the rest of the "normal" lumps? 3) How many women out there are also dismissed as "just having lumpy breasts", only to discover, at a later date, that they didn't "just" have lumpy breasts, but breast cancer?

So, even when I was diligent about my self-breast exams, and I found a lump, it was dismissed.

When I asked this year about having a mammogram, just to "be on the safe side", I was told that not only was it not necessary, but that my insurance wouldn't cover it because there wasn't enough cause.

Now, this is NOT a dig at my doctor - I LOVE her to death. I happen to trust her when she says I have nothing to worry about - to date, she hasn't been wrong about anything. BUT... what about women who don't know without question that they can trust their doctors? Or that don't know to continue to question or push?

Forgetting, temporarily, about women without insurance, what about women who have insurance, and, even with the old standards, cannot have a mammograms covered without "due cause"? What qualifies as "due cause"?

Here I am, a woman in my, well, under 40-years (and no longer 21... ), who has found lumps in her breast, asking for a mammogram, with a family history of cancer (including an Aunt who survived breast cancer), being told I can't have one?

Can you imagine what is going to happen with the new standards?

To me, it just seems like insurance companies and like-minded physicians are trying to set themselves up for protection as the current health care system is being reviewed and possibly becoming a federal mandate. After all, the best defense is a good offense, right? Are they really taking the stance of, "Ok, you want us to take care of everyone? Fine, Mr. Do-Gooders, we're gonna make you pay. Now this isn't necessary, and this isn't necessary, and neither is this, so get out the checkbooks, because someone is going to pay us the premiums we want... "

Am I being extremist? Perhaps.

But I happen to like my breasts. Lumps and all. They have a small fan club, in fact. So, I'd rather not lose them in the near future because I'm told I'm too young for a mammogram.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

"A Taste of Yellow" will be returning in the near future...

Last night saw a small, but enthusiastic group of LIVESTRONGers! Given that there were more people that wanted to attend, but couldn't make a weekday, I think we'll give it another go on a weekend! But, we enjoyed a lovely spread!

Curry-laced chummus with "Taste of Yellow" Peppers

Since this seems to be THE asked about recipe, here it is...

  • 2 cans of Garbanzo beans (yes, I used canned - I am notorious for either burning, undercooking or fermenting dried)
  • 3 tablespoons of sesame paste (tahini) (to taste)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro
  • 3-6 cloves of garlic (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of Za'atar
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder (or, if available, 1/8 teaspoon curry powder and half a handful of fresh curry leaves)
Add the drained beans, tahini, garlic and lemon juice into a food processor and turn on. Once smoothing out, slowly add the olive oil and spices. Stop processing and taste. Re-adjust seasoning to taste (all depends on the brand of the garbanzo beans and strength of the tahini). Once to taste, and completely smooth, pour into a bowl. Take a fork and create "grooves". Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with curry powder.

Cran-Orange-Oat-Almond Muffins

Tossed salad with yellow heirloom tomatoes, yellow peppers, feta and a citrus/cumin/banana pepper dressing

Maple-roasted squash soup

Yellow cake with mandarin-icing, decorated with the LIVESTRONG band in mandarin oranges

The table, along with the lemonade (vodka on the side for those 21 and up)

The centerpiece (the kids made it... aren't they cute?)

Please contact me for recipes...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Crazy Busy *AND AMAZING* Week...

Wow, what a week! A week ago yesterday, I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Craig D. Tifford Foundation gala, which honored the Lance Armstrong Foundation's CEO, Doug Ulman. I had the opportunity to steal a few minutes of Doug's time (YES, there is a photo of the two of us... somewhere... I don't know where at the moment - trying to get a copy from the foundation!) I had the chance to tell him about what we, LIVESTRONG of Fairfield/Westchester are trying to achieve, and he was very happy to hear about it!

On Halloween, my son, in an effort to contribute towards the $25,000 goal for 2010, chose to collect money and sell LIVESTRONG bracelets in lieu of Trick or Treating. Well, we are $69 ahead of the game, now, as a result! (That's him, dressed as Lance Armstrong, selling his wares at the Pound Ridge Fire Department Halloween party!)

Then, on Sunday, we went to the NYC Marathon to cheer on members of TEAM LIVESTRONG - a group of 252 runners from all over the world that ran in order to raise money for LIVESTRONG. Of course, as you can see by the obnoxiously large, but effective banner, we were there cheering on Jose "Cheo" Biton, an old and dear friend of mine from my Young Judaea years, who is almost at his $3,500 goal! Cheo was running in honor of both his parents, who survived cancer.

As you can also see, we weren't alone! Many of the LIVESTRONG crew, including Doug (second from the right, in the grey jacket, behind the woman with the yellow LIVESTRONG sign and grey hat), Collen Wilson (with the pig tails and grey hat) were there to cheer on fellow runners. (Yes, that's me, on the far left with my daughter. I agree - I should have been wearing the hat - my hair looks like a cross between the old Malibu Barbie with the awful highlights from the 80s and Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction". Never leave home with your hair wet!)

So, a second chance to catch up with Doug, some of the other staffers from LIVESTRONG, and the chance to introduce the kids to their "heros". Not to mention, watch Cheo and others run for a great cause.

On top of that, we now have commitments from more artists to donate items to our gala, including Carol Rosen, noted sculptress and artist, Aaron Bigio, an artisan bike decorator and rack builder from Boston, and Marie Olmedo, a photographer sending us a piece from Europe!

What a week!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Weight lifted... sigh of relief, what's next?

It's hard being far away and in a position of not being able to hold a hand when you want to. My friend, and Mary Kay colleague, Carolyn, was just diagnosed with a brain tumor a week or two ago. Understandably, she was overwhelmed. While I have LIVESTRONG friends who are available to her, she isn't in a place, yet, to accept their help. For now, all I can do is wait for updates from our Mary Kay National, Lisa Allison.

I knew that she was going in for her first surgery yesterday, so imagine my relief when I saw Lisa's update on Facebook:
Lisa Allison
My Director, Carolyn came out of the surgery today after 5 hours just fine. In fact, she is telling jokes and laughing already. She's moving her body with no problem. They only had to take a small portion of hair where the very small incision... was and she still has her beautiful red hair!! She is in intensive care right now and will be moved to a room within two days. Thanks so much for your continous prayers.
 I hope that, soon, Carolyn is in a place where she can accept the holding hands of my LIVESTRONG friends, as not only will she have the organization at her beck and call, but they can hold her hand in my place.

Her fight is just beginning, but so far, so good. Please keep her in your thoughts.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

First Speaking Engagement: The Rotary Club of Northern Westchester - 10/26

Yesterday, I took the kids to the Family Fall FunFest so the kids could bounce around. I brought my backpack just in case the kids did any crafts or got any goodies. Good thing, too. While many of my friends that volunteer and work for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (survivors and supporters) were riding in the Ride for the Roses in Austin, Texas, and getting ready for the LIVESTRONG Challenge, I decided that I should do something positive. So, I donated blood (they had a bus at the school for the day).

Once I was done donating, I caught up with the kids in the cafeteria, where they were making some Halloween crafts. I noticed that the Rotary Club had sponsored the event. I thought to myself that there could be a nice opportunity to invite some women interested in charity work to the Taste of Yellow event on November 11. I introduced myself to the lady handling the hot chocolate, and, when she asked a little more about LIVESTRONG, I remembered that I had some of the Taste of Yellow flyers in my backpack. As I was getting the flyers out of my bag, she got very excited and asked, if by chance, I was free Monday night. Usually, I have my Mary Kay meeting, but I told her that it depended - what did she need? She asked if I'd be willing to speak at their dinner on Monday night. It turns out that their planned speaker canceled, and they didn't have anyone to fill in.

I told them I'd be happy to fill in, as long as she would come to the Taste of Yellow! She smiled, said she'd do her best, so I told her I'd be there!

So, tomorrow evening, I'll be speaking on behalf of our local LIVESTRONG Army, and hopefully gain the support of the Rotary Club!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

UPDATED - Part of LIVINGSTRONG is to let go a bit...

10/22: Today, I attended the funeral of someone who lost their battle with cancer. He was someone from the community, and someone I wrote about in my blog. (For my reflections of the funeral, and what I, personally, was feeling, see was http://unicorns-and-dragons.blogspot.com/2009_10_01_archive.html).

Listening, however, to how he lived his life, the legacy he wanted to leave his baby boy and family (he was fortunate enough to be able to articulate this to family and clergy before he passed away), while I questioned why I was there, I kept playing with my LIVESTRONG bracelet. I knew why I was there.

I knew.

Perhaps someone would catch a glimpse of the tell-tale yellow band on my wrist and read the message. Though I was weeping for the life that was lost that I didn't get to know (and I wish I had), I was standing strong. I represented a family-member's school day friends. I was standing there for nameless others that stand strong for families and friends and mourners and fighters all around the world.

I knew I had to be there.

I had to show there was a tomorrow. That he wasn't going to be forgotten. That the pain and agony that he, and his family endured, was not unnoticed. That the immediate pain of the loss was seen at the moment and during the mourning process. But we know that pain started a long time ago, and will continue. But there are shoulders to lean on. To help them continue to LIVESTRONG when he cannot. For him. For themselves. For his son.

Jonathan will LIVESTRONG. That's how he lived his life. He loved the outdoors, he loved the challenges of the sea, of running on foot, and riding his bike. He was part of the LIVESTRONG family before the cancer. He was part of the LIVESTRONG family without ever wearing a yellow band. And the LIVESTRONG family will be part of theirs, if they want us to be.

@rica620 For Jonathan's family. Thought of him.  Packing up &... on Twitpic10/27:  I just received this image from my friend, Jody, who offered to ride a portion of her LIVESTRONG Challenge in Austin, TX in Jonathan's name. I just wanted to share it with you:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When all you can do is hear the news...

In the past week, I have found myself in a repeatedly awkward situation. I have heard the "news" that someone that I know, or close to someone that I know, or close to someone I grew up with, has cancer or has already died of cancer. As a number of my personal friends can tell you, I am a "fixer" (typically of everyone else's problems, but that's neither here nor there). You tell me it's broke? I find a way to un-broke it. I will neglect my own duties and responsibilities to try and make things right for you. No, it's not a motherly instinct, it's just how I'm wired (or miswired, as some may believe).

When you get news of something like this, especially because you're not directly involved or impacted by this person's cancer, things become even blurrier as to what your role is supposed to be and what you can do. Of course, the immediate answer is to provide whatever support the family and friends that you are in contact with need. Attend the funeral. Bring whatever you can to allow the family to grieve - while I am Jewish, and therefore, it's part of what I'm supposed to do, I love the fact that our religion recognizes that mourners are in no position to host guests, let alone take care of themselves, feed themselves, etc. They need this time to grieve, set aside the daily grind and everyday chores for a while, and depend on their community to care for them. So, Jewish or not, think about asking the family if, while in mourning or supporting someone in treatment, if you can bring dinner for them all, run some errands, walk the dog - whatever you can.

But what else can you do? And, let's be even more honest. The "novelty" tends to wear off after the first few days. I don't mean that to be disrespectful or cynical, but realistic. The farther you are removed from the people grieving or immediately supporting the person going through treatment or recovery, the easier it is to walk away. It's only natural.

So what then?

This is where I, personally, find LIVESTRONG to be an amazingly wonderful outlet for those who are aware of cancer in their circles and community, but don't have much to offer the cancer patients or their families and friends outside of support when it's appropriate. (Another fact of life - sometimes, it's not appropriate to inject yourself in someone else's private business and battles, no matter how good your intentions are.)

If you are like me, and have this strange drive to "do" something to "make it better," and find yourself in a position of not really being able to "do" anything, channel that energy into the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Know that, even though you, personally, may only be passing on information, raising funds by riding a bike, baking a cake, buying a piece of art or running a race, what you are doing is helping someone. You may not know where that someone is, you may not know if it's bringing food to a family too busy and tired to cook, getting resources for someone who feels overwhelmed and lost with the diagnosis they received or holding someone's hand as they learn what their treatment course of action is - you are enabling those who can do something.

And, if you decide to bike in that metric century, run that marathon or sign a petition, do it in the honor or name of person who sparked your need to do something. Let the family know what you're doing. That someone "out there" knows about what they are going through and are doing what little they can to help in the only way they know how.

It's ok.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What are YOU going to make for "A Taste of Yellow" on November 11?

Since I'll be hosting the "Taste of Yellow" Food Challenge on November 11 (details at http://www.livestrongaction.org/content/taste-yellow-tasting) as a LIVESTRONG fundraiser, I realized I'd better hone my skills and really nail down one of my recipes. (Wouldn't it be awful if the hostess' dish was a clunker?)

So, in keeping with Barbara Harris' Blog (which inspired the event), here's my appetizer entry:

Maple Acorn Squash Soup:
2 acorn squashes
2 cups of kefir
1 cup of apple sauce (sugar free)
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons (or to taste) Cinnamon
1/2 - 1 teaspoon (or to taste) Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Cloves (ground)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Ginger powder
1 teaspoon Adobo seasoning
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Curry

1) Pierce the flesh of the acorns and microwave on the Potato setting on your microwave oven (or cook for 10-15 minutes at a 7-level on your microwave). Once done, allow to sit in the microwave until cool to touch. Preheat your oven to 450. Cut the acorn squash in half, scrape out the seeds, and cook in the oven, cut-half down in a glass dish or pan,  for another 10-15 minutes or until the squash is very soft and slightly roasted.

2) In a pot, scrape the meat of the acorn squash and stir in all of the spices. (Start with the smaller amounts and then add to taste. If you want a more savory/exotic taste, use more of the curry, Adobo and ginger and less of the cinnamon and nutmeg. If you want a sweeter/more fall taste, do the opposite.) Turn the heat on the pot to Medium, and, using an immersion blender, blend the squash into a puree.

3) Once smooth, slowly pour in and blend the applesauce. Bring to a very light simmer, stirring frequently.

4) Once smooth and brought to temperature, slowly pour in and blend the kefir into the mix. Bring to a very light simmer, stirring frequently.

5) Add the maple syrup, and blend in with the immersion blender.

6) While re-heating, be sure to taste for the spice-blend you want. Adjust seasoning, continue to reheat and serve.

Serve in bowls, and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Served here with my cranberry-oat-apple muffins and home-blended pumpkin-pie spice coffee.

So what do YOU plan on bringing with you?

Friday, October 16, 2009

LIVESTRONG CEO, Doug Ulman, Honoree on October 29 at Gala for Stamford-Based Cancer Foundation: The Craig D. Tifford Foundation

If you read the first blog entry here, you'd know that on September 13, I'd attempted to ride 200 miles as a LIVESTRONG Grassroots event. Almost 3/4 of the way through, I had to stop due to a hamstring injury. I saw an orthopedist named Dr. Tifford. Dr. Tifford is a Stamford-based orthopedist who was referred to me by my primary care physician. We noticed at that first visit that we both were wearing the LIVESTRONG wristbands. By then, I had begun our local LIVESTRONG Army and let him know that, if he ever wanted to do something to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation, that would be great. He gave me a funny smile and said, "Sure."

When I had to follow up with him, I couldn't find his number, so I Googled him and then laughed. I realized why I got the strange smile when I invited him to "get involved."

From his website, http://www.cdtfoundation.org:

"I was diagnosed with testicular cancer in January of 2002. My biopsy results revealed that I had choriocarcinoma, a rare, malignant and highly aggressive form of testicular cancer that had already spread to my abdomen, liver and lungs. At the time my wife, Gail, was 3 months pregnant with our second child and my son, Jason, was almost two years old. The diagnosis was shocking, as I had been leading a healthy and active life as a husband, father and orthopedic surgeon... The Craig D. Tifford Foundation exists to provide funding for research, to increase public awareness and to further patient education and support for men with testicular cancer. We are dedicated to improving the lives of patients and their families during and after cancer care."

I have since followed up with him (he has also been working with me after I was hit by a pick-up truck biking home on October 1), and I discovered that October 29th is The Craig D. Tifford Foundation's Seventh Annual Gala Benefit.

The AMAZING Doug Ulman, CEO of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, will be receiving the Orchid of Life 2009 Award and will be there!

I will be working at the event, and I would love to see some of you there, if you can make it!

The Craig D. Tifford Foundation's Seventh Annual Gala Benefit will be held on Thursday, October 29, 2009 in New York City at Twenty-Four Fifth. Please join us from 7:00 to 10:00 for an amazing night of reognition, special musical entertainment, cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, live auction, raffles and a "Great Time with Great Friends for a Great Cause".


Let's do whatever we can to #beatcancer.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lunchtime Leadership

Since I work a full-time job, have two very attention-hungry kids, try to ride to and from work daily, there are not enough hours in the day for my LIVESTRONG planning and meetings. I squeeze it in here and there - in between approvals on projects, doodling and jotting notes down here and there. But, let's face it, not the most efficient way of planning. And certainly not for holding meetings.

So, I'm taking a new approach, which started today. I work in Downtown Stamford - the heart of Fairfield County business, IMHO (sorry, Norwalk... too spread out and not as established). I realize that there are a lot of important connections here that I can easily meet with during my lunch hour. Especially since Stamford is a very convenient place for both Fairfield and Westchester County events.

Today, I met with a wonderful lady at the Bennett Cancer Center. I haven't stepped foot in the Stamford Hospital facilities for cancer since 1980, when my grandmother died of cancer. To say that times have changed is an understatement.

We had a wonderful meeting. I think neither of us had an idea of what we could offer one another, aside from the fact that I'm growing a group of people that want to help, and she works with a staff and for a group of fighters and survivors that could use whatever we could conjure up together.

Out of the meeting, I learned that they had been trying to find a local LIVESTRONG connection, and didn't have one. And they were baffled as to how our very well-populated area could have been missed and fallen victim to the old adage, "Well, it's within an hour of Manhattan, so... " Alas, another victim to the "If it's not in NYC, it doesn't exist". I had to smile, though, because, as I explained, that's exactly why I wanted to start a Fairfield County/Westchester County LIVESTRONG Army. While it seems to many that live afar, and within Manhattan itself, that NYC is certainly easily accessible, you couldn't be more wrong. And there is a need. I could tell from a very distant place that it was needed. But to hear from a "pro", that, indeed my instincts were right, and our area had fallen off the support radar, made me feel a little more secure in my concept to start a local LIVESTRONG Army.

The good news is that we're here, now.

We're going to be able to network with cancer survivors that would like to join us in providing support for cancer fighters. We're going to be able to participate and co-sponsor events. We may be able to provide the Bennett Center with an avenue for online social networking with younger cancer patients that are timid and reluctant for direct, face-to-face interractions until the "time is right" for a "Tweet-up". And, hopefully, that will lead to a comfortable community of young cancer fighters that can support one another in a venue that suits their lifestyles.

I'm pleased to say that we have some awareness and fundraising events that piqued interest, and I have a call into another level of support providers at the Bennett Cancer Center at Stamford Hospital. I learned of a couple of WONDERFUL ways that LIVESTRONG can get involved with post-recovery fitness and transitional programs that the Stamford Health System provides. And there was quite a bit of eagerness in getting involved with our January gala to raise awareness for Cervical Cancer and the "unsexy" and more difficult cancers to promote. We talked frankly about how some cancers, specifically those that seem to have connections to behavior automatically seem to paint the fighter with a stigma. "What, you have cervical cancer? Oh, well, you brought it on yourself with what was obviously a promiscuous, irresponsible lifestyle. And you have HPV, too, I assume?" "Oh, you have lung cancer? Well, all that smoking and pollution in your neighborhood is to blame." Where as "Feel your boobies" and "I'm a uni-baller, too" can raise an uncomfortable giggle and provide an inside joke to fighters and survivors and put those on the "outside" at ease, other cancers aren't quite as "fun" or allow themselves to have quippy little catch phrases that alleviate the brevity.

So, we are moving forward in the right direction.

And, I found that in one lunch hour, a lot can be accomplished.

Interested in any of these projects or ideas? Drop me a line, leave a comment, feed your advice.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sad news with a twist of hope...

Today, I had a follow up appointment with my orthopedist, Dr. Tifford, after my hit-and-run bike (me) vs. pick-up accident on High Ridge Road. Dr. Tifford is a big LIVESTRONG supporter here in Stamford. As a testicular cancer survivor, and well respected member of the community, he started his own foundation, which also supports the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and will be honoring Doug Ullman at their upcoming annual event (at which I will be volunteering). Not only was I very happy to speak to him about the gala, but I got word that I do not have a torn meniscus and can go back to cycling as usual. (The hamstring injury that put a stop in my 200-mile ride 140 miles in is healing very nicely, too.) On top of that, he had some great advice for our January gala we're planning, so I was pretty happy on my way back to the office.

Until I checked my Facebook account and I saw the status of my Senior National Sales Director with Mary Kay, Lisa Allison. She announced that a fellow Mary Kay team member, Carolyn Davis, was just diagnosed with brain cancer. I was shocked. Carolyn, who lives in Texas, is one of the funniest, silliest, most energetic people I've ever met. She makes me look quiet, speechless and most wall-flower-like. (NO JOKE.)

I immediately Tweeted to my LIVESTRONG friends to pray for her. I looked up her number and gave her a call, to offer my support, and to see if I could put her in touch with some of my LIVESTRONG friends. Not 2-minutes into the call, my Twitter page was flooded with replies. I had 2 LIVESTRONG friends offer to go to her bedside. Another to send her support. And messages of hope and prayer and thoughts for Carolyn.

Holding back my own tears, I told Carolyn about the response. And she was so happy. You see, she hasn't even had a chance to tell her family yet. She just learned about it. And she's scared. And confused. (I could hear her trying to be strong, but she's shaken.) It was sudden. Unexpected. By the way, like me, she's a proud woman. Not the type to ask for help, from what I can tell.

She was so happy to receive the offer of support from people neither of us have had the chance to meet face-to-face yet.

THIS is why I'm a part of LIVESTRONG. THIS is why this organization touches my heart. Without question, the minute the big "C" enters someone's life, a virtual army of supporters come to hold hands, kick cancer's butt and be with you.

Please pray for Carolyn.

(VERY special thanks to Jody and Lynn. Thank you.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

People are eager to help...

I'm sure that many of you can understand my trepidation and fear that we won't be able to reach our lofty $25,000 fundraising goal for 2010. Given the current recession, regular notification from former colleagues that they've recently been laid off, their company is shutting down, and they are desperately seeking work - any work, I set that goal thinking we'd be lucky if we came in at $15,000.

But, I have to tell you, even though we haven't officially begun fundraising yet, I am hopeful.

You see, as you may have already read, I'm working on planning a Gala event in January, which will feature a silent and a live auction. For those of you familiar with Bi-Cultural Day School, my alma mater in Stamford, CT, they hold an annual auction that brings in tens of thousands of dollars in one night. It's a huge event. I've been lucky enough to work as a volunteer for that auction as a student, and later as a parent. I hope that the Gala in January will turn into the same kind of annual success.

But Year 1 can be daunting to set that precedent.

It just so happens, that I know a thing or two about these kinds of auctions. First and foremost, you need to start asking for donations to the auctions sooner rather than later. And I wanted to test the waters. As luck would have it, I have several friends from the course of lifetime that are artists. Since Lance set the precedent of art being connected to LIVESTRONG, I took his lead, and asked a number of these artist friends of mine if they would be willing to donate one piece that might reflect, or a new piece inspired by "LIVESTRONG" to the auction. All but TWO enthusiastically said yes. One is just waiting for clearance on another LIVESTRONG project, and the other has been on tour and has no more pieces that he can donate, as he's booked with commissions through the end of 2010. (I can't blame him, can you?)

I approached a woman who was demonstrating Beyond Granola at Scotts Corner Market (who has already indicated they'd be willing to work with us as a rest area sponsor) the other day about donating granola to the spring ride/run I'm planning. She agreed, and, a few minutes into the conversation, she's giving me contact information for a possible location for the gala, and indicated we may be able to get the venue as a donation!

Following up on another topic, I mentioned to Edward Wimmer that I was starting a LIVESTRONG Army here in Westchester/Fairfield, and if he'd ever consider donating a RoadID or two. His response? This morning, I got confirmation that 3 gift cards were en route for us to auction and/or raffle off at one of our events. Without hesitation.

The moral of the story? Now, more than ever, those that have understand that organizations like the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and other groups, that offer free services to those who need, and actively try and provide for those struggling (physically, emotionally, financially) need support.

And they are willing.

All you have to do is ask.

If you would like to learn more about upcoming events, have ideas of how you can help, or have something to donate for the auction, please do not hesistate to reach out.

Remember - you are already entering the conversation with a no. In the best case scenario, your request will be answered with a yes. In the worst case scenario, you end where you started.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


You'll see a new feature over on the right - the Wall of Strength. That's where I'll list the names of loved ones, friends, and anyone who is currently fighting, survived, or lost their battles to cancer.

It's a place to memorialize, know who to keep in our thoughts, and find inspiration.

Please submit names to be included, along with their status.

Thank you!

First LIVESTRONG Day Event - Accomplished!

Ok. So it was a small one. But it's an event nonetheless - The LIVESTRONG Army of Westchester/Fairfield Counties is all of 2 weeks old, if that!

The local LA Fitness allowed me to have a table (prime location) in Stamford, CT. Sold a few bracelets, but signed up a LOT of people, very eager to participate!

Some photos...

Can't wait to see all of you who signed up at our next event!
Think you can cook or bake? Think you can eat? Let's test it out at A TASTE OF YELLOW!

Inspired by Barbara Harris' online/blog event, accept the LIVESTRONG challenge - cook or bake your best "Yellow" recipe! Bring it to the Taste of Yellow LIVESTRONG Challenge, have it photographed and judged and we'll see whose recipe deserves the Maillot Jaune (Yellow Jersey)!

Of course, the $18 cover charge will be going to the Lance Armstrong Foundation in honor of LIVESTRONG Day!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kicking off as a LIVESTRONG Leader

What a week to kick off my role as a new LIVESTRONG Leader! My first event is today, in Stamford, CT, at the LA Fitness 6th Street location from 5-9 pm and just this morning, the Lewisboro Ledger published an article online that went to print on 9/24 about my first LIVESTRONG event - my Double Century. (Which was interrupted by a strained hamstring, so I only got to 178 miles.)

More to come, later! Enjoy the article!