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Category: A Good Sport

My Positive Impact – Rivanna Conservation Society

Rivanna Conservation Camp

ARTICLE – POSITIVE IMPACT MAGAZINE


The Writers Story:

My Positive Impact – Rivanna Conservation Society

By: Jack Luecke

Picture yourself sitting with your feet in the water, your hair blowing in the breeze, with a crumpled McDonald’s bag at your feet and a crushed beer can at your side.  You would be at the Rivanna River, a river that runs through Charlottesville, Virginia, and then into the James River, which then empties into the Chesapeake Bay.  There has been a lot of talk about what people could do to help the Rivanna, but there hasn’t been enough talk about what people will do.

One organization has talked about what they would do and is currently doing it: The Rivanna Conservation Society (RCS)  has done numerous things to help clean the river:  river paddles, riverbank and in-stream cleaning, public education forums, citizen involvement programs, teacher and student education and training events, river buffer repair and plantings, and watershed restoration.  A few months ago, I went to a riparian buffer tree planting that was right near Charlottesville Airport.  We planted about 2,500 trees in a couple of hours.  Oakland School participated; three kids from my school (North Branch) showed up voluntarily; one of our science teachers and her husband showed up; and a lot more people came and worked.  It was good to see so many people out there working and being aware of this problem, yet many more people could be working. People are destroying the river with cans they don’t bother throwing away and trash that is thrown down right near the Rivanna River.  This pollution will kill thousands of animals, and if people swim in the river, they could get a nasty disease.  If we don’t realize what we are doing soon, the Rivanna will be ruined with garbage, and it will be so much harder to clean up later.

I’ve been around a river all my life.  When I think about how beauty is destroyed, especially if it is natural beauty, I feel devastated.  So I am really glad to hear that an organization is taking action.  This organization is the Rivanna Conservation Society.  I’m glad that they took action because a lot of people were talking about what they could do, instead of doing anything.  They gave me something to do, and because of them, I was able to make a positive impact on the river.

Writers Name: Jack Luecke
Age Group: 13-16
Writers Name of School: North Branch School
Writers City & State: Afton, VA
Instructors Name: Katrien Vance
Instructors Title: Middle School Teacher
Interviewee Name: Rivanna Conservation Society
Interviewee Organization: Rivanna Conservation Society
Intervieweewebsite:
Interviewee City: Charlottesville, VA
Interviewee State: VA

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Jim Kelly Former NFL Quarterback & Hunter’s Hope

Jim Kelly

By: JP Peterson with Jenna Sampson
Photos Courtesy of Jill & Jim Kelly

On the day before the 2010 Super Bowl at The Delano Hotel on South Beach, NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly was surrounded by celebrities of all types— including Queen Latifah, Chris Daughtry and Keyshawn Johnson. Hotel guests were being served champagne and Lobster Bisque, enjoying the sweet Florida breeze as it wafted through the lobby, caught up in the excitement that only a Super Bowl week can bring.

Kelly, an All-Pro quarterback for the Buffalo Bills from 1986-1996, led the team to four consecutive Super Bowls. It was here, on the eve of the biggest game he was never able to win, that he shared the greatest loss of his life. This great man, who has earned a place as one of the top quarterbacks of all time, recounted the devastating loss of his only son, Hunter.

Hunter was born with a rare genetic disorder known as Krabbe Disease, which affects the central and peripheral nervous systems. “The first couple months, he was in a lot of pain and was suffering,” says Kelly. “He was misdiagnosed twice. If they would have [done the Krabbe test] when Hunter was born, there is so much we could have done, but by the time we found out, it was too late.”

After the loss of their son, the Kelly family established a foundation, Hunter’s Hope, and have fought hard for legislation that will allow for every newborn to be tested for 54 diseases including cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, and HIV, plus any diseases the American College of Medical Genetics deems necessary in the future. If doctors know immediately what they’re dealing with, they can often save the child’s life or significantly reduce the suffering. That’s what should have happened with Hunter Kelly. Every state tests differently so the Kellys have been traveling state to state to plead with politicians to help their cause.

“When Hunter died, I was devastated,” Kelly says. “I didn’t want to talk with anyone, and my wife Jill said, ‘Jim, if ever there was a time to use your name, this is it. Let’s not hide behind this. Let’s help other kids.”

The efforts of Hunter’s Hope Foundation are working and the federal law mandating universal screening has been passed. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been funded so nothing has been implemented on a national scale.

“I’m not real good at asking for money, but it takes money,” Kelly admits. “We are just a small grassroots organization. We send so much money to other countries, but we have so many major issues right here in this country we need to take care of. This is one where we can make a difference.”

In October 2010, Jill Kelly’s book, Without a Word…How a Boy’s Unspoken Love Changed Everything, was released. It quickly earned a spot on the New York Times Best Seller List, with a portion of the proceeds going to Hunter’s Hope.

“There are so many people out there that need to be encouraged,” says Jill. “I just hoped that this story would be a beacon of hope for these people—that God is real and that you can triumph in the midst of tragedy and that real joy can still be found in the midst of suffering.”

Together, Jim and Jill Kelly and Hunter’s Hope are saving lives and truly making a positive impact. And because of a boy named Hunter, thousands of children across the country are having a second chance at life.  For information about how you can help, visit www.huntershope.org

SIDEBAR

NFL: During Jim Kelly’s golden years with the Buffalo Bills, he became notorious for frustrating opposing teams by perfecting the no-huddle offense. Known as a blue collar quarterback with a strong work ethic, he led the Bills to six AFC East Championships and four consecutive Super Bowls.  Kelly was also known for his ability to make late drives, producing game-winning touchdowns (13 times) with less than two minutes on the clock. Kelly holds the all-time NFL record for most yards gained per completion (44) in a single game (September 10, 1995 vs. Carolina Panthers). At the time of his Hall of Fame induction in 2002, he was only the 8th quarterback in history to be selected on the first ballot. His touching Hall of Fame speech was dedicated to his son Hunter.

USFL: Kelly was drafted by the Bills in 1983, but chose to take a chance on a new league and sign with the USFL’s Houston Gamblers. When the league folded, Kelly signed with the Bills for the 1986 season.

College: As a quarterback for the University of Miami, Kelly was selected as a 1982 Heisman Trophy finalist along with fellow play callers Dan Marino and John Elway.

Positive Impact Magazine Creators Jen Hellmann & Charity Beck with Jim Kelly in Miami for the Superbowl 2010

For information about how you can help, visit http://www.huntershope.org

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Enjoy a weekend at the races!

raceswithwomen

The Head of the Hillsborough Regatta is a set of rowing races around Harbour Island patterned after the Head of the Charles Regatta, a popular annual event in Boston Massachusetts. The Head of the Hillsborough is in its infancy, but could grow to be an important Tampa event attracting people from all over to Tampa’s waterfront. The races may be watched free of charge from Davis Islands, Downtown or Harbour Island. The Stewards’ Club is a special viewing area at Hillsborough Community College’s Dr. Gwendolyn W. Stephenson District Administration Center, 39 Columbus Avenue on Davis Islands. Join Ken Walters and friends there this Saturday, October 11, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., for cocktails, brunch, music and racing. There will be a hat contest at 1 p.m. See the invitation below and go to www.headofthehillsborough.com for tickets and more information. Portions of the proceeds to benefit the Stewards Foundation, which uses the sport of rowing to teach teamwork and responsibility to young people.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

10am – 4pm
39 Columbia Drive
Davis Islands, Tampa, Florida

$85 per reserved seat($600 per reserved table for 8)
Children under 12 are FREE for a non-reserved seat

Lavish brunch from noon – 2:30 PM
Full open bar from 11AM – 4PM
Live music
Valet Parking
Fashionable attire
1 PM hat contest
3 PM awards presentation

A portion of the proceeds to benefit: The stewards foundation
Row Tampa

Reserved table availability will end & individual admission will increase to $100 on October 8

For more information 813-251-0500

or go visit our site www.headofthehillsborough.com

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Good Sport Honoree Dick Vitale

dick vitale FB

Dick Vitale, ESPN College Basketball Analyst – Dick Vitale, college basketball’s top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season — just after the network’s September 1979 launch — following a successful college and pro coaching career.  In 2008, Vitale received the sport’s ultimate honor when he was selected as an inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (after being named a finalist in 2004, 2006 and 2007) as a contributor.

His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate, sometimes controversial — but never boring — style. In February 2004 and 2006, Vitale was named a finalist for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor.

But Vitale’s talents and influence extend way, way beyond just game analyst.  He provides commentary on a variety of topics in his “Dick Vitale’s Fast Break” segment which airs Wednesday evenings during the college basketball season on SportsCenter, and serves as a college basketball analyst for ESPN Radio, including appearing each Monday on the “Mike & Mike in the Morning” show.  He has been a college basketball analyst for ABC Sports since 1988, and has also covered the NBA Finals and the 1992 Summer Olympics for ABC Radio.  His weekly ESPN.com column is one of the web site’s most popular features. Also, he’s a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine, and, of course, has his own web site — www.dickvitaleonline.com.

“I’m living the American dream,” Vitale once said. “I learned from my mom and dad, who didn’t have a formal education, but had doctorates of love. They told me that if you gave 110 percent all the time, a lot of beautiful things will happen. I may not always be right, but no one can ever accuse me of not having a genuine love and passion for whatever I do. And ESPN has been grateful enough to recognize this.”

And while his knowledge, preparation and enthusiasm are unparalleled, his “Vitale-isms” have unwittingly taken on a life of their own. Just a few of his many household phrases: “Awesome, Baby!,” “Get a TO, Baby!” (call a timeout), “PTP’er” (prime-time player), “M & M’er” (a mismatch), “Rolls Roycer” (a flat out superstar), “diaper dandy” (freshman star), “All-Windex Performer” (ferocious rebounder) and “Maalox time” (the final minutes of a close game). Vitale credits Hall of Fame broadcaster Jim Simpson, who he teamed with in the early 80’s, in helping him develop his broadcast style.

But Vitale’s roots are in teaching the game he’s loved since a child. Following college, he got a job teaching at Mark Twain Elementary School (Garfield, N.J.) and coaching junior high school football and basketball. He began coaching at the high school level at Garfield High School, where he coached for one season (1963-64). He then earned four state sectional championships, two consecutive state championships, and 35 consecutive victories during his seven years at his alma mater — East Rutherford, N. J., High School (1964-70). He joined Rutgers University for two years (1970-72) as an assistant coach, helping to recruit Phil Sellers and Mike Dabney, two cornerstones on an eventual NCAA Final Four team (1976).

Vitale is also quite the philanthropist. He’s on the Board of Directors of The V Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for cancer and founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano (and an organization with has since raised millions of dollars). He has co-chaired with Mike Krzyzewski and John Saunders the annual V Foundation Golf Classic and hosts an annual V Foundation Gala in Florida which gathers numerous celebrities to raise money and honor individuals such as Krzyzewski, Bob Knight and Pat Summitt.

For many years he’s awarded five scholarships annually to the Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota (Fla.). His involvement with the organization was highlighted in April 1999 with the “Dick Vitale Sports Night,” an annual banquet that has raised more than $600,000. In April 2000, in recognition of Vitale’s support for the Boys and Girls Club, it was announced that a new building would be named The Dick Vitale Physical Education and Health Training Center. Vitale was inducted into the Sarasota’s Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame at the 2001 Dinner. In 2002, Sarasota Magazine named him one of the areas most influential citizens.

Vitale’s also authored nine books, including one children’s title, Dickie V’s ABC’s and 1-2-3’s (2010). Dick Vitale’s Fabulous 50 Players and Moments in College Basketball (2008) and 2003’s Living a Dream (Reflections on 25 Years Sitting in the Best Seat in the House) were both co-authored by Dick Weiss. In 1988, Simon & Schuster published Vitale, an autobiography with Curry Kirkpatrick, which was issued in paperback in 1989. In 1991, Time Out Baby!, his second book was published. The book, written with Weiss, chronicled the 1990-91 season. In 1993 his third book, Tourney Time, was published. In 1994, Dickie V’s Top 40, his fourth book, was published. In September 1995, he co-wrote a fifth book, also written with Weiss, called Holding Court: Reflections on the Game I Love. His sixth book, also with Weiss, was released in 1999 – Campus Chaos: Why the Game I Love is Breaking My Heart. He also had popular home videos distributed by ESPN Video — Time Out Baby! Dick Vitale’s All Time College Hoops Superstars and Dick Vitale’s Dreamtime, Baby.

Vitale graduated from Seton Hall University with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. He also earned a master’s degree in education from William Paterson College and has 32 graduate credits beyond the master’s degree in administration.

A few of Vitale’s recent prestigious honors: The University of Notre Dame presented him with a honorary degree in 1997, while he was also recognized with the Ronald Reagan Media Award as an outstanding media personality, as presented by the United States Sports Academy. In 1998, he was awarded the Basketball Hall of Fame’s prestigious Curt Gowdy Media Award, the Hall’s highest honor bestowed upon a journalist outside of enshrinement. And in 1999, the Sons of Italy presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award and named him Man of the Year. In 2000, Vitale was recognized with the NABC Cliff Wells Appreciation Award for outstanding service to the college basketball coaching community and college basketball in general, and in 2001, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) presented him with the Jake Wade Award, for contributions to college athletics and in 2008, CoSIDA honored Vitale with the prestigious Keith Jackson Eternal Flame Award given to an individual who, or an organization which, has made a lasting contribution to intercollegiate athletics, has demonstrated a long and consistent commitment to excellence and has been a loyal supporter of CoSIDA and its mission.

In 2002, the Florida Association of Community Corrections presented him with their President’s Humanitarian Award for his work with young people, while in 2003, Vitale was honored with the first-ever Ethics and Sportsmanship in Sports Media Award given by the Institute for International Sport, as well as the National Pathfinder Award, co-presented by Indiana Sports Corporation and Indiana Black Expo, to individuals who have demonstrated a dedicated commitment to improving the lives of America’s youth. In 2008, he was selected as the recipient of the 2008 Naismith Men’s Outstanding Contributor to Basketball (pays tribute to individuals who made a significant impact on college basketball). Additional recent awards include the John Wooden Pyramid of Success Award in 2009 and in 2010, both the Ronald McDonald House Man of the Year Award of Excellence and the Make-A-Wish Chris Greicius Award given for exceptional dedication to helping grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

In addition, he’s been selected for nine halls of fame: National Italian Sports Hall of Fame, the Elmwood Park, N.J., Hall of Fame (his hometown), the Sarasota Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame (inducted in inaugural class of 2001), the Five-Star Basketball Camp Hall of Fame (2003), the University of Detroit Hall of Fame, the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 1996 (he’s a resident of the state) and the East Rutherford, N.J., Hall of Fame (1985), the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame (2008) and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2008).

Born June 9, 1939, in East Rutherford, N.J., Vitale and his wife, Lorraine, have two daughters, Terri and Sherri, who both attended Notre Dame on tennis scholarships, and who both graduated with MBAs. The Vitale’s proud involvement with Notre Dame includes the endowment of the Dick Vitale Family Scholarship, presented annually to an Irish undergraduate who participates in Notre Dame sports or activities and does not receive financial aid. Recipients have included the school’s Leprechaun mascot, cheerleaders and band members.

http://www.dickvitaleonline.com/

https://www.facebook.com/therealdickvitale

http://www.jimmyv.org/

https://www.facebook.com/thevfoundation

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Good Sport Honoree Ryan Nece

ryan nece FB

Originally signed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent in 2002, Ryan Nece was a part of the Buccaneers team that went on to win a World Championship that season in Super Bowl XXXVII. Ryan spent a total of seven years in the NFL as a linebacker and special teams standout for the Buccaneers and, in his final year, the Detroit Lions.

During his time in the NFL, Ryan consistently stepped up as a leader. He established himself as a team captain in Tampa where he set an example for his teammates to follow with his work ethic both on the field and in the community.

For seven years, Nece’s primary focus was football, which provided him with a platform to impact others and opened doors to new and exciting opportunities. In addition to his work on the football field and in the community, Ryan has spent the last several years honing his business acumen. Following his career in the NFL, Ryan started several new career ventures to channel his focus and energy toward areas off the playing field. Ryan, along with former teammate Jeb Terry, created an exciting communications platform company called StraightCast. This platform improves the way people generate, distribute and consume mobile video. The goal of StraightCast is to revolutionize the way content providers connect and engage with their followers through authentic content.

Ryan also has experience as a media personality, as he reported weekly from the sidelines during the 2010 UFL season on behalf of the Versus Network. Ryan then worked part-time for Brighthouse Sports Network as a football analyst, as well as host of the pre- and post-game shows on the Buccaneers Radio Network, US 103.5. Currently, Ryan works with FOX Sports 1 as an on-air analyst and sideline reporter.

Ryan’s football and business endeavors have certainly played a major role in developing who he is as a person, but he believes his reason for waking up every day is to make a positive impact in someone else’s life. Ryan founded the Ryan Nece Foundation in 2006 in an effort to increase his extensive community service efforts in the Tampa Bay area. The mission of the Ryan Nece Foundation is to be a beacon to teens by empowering them to impact giving in their communities. The foundation’s vision is to create opportunities for teens to embrace the Power of Giving through service projects, inspirational programs, and volunteerism. Ryan’s goal through the foundation is to help mentor the next generation of servant leaders who will become the philanthropists, volunteers, and nonprofit organization leaders of tomorrow.

http://ryannecefoundation.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ryannecefoundation

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Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp – Preparing Teens with Financial Know-How for the Future

Derrick Brooks is a celebrated NFL veteran, Super Bowl champion and record-setting linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yet his contributions and inspiration extend beyond the world of football. Brooks’ life is driven not by athletic endeavors and awards, but by a desire to positively impact the youth of the Tampa Bay, Florida area.

Through his foundation, Derrick Brooks Charities, Inc., Brooks has been providing support and encouragement to youth in the Tampa Bay community since 1997. One of the many exciting programs of Derrick Brooks Charities is the Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp, a program that offers students the opportunity to learn critical financial lessons – lessons that will give them confidence and wisdom for the future.

The Facts of Teenage Financial Literacy

The Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp recognizes and addresses a gap in the education of many American teens and young adults – financial literacy.

A survey conducted by Visa found that only 5 percent of adults learn about money management in elementary or high school.[1] This could be why most teens in another survey by Charles Schwab & Co. said they feel unprepared for tasks like budgeting, paying bills, avoiding credit card interest and fees, understanding income taxes or planning for retirement.[2]

An encouraging fact spurring the success of the Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp is that over half of today’s teens are eager to learn more about money management.[3] And thanks to Derrick Brooks Charities, many teens around the Tampa Bay area are getting this chance.

“The mission of Derrick Brooks Charities, Inc. is to provide educational opportunities for youth that will instill, inspire, broaden and develop cultural and social vision outside of the walls in which they live,” says Brooks.

“Ultimately, it’s our hope that these young people have every chance to develop into the strong and productive leaders of tomorrow. Part of that is teaching financial literacy and responsibility.”

Derrick Brooks Charities Teams with Fifth Third Bank

When it came to creating a program to give youth a firm foundation in financial education, Brooks turned to a long-time friend – president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank (Tampa Bay) Brian Lamb. “I gave him a call, and we began a discussion about how to implement a financial program for students – and the Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp was born,” Brooks recalls.

Based on the curriculum “Foundations in Personal Finance” designed by Dave Ramsey, the Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp is a one-year program specifically intended for the students of Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School (BDCHS). Through bi-weekly lessons taught by Fifth Third Bank employees, 9th grade students at BDCHS learn financial lessons on saving money, building wealth, avoiding debt and establishing realistic budgets. They even benefit from training on college preparation, community involvement and career exploration.

Brooks emphasizes the crucial nature of the program’s lessons. “It’s important for youth to understand how to manage their money, to protect themselves from debt and to make wise financial decisions,” he says. “We don’t want them to write their first check at age 19!”

Lamb is also enthusiastic about Fifth Third Bank’s role in the program, as well as his branch’s contributions to other schools throughout the Bay area:

“In addition to the program at Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School, Fifth Third Bank is proud to sponsor the ‘Foundations in Personal Finance’ curriculum in nearly 100 high schools throughout Tampa Bay.”

Students in the Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp are treated to the generosity of both Derrick Brooks Charities and Fifth Third Bank. During last year’s program, participating students received autographed football money banks from Derrick Brooks, along with $5.00 deposits from Fifth Third Bank to start savings accounts. Fifth Third Bank also gifted each student with a $100.00 savings bond and an exclusive tour of the bank’s corporate offices in downtown Tampa.

As part of the Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp, students also gain experiences they might not find elsewhere – resume-building tips, community service and team-building activities and exposure to various small and large business owners and entrepreneurs.

The program’s combination of intensive training and active involvement has been immensely successful. “We are encouraged with the results after the first year of the Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp,” says Lamb.

“Based on exams taken at the beginning and end of the program, the students’ knowledge of financial literacy increased by 32 percent. The results of the assessment throughout the program clearly illustrate that we are making a positive impact in the lives of these students.”

What’s Next for the Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp?

With the recent kick off of its second year, the Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp is underway to guide a new set of students toward financial prudence and stability.

“Fifth Third Bank is excited to partner with Derrick Brooks Charities for a second year to support a program that will prove valuable for the Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School students, their families and our community,” says Lamb.

“The skills these students will acquire through the program will help them make sound financial decisions long into the future – whether it’s saving for college, buying a home, or investing.”

Students joining the program this year can expect the same level of support and all-star consideration that first-year participants received. The Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp will give students the financial knowledge they need to effectively participate in their communities and make informed decisions about their financial futures. This opportunity has positive implications, not only for their lives, but also for the Tampa Bay community and the nation as a whole.

It’s this reality that motivates Brooks as he continues to reach youth through the Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp:

“Financial education is a critical element to creating tomorrow’s business leaders, and that’s our mission at Derrick Brooks Charities – to provide the tools necessary and create opportunities that empower today’s students to become successful.”

To find out more about the Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp, visit the program’s designated page on the Derrick Brooks Charities website. You can also learn about the foundation’s other programs or make a donation.

Also be sure to visit www.53schools.com to explore Fifth Third Bank’s effort to bring “Foundations in Personal Finance” to thousands of high school students – in the Tampa Bay area and beyond.

2013 Kick-off Event for Brooks Bunch Business Bootcamp

[1] Visa, “Visa Back-To-School Survey Finds That Only 5% of Kids Learn Vital Life Skill of Money Management in Class,” August 2007.

[2] Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., “Optimistic Teens May Need Financial Reality Check, Schwab Survey Shows,” March 2007.

[3] Capital One, “Capital One’s Annual Back to School Survey Finds More Teens Eager To Learn About Money, Yet Parents Continue to Overlook Simple Opportunities to Talk Dollars and Cents,” July 2007.

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Lucky To Be Alive

By Hannah Taylor

I am an incredibly lucky human being for many reasons, some of the biggest

reasons being those I’ve had the opportunity to meet and learn from during my life so

far. Two of these people are Miriam Koerner and Quincy Miller. It is because of these

two people, whom are now some of my biggest heroes that I even have a story to tell.

They are the reason one of my biggest dreams came true last March. In order to

explain how special these people are to me, we’re going to have to rewind through a

few years of my life, back to the time when I first started dreaming of running my own

dog sled team.

I was ten and the stories of Jack London, Balto, and the Iditarod captured my

fascination. The Arctic was and still is a huge part of me, for reasons that I wasn’t sure

of at the time. I had my own “dog team”; three stuffed huskies that pulled a shoebox.

My dachshund, Bella was a stand in when the rest of my “team” got tired from a long

run through the living room. The sun would shine through our windows and I could

just imagine an Arctic sun beating down on my team, as we travelled over the tundra. I

wanted so much to learn more about dog sledding, the Arctic and being a good

musher. The shoebox, turned into a blue toboggan, which turned into a rescued from the

trash sled, which finally turned into a real dog sled one Christmas.  My sister, Gabriella fit

the harness perfectly, and considering the fact that we still only had dachshunds at home,

she was happy to play the part of lead dog. At twelve, I couldn’t begin to imagine that only a

few years later, I would find myself at the back of an honest to God dog sled team, about to

start on one of the biggest adventures of my life.

My family was greeted by a scruffy, worn down face when we pulled into the

yard of Miriam Koerner and Quincy Miller. Roscoe, the couple’s retired sled dog,

ushered us into their dog yard and it finally hit me; I was going to run a real dogsled

race. I followed Roscoe through the wooden gate to see what looked like a little village

of doghouses, surrounded by huge, bristle-brush trees and swooping ravens. The

dogyard was immaculate. Coming from the city, I looked at the spaces between the

tree trunks and couldn’t believe how much snow was untouched and perfect. A morethan-

perfect, red cottage sat at the edge of the dogyard, and as Roscoe hobbled up the

front steps, two smiling, human faces were there to greet us.

We met Quincy and Miriam a year before up in Churchill, Manitoba and became

instant friends. Miriam is brave and strong and kind, being both the only woman to

ever finish the Hudson Bay Quest and one of the best husky lover-uppers known to

mushing. Quincy is quiet, but just as full of knowledge and courage. They were and are

the best mushers I’ve ever seen or heard of. Their dogs are full of life and personality.

Since that first time up to La Ronge, Saskatchewan (where Quincy and Miriam have

made their home and dogyard by hand), I’ve run around with all of their 16 dogs off

their chains at once and have never seen them fight. They’re a perfect pack. It was

one of the members of this family that greeted us as we came through the gate. Happy

started up the welcoming chorus. It was a pretty great sound.

We had a day to get ready before the Torch River Run was to begin. Miriam,

Quincy and I had been in contact for months, talking about running my first race. By

this time, my family did have a sled dog. But just like Roscoe, Ada is happily retired in

Winnipeg at home with us. Quincy and Miriam said I could borrow some of their dogs

and Miriam and I could both run the race with two teams. The day before the race

would begin saw many preparations, including a long training run through what we

now call “The Twisty Trail”. Before we left, Quincy showed me how to clean out

snowballs from the dogs toes. He and Miriam do this before every run. That is 256

toes, and Miriam and Quincy love every one. It really was something to watch their

hands work on every pink-padded paw. I learned how to really steer, stand and fall on

a dogsled, during that run. The falling part was very important and thoroughly

covered, both on purpose and due to the odd tree.

The next day, we drove the blue dog truck, filled with our two teams and our

handling crew. The handling crew consisted of Quincy and my younger sister,

Gabriella; no longer a dog, but a handler. My mom, sister and I sat I the back seat. We

could see through the back window into two of the dog compartments of the truck.

Happy and Salty were snuggled in together, enjoying the ride, while Pirahna stuck her

nose out of her compartment window. Quincy and Miriam told stories of their huge

adventures and Mom started to knit a blanket. The moment was perfect. I was on the

verge of being part of something so special and I loved every person and dog with me.

We arrived at the start line and unloaded the dogs. Gabriella started massaging

every dog shoulder, as I prepared my sled. Along with dog snacks, extra clothes and

an axe that I really had no idea how to use, the lead dog from my “dog team” from so

many years ago, was packed. Balto’s fur was matted from so many rund through the

living room, but he deserved to come with me.

I was going to be the tenth person to leave, right after Miriam and her team.

Quincy jumped on with me, as we were about to set off. As we raced down the starting

chute, Quincy helped me keep the dogs in control by standing on the break with me.

That’s how powerful those animals are; Quincy and I both stood on the brake and

my five teammates still managed to scream through the chute. We were about to

turn a corner into the forest, where the real trail would begin when Quincy jumped

off without a word. Now it was my dogs and I, with Miriam just ahead of me. It was

something that my ten-year-old heart had dreamt of for so so long.

What followed was an adventure that I’ll never forget. It included quick turns,

sharp drops, speedy dog snacking, a cowboy with a very cozy basement and a man

named Marlin who gave me a red lantern. As we began to race towards the finish line,

after 100 miles of something my heart had yearned for since I could remember;

Miriam stopped her team and said “If you can get your team to pass mine, I’ll let you

be the first team in.” That’s when I realized that we were in the lead. Miriam smiled at

me and took off. My team did pass hers after lots of singing and talking to the dogs, but

I have a slightest feeling that Miriam used her brake a little more than she needed to.

My team was the first one in, and as we pulled across the finish line, my mom

started to cry. An announcer came over to me and asked me how I felt about having

finished my first race; after they totaled my time over the two days of racing, Miriam

and I had tied for fourth. What I wanted to say, but didn’t have time to is thank you.

Thank you to the dogs who became a part of me when we left the starting line. Thank

you to Quincy and Miriam, who will be in my heart forever. And thank you so much

to all of the Quincy and Miriams in our world who make the greatest of dreams come true.

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Charity Smile Train Partnering with IRONMAN Arizona

     Smile Train is the world’s largest cleft lip and palate charity.  Founded in 1999, Smile Train has helped to provide more than 875,000 free cleft surgeries around the world to those in need.  They have been active in over 87 countries and have a network of more than 2,300 medical professionals and 1,100 partner hospitals.  Each day Smile Train provides more than 320 surgeries, performing approximately 125,000 surgeries this year along.

     This November Smile Train is partnering with IRONMAN Arizona as the official charity sponsor of the race, which is taking place on November 17th in Tempe, AZ.  A team of 75 athletes will race to give new life and new smiles back to more than 1,500 children around the globe.

     Here are some of the participants’ stories:

NAME: Tom Becker
LIVES: Mar Vista, CA
OCCUPATION: Executive Producer, Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition
FAMILY: Not married and doesn’t have children
STORY: Eight or nine years ago, Tom was about 75 pounds overweight and decided he had to change his life. He had tried traditional ways of losing weight but it wasn’t successful.

A friend of his participated in the AIDS/Lifecycle Bike Ride and encouraged him to get involved. The AIDS/Lifecycle Bike Ride raises money and awareness for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. Tom participated in the AIDS/Lifecycle Bike Ride for five years and has lost 60 pounds.

After his third year with the AIDS/Lifecycle Bike Ride, he started sprinting and participated in the Vineman Half Marathon last year. He will be signing up for the next Vineman Half Marathon this year as well.

IRONMAN Arizona will be his first IRONMAN competition. He has been training with a triathlon couch and trains 4 days a week. He spends 2 days focusing on speed on his own and 2 days focusing on endurance with his coach. His coach Rachel Gamallo provides a weekly plan of activities for Tom for his preparation for the IRONMAN. Tom had heard about Smile Train several years back when he worked with Jessica Simpson on the show, Newlyweds. He was very supportive of Jessica Simpson, during her work with her own charity and it made him think about what he could do.

Tom is very excited to be running for Smile Train and thinks what they do for children is nothing short of amazing. He is so happy to be helping 20 children receive surgery by running in the IRONMAN Arizona. Tom would definitely like to keep working with Smile Train by fundraising and participating in additional events.

NAME: Bobby Bromley
LIVES: Tulsa, OK
OCCUPATION: Engineer at an oil company
FAMILY: Married with two children and one on the way – two boys 4 and 2.  Brother Patrick is three years younger than him and was born with a cleft lip.  He also has another younger brother and sister.
STORY: Bobby has always been an athlete. He ran cross-country track and played baseball in high school. He also ran track in college for one year at Pittsburgh State before he transferred. Bobby has also run numerous marathons during and after college.

His younger brother Patrick was born with a bilateral cleft and has had 19 surgeries to correct it. Patrick had suggested that Bobby participate in an IRONMAN and there were several that the timing just didn’t work out for. Patrick and Bobby completed the Galveston Half-Marathon this year to prepare for the IRONMAN Arizona.

When Bobby signed up for the IRONMAN Arizona he saw that Smile Train was involved and wanted to get involved because of Patrick’s history. Patrick will not be able to participate because his wife is currently pregnant and due around that time.

Bobby is running for Smile Train because of Patrick and everything that Patrick has gone through to live a normal life. He believes that raising this money will help change the lives of children around the world and that teaching local doctors in developing countries to perform these surgeries will help millions of children from years to come.

 

NAME: Dr. David Genecov
LIVES: Dallas, TX
OCCUPATION: Surgeon
FAMILY: Married with four children – 24; 20; 18; 13 (3 boys and 1 girl)
STORY: David has been involved in sports since he was a kid. He was an open water swimmer; has run track and was a college wrestler. When David was in medical school, he didn’t exercise or participate in sports because of his busy schedule. He started to realize this and decided to start commuting to the hospital on his bike during the last year of his residency and then in 2006, he started entering long distance races every other year.

David has participated in three IRONMAN competitions – Coeur d’Alene twice and once in IRONMAN Canada. He entered these competitions with a group and they were always looking for a way to raise money for charity. A friend of David’s recently suggested that he participate in IRONMAN Arizona as a celebration for David’s 50th birthday. When he visited the website to register, he saw all of the information on Smile Train and spoke to his other members of the group about it. Three of his friends decided to join David in completing the IRONMAN Arizona to raise money for Smile Train.

His son also raised $7,500 for Smile Train and David decided to take his son to Argentina to visit children who were going to have surgery on their cleft palates corrected through Smile Train. He wanted this son to learn about these children and how they live so he could truly understand what the money he raised was going.

David feels that Smile Train is an important charity because it cares for children who don’t have opportunity. Children in these developing nations don’t choose to be born under these circumstances and “it is our responsibility to take care of them”. Smile Train provides 100% of the money it raises to the children. The money doesn’t support admin or CEO overhead like other charities. David runs races because it is a competition with himself and everyone from his group that is attending IRONMAN Arizona wants to support each other and Smile Train.

 

NAME: Sandy Kreif
LIVES: Charlotte, NC – born in Indiana and grew up in Nebraska/Kansas
OCCUPATION: Credit Manager
COMPANY: Europa Sports
FAMILY: Currently not married and doesn’t have children
STORY: Sandy was born with a cleft lip and palate. She had 25 surgeries from when she was born until she was 18 years old. Her final surgery was  during her senior year of high school. She went onto college and started a finance career. While in college, she worked as a case manager for Head Start and really enjoyed it. She was unable to keep the position due to financial restraints. So Sandy moved to Charlotte, NC in 2004 for a job with Bank of America.

She decided to get back into sports from when she was younger and started racing a bike. Sandy also started a part time job at TrySports, where they train people for different sports including running, biking and even yoga. She finds this job as a way to give back to the community and help people achieve their goals.

Sandy has completed the KONA and Augusta Half Marathons but never had interest in participating in an IRONMAN. Her coach Sharon called her and told her about IRONMAN AZ and how Smile Train was involved. Sandy decided right away that she wanted to get involved and signed up for the event.

She believes Smile Train is important because there needs to be education about how children are born with this and not to blame the parents or the child. Smile Train has the best approach to helping these children and gives them an opportunity to be who they are and not worry about being ostracized. Children who cleft lips/palates do not have the ability to talk, eat or breath like everyone else. The physical struggle is only part of the journey but there is an emotional one as well. Smile Train gives children the chance to shine and develop, which is important to their future.

 

NAME: Chip Marasco
LIVES: Yorba Linda, California, grew up there, as did his wife.
OCCUPATION: IT Manager
COMPANY: Partners Consulting
FAMILY: Alyssa Marasco (ST Supporter) – 9 years old, turning 10 in March. Daughter Emily who is almost 7. Wife Heather who is a teacher.
STORY: One day Alyssa decided she wanted to raise money for charity. She didn’t know there were many charities; she thought that charity was one thing. When she told her dad, who told her grandmother, she found an ad for Smile Train, ripped it out and gave to Alyssa and said – raise money for this one, they are a great charity.

That whole summer she tried to raise money for Smile Train, she opened up a lemonade stand and even sold some of her clothes and stuffed animals. About 15 months later Chip’s mother-in-law was having a garage sale, and Alyssa decided to raise more money. Chip said whatever you raise I will match it – she raised $125.00.

When Alyssa found out Chip was competing in the IRONMAN for Smile Train she was so excited and said she would help him raise money. This is Chip’s second IRONMAN – he did Florida last year. Chip hurt his knee, so he he was on the fence about competing in another race. But when he saw that Smile Train was the charity, he decided to do it – because it’s been his daughter’s charity.

Alyssa is in 4th grade – goes to Wagner Elementary. His wife Heather teaches 5th grade at Alyssa’s school.  His family is coming with him to Arizona.

NAME: Ky Riley
LIVES: Edmonton, Canada/ Originally from Vralla, Australia
OCCUPATION: Student
FAMILY: Married but no children
STORY: When Ky was 14 years old, she competed in triathlons in Australia. In many of the races that she participated in, she was the youngest. Ky wanted to race full time but was in a car accident in high school, which prevented her from moving forward. She had a bad concussion and memory issues. Her doctors advised her to take a few years off from any additional race competitions.

During that time, Ky traveled and joined the Army as a reservist to keep her busy. While she was finishing up her undergraduate degree, Ky decided to start getting involved in simple short distance races to see if she could do it physically. She wasn’t training and just focused on smaller races that didn’t include too much physical exertion. After a few successful races, her doctors gave her the okay to start participating in triathlons again.

Six years ago, she decided to move to Canada and continue her education, where she is now working on her second Masters degree in Information Systems. As she got back into racing, she joined a group called MX12VIP hosted by Chris McCormack, who is a famous IRONMAN World Champion. Ky signed up with a few races with the team in preparation for the IRONMAN and the group encouraged Ky to join the IRONMAN AZ competition. When Ky went to the IRONMAN site to register, she saw all of the information about Smile Train and decided that she could be a part of a something much larger than the IRONMAN.

Ky has not previously been involved in charities other than a few Red Cross fundraisers in Australia when she was younger. She feels that Smile Train is important because of children who are denied education due to their cleft lip and/or palate. Ky believes all children should be given the opportunity to learn and succeed in life.

 

NAME: Mary Schroeder
LIVES: Cardiff, CA (Originally from Bowling Green, KY)
OCCUPATION: Nurse/Mid-Wife
COMPANY: North County Health Services Community Clinic
FAMILY: Married with two children (Son & Daughter)
STORY: Mary was a gymnast growing up because fitness was very important to her. She decided to become a nurse and received her Masters degree in Nurse-Midwifery at Arizona State University. Mary’s friend encouraged her to join a running group after Mary’s daughter was born as a way to stay active. Mary didn’t realize that the group was preparing for the San Diego Marathon at first and then decided to try the marathon herself.

Mary has since participated in three marathons, several half-marathons and 15 triathlons. Her first triathlon was the City of Carlsbad Triathlon in 2005. She completed a half IRONMAN on her 40th birthday in Italy. Mary has always tried to challenge herself and that is why she is going to participate in her first IRONMAN in November at IRONMAN Arizona.

As a mother, Mary has always felt that it is important to set a good example for your children. She has always believed that fitness is essential to having a healthy lifestyle no matter if you are a child or an adult.

Working for a non-profit, Mary has supported AIDS/LifeCycle and Breast Cancer Awareness charities. She believes Smile Train is important because she works with many women here in the US that have trouble paying for basic over the counter medication and can see how people suffer when they don’t have the money to provide for themselves. Smile Train provides an opportunity for children to receive much-needed surgeries and puts the focus on these children. Many people don’t realize that the cost of a surgery is $250 and it can give a child the chance not only to smile but also to live a normal life.

Mary is a nurse and a midwife and has taken an oath to help the sick so working with Smile Train is another way that Mary can help children get the proper medical care that they need.

 

Ritch Viola

NAME: Ritch Viola
LIVES: Tiburon, CA (Originally from Novato, CA) Both towns are outside of San Francisco.
OCCUPATION: Owner of Every Man Jack (a men’s grooming line)
FAMILY: Married – two children (9 year old and 6 year old)
STORY: When Ritch’s wife was pregnant with their second child, they learned that their son had a cleft lip and palate. During the pregnancy, Ritch gained 25-30 pounds from the stress of dealing with the abnormality. Upon the birth of his son, Ritch became very involved in learning everything he could about the abnormality. At eight months old, Ritch’s son received his first surgery to have the cleft repaired.

At that time, Ritch wanted to become more physically active and lose the weight that he gained during his wife’s pregnancy. He began racing in 2008 and has since completed 30 triathlons and two IRONMANs (IRONMAN AZ in 2010 and KONA in 2011). Ritch has even started his own team named Every Man Jack, which his own company sponsors. There are 25 team members that are friends of Ritch’s and want to support each other.

When Ritch’s son was diagnosed with a cleft, Ritch and his wife learned everything they could about cleft lips and palates. They read up on all of the organizations that work with cleft lips and palates. For their son’s first birthday, they asked all of their family and friends to donate to Smile Train instead of purchasing a gift.

As Ritch was signing up for this year’s IRONMAN, he saw that Smile Train was involved as the charity sponsor and automatically wanted to either run for them or be a volunteer. He was thankful that there was an open spot still available and will be an Ambassador Athlete to represent Smile Train.

Ritch believes that Smile Train is important because of his personal experience and thinking about how children in developing nations do not have access to medical resources. Children are hidden from the public and shamed for something that is completely repairable. It is hard for many people to comprehend how a small amount of money can change someone’s life. Understanding that it only takes $250 to make a difference showcases Smile Train’s influence.

 *Materials provided by Smile Train.

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Building A Foundation…

Building a Foundation On day two of our trip we rode to a place with a couple of houses so that we could pour cement to give some of these people actual floors. We were greeted by a very sweet old lady who was absolutely ecstatic that we were here to help with the renovation. As I walked through her “house” I felt terrible for what the old lady had to live in everyday. But with that bad feeling I also felt good because we came all the way here and we can leave knowing we made a world of a difference to a few families. My favorite part today was on our way back to our hotel. We had stopped five or six times by houses with a bunch of kids running around to give them our donated hygiene products. The looks on the faces of everyone we handed bags too were priceless.

by Andrew Keith

Check out other student blogs: http://ryannecefoundation.com/pages/blogs–2

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The day we tasted cement…

I would say today has been fairly successful so far. We had a rough start trying to mix the concrete and get it poured in the house, but once we all got past the fact that we had to transport, mix, and lay everything manually, I think we were good. The woman whose house we were constructing on was 82 years old, or 78 but who really knows, I have concluded that all women lie about their age at one point. Although at the end of the day we were forced to flee for cover when it started to downpour, I think we made a pretty significant impact on the little hut. It’s funny how we see tiny little shacks like that in movies and on television, but I guess in the back of our heads we think it’s all staged. Like nothing quite like that exists in the real world, or at least in any world we would ever experience. But I have never been more honest to say that I feel honored to have the opportunity to not only recognize that things like dirt floors and tree branch houses exist, but also to have felt what they feel like. Despite my immediate hour-long shower, I actually enjoyed getting mud all over my pants and recoloring one shoe with cement. I’m not sure why exactly, but a feeling of shock came over me when the students I had seen just yesterday in the pristine school walked up to the hut and laid their bags down. For some reason, I suppose I imagined them living in one of the bigger and slightly more clean houses. It never really occured to me that such friendly and loving children could reside in something so shabby. But regardless of the dirt, concrete, and occasional snake, I’m excited to go back tomorrow to start up the next house. Hopefully we have the process down now, and won’t take up so much time sliding around in the mud and eating cement.

By: Arianna Bennett

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