May 9, 2010

A New Challenge

Friday was the 3rd anniversary of the passing of my friend Andrew's father. He had Multiple Sclerosis. I asked my friend if he would like to hike with me that day knowing that something outside and physical might be helpful in facing the stress of "the day". He quickly responded that he didn't want to hike but that he did want to bike. After his father died, he biked the 15 mile round trip bike trail to Lake George almost on a daily basis. I wasn't sure if he was including me until he asked if I had a bike. I said..."yeah, I could get a bike", as I thoroughly questioned to myself whether I could just hop on one and do any big stretch of a ride. I was excited though. Partly because I knew it was going to be mostly sunny and 70 degrees and I had comp time to take from the previous weeks overtime that I had worked, but mostly because I don't take for granted being able to be with someone during their personal moments. Doing something positive to mark the anniversary of a death is also about celebrating that person's life and I was real happy to be included. Andrew also asked another friend to come along. I only knew his father for about 3 years before he passed so he and I have only a small set of "remember when" stories. The other friend grew up around Andrew's father and they spoke easily about Jim and their joint memories of the good times....exactly the way I had envisioned the day being spent. During the ride, which I must say I kept up with these two much younger people very well, my friend proposed that we do the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Bike Ride. Ironically, last year the bikers from the event went right past my house. The bikers I remember were all very professional looking and had just ridden up and down hills that I could not possibly get in shape to do in only two months time....but still, I say, "yeah, I would be up for that"....what??? I told Andrew that I would look up all the details and we could go from there hoping that there was an easier route than the one past my house. Friday's actual ride was 15 miles round trip and with me slowing us up a bit it took 3 hours. But it was actually easier than a 7 mile hike. I had some renewed faith in my capabilities and I was getting excited about having a new goal of participating in a biking event. Especially one with such personal significance. Before I even got home I received a text message telling me that we ARE doing the MS ride!!!! So, I am officially in training. I found out that the ride is July 10th and although there is a 10 mile ride, we are going to sign up for the 30 mile route (in yellow below). It does not go by my house (phew) and although it will be a huge undertaking for me, I believe it is something I can do. I am going to be asking for pledges because in order to participate there is a hefty per rider minimum donation. In the course of the 3 years I knew my friend's father, I watched him deteriorate from being able to walk with a cane to a walker to a wheelchair and at the end he was beginning to lose control over his arms. He paid exorbitantly for medical expenses both out of pocket and for his several health insurance riders that were additional to his plan that he kept from his employment as a Certified Nurse Anesthetist. Most helpful is that approximately half of the funds raised by the event are used to directly help people living with MS. Send me an email if you would like to receive information on how to donate..... and if I already correspond with you electronically watch for the details that will show up in your inbox soon. Whether it's hiking, biking or just walking....we should not take our mobility for granted.

May 2, 2010

new comment

During a check of my email, I received notification of a blog comment. I was real surprised since I have been neglecting my blog for quite some time. It was a short comment from a person stating that they were doing research on blog writing and had spent quite a bit of time perusing mine. Commenter ended by saying keep providing useful information. Hmm....useful huh? I hadn't quite looked at it that way in a while. So what have I been up to other than blogging? Facebook seems to have taken over as the quicker way of informing people "what up"....but I do have an interesting story about sharing useful information. We hosted college baseball players during the summer for a few years. It was a huge commitment for our family both financially and personally; having given up the privacy of our own home to share it with 18-21 year old ball players who were loud, hungry, dirty (needing a lot of showers) and in one case pretty disrespectful. But we did it out of love for the game of baseball and the exposure it gave our son to how very hard you must work at your sport to play at the next level....COLLEGE. Greg is a freshman this year on the Varsity team. He is on a team that has two wins and ten losses and he is one of the two pitchers they look to for the starts. He was the winning pitcher for the teams only two wins. It has been a struggle to keep motivated under the circumstances. Positive notes are that Greg is being coached by his grandfather and another 25 year veteran coach...the only two people in the area besides his father that I would entrust to further his baseball talent. Greg is not a morning person, kinda like his mother, and so he has failed to see the necessity of getting out of bed before school for 6:30am hitting....besides only 3 kids on the team ever show up. We have tried to leave it up to Greg to have the self discipline to go...he functions better when things are his idea anyway (don't we all). Needless to say he makes it there about 2 out of 4 mornings that the extra hitting is offered. This is where the big payoff has come from hosting those college boys. My father made a comment the other day that Greg should ask Nate how many early hitting practices he skipped. Nate Recknagel was a ballplayer at the University of Michigan when he stayed at our house. He was a great house guest and spent a lot of time sharing his knowledge with Greg while he was here. We made a trip to Michigan the following year to see him play in the Big Ten League and watched the computer as he was drafted into Professional Baseball. We've kept in touch and his mom is one of my facebook friends...you know the mom is always the quickest route to info on where he is and what team he is currently playing for...and she still gives updates on his latest home run count. I sent Nate a quick message asking if he could find the time to do so, could he drop a line to Greg with some motivation for his personal growth during a year where the team is rebuilding. Part of me thought he might post a comment on Greg's profile about keeping his head up and continuing to work hard...part of me thought he might just be way too busy to write anything personalized to Greg's situation...On the contrary, he took the time to write a very genuine message with plenty of motivation but extremely realistic. He said he was taught that you get back what you put into something and he has never seen anyone get anywhere in baseball without A LOT of hard work. He told him if he is not going to morning hitting at least three times per week then he shouldn't be going at all because he is wasting his time. Nate told Greg that if he swings the bat 400 times he is not done....swing it another 400 times to ensure that his muscles remember the motion. What he sent is priceless to us as parents of a boy who has dreams of being recruited by a big deal baseball school and needs to be reminded how much work that really takes. For Greg....not impressed. It was just Nate talking to him the same as he did before he made it to the pros. I hope he thinks about that message and puts it to good use. Nate wants Reagan to write to him too and let him know what she has been doing. It was a great reminder of why we took those guys from Michigan into our home on a whim four years ago. I knew packing all those sandwiches and scrambling lots of eggs before games for those guys would come in handy someday....