Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Golfers Wanted

The 3rd Annual Heroes for Children Golf Classic is fast approaching! Golfers tee off on Friday, October 19th at Twin Creeks Golf Club in Allen. Players will enjoy an interactive tournament that will raise funds for an important mission. Sign up today to play!

Not enough Golf? Not a problem!
We are excited to invite you to participate in a special golf event on November 15, 2007 at West Ridge Golf Club in McKinney. All proceeds for this event benefit Heroes for Children. Please note--this is an additional day of golf than the schedule Golf Classic on Friday, October 19th.

Can you play 50 holes to help families with children with cancer? The funds you can raise can help a family keep their electricity, cover the expense of travel to the hospital, or even assist with funeral costs for a child who has lost his/her battle to cancer. Funds raised for Heroes for Children help keep the vital financial and social assistance programs (such as Laptops for Love and Holiday Heroes) thriving for families struggling with a childhood cancer diagnosis.

Event Details:

  • Register as a participant (NO COST TO YOU) and solicit friends, family, and co-workers to sponsor your golf efforts on November 15th.
  • Utilize the tools at the Integrity Golf Solutions website, www.integritygolfsolutions.com, to build your fundraising page, invite other participants to join you in the cause, and gain tips for success
  • Earn great prizes of custom-fit Taylor Made products based on the amount you fundraise. The more you raise, the more you get!
  • Join the other participants on Thursday, November 15th for a great day of golf and fundraising! And yes, players will play 50 holes of golf in one day!

We thank you so much for you desire and willingness to make a difference for Heroes for Children. Without you, an event like this could not be possible. We are looking forward to a very successful event! Register NOW to participate in this exciting new part of the Heroes for Children Golf Classic!

I look forward to seeing you at the Heroes for Children Golf Classic on Friday, October 19th AND our Marathon Day of Golf on Thursday, November 15th. Thank you for your commitment to Heroes for Children!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The HFC Family 5k: The Robinsons Hit Plano

As I left Austin on Friday evening to head to Plano for Saturday morning's Heroes for Children Family 5k walk, I received a call on my cell phone from Jenny, checking to see if I was actually on the road yet. When I replied that we were just getting on to I-35, she cheered "You're coming!" No less than 20 minutes later, my friend Amy called with the same intent. Confused, I asked her "Did you guys actually think I wouldn't come? I told you I was coming!"

She confessed that my group of friends, while hopeful, weren't sure that my family of five would actually make it up for the 8am walk, given my crazy schedule as a full time graduate student in the University of Texas School of Social Work, a schedule that includes 16 hours a week of clinical internship at the cancer clinic at Scott and White hospital.

Truth be told, there was some grumbling on my part as I rushed around like a madwoman on Friday evening, trying to pack up the kids and drop the dog off at the kennel and head out the door for a 3 hour trek north, trying not to think about the research paper and chapters of reading I have due this week. But my friends had nothing to worry about - I would not have missed the Heroes for Children 5k walk for all the graduate class syllabi in the world. Miss the chance to support my favorite nonprofit organization, my inspiration for going into pediatric oncology social work? Not a chance.

We could not have asked for more beautiful weather - when we left the hotel at 7:15am for the walk festivities, it was sunny and cool. After meeting up with my friends, the Weintraub, Franklin, Reininger, Miller and Crowe families, we spent some time bringing the kids around to all the great activities HFC had on hand to be sure little ones were kept entertained and engaged. The bouncy house was the biggest hit with my three kids, but the Franklin trio greatly enjoyed the corporate mascots on hand (including the Chik-Fil-A cow and a giant tooth), Samantha Weintraub was thrilled to meet some Plano cheerleaders, and Deb's daughter sported a gorgeous pink flower on her cheek from the face painting area.

The official ceremony kicked off around 8:45am, with a balloon release and the introduction of the Grand Marshalls, 2 very brave young men fighting cancer.

Larissa and Jenny, getting ready for the balloon release

The balloon release - yellow balloons with 2 red heart balloons for Allie and Taylor

Jenny and daughter Maggie watch Grand Marshall Matthew Marioni on stage

Right on time, we were ready to line up and do the "cancer walk" as my 3 year old Lucy called it. We agreed as a group that we would do the 1k option available (for those of us laden with young children and strollers) and leave the longer 5k walk for a future walk.

Unfortunately, Chuck Weintraub and my husband missed the memo. With the large crowd on hand to support HFC, our group got separated, and the husbands (along with little Ben and my 2 boys) missed the left turn to do the 1k route. So Jen and myself and our two girls waited. And waited. And waited some more.

And that is how Chuck and Ben and Rich and my 2 boys earned the dubious distinction of last place at the HFC 5k walk.

Bringing up the rear (notice how there are no other walkers in sight?)

Last place finishing time

Finally crossing the finish line (Lucy jumped in to finish again with her brothers)

It just goes to show how great of an event this walk is that, even with coming in dead last, my 5 and 7 year olds exclaimed, "We love the cancer walk!"

A few other images from the day:

Jenny Scott, woman at work

As busy as she was, Jenny made time for a photo with me

The Franklin twins enjoy the Eddie Coker concert

We hope to see you next year - last place honors is up for grabs!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

In loving memory of Taylor and Allie

Taylor during the summer of 2001 after her first cancer treatment

On September 13, 2001, just two days after the attack on the World Trade Center, Larissa Linton heard the devastating news that her four year old daughter Taylor had relapsed. After six months of remission, time spent at home with her adorable little sisters, and even a fourth birthday, Taylor's cancer had returned, forcing her and her family to go back into the hospital for further treatment. Taylor passed away two months later at the age of four and a half years.

I didn't know Larissa or Taylor, nor had I heard this sad story of her life. I was happily unaware of childhood cancer, working as a middle school teacher in Plano ISD. I had finished my first year of teaching (when I won Beginning Teacher of the Year for all of Plano ISD!) and happy in life with my husband and our dog. Little did I know that I would be intimately connected with Larissa and her story and pain just three years later.

Allie and Mama after her first round of chemotherapy June 2004

On September 13, 2004, the very same day Taylor had relapsed three years prior, I held my daughter in my arms for the last time. At eight months twenty seven days, Allie's life ended. Her little body was just too weak to beat the cancer ravaging her body and she needed to be out of pain.

Every year on September 13th, I spend time with my husband and now 22 month old daughter for "Allie Day." With an event happening in two days, I am here at work for the morning to get some things done, and then we're off for Allie Day. For me, it is a sad day, yes, but a day to honor and remember her memory. I try to focus on the good days, and there were many, then the bad. I concentrate on her smile, her shining eyes, and her beautiful spirit.

I can't help but to think of Taylor today too. There was a reason that we were brought together. So many coincidences are out there between Taylor and Allie and their short lives. I was meant to meet Larissa, meant to work here with Heroes for Children, and meant for us both to carry out our daughters' legacies. So, today I remember why I sit here at this desk at the Heroes for Children office. It isn't to worry about the position a logo goes on a page or whether or not the helium tanks are ordered and paid for (though those are important for us today!), it is really about carrying on in loving memory of Taylor and Allie.

A few thanks...
To our beautiful angels--we miss you each and every day and wish you were here to celebrate being cancer free with us. However, we will carry on your legacy as long as we possibly can.
To the loves of my life Andrew and Maggie--thank you for being the best husband and daughter I could ask for. You fill my heart and make me whole again. Maggie, I wish you knew your sister, but I know she is watching over you always.

To our friends, family, and amazing HFC supporters--thank you for keeping the memories of Taylor and Allie alive each day and for supporting our families with love and compassion. We are so very blessed to know you!
To the HFC Staff--Cheryl, Christi, and Cricket--your dedication to the mission of Heroes for Children is unfailing. This organization would not continue without your hearts and passion. Thank you for giving your energy every day to the mission and for believing so firmly that what we do makes a difference. Heroes for Children and Larissa and I are blessed to know you!
To Larissa--I love you my friend. I never knew sweet Taylor, but I love just as much as I love your other three (soon to be four!!) gorgeous children. Thank you for being my friend.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Back to School!!

Oh the mixed emotions of kids going back to school!! We had such a fun and relaxing summer. It was nice to sleep in and not have to rush the kids out to school in the a.m. Lots of time spent swimming at the pool and playing with friends! Last week, it was back to reality for ALL of us!! I had to get up before 7:00 a.m. (they had to get up before 9:30 a.m. -their summer wake up time!) New teachers, new friends, of course the new back packs and school clothes helped make things a little better!!
Tristyn started 3rd grade and Tessa 1st. Even little Luke moved up to the two year old class!! Everyone is growing up. I have just 5 weeks left til Miss Lilly joins our family!! Less than that if she follows in the pattern of her big sisters. So, Kenny and I spent the Labor Day weekend preparing the nursery for her arrival. I must say, it looks REALLY cute! Pink and green. I have included a picture of Luke and Maggie playing in her crib. Maggie came over to play on Saturday, and boy, did the two of them have a BALL!! They giggled and played, went up and down the slide, ate popsicles, and just had a good old time! They decided to break in Lilly's crib, and i think Maggie would have been content to just sleep there had Jenny let her!!

Last night all 3 kids had on their Heroes for Children 5K t-shirts to sleep in, so i had to take a picture and plug the 5K!!

It is definately going to be the best one yet this year! The kids are so excited. And why wouldnt they be?? Bounce houses, a train, Eddie Coker concert, Sweet and Sassy will be there doing "up do's" for the girls, face painting....... not to mention the actual race!
Be sure and sign up ASAP as the price increases on Thursday!! Hope you all have a great week, and enjoy your kiddos!!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The family that volunteers together....

It's September--which means its time for our Volunteer of the Month for September 2007! This month's volunteer choice is a couple that takes their volunteering very seriously. Jennifer and Allan Rayson have been involved since the inception of Heroes for Children and make volunteering a family priority. While he leads the Board of Directors as the Chairman, she works with a group of volunteers to put on the most successful 5K Run/Walk we've ever had! Jennifer has served as the race chair for the past year, and all her hard work will pay off in two weeks!
We're lucky to have Jennifer and Allan as committed volunteer of Heroes for Children. And my husband and I couldn't ask for better neighbors!! Jennifer and Allan--you're the best!!!
Name, Age, Occupation:

Allan: I am 31 years old, and I am in Commercial Banking at Bank of Texas. I have been in the banking industry for my entire career after graduating from Business School at Texas Tech University in 2000. I am also lucky enough to be the Chairman of Heroes for Children.

Jennifer: I am 30 years old. I am CEO of the Rayson Household. It’s a very busy job – I put in a lot of overtime.

How did you get involved with HFC?

Despite the fact that Heroes had not yet been formed, we became indirectly involved on May 7, 2004. This was the day that we received a sobering voicemail message from Jenny Scott indicating that her daughter, Allie, who was then only 4 months, had been diagnosed with Leukemia. As anyone would if they had received this voicemail, we and several other neighbors set out to raise money to assist the Scott family with their day-to-day expenses by raising money in our neighborhood in Allen. Due to the generosity of the residents of Lost Creek Ranch, we were able to raise several thousand dollars in only a couple of days to assist the Scott family.

We became directly involved with Heroes as it was being formed in late 2004. Allan was initially involved as the Treasurer for the organization in 2004 and 2005 and became the Chairman in 2007. Jennifer is also very involved with Heroes in her capacity as the Chairwoman for the 2007 Heroes for Children 5K Run/Walk.

Do you have any kids and/or pets?

We don’t have any pets, but we have three, energetic boys named Will (age 4), Alex (age 3) and Sam (age 5 mo.). They’re all so different, each with their own distinct little personality. We are enjoying every loud and rowdy minute of life with the Rayson boys! Will has also shown generosity to Heroes by volunteering to have his friends (actually the parents of his friends) donate financially instead of giving him a gift for his fourth birthday in March of this year.

From looking at you, no one would guess that…..

Allan: I enjoy running marathons for enjoyment (and the challenge, of course!). I have run the Dallas White Rock Marathon for the last three years and hope to complete my fourth consecutive race in December of this year. I started running marathons in honor of my little friend, Allie Scott, in 2004, and I have looked to her for inspiration in each of my races since. Not too many people know that I kept a copy of Allie’s memorial card from her funeral in my pocket for my first marathon in 2004 and still have that card today.

Jennifer: Well, running marathons happens to be a hobby we enjoy together, but I’ll try to come up with something else – wouldn’t want to bore you folks. So, one might not guess that I also enjoy photography. Although I use the term “photography” loosely. I love my kids, I love to take pictures of them, and I love my camera that my dear husband bought me that takes great pictures of our little darlings. I’m an amateur no doubt, but I do love it!

Favorite place to eat:

Allan: my favorite place to eat is Luna De Noche when Jennifer and I go out to eat together.

Jennifer: Yep, without a doubt, love the Luna!

What’s on your book shelf?

Allan: the books that I am currently reading are The Smartest Guys in the Room (a book about the Enron meltdown) and Built to Last (a book by Jim Collins about business). However, I usually find myself reading books about Curious George and other children’s topics to the boys more often than I read my own books!

Jennifer: A few of my most recent reads are Boundaries for Kids and The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. Next up is Pathway to Purpose for Women. As you can tell, I don’t do fiction. Most of my books are on the topics of marriage, relationships, & parenting - I need all the help I can get!

What’s in your iPod/CD changer?

Allan: I can’t live without my iPod! I use it almost daily when running or mowing my lawn. It is the greatest invention ever! I hate to say it, but my iPod is loaded with everything from Jay-Z to Johnny Cash to Kid Rock to Alan Jackson…I am across the board when it comes to music!

Jennifer: My what??? I don’t have an iPod and I can’t stand Allan’s. He won’t talk to me when we run together because he’s too busy trying to keep up-- I mean too busy listening to that darn iPod! And I can’t even remember the last time I bought a CD. I’m not really a big music person, I just listen to the radio and I like a little of everything with the exception of rap and heavy metal.

Who’s your hero?

Allan: I have several sports and music heroes, but I have to say that my one true hero is my wife, Jennifer. She is truly the cornerstone of our family (in addition to being the CEO of the Rayson Household) and I admire the work that she does as a Wife, Mother, and Volunteer. Jennifer is Superwoman and we wouldn’t be the same without her! Don’t tell anyone, but she also runs marathons faster than I do, which is quite difficult to handle!

Jennifer: Well, I think you would agree there’s really only one way I can follow that answer…that is if I want to keep the peace around here! So, let me tell you about my hero – my husband, Allan. He works so incredibly hard for our family so that I can stay home with our kids, which I appreciate more than he’ll ever know. I’m sure I don’t tell him thank you often enough. He is kind, loving, and generous – and his sense of humor is what keeps me going after a long day with the kids! We are truly blessed to have him as husband and father – simply could not ask for more. I love him dearly.