Wednesday, September 30, 2009

24 Hours of Booty, Columbia MD, September 26-27, 2009

This past weekend I had the privilege to participate in 24 Hours of Booty. It was an incredible weekend. In fact, I tried to write it for the past two days, but I could not come up with the words. For once I am speechless. I am not sure if I can express how much this weekend meant to me and the outpouring of support that was showed to me. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I am going to try and let these pictures and video speak for me.

I was given the coveted number of 24.


The Rickshaw


video
The first day was rainy, but fun was had by all.

Owen took the first lap, the survivor lap. It was rainy, but exhilarating. My parents, friends Sara, Eden and Adam came out in the rain to provide support and cheer on us. It meant a lot to me that they were there.

Owen and I starting the first lap


Finishing the first lap

Spencer Lueders, Founder of 24 Hours of Booty taking a turn on the rickshaw

Spencer took over pedaling the rickshaw for the next three laps. Another rider took over for the last lap of the day.

Bootyville Campground

The weather cleared up on Sunday and it turned out to be a beautiful day. Several other riders volunteers to pedal the rickshaw. Many thanks to Ally, Eric and Dan for taking turns and allowing me to go four more laps. We had a flat, but the support crew was great and many thanks to the Race Pace staff for getting us back on the course.

Ally pedaling with support helping us up the hill.

The last part of the lap included a hill that was very tough when pedaling the rickshaw and many volunteers and riders helped us by pushing up the hill.



Dan pedaling me up the hill with help from volunteers


Spencer pedaled me for the ceramonial last lap of the day. In total we did ten laps, this exceeded my goal from last year to ride 20 miles. It was an incredible weekend. So far we raised approximately $850.00 that will go to support those affected by cancer. Thank you to all of you that made donations.

Final Lap with Spencer

Many thanks to all the staff and volunteers that made this a special experience. Most importantly, I need to send out much thanks to Owen who made it possible for me to particpate in Booty. None of this would have been possible if he had not arranged it.

If anyone has any more pictures, expecially from Sunday, please send them to sonsalli@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Help me celebrate cancer survivorship and raise money for cancer

Last year, I signed up to participate in a bike relay to raise awareness and funds to fight cancer. The event is called 24 Hours of Booty (http:/www.24hoursofbooty.org). It started in Charlotte, NC when a cyclist decided to ride for 24 hours straight on a local bike route call the “Booty Loop” and the 24 Hours of Booty event was created. The following year the event became public and over 100 riders joined in and raised over $33,000. In 2008 after great success in North Carolina this event spread to Columbia, MD.

In the late summer of 2008 I had recovered somewhat from my previous treatment for metastatic Ovarian Cancer. I was not sure how much I would be able to ride, but I was looking forward to the first lap – the survivor lap. I wanted to celebrate my improved health and being lay claim to the title cancer survivor. I was overwhelmed by the support from my family and friends and raised $750.

One week before the event, I learned that the tumors in my lungs had grown and several more have popped up. I was devastated, but was still looking forward to participating in 24 hours of Booty. Unfortunately, the inaugural Columbia event in 2008 was cancelled due to hurricane Hannah. I was saddened that the event was cancelled and even more so very disappointed that I would not be able to ride the 2.5 mile loop celebrating myself as a cancer survivor.

Throughout this past year my cancer has continued to spread and my health has deteriorated and am now in the end stage of terminal cancer. As the Columbia 24 Hours of Booty Columbia approached (September 26 -27), I knew I would not be able to participate this year. Just one more thing the cancer had taken from me.

A new friend realized how much the survivors’ lap meant to me and contacted a local bike shop (http://chesapeakecyclesport.com/)and arranged for them to donate a pedal powered rickshaw. Owen will be pedaling me during the first lap and despite my health has made it possible for me to participate in the event and the survivors’ lap.

I am trying to help Owen with his fundraising. All funds that are raised go to Johns Hopkins Hospital, The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, and The Lance Armstrong Foundation. Will you help us raise money to help individuals affected by cancer? http://www.24hoursofbooty.org/site/TR/Bike/General?px=1192421&pg=personal&fr_id=1070

Additionally, I am hoping to raise additional funds and get other riders to commit to pedaling the rickshaw for a lap or two for a nominal donation. Wanna Help? Feel free to contact me at sonsalli@comcast.net or look for us this Saturday and Sunday.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Just one of the many gifts of life

Today I was reminded of the joys of life, the gift of birthdays, friends and of a special type of love. I was also reminded of the somber time of death, but how when the pain ebbs a bit of the joyous memories that we all have.

I had the privilege of attending the birthday party for Annie, a 15 y/o rescued golden retriever. Many of you know my love of goldens and my work with the rescue. I met Annie’s “mom” when I started volunteering with the local golden retriever rescue 6 years ago, shortly after I adopted my own golden retriever Oscar. Celebrating Annie’s birthday is a wonderful thing. Not many goldens get the opportunity to reach such an age. The party was held at a local doggie day camp facility and included food for both 2 and 4 legged attendees, games, and prizes. With approximately 45 dogs in attendance it could have been chaos, but it wasn’t. It was a fun time for dogs and their families to socialize, enjoy and celebrate the wondrous relationships between dogs and their people.

I lost my golden Oscar just over two years ago. I had the privilege of having him in my life for 4 wonderful years and he passed away at 12 years old. Although he passed away, he is still very much a part of my life. I may not have him physically by my side, but his presence is around. He taught me such wonderful gifts and by being a part of my life he reinforced that life is made by the simple things and the happiness that can be found in the big brown eyes of a golden retriever.


There was a slideshow today that featured many of the attendees (furry butts and their people) and our cherished friends that could not be with us. I found myself reflecting on the many dogs that touched my life while working with the rescue and although I was sad they are no longer alive, I found myself laughing at their pictures depicting their antics. Oh the memories those pictures brought up.

As my own journey progresses, I find myself thinking more and more about death and the beyond. Surprisingly, I do not find these thoughts overly distressing. I believe it has to do with how I am approaching my own forthcoming death. I have decided that in the coming weeks I am going to start writing more and more about how I feel being at the end of my physical life. I want to share with you thoughts, decisions and preparations as well as the peace and understanding that I find as I take these steps. I hope that some day in the future you will be able to experience an opportunity to look past the sadness of my death and do what I did today, by finding the beauty and happiness and invoke the memories that we all have. As I did today with friends about their beloved dogs and as I do everyday with Oscar when I look around my house and see his face with mine on the mantle, his favorite toys sitting in his basket. He comes to visit me in my dreams and gives me peace. He is waiting patiently for me, giving me support and encouragement and he gives me peace of mind that he will escort me to heaven when the time comes.

I hope as you read this, you will think of that special person or animal that means a lot to you and reflect on those memories. Here are just a few of the memories that I have for my special boy - Oscar.