Support the Girls

I’ve always had a desire to work in the nonprofit sector. While I’ve never officially worked for a nonprofit, I’ve worked with various groups to raise money for causes close to my heart. With so much negativity over the past year and a half, particularly in the past several months, I’ve been feeling the need to get back to my nonprofit involvement. This desire has lead me to figure out what I can do to make a difference. I can march (I did and it was an amazing experience!), I can make calls, send letters and emails to my representatives, which allows me to participate in our government, but what I was really searching for is something that can make a difference for someone right here at home. Something with an immediate impact. Enter my sorority sister Emy.

For months I’d been seeing her Facebook posts about an organization called Support the Girls. She’s been collecting bras, tampons, pads and underwear for women in homeless and domestic abuse shelters. Her goal this year is to collect 500 bras and she’s over half way to meeting that goal. To put in perspective why these are so important to donate/collect: The average woman will use 240 tampons/year and/or 200+ pads or liners/year. That cost adds up and when it’s choosing between a meal or hygiene products, likely, the meal will win. Not to mention how expensive bras are. I take for granted that I can just run to Target or Victoria’s Secret when I need a new bra. That is absolutely a luxury that many women do not have.

As I researched the organization, I saw that they did not have a Twin Cities affiliate. Our metro area has organizations that get women appropriate attire for job interviews and work, food shelves, toy and book drives, etc. I didn’t find one that focused on undergarments and hygiene products. It was like a light bulb turned on. I could be the Twin Cities affiliate.

So it started with a phone call with the outreach coordinator. With a Facebook post on my page and our city mom’s group page, my collections began. After finding a handful of shelters to accept my initial donations, I started thinking bigger. I contacted my Orangetheory and worked with them to get a drive going for the month of February. I posted on Nextdoor to get my neighbors involved and put a bin on my porch so people can drop off donations at their convenience. It’s gaining traction and I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of others. It reminds me that society as a whole, has the best intentions. People care about other people and want to give when and what they can.

So far I have collected more than 130 bras, 800 tampons, 750 pads/liners and 50 pairs of underwear. That’s in just two and a half weeks! My community, family and friends have been so supportive and generous. I’m so excited to deliver donations to various shelters.

After this first donation drive, I’ll become an official affiliate of the program which means that all other Twin Cities inquiries will be sent my way. I’m already working on scheduling a drive at our church in the next few months and getting satellite drives going throughout the Twin Cities metro area so that we can provide these items for as many shelters as we can.

Interested in making a donation? There are a few ways you can help! First, you can visit the Support the Girls website to see if there is a local affiliate near you accepting donations. If there is not, you can start your own drive and ship the items to the headquarters. You can also donate money to their Crowdrise account. If you are interested in donating in the Twin Cities or just have some stuff you want to send my way, you can email me.

 

My First Marathon Recap #tbt

Written two weeks after my first marathon (Seattle Rock N’ Roll) in June of 2009 in the form of an email to all of those who supported my fundraising for Team in Training. Re-reading it brought me right back to that day. As I upload it here, I’m looking at the shadow box hanging on the wall in our office with my medal, bib and picture of Meghan and I crossing the finish line, hands in the air, smiling. 

I did it, I ran a marathon!  It was by far the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done.  The weekend was a whirlwind of hilarity with my teammates, inspirational speakers including the head of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Runner‘s World’s The Penguin, and tears.  Tears of pain (mine), tears of remembrance, tears of happiness, and relief.

So here’s a little recap of my race, to give you an idea of what it’s like for a novice to run a marathon.  Sorry…it’s a bit long.

2:45 am

Time to get up and start getting ready.  It’s not like I had really been sleeping, but this time I was up for good.  I made my peanut butter and jelly toast (untoasted…boo) that I always have before a run and nervously paced the hotel room.  Once I had gotten dressed and put on plenty of sunscreen and Body Glide to prevent the dreaded chaffing, it was time to meet my team to go to the starting line.

4:30-7:25 am

We arrived in Tukwila.  We waited to check out bag and I hung out in a plastic trash bag to keep me warm.  After about a dozen trips to the porta-potties (just in case) it was time to get into our heats.  It didn’t really hit me until Meghan (the best mentor ever!!!) and I were standing at the start line waiting to hear our start that I was actually going to do this.

7:30 am

Here we go!  The Penguin sends us on our way.

Miles 1-5

I was feeling great!  Cheering and yelling out to fellow Team in Training teammates. I even sang a little Michael Jackson on the way. The sun was shining and I believe that Meghan put it just right when she said that it felt glorious.

Miles 7-14

Still feeling good, we broke from the half marathoners for an out and back over the water. We had a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier.  At this point I knew that there was no wimping out.  I couldn’t just do the half marathon anymore because when we met back up with them I’d already have run 14 miles.  After a quick porta-potty stop, we were on our way.  I was still feeling good but my tendons were starting to flare up a bit.  We saw Meghan’s boyfriend Adam who was cheering and capturing our excited smiles.

Miles 15-19

Now I was always told I’d hit the wall sometime around this point. Being positive, I though, eh, I’ve run 17 miles before, I won’t hit the wall this early.  Hit the wall I did not, but I sure did hit something.  This was a vicious out and back.  I was still smiling and feeling good when I saw Josh at mile 15.  I was shocked that I heard him yell out my name.  It pumped me up…until a two mile long hill hit.  That was the worst out and back of the entire race. I could see the Space Needle and Mt. Rainier but what I couldn’t see was the end of the hill.  It was shortly after we hit the turnaround point and headed towards the last 7 miles, that I shed my first tear. I tried to be tough and Meghan was cheering me on and staying by my side, but man exhaustion and pain were starting to set in and my GU was not helping.

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Mile 20-24

At this point I was in full blown tear mode.  Being tough went right out the window.  At this point it took everything I had to not to jump off the viaduct into the bay.  I was hot, tired and in excruciating pain.  So what do you do when you’re feeling like crap?  Stop? No way, Cry? yes. Yell and scream? Absolutely!   It’s amazing what some good yelling can do for you.

The Home Stretch (Miles 24-26.2)

This was my low point.  It took me an entire 31 minutes to get through these last 2.2 miles.  When I saw that I was so upset, 2 miles in 31 minutes?  Seriously, that is how long it usually takes for a 3.5 miles.  I walked up the last hill…who puts a hill in the last 1.5 miles?  That’s just mean.  It wasn’t a big hill, but you may as well had me running up Pikes Peak.  Meghan and Coach Jen were running and walking right besides me.  Cheering me on and telling me how tough I was to keep going even though my knees were barely bending. We all let out yells together.  Meghan and I crossed the finish line together, hand in hand.  I could not have done it without her.  If anyone wants yet another reason why TNT is such an amazing program, there is it.  Team Mentors really are there for you.

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Five hours later, I was at the finish line.  It was about a half hour slower than I wanted to run the race, but I finished which is what really matters.  It was exhilarating and sad at the same time.  I had worked so hard to get to the start line, ever harder to make it to the finish line and it was over. Once I got my medal, I went straight to the medical tent where they promptly plastic wrapped ice to both knees.  I grabbed my dry, plain bagel and devoured it.  Josh greeted me at the TNT tent with beautiful flowers from Pike’s Market and a big smile. We met up with the rest of my teammates who did the half and took lots of pictures before Josh had to lower me to the ground.

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Here I am almost two weeks later.  I’m walking normally again, with some nagging aches and pain. I’m taking the entire month off of running (killing me) as per my great physical therapist and really taking in what was just accomplished.  Yes, the marathon is my personal accomplishment but I could not have done it without all of your love and support. It got me through the injuries, pain and exhaustion.  More importantly, we raised $5000 to help find a cure for cancer.  As I ran beside people who had names and pictures of ppl that they lost to cancer it really hit me how important Team in Training is.

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25 runners came from the Rocky Mountain Chapter to run the Inaugural race with $109,000 raised to support important research and patient programs and we all came back with so much more than medals to show for it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You are all amazing.

Taking the Plunge

Last summer we were all about jumping in the many lakes around us. When I told Josh that I was going to jumping in a lake in February, he questioned my sanity. Honestly I was questioning it myself. I’ve heard about Polar Plunges for years. They hold them all over the country but I’ve never been brave enough to partake. Well, this year was different. Maybe it was the running group encouragement or me just deciding to make the most of my first Minnesota winter. Which side note, has been extremely mild. I’m actually jealous of all the snow that other places are getting. If it’s going to be cold it needs to snow.

Anyway, back to the Plunge. The Polar Plunge events benefit The Special Olympics both locally and nationally. Each participant is asked to raise a minimum of $75. Thinking about race fees, that’s nothing. I posted a couple status updates on Facebook and thanks to my awesome friends and family raised $125 in no time. With my funds raised, I was ready for the big jump.

Thanks to the advice of seasoned plungers, I knew to wear old running shoes and clothes I could get off quickly. I also was told not to wear anything that might weigh my down because I’d want to get out of the water quickly. I brought my favorite sweatpants, warmest boots and a coat for my post jump warm up clothes. Come Saturday morning I was really excited that we were going to see temperatures in the 30s.

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The event was really well organized. I meet my teammates, went into the warm-up/changing tent and within a few minutes we were getting our picture taken as we prepared to jump.

Pre-Plunge

When we entered the final little tunnel before our jump, I said to my teammates that I wasn’t sure I really wanted to do it. Of course there was no turning back. I was about to jump in water they had to cut through ice to get to.

As we were announced, we lined up and waited for the countdown.

Polar Plunge 1

Here we go!

Polar Plunge 2

Live action :

It was cold and took my breath away.

Polar Plunge 3

Polar Plunge 5

I was slightly worried I wasn’t going to be able to move my legs to get up the steps to get out. I felt like I was moving in slow motion, but I made it out and ran into the tunnels that lead to the changing tent. For once I was thankful for the few extra winter pounds I’m carrying around to keep some more warmth in my body.

Post Plunge

By the time I got into the tent to change I was warmed up. I was actually sweating by the time I was dressed and went to me Josh and the kids.

It was fun and for a good cause. Maybe I’ll do it again next year. If you’re slightly crazy, there are tons of events happening the rest of the winter all over the country. You can find one here.

Ibogaine-The Way Out?

My Uncle Rick, is working a new film. This time he’s working with my Uncle Justin to help him overcome his heroin addiction.  You may remember that he screened the film, Forgetting Dad, about my grandpa last year all of the world, including right here in Denver.  The new project is just in funding mode right now. I made a contribution this morning. I wish I could contribute more, but I figure every little bit helps. Hopefully they can raise enough to get it off the ground and see if Ibogaine will really help Justin. Check out the brief trailer Rick put together.

Hair4Hunger

How do you spend a warm, summery Friday afternoon in Longmont? Throwing back a few beers at our local brewery, Lefthand.  It was really busy when we pulled up which isn’t unusual for a nice afternoon, but when we walked in we were in for more than we thought.  As it turns out they were hosting a Hair4Hunger fundraiser and silent auction for Our Center.  Our Center is a local organization that works to help people with disabilities and/or limited means to become self-sufficient.  They provide hot meals, clothes, child care, and more.  We’re always up for supporting charitable causes so we bid on half a dozen silent auction items and went along our way. 

Once we got our beers we decided to check out the commotion on the patio.  There were three or four hair salons out there doing people’s hair. Now they weren’t doing nice, stylish dos, they were competing to create the biggest, prettiest and most zannie styles.  Josh volunteered my head for some wacky hair.  For a small donation of $5 I got this rocking style.  It’s totally me don’t you think?

Yep, I think I’m going to go out on the town like this from now on. 

Brenna arrived and she got hers done too.  Pretty pretty princess for beer drinkers.  Unfortunately we were runners up in the contest, but it was fun anyway.  As it turns out our luck was better in the silent auction.  We won two private pilates sessions, a few acupunture appointments, a haircut and deep conditioning treatment at BeauImage and a month of yoga compete with a yoga mat and t-shirt at Solar Yoga.  I’d say we made out pretty well. Not gonna lie, we were both relieved we didn’t also win the DQ cake and keg of beer. 

It was an unexpected and super fun evening.  Now how do I get my hair back to normal?