Journey’s End

It’s 7:00am.  I wake up, take a bath… because I like bathes, and it was my routine before a race when I ran cross-country and track.  I always had to have a shower/bath before I raced.  It helped me relax and loosen up.  This time, though, I’m thinking about my old man, and how I wanted this race to go…

…before I know it, it’s 8:45am, fifteen minutes before race time.  I have been having problems with my feet lately, so I sadly forego the wearing of my dad’s shoes during the race.  They just don’t have the support… and they are also two sizes too big for me.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t coming with me though.

The horn goes off at 9:00am on the Campus Rec track of Binghamton University and 120 runners begin the 5K Heart Run.  Yours truly is one of them.  I’m in my red shirt with “One Time For Tim!” puffy-painted on the back.  I have on Under Armour, and my red headband as well.  I’m pretty red & black at this moment.  The most important accessory though is being carried like a pair of footballs, one under each arm.  Tim’s shoes and I are doing this race together.

The course itself was pretty flat, yet surprisingly difficult because it was on a constant incline for the first mile and a half.  There I am, plodding along, passing people and trying to figure out my rhythm.  I never really feel like I get my pace right though.  I’m still doing alright, and I’m feeling pretty good.  The course doubles back over itself, so when I make the turn to go back around the halfway point, I can now see the other runners.  We cheer each other on, and encourage each other to keep pushing.  Lots of younger folks, lots of older ones too.

So now I’m close to the end.  I’ve been shamelessly following a 14 year-old and using him as a pace car to keep myself going.  He’s got time and youth on his side, so I figure I’d tag him as my goal.  He pulls away, not surprising, and leaves me playing catch-me-if-you-can.  His “kick” is little faster than mine, but I make it respectable.  We are almost to the finish, and I put whatever I have left out there and move as fast as I can.  I cross the finish line just after my pacer… 23:03 is my time.

I check the board after the race to see how I did.  9th overall, and 3rd in my age division!  Not bad!  However, I can’t claim 9th place.  I’m calling it 10th….

…I held my dad’s shoes in front of me before I finished.  He finished 9th.  Tim was going to finish before me… and not wearing his shoes during the race turned out to be the best idea I had.

After some breakfast, it was time to visit the Heart Walk Festivities.  According to the event organizers, over 1,500 attended the event.  There were people of all walks of life, enjoying the activities.  There were heart-healthy food booths, informational kiosks, and even a section where you could get screened for your health.  I’m just taking it all in at this point.  Lots of people with sponsored shirts, homemade signs, just about everything you can imagine to show support.

At 12:30pm, we all go outside to start the walk.  We hear from a speaker who himself survived heart disease.  Get tested, he says, because you never know when it’s all over.  Very true.  They call up all of the heart disease/heart attack/stroke survivors.  Slowly, people leave the giant crowd and make their way up front.  A lot of older folks, but also some folks my age, maybe even younger make their way to the grandstand.  A giant round of applause… well-deserved.  We stand at attention for the national anthem, and then… with a “ready, set, go!” … we walk.  Tim’s shoes are on my feet.  I’m going to walk a literal mile in his shoes…. I ended up doing two.

The walk is a loop around campus, roughly one mile.  It was amazing to see this stream of humanity as far as the eye could see making their way around the campus.  At strategically placed points were signs giving statistics about heart disease and stroke… a grim reminder of why we are doing this walk.   My dad is in my thoughts for the entire walk.  Lots of my old memories just come to me… most are the ones I’ve been blogging about over the past couple of months.  The sun is shining, the air is springtime cool, and it was a glorious day.

We make it back and they wrap up the walk.  They announce that thus far, we have raised over $200,000!  What a great accomplishment!  We applaud and congratulate each other on a job well done.

As I am leaving, a woman from one of the health care sponsors asks to take a picture of my dad’s shoes.  I oblige and pose for the pictures.  I tell her there is a story behind them.  She snaps a picture and asks about it.  I tell her they are my dad’s and that he passed away 15 years ago.  I was here for him.  She gave me a very sad smile and some great words of encouragement.

After all of that activity, it was time to go home.  Once I got back, I fell asleep for a bit, and now… here I am… writing the last post in this blog.

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This idea started on a whim all the way back in November of 2011.  I wanted to commemorate my dad’s passing some how, seeing as it has been 15 years since he lost to heart disease.  I wanted to do something so special and beneficial to not only his memory, but to everyone I came in contact with as well.

When I set the goal of $5,000… I personally thought it was a great pipe dream to aim for… after all… if you shoot for the moon and miss, you at least land among the stars… so the saying goes.  Needless to say, I feel like the Neil Armstrong of charities right about now.  We not only landed on the moon, we planted a flag and swung a couple of golf clubs while we were here.

I don’t share a lot of stories about my dad because I never figured anyone would be interested in them.  That may or may not be true, but the response I got from this blog was also amazing.  Over 2,000 views of the past 80-some days.  It means that some of you cared enough to see what my old man was about during his shortened life on this planet.  I truly hoped you enjoyed some of these stories and thoughts about my dad.  My only regret is that some of you never got a chance to meet him face-to-face.  I’m sure he would not have disappointed you, and would have lived up to the antics portrayed.

One Time For Tim! was born out of the idea that no one should EVER lose someone they love so early in life to a treatable and screenable disease.  Heart disease is THE #1 killer in the US.  It is detectable and preventable with pro-activity.  Know y0ur cholesterol numbers, know your BP, know your health status.  Go out and be active… jog, walk, sports, fitness classes, ANYTHING to get you moving.  Be wary of what you eat, take the time to examine your intake and portions.  The last thing I want anyone to experience is this kind of loss.  Let’s not have any more memorials or blogs about loved ones who left us too early.

To all of you who have lost someone too early in life:  I know your pain.  It gets easier each passing day, but it never fully goes away.  There will be moments that you wonder “I wonder what _______ would say/do if they were here now?”  We live them, and it hurts sometimes.  Know that you are loved and supported by friends, family, and others who have experienced this themselves.  I still have trouble doing this, but it has been easier with time.  You don’t need to fight alone.

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FINAL BLOG TOTAL

Thanks to the efforts you have taken for this endeavor, we ended with:

$5,845!!!!

Since we can fundraise until the end of May, we are not out of the woods yet.  We are in first place as a family/friends team, and I want us to stay that way!  If you still feel the need to donate, click on the link below!

Click here to donate to the Heart Walk page and check our progress!

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Finally, THANK YOU to every single person out there who donated, supported, re-posted, spread the word, cheered, followed along, and loved us and this endeavor.  To say this is a dream come true is an understatement.  The outpouring of care from everyone has been staggering.  Without you, this is nothing.  Thanks for taking this to a level never thought possible by me.  I hope you are all as proud as I am of this event, you have earned it.

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Tonight, I will be looking toward the sky at a very starry night.  I’ll probably see Orion… one of my favorite constellations.  It will remind me of the wintry nights back in my childhood… looking up at the pitch black sky and seeing that familiar belt of his.  I’ll shut my eyes, and I will be transported back to our little house outside of New Philadelphia, Ohio.  I’ll imagine my dad standing next to me… pointing out some of the stars, like he would every once in a while.  I’ll open my eyes, and Orion will be there, just like he was so many years ago.  Another memory, another night… one of many I always hope my friends and family have with their loved ones.  Y’know, the little moments that have such a big impact on your life.

Tonight… there will be a message for all the stars though.  From all of us…. straight out to the infinite cosmos and beyond.  A message that has special meaning to me and the ones who knew and loved him.  It’s a message that will lift so much heaviness… 15 years worth… from my heart and soul, and replace it with a piece of mind and joy for us all.  A message that will signify the end of this fantastic adventure.

Hey… dad… we did it.  One time.  For you.

I love my father as the stars – he’s a bright shining example and a happy twinkling in my heart.”   – Terri Guillemets

Adventure…. over.

 

It’s Go Time!

It’s less than 24 hours away.  The 5K, the fanfare, the walk, the emotions.  Everything.  One Time For Tim! will make its debut at Binghamton University around 8:00AM tomorrow.  It will be cold, it will be early… and we will be there.

A long journey’s end looms in the horizon, and I’m ready to represent this team and your support for this walk.  I know there will be tons of people there, and lots of families, friends, co-workers, and others who have a similar journey.  I’m not sure if their adventure has been the same as mine, but it is their perspective, and I know they will have just as much emotion and heart as I will.

I think the most interesting part of this walk tomorrow will be the stories and tales others have and how heart disease and stroke have affected each person.

I have so much to say… but it’s better suited for the finale post of the blog.

In the meantime…

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TODAY’S TOTAL

Well, I got an e-mail from the AHA saying that they are keeping the donation lines open until May 31st!  So technically, we still have a month left.

Previous Total:  $5,820
Today’s Donations (Scott):  $25!!   It keeps going!
Teammate Donations (Aaron):  $0!  Keep trying!!
Total as of Now:  $5,845!!!!!!
Amount OVER:  $845

So.  Close.  I have $620 to go until the next prize level?  Pffft… that’s nothing!  $6,000??  Only $155 to go on that!!

Click here to donate to the Heart Walk page and check our progress!  Check this link to join our team and help fundraise!

Let’s make $6,000 happen!

As of now, Weis Market has been moved to the “Corporate Teams” category.  That means…..

ONE TIME FOR TIM! IS IN FIRST PLACE IN THE FAMILY/FRIENDS TEAM DIVISION!  Let’s keep it up!

Thanks for playing along!!!

Let The Countdown Begin!

OK, I am wracking my head for some more memories about my father, but all I can shake out of there is the fact that I am getting more and more excited for this Sunday!  It feels like this culmination is creeping up faster and faster now.  Before I know it, it will be time to end this adventure.

I’m starting to get some mixed feelings about the ending of this whole endeavor.  On the one hand, it has really been enjoyable to recall a lot of the memories I have had of my father and to see what wonderful memories my friends, family, and others have had as well.  I have enjoyed all of your responses to each post and frankly… to get this far with the charity and to raise this much money has been incredible.  It makes me want to keep going on and on for this…

…. BUT….

At the same time, this has been very time-consuming.  It got a little harder each day to continue writing and posting and begging and posting and more begging.  I’m also going to guess that my Facebook friend count has dropped since the start of this.  In some ways, this will be a relief when it is over, because I can get back to a semi-normal life where I am not worrying about reaching a fundraising goal everyday.

Still, if I were to do it over… well… I absolutely would keep the same motivation and blog going.  I have definitely learned what to do in the future if I were to try this endeavor again… just so it doesn’t seem so overbearing and repetitive.  It has definitely been a learning experience… and I suggest that if the spirit ever moves you… go fundraise for a charity.  It teaches you so much.

So, in the next 24 hours, I will be making my shirt for the Heart Walk as well.  I’ll be donning red.  Red shirt, red headband, and other red items.  I gotta represent us well.  Time to stop at the local AC Moore!

The whole event schedule is as follows:

8:00am to 8:45am – 5K Registration
9:00am – 5K Shotgun Start
10:00am – Walk Registration Opens
10:00am to 12:30pm – Heart Healthy Activities & Family Fun
12:30pm – 1 to 3 Mile Heart Walk – RAIN OR SHINE!

Here’s to finishing strong!

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TODAY’S TOTAL

2 days left!  AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Previous Total:  $5,769.22
Today’s Donations (Scott):  $50.78!!!!!!!  Someone hates fractions.
Teammate Donations (Aaron):  $0!  Keep trying!!
Total as of Now:  $5,820!!!!!!
Amount OVER:  $820

So.  Close.  I have $620 to go until the next prize level?  Pffft… that’s nothing!  $6,000??  Only $180 to go on that!!

Click here to donate to the Heart Walk page and check our progress!  Check this link to join our team and help fundraise!

Let’s make $6,000 happen!

Thanks for playing along!!!

That One Regret

I think I have done a pretty good job the past two months expressing a lot of the memories and wonderment that my father was a part of in my life.  I can’t believe that it has been fifteen years since the last time I heard his voice or saw him lumber into a room.  The ability for time to pass steadily, yet feel like it flies or slows to a crawl, is remarkable.  The perception of time in humans is not really objective… but subjective to what is happening around you, immediate or otherwise.

“I regret nothing” is a common saying I hear when it comes to those who stand firmly in their convictions and actions.  To hell with consequence, they say.  They will stand up for what they did, what they believed in, and not back down regardless of the result.  However, I feel that “I regret nothing” is not entirely true.  I think we all have a little regret with some of the decisions we make in life.  I think, if given the chance, we would all go back in time and alter the outcome of one action if we could.  After all, who wouldn’t want to take a stab at altering SOMETHING for a better outcome?

I think a more accurate statement would be, “I can regret the outcome, but I am deciding to handle this with maturity, grace, and stoic belief.”

I have had many regrets in life.  I always think to certain moments in time and wonder “what if”.  What if I chose A instead of B?  What if I would have waited 10 minutes longer?  What if I choose red instead of blue?  The little things that hang over you for a minute or two, but subside as reality floods back in and puts you back on the day’s path.  There is one regret I do have that I want a re-do .  One little action I very likely take if I could do it again.

Call my dad before he passed away.

I’ve said it before:  I’m a lousy communicator on the phone and such.  In college, that was especially true.  I was too busy having fun and being an awesome (?) teenager/young adult.  I didn’t have time to call home and fuss with parents.  I was making a mark for myself!

Well… I COULD find the time if I needed a little money.  That’s every college kid ever.

The last conversation I had with my dad was two weeks before he passed away.  I still cannot believe it.  I went 14 days without so much as saying a word to him.  I don’t remember being mad at him, or upset, or anything really to stop me from giving him a call.  I was just… “busy”.  Like college-is-happening-and-you-are-not busy.

All I had to do was stop for a few minutes, pick up the phone, dial home, and just say hi, and talk.  I didn’t even do that.

Now, I get to testify about not knowing what you have until it is gone.

So, if I may offer a little advice to you college kids that think your parents are a bore, or overprotective, or nosy, or lame:  Enjoy the lame, nosy, overprotective, snore-fest that is your parents.  Talk to them, engage them, laugh with them.

I know that’s not exactly earth-shattering advice… and I’m sure you’ve heard it before.  Honestly, it’s the truth.  You may never have the chance to be with them again… and then you too will have that one regret.

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TODAY’S TOTAL

3 days left to make this $6,000 happen!  It just might too!  Take a look!!!!

Previous Total:  $5,569.22
Today’s Donations (Scott):  $200!!!!!!!  WE ARE HEATING UP!!!
Teammate Donations (Aaron):  $0!  Can’t buy a bucket.
Total as of Now:  $5,769.22!!!!!!
Amount OVER:  $769.22

Stunning!!  I have $670 to go until the next prize level… maybe could happen?!?  At least get to $6,000??  Only $230 to go on that!!

Click here to donate to the Heart Walk page and check our progress!  Check this link to join our team and help fundraise!

Thanks for playing along!!!

Know The Signs

As we get closer and closer to the Heart Walk, I am remembering more and more about the fateful day my dad passed away and the signs that were prevalent to his passing.  I remember my mom telling me about a conversation they had right before he collapsed.

He was watching a baseball game, and he was bundled up in a blanket on the couch…right around midnight.  My mom was going to bed, and asked if my dad was coming along with her.  He said he would be there in a minute… and that he felt “sick”… like he couldn’t warm up.  She went to bed, and a few minutes later, my dad got up to follow along.  He made it to the kitchen, and there… he collapsed, never to get back up.

My dad was the toughest man I knew, but for him to complain about being cold and feeling sick… it is not like him.  I guess that was his way for signaling that something was wrong.  It was too late though.  We never figured it out.

There are very tell-tale signs of someone going through the beginnings of a heart attack.  The following are recognized by the American Heart Association as signs of a heart attack:

  • Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

The last sign was the sign my dad showed.  Very confusing if you do not communicate fully what you feel.

As a society, especially us males, we tend to shrug off how we feel and power through whatever we are fighting.  This is the reason why so many fatal heart attacks occur… because we shrug off the effects and think it is nothing.  If you feel like you have any of the symptoms above, PLEASE CALL 9-1-1 and get help!

Check out the American Heart Association website for more information on prevention of & statistics for heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular disease.

DO NOT BE A STATISTIC.  Know the signs.

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TODAY’S TOTAL

The Zumba-Thon money has come in!  Our Fitness Center held a Zumba-thon, and decided to donate the profits in our honor!  Awesome!!!

Previous Total:  $5,469.22
Today’s Donations (Scott):  $100!!!!  Livin’ La Vida Loca!
Teammate Donations (Aaron):  $0!  Trouble finding the rhythm.
Total as of Now:  $5,569.22!!!!!!
Amount OVER:  $569.22

We are not done yet!!  I have $870 to go until the next prize level… maybe we can make it happen?!?  At least get to $6,000??

Click here to donate to the Heart Walk page and check our progress!  Check this link to join our team and help fundraise!

Thanks for playing along!!!

Going To The Dogs… and Cats! Announcement!

What a remarkable response you have all given over the course of the past six months for this event!  Without all of you, this little dream would not be possible in any sense of the imagination.  I don’t know if I have told you all this…

….actually, I would know, because I have been BLOGGING FOR OVER TWO MONTHS….and I’m a little lazy to dig through the posts….

….but there is going to be another donation within the donation after this event!

It’s like some twisted Inception-based idea, except less confusing.  If you have to read this post over again though a second to get it, go for it.

During the course of the past six months, the accumulation of donations makes me eligible for prizes.  The website has a chart of the different levels of prizes one can acquire as you raise money.  The higher the amount of donations you receive, the better the choices of prizes you receive are.  Well, as of now, I have over $4000 worth of donations attached to my name…. and hoping for more!

At the end of the donation time period, I can turn in my donation voucher in exchange for the prize in the level I have reached.  If you are playing along at home, I am in level 7…. which ain’t too shabby.  These aren’t cheap prizes either… you can get some nifty brand-name stuff!

Well, at the conclusion of the event, when I turn in my voucher… I will be donating the prize to the Tompkins County SPCA, a no-kill animal shelter in Ithaca.

The T-SPCA runs solely on donations and they are always in need of supplies and items.  I have already contacted the SPCA, and the executive director has thanked us and chosen the collapsible picnic table and benches for their dog area, so the staff and volunteers there can put their things down and sit during the day.

Some of you who have known me also know that at one time, it was my aspiration to become a veterinarian.  That’s the big reason why I went to Ohio State… vet school.  It didn’t pan out since I lost interest, but that doesn’t mean my love for animals went away.  My old man loved animals as well, and I find this to be a very fitting way to honor that love and to help another charity in need.

The prize was never really mine to claim.  The donations came from wonderful and loving people like yourselves… so in my mind it is unfair to keep something I never really earned.  So… we are going to pay it forward.  That was awful nice of us.

This charity thing is a little addictive.  Not gonna lie.  Everyone seems to win.  :)

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TODAY’S TOTAL

Guess what?  More bracelet money came in today!!!  Thanks to my mom for working hard for this!  Another big jump today!

Previous Total:  $5,144.22
Today’s Donations (Scott):  $325!!!!!!!!!  WHO LET THE DOGS OUT??
Teammate Donations (Aaron):  $0!  Cat Scratch Fever.  :(
Total as of Now:  $5,469.22!!!!!!
Amount OVER:  $469.22

We are not done yet!!  I have $970 to go until the next prize level… maybe we can stun the world?!?

Click here to donate to the Heart Walk page and check our progress!  Check this link to join our team and help fundraise!

Thanks for playing along!!!

Achievement Unlocked: $5,000 Reached!

It happened yesterday afternoon.  Sitting with friends in Boston… a phone call… a few types of a keypad on a laptop.  A few clicks of a pointer.  A refresh of the browser.  When it was all said and done…. and I looked at the team page for the One Time For Tim! Heart Walk…. the number came up:

$5,006

We did it.  Six months of asking, blogging, e-begging, bracelets, memories, support, love…. and it happened.  The goal for the team was reached with 6 days to go!  I kept hitting the “refresh” button on the browser to make sure that we actually had reached the goal.  The number kept coming up the same though.  Just a shade over $5,000.

With all of my traveling and plane rides and 5:00AM taxi rides from Syracuse airport to Ithaca and such, it really hasn’t hit me all that hard yet.  There are times today, though, that I begin to tear up thinking about that number and what it means to me and to my family, friends, and acquaintances that knew him well enough to be there for him, and hopefully vice versa.

Of course I was nervous at the beginning of all of this, wondering if this goal was actually going to be reached… even planning on what to do if I fell short.  The thing is, you all didn’t let us fall short now.  Everyone had a hand in making this endeavor a successful and beautiful thing to witness blossom over the course of the fall, winter, and now spring.  $5,000 has been raised in the memory, honor, and name of my old man… and donated to one of the most worthy causes to prevent heart disease and stroke.

I imagine that when I get home and relax, sit quietly, and think about this event… I will begin to cry.  After all, you don’t put in so much time, effort, and love into something like this and not be affected by it.  I look at my bracelet every day and hope that this cause reaches someone, and makes them realize their life is important… and it changes them for the better, whether it be getting a check-up or exercising more or eating with more intelligence.  Your life is too important to have it cut short by something you can monitor.

Well, I suppose I could close up shop, and not advertise this endeavor anymore.  Mission Accomplished, right?  Nope.  It’s time to keep striving for something higher.  Why meet an expectation when you can exceed it?  Please keep the sharing and caring going until the Heart Walk!  Donate if you can, re-post or share this blog, and let’s keep Tim going throughout all of this.

One time… for Tim.

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TODAY’S TOTAL

Well, I have the distinct pleasure of posting today’s amount.  Thank you all for being here for this!

Previous Total:  $4,756
Today’s Donations (Scott):  $338.22!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This deserves a NATURE BOY CELEBRATION!!!!  WOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Teammate Donations (Aaron):  $75!!!  The Four Horsemen return!!!
Total as of Now:  $5,144.22!!!!!!
Amount OVER:  $144.22

I get to change the “Amount Left” to “Amount Over” now!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!

We are not done yet!!  Let’s keep this train moving and see how far we can go!!  No limits!

Click here to donate to the Heart Walk page and check our progress!  Check this link to join our team and help fundraise!

Thanks for playing along, and bless every single one of you for helping us reach a dream.