Help me raise at least $5,000 for Children's Cancer Research Fund. I'm running a 100-mile race March 23-24 to honor some extraordinary people who've battled cancer. Leave the 100 miles to me -- I just need your help with the fundraising part!
WHY I'M DOING THIS (LONG VERSION)
May 27, 2015. I remember I was working at my kitchen table when I got the email I'd been dreading. "Dear friends- this morning at 9:48 Cal took his last breath and ran into Jesus' arms. He had a few clear moments last night to tell us that he loves us. I also asked him twice if he had seen Jesus and he said YES. This gave us comfort that only comes from God."
All I could do was close my laptop and just cry. Uncontrollably. Here's a beautiful boy, Cal Thomas Reinhardt, who never got to see his 5th birthday because of cancer. No parent should ever have to go through this.
Cancer's affected quite a few family members and friends, but there was something about Cal -- a kid I'd only met twice while I was on a softball team with his dad -- that just tore my heart out. It really hit home. It hurt my soul.
Maybe it was because I had a 3-year-old boy and 10-month-old girl at the time and I couldn't comprehend how devastating this would be as a parent.
Maybe it was because the name Cal Thomas mirrored my family -- we call Callie 'Cal' and our TJ is a Thomas James. I can't imagine one of my kids having to say goodbye to their sibling.
Maybe it was because I saw a faithful family going through the rollercoaster of emotions during Cal's sickness and after his passing. Countless surgeries and hospital stays, aggressive chemo, radiation. Cancer is gone -- now cancer is back. Treatment is working -- now treatment isn't working. The ups and downs were agonizing. Through it all, Cal's parents, Tim & Lucy, posted the most eloquent updates on CaringBridge. The words they found were so beautiful, honest, and gut-wrenchingly emotional -- it just made your heart break even more knowing what this family was experiencing. I don't think I'll ever read words so pure and pristine for the rest of my life.
Maybe it was Cal's awesome spirit. It was so evident that the kid loved life. He loved how our softball team changed its name from 'Beer Batters' to 'Team Cal' in honor of him. He loved how we all wore our green t-shirts with the big Super C logo (a la Superman). He loved getting the royal treatment from the Twins, Vikings, Make-a-Wish. He lived out his days to the fullest and that enthusiastic spirit was pretty infectious to a wide group of people.
I told myself when Cal passed that I'd find a way to honor him someway, somehow. I didn't know what that would look like but I needed to do something. You see a family lose their child and you just feel helpless. What could I possibly say or do that will bring any sense of comfort or joy to this family? Nothing will bring Cal back. Period. All I can do is try to find a way to keep his spirit alive.
Although i can't really explain why, I need to run a 100-mile race. I know it's completely nonsensical, but it's just one of those things that I feel I need to do. One day the light bulb went on. Hey, why don't I do a 100-miler AND raise money for children's cancer research? So during a 32-hour window on March 23-24, I'm running the Pulse 100-Mile Endurance Run in Eagle, Idaho. My goal is to raise at least $5,000 (hopefully much more) for cancer research in honor of Cal Reinhardt and all the loved ones I know who've battled cancer.
So with the blessing of the Reinhardt family, my family, and some close friends, I've started a fundraising page on the Children's Cancer Research Fund website. This cause is near and dear to my heart because every bit of research matters. It gives us hope. And as hard as a 100-mile race will be, I know I'll be alright. I've got angels on my side, man. Those angels will get me to the finish line one way or another. I need your help getting us to the fundraising finish line.
Will you support me?
MY EXPERIENCES WITH CANCER
It's hard to summarize someone's cancer story with a few sentences. It's probably impossible to give each story the dignity it deserves. Each battle was so significant on an emotional, physical, and spiritual level.
* Sandy Chillstrom (mom). She was diagnosed June 15, 2011 with a malignant neoplasm (type of breast cancer). As scary as it was, we all felt quite "lucky" with her early detection, diagnosis, and quick treatment. She had a lumpectomy and radiation -- and was declared cancer free in August 2011. Nonetheless, her doctor said "Lucky would've been not having cancer at all."
* Jana Mitchell (friend). I met Jana in Air Force ROTC at the University of Minnesota in 1997. She later married one of my best friends. In 2013, she was diagnosed with Stage IIIC Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (type of breast cancer). She had her sixth, and final, surgery in July 2014. Jana still receives hormonal suppression treatments and monitoring due to the size of the tumor and extensive lymph node involvement.
* Don Chillstrom (uncle). He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012 and was treated with surgically implanted radioactive seeds. There's been no cancer recurrence after 6 years. He's also had several episodes of skin cancer.
* Dorothy Chillstrom (aunt and angel). She was diagnosed in May 2001 with Bronchioalveolar Carcinoma, a rare form of lung cancer that largely affects non-smokers. She had been in perfect health -- this disease was a massive shock. After a 10-month battle, she entered God's kingdom in March 2002.
* Cal Reinhardt (superhero and angel). In early March 2014, doctors found a brain tumor in Cal. The tumor was cancerous (meduloblastoma, a very rare form of cancer). For the next year, Cal went through an extraordinarily hard, painful battle. Surgeries, hospital stays, chemo treatments, radiation. On May 27, 2015, God took Cal to his kingdom where He's undoubtedly using him in beautiful ways -- ways in which we may not clearly see right now, but we know they're for His glory.
* Jani Peterson (unofficial aunt). She was diagnosed with very aggressive Triple Negative breast cancer in January 2005. Over six months Jani had a lumpectomy, two rounds of dense dose chemotherapy, and 33 radiation sessions. She was declared cancer free after her treatments.