Category Archives: Owen Fundraisers

Want to walk with me?

Anyone in the Milwaukee area want to take a walk with me and the boys? I was thinking September 14, downtown Milwaukee!

It’s that time if year again … The Briggs & Al run/walk for Children’s Hospital of WI. This hospital is the same four walls we kissed Owen goodbye for the last time. The nurses and staff were the ones that, not only cared for Owen, but cared for my family and I as we prepared to walk a long road of grief.

So I would LOVE to see you on the streets of Milwaukee with us this year! We’ll bring the OWENGE, if you bring a smile! It’s super kid friendly, so kids can walk with us in strollers or wagons! And I’m hoping I can talk my brother into wearing the OWENGE man costume again this year ūüôā

CLICK HERE to register to walk with “Owen’s Little Warriors.” See you on September 14!!

Feel free to email me if you’ve got questions about joining the team!! Melissabissing@gmail.com

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Filed under Little Warriors, Organ Donation, Owen Fundraisers, Owen's Gone

Briggs & Al Run/Walk 2012 – Reflections From Mr. Jake Appleton

Let me introduce the fabulous Jake Appleton from Appleton, WI again! Below are his reflections from the Briggs and All Run/Walk which benefiting Childrens Hospital of Wi … Where Owen was treated after being found not breathing.

***

Saturday, September 15th was the 35th annual Briggs and Al’s Run/Walk in downtown Milwaukee. The goal of the event was to raise money for Children’s Hospital, and I’m pleased to report that 13,000 people showed up for the event, and over $13 million was raised. Interestingly, Mel Bissing wasn’t one of the 13,000 in attendance. Nor was her sister, Rachael. Or best friends, Sarah Meyer and Abby Snopek. So, what in the world happened? A sequel to “Home Alone”? Maybe someone unplugged their alarm clock and it was flashing 12:00 when in reality they had overslept and missed the race? And now Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are sneaking around, ready to break into their houses?

No, nothing that interesting. A close friend of theirs got married on 9/15 and each of them made the tough decision to attend the wedding instead of walking for Owen’s Little Warriors. Let’s just say that marriage BETTER NOT end in divorce!! (totally kidding) So, going in, we knew Mel and some of her usual entourage would not be in attendance. But did that dampen the spirit? Not even a tiny bit. Here’s what happened.
I woke up at 5:40 AM…seriously, Owen, I hope you’re looking down and smiling, cuz that’s dedication. I started getting the girls ready, and woke Tina shortly after. My daughters were really excited for the walk, particularly Violet, who is borderline in love with Mel’s son, Jaden. Tina had the girls so cute in all their orange stuff, and before we knew it, the time had come to leave. We managed to score free parking, which was a plus, and then it was time to board the school bus. You might recall the year prior where we were celebrities, of sorts, due to our dyed orange shirts. People were coming up to us saying, “That is SUCH a good idea! Oooohhh, are you on Owen’s Little Warriors team? I LOVE Mel’s blog!!” This year was different, mostly because we weren’t the trendsetters anymore. The trend had been set, and others followed suit. We saw yellow shirts, blue shirts, pink shirts…you name it. They all have Mel to thank, but who’s counting?

 

all the “bling” Mandy (the team captain and dear friend of Mel) made

 

Weston & Logan on the bus ride down to the start line

 

Doug and the Boys

Speaking of colors, my leg quickly turned red, as I somehow cut myself getting on the bus after trying to maneuver two strollers into the seat next to me. I glanced down and saw a red trickle, beginning at my knee, and ending at my calf. Great start, Jake. Tina saved the day with a Kleenex, which I fashioned into a tourniquet. Problem…solved.

We were fairly early, so we walked to the starting line and looked around for other orange shirts. We found only 3 – a nice couple and their son. After chatting with them for a few moments, others started to arrive, including Mel’s husband, Doug, and the boys! As we looked around, we found a very odd celebrity mix: the Brewers Racing Sausages, Bango the Buck, the Admirals’ Mascot, a lady on stilts, Chewbacca and some Storm Troopers. Wait a tic…did you just say Chewbacca and some Storm Troopers?! What were they doing at an event for Children’s Hospital? Don’t know, but Doug sure was excited about it. He was like, “OH MY GOD!!! CHEWWWWIIIIEEEE!!!” Jaden rolled his eyes and tried to keep up as Doug sprinted away.

My favorite pre-race moment was definitely Mel’s brother, Jake. He came dressed head to toe in an orange suit. Picture those “Blue Man Group” dudes…only orange. I can’t describe how awesome that was. There’s spirit…and then there’s what Jake did for Owen. He became an INSTANT celebrity once the mask was zipped over his face. Little kids started walking up and giving him hugs, parents wanted to take pictures with him, hot girls wanted him to autograph their cleavage (ok, I added that last part).

 

 

Another thing that really stood out was the green shirts all around us. The green shirts were special because they were given to Child Champions, who were defined as someone who was once a patient at Children’s Hospital. It really hit home for me when I saw the sheer number of green shirts. Whether you have been blessed with healthy children, like us, or if you have needed the services of Children’s Hospital, this thing is bigger than all of us. And I GUARANTEE everyone reading this knows someone that has been helped by these fine doctors and nurses. There is no better cause than helping children.

Owen was in the forefront of our minds as the walk began. The throng of 13,000 strong started marching onward as the inspirational music blared over the loudspeakers. “Brighter Than the Sun” was an appropriate first song, and the Marquette cheerleaders were once again brought to tears when they saw Mandy and Jessie Buschke walk past, holding the banner with Owen’s photo and lifespan in full view. Not the first time the power of Owenge moved someone to tears, and it won’t be the last… My wife noticed a monarch butterfly again stick with our group, but this time only for about a minute. Still, just knowing that Owen acknowledged and thanked us for marching in his memory for a second straight year was pretty awesome.

As we passed a half mile, I decided to look up at the building where last year, someone high up in a skyscraper was waving an orange pom-pon. He wouldn’t be back again this year, would he? My eyes glanced up, and landed on something bright orange. Same guy, this time with a bright orange shirt. He waved his arms wildly at us when he saw our group. To this day, we have no knowledge who this man is, but we do know this…Owen touched his life, some way, somehow. Just as he has to all of ours.

 

See him on the left hand side of the building 8 windows up on the balcony?

The rest of the walk was rather uneventful. Poor Jake in the head-to-toe orange outfit had to relent and take the mask off after awhile because it got to be pretty hot in the sun. We didn’t want him to change his orange shirt to green after a hospital stay, so his decision to cool off was the right one. Mostly, the day was one of reflection. Owen’s Little Warriors consists of people from all walks of life. We may not all be close friends outside the walk environment, but at least for a few hours, every year, we’re family. Owen’s family. I know Mel couldn’t be there on Saturday, but we all know she appreciated the support everyone gave to her team. Some of us knew Owen his whole life, others never had the chance to meet him until it was too late, but for me, I gained a valuable lesson that I will never forget: Live in the 2%. Keep your faith strong. Believe.

 

 

Where did Jake go?

Logan and Mandy having a “moment”

***

There are no words to express how sad I was that I couldn’t be there at the walk … but after getting pictures send to me during the day via text and email, I felt like I was walking right there with everyone. ¬†I know that Owen was proud of everyone that walked – we raised a bunch of money for Children’s Hospital. ¬†I think just about everyone knows someone who has been treated by the wonderful nurses and doctors there. ¬†They make dreams come true, they heal the sick and they make the worst life nightmare seem almost¬†bearable. ¬†The staff at Childrens do a lot more than just care for sick children – they also care for the families of the sick kids by offering training and education and sometimes just being an ear that will listen in the middle of the night when you just can’t sleep because you are so worried for your little baby.

Thank you to the 13,000 people who walked! ¬†Thank you to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin for all that you do!

Love, Mel

 

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Filed under Owen Fundraisers, Owen's Gone, Posted by Melissa

Owen’s Little Warrior Team for the Briggs & Al Run/Walk – Register NOW!

The Briggs & Al Run/Walk for Children’s Hospital is coming up quick! ¬†This year the walk will be held on September 15th in Milwaukee and there is only 1 month left to register. ¬†A close friend of our family is getting married out-of-town that same day, so I won’t be able to walk this year — BUT can I can a favor? ¬†Will you walk for us?

Last year was so powerful and I was so proud to know that Owen’s memory was helping raise money for Children’s. ¬†The staff helped us so much during our 5 days stay … which honestly felt more like a month. ¬†In fact, Owen’s nurses still stay in touch with my family and even remembered the day he died. ¬†This is one of the only ways I know how to pay at least a little bit back. ¬†Although there is no price to the gifts and comfort we were given.

My very own Mandy Bushke has offered to be the team captain and will walk with you in our place. ¬†The shirts are white again this year and we want to paint the streets OWENGE! ¬†But I need help to do it .. since I can’t be there in person. ¬† The walk is family friendly — bring the kids! Strollers and wagons work great.

Click here to register to walk on the Owen’s Little Warriors team or to¬†read more about the Briggs & Al Run/Walk

Please help to not only help Owen’s memory live on, but to also spread joy to the other families who are being serviced by¬†Children’s¬†Hospital of WI.

Love, Mel

Click here for last year’s walk. ¬†And just for a little inspiration … here are some photos from last year too. ¬†Can’t help but think – “Gosh do we stick out like sore thumbs and man is it¬†BEAUTIFUL!” ¬†Love you Owen …

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Filed under Little Warriors, Owen Fundraisers, Posted by Melissa

Thank You for Making the Easter Bag Project a Success!

To say that the Little Warrior & Supermoms of Ascension’s event this past weekend was a¬†success¬†would be an understatement! ¬†We had about 40 kids with their parents come and join in on the fun. ¬†There were members of my church, those who have participated in previous Little Warrior events, a daisy troop – families of all kinds! ¬†I was amazed at how many people were brought together to serve the same purpose. ¬†At the end of the day we made 238 completed bags for the Hope Center. ¬†There are a ton of items also being¬†donated¬†on their own. ¬†Not to mention we raised about $140 in our bake sale!

I want to thank each and every one of you who donated your time and money to this project. ¬†Even if you donated your secret stash of hotel shampoos and conditioners – thank you! ¬†Not only have you made a difference in a stranger’s life, but you also helped keep Owen’s fight alive. ¬†He fought for ‘life’ while he was here on earth, and we are continuing to fight for what is ‘good’ in his memory.

I can’t describe what goes through my mind during these events. ¬†I suppose it’s a lot of things – what needs to happen next, are my kids being behaving? ¬†But it’s also this sense of calmness and knowledge that I am where I’m supposed to be. ¬†Running these events brings me such joy and purpose out of life. ¬†I’m honored to have this opportunity and instrument to use in life. ¬†Thank you so much for helping me feel meaningful.

I was one proud mama this weekend!  Owen, I love you Рmom is proud of you!

Love, Mel

Here are some pictures from the day:

 

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Filed under Little Warriors, Owen Fundraisers, Owen's Gone, Posted by Melissa

Thank You Perfectly Imperfect Creations

A while back, a reader who owns Perfectly Imperfect Creations offered to hold a fundraiser for Owen’s fund. ¬†We just got our pjs in the mail. ¬†Jaden was so gosh darn excited to wear his to bed right away last night. ¬†In fact, he was so excited, he gave me this little performance before bed ūüôā

Thank you so much Stephanie for the amazing pjs!!!  We love them!

Here is a link to Stephanie’s webpage: ¬†http://www.facebook.com/perfectlyimperfectcreations

Love, Mel

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Filed under Owen Fundraisers, Posted by Melissa

Motivated

I had a quick, yet amazing play date this morning. ¬†A good friend, Sara, from my old job came over with her son (who is close to the same age as the triplets). ¬†She has helped me with a vision on what Owen’s legacy can be more than she probably knows. ¬†See, I want to do something huge. ¬†I want to have meaning and I want it to be a magnifier of ‘good’. ¬†Inspire people to live a live of giving and light.

Owen gave so much in his short 6.5 months. ¬†He gave smiles, hugs and cuddles. ¬†He gave hope to those who didn’t believe. ¬†He gave the¬†
ultimate gift of life to two little girls. ¬†His good was magnified when his kidneys went to science. ¬†It’s not known how many lives he might have touched or helped by his gift to science. ¬†I want my other children to grow up to be giving. ¬†I want them to have the desire to help and serve others. ¬†Sara has the same vision for her son.

So while sipping coffee this morning and watch my kids beat up her son in baby wars (Sara, I’m still sorry he rolled around in Weston’s spit up! and for the countless times the triplets just crawled right over him.) we talked. ¬†We talked about life and we talked about some of the struggles we’ve been having. ¬†And we talked about this vision we share. ¬†She wants to have a bigger purpose and I am so honored she feels called to help with Owen’s legacy and message.

Here we are, on the brink of something amazing and huge.  Something that could be life changing and thrilling.  Teaching our children to help others.  How to take the most horrific events in life and shine some kind of good on it.  How to survive the brutality of the world.  Raise warriors of the world.

She’s going to call some local non-profit organizations to gather information while I teach myself Dreamweaver. ¬†I’ve got a Graphic Design major but was never taught Dreamweaver. ¬†Pretty awesome … NOT! ¬†Good thing books from the library are free ūüôā ¬†I love networking, technology, service … this is going to be good.

I’m feeling super pumped today. ¬†I’m getting a ton of house cleaning done and catching up on my shows. ¬†I love days that I’m motivated to get stuff done. ¬†Makes me feel accomplished. ¬†Funny how a dirty house can bring a person down. ¬†Oh heavens … I’m starting to sound like my husband. ¬†Thank you Sara for helping to kick off my day in the best way possible!

Looking forward to a really great weekend with family and old friends. ¬†Hopefully catching some sleep too …

Love, Mel

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Filed under Owen Fundraisers, Posted by Melissa

Briggs & Al Run/Walk 2011

Saturday, September 17th will be a day I’ll remember. ¬†Yet I don’t fully know how I feel about the day or what to really think.

After weeks of preparation, I was ready with my orange tie dyed team shirt, orange feather in my hair and my new orange shoes. ¬†This whole time, I’ve been rooting for Children’s Hospital. ¬†Showing my team spirit to raise awareness for this wonderful place that took care of us in our darkest days. ¬†This was my chance to give a little back to a place that gave me and my family so much.

So the morning of, here I am all decked out in orange, lost down town Milwaukee, trying to find the parking lot that my sister was patiently waiting for me in and late for the team picture. ¬†I meet up with the team, and was hugged, kissed, handed a cup of orange juice (thank you mom!). ¬†Monarch butterfly wings are placed on my back (thank you Mandy!) and I try my best to greet my friends and new faces. ¬†I’m pretty much in a sense of shock and am completely overwhelmed at this point. ¬†We take a group photo … man we look good in orange!

As it gets close to the start time we are hurdled like cattle into the road. ¬†All of a sudden, I’m getting a little nervous … butterflies in my stomach. ¬†Nervousness and wishing I had come more prepared or I had taken just a little bit more time to treasure the morning. ¬†But here we are … the sound starts and the race is on! ¬†The streets were just filled with teams. ¬†Some who were honoring children who had their lives saved by children and other parents marching as we were … in memory of their children who have left us way too early.

Music was being piped in on huge speakers … the song “Good Life” by OneRepublic was playing. ¬† Things started going in slow motion. ¬†Don’t let this be over quite yet. ¬†I like it in this place, in this state of mind. ¬†Life stood still and all we did was remember. ¬†Remember Owen and the others who fought the good fight. ¬†I stared at Owen’s photo in front of me on the banner. ¬†The same way I stared at the¬†over-sized¬†photos of him at the funeral. ¬†He looked me in the eye “Mom, I’m here. ¬†It’s going to be ok. ¬†I’m ok Mom.” ¬†I felt him, his spirit there among us. ¬†Walking with us. ¬†Carrying me even for a few steps. ¬†What a crazy thought, my 6 month old son telling ME, his mom, that things were going to be ok. ¬†What a warped world that brings parents to the knees of our children.

The song helped me remember that life is still good.  God is still good.  This is a blessing.  A double-edged sword, but we are walking the path of blessings.

It took me by surprise to have a moment of self-reflection and memory. ¬†I was so focused on what I could do to pay Children’s Hospital back and here they were honoring me and my family … again. ¬†The Marquette basketball teams (mens and women) were there, giving all the kids a high-five. ¬†Dave and Carol were there (the DJs who read Owen’s blog on the radio during the Children’s Miracle Network). ¬†When Carol saw the sea of orange making their way to the start line, I read her lips – “ahhh – here they come!” ¬†She came down off the stage and stood on the street so we could hug and greet her. ¬†The photographer who took pictures while Owen was on life support was there. ¬†Tears. ¬†She remembered us too. ¬†I swelled with pride – I know people here! ¬†Out of the sea of people, they know my Owen!

Team members reported to me that they were being approach … “Are you wearing orange for Owen? ¬†I read his mom’s blog.” Wow. ¬†Just wow.

What bugged me then and still bugs me today is that I couldn’t cry. ¬†All of these emotions were bubbling up … they were banging on the inside of my chest. ¬† Just ready to explode out. ¬†I want them out. ¬†Let me feel what I have to feel, the tears that I have to cry so I can continue to be strong. ¬†I don’t want them to keep them in for fear of them eating me up from the inside. ¬†Corrupting me from within. ¬†Let them out … let me feel the pain that I must endure. ¬†Yet, I can’t. ¬†I find myself almost reaching the point … then just not quite able to let it out.

So we walked.  We walked the streets of downtown Milwaukee.  Holding the triplets.  Watching Jaden play with the other kids on the team.  Arm in arm with friends and family.

At one point I heard someone say “look!” ¬†I looked up and there were two people with

the window open, shaking a pom pom. ¬†What looked like an ORANGE pom pom! ¬†We hollered and hooted. ¬†Are you freaking kidding me? ¬†Was this really happening? ¬†I’m still not 100% sure if it was orange or if it was golden yellow … None the less, I was proud.

In addition to the friends and family we had on our team … we also had a monarch butterfly. ¬†That right, an orange monarch butterfly fluttered along with use most of the walk. ¬†I remember right before Owen’s funeral a friend told me that she found a white feather in her jewelry box. ¬†She was sure it was a sign to her that Owen was near. ¬†While the thought was nice, I wasn’t sure I bought it. ¬†I wanted to, but wasn’t sure if God really sent us physical signs of his¬†presence. ¬†I just wasn’t sure if I believed it.

This isn’t the first time a monarch butterfly has made its appearance. ¬†While at the lake house, a monarch butterfly was hanging around. ¬†There one flying around the yard when we were tie dying the walk shirts. ¬†The butterfly always comes around when we are doing or talking about him. ¬†Coincidence? ¬†I’m starting to think not. ¬†Before this, I could count the times I saw a monarch butterfly. ¬†They are unique. ¬†I’m not even going to go into all the symbolism that a butterfly has – new life, change, life after death … the list just goes on.

Owen walked with us.  Owen showed himself to us on the walk.  He was there.  I felt him at the start of the walk and I saw him in a monarch.

Following the walk, we had a thank you lunch at my parents. ¬†There were so many new faces, I wanted to be able to spend a little extra time with them. ¬†So we grilled out and spent some more time together. ¬†The time was precious to me as I don’t get to meet readers face to face ever. ¬†It’s always words on a computer screen. ¬†Meeting these people brought a reality to the travels of Owen’s story.

I was exhausted by the end of the day … but it was a good day. ¬†I’m hoping we can do it again next year! ¬†We’ve got a family wedding on the same day as the walk so we might have to get inventive with our time. ¬†We shall see.

Thank you to everyone for the support and donations in Owen’s memory. ¬†To those who walked, thank you for giving a day to remember Owen and to pay back Children’s Hospital. ¬†To those who weren’t , I hope you will be able to walk with us in a future walk.

Blessings to everyone today and always!

Love, Mel

PS here are some more photos from the day! (Click on the image to enlarge and read a description)

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Filed under Owen Fundraisers, Posted by Melissa

Another Jake Appleton from Appleton, WI Blog

As I run around this week like a chicken with my head cut off … constantly thinking about the walk, but unable to find the time to write about it … a friend of mine had time to reflect on his experience at the walk. With his permission, I’ve posted his blog entry below. Hoping this will “tide you over” until I get the chance to post.

Love, Mel

****

Today, I met Owen Bissing for the second time. Odd, considering Owen passed away on May 26th. But, so help me God, he appeared out of nowhere today, and there were plenty of witnesses that will tell you the same.

Here’s what happened.

My hero, Mel, and her amazing support group, decided to organize a team for Briggs & Al’s Run/Walk in order to raise money for Children’s Hospital. After all, when her 6-mo old triplet son, Owen, became unresponsive and was rushed to Children’s, those nurses and doctors did everything humanly possible to save her son.

As if Mel has nothing else to do, she has been actively recruiting team members for the past couple months. The team was named: Owenge Warrior Walkers (Owen and orange being mashed together, as that was his triplet “color” from day one). A normal team size for a walk/run like this is probably a dozen or so for non-corporate teams, and 30+ for most corporate teams. Well, I’m proud to say the Owenge team was 60 members strong, and raised $3,500+, which is an incredible effort by everyone. Tina and I raised a little over $300 between us, and we would both like to thank everyone that donated.

Anyone that has ever done one of these run/walks for charity is probably aware you usually receive a t-shirt with the event logo on the front, and a team logo of your choosing on the back. The shirts this year were white, and the logo on the back was the footprints of baby Owen, which I thought was perfect in every way. Team members (including my wife, but not me, since I was watching the girls instead) got together last weekend and tie-dyed the white shirts two different shades of orange, or Owenge, as it were. This proved to be a fantastic idea on 2 fronts – it was super easy to spot our team, and it was just awesomely original.

Our family went to the walk this morning, including myself, Tina, Violet, and Sam. Vi looked SO adorable with her tie-dyed orange shirt, braids, and an orange flower in her hair. Not to be outdone, Sam had pigtails and orange socks, meaning our two girls were arguably the cutest kids in the walk, though it’s entirely possibly parental bias is involved in this blog.

When we walked off the bus that took us to the start of the walk, it immediately became apparent to me we were in for something special. People looked at our tie-dyed orange shirts, walked over to us, and said, “You guys look awesome. What a great idea to color the shirts!” What normally is an annoying task of locating your team was laughably easy on this day…we just looked for orange, Owen’s color, and found our people in seconds.

Stories started to emerge from the gang. One person said a random stranger saw the orange, commented how cool it looked, and then took a moment to actually read the shirt. “Oh, you’re walking in memory of Owen Bissing? I simply MUST get a picture with you. We know his story!” Pictures were gladly taken upon request throughout the day.

The walk began, and the full effect of the color orange truly took hold. With inspirational music blaring from massive speakers, we proudly stepped with our left, then our right, and began our march in honor of Owen Bissing.

Do me a favor. Take a moment and close your eyes. Imagine 30,000 people, all wearing white shirts. Somewhere amidst that sea of 30,000, look for 60 people, walking a tight group, clad in orange. We stood out like a so thumb, and it was the best feeling in the world.

About 500 feet into the walk, we could hear enormous cheering. There were lots of cheerleaders from local high schools, and they were cheering on all the walkers. When they saw our orange shirts, and the massive banner being held by 2 of the Owenge team members, with Owen’s picture and dates of his too-short life on it, many of the cheerleaders began to cry. I glanced around, in disbelief at what was happening, but the tears spread outward. Quickly, Owen’s grandma and grandpa hugged each other tight and cried, as did my sister-in-law Sarah, my wife, and too many other people to name. I think at that moment it just hit home why we were all there – to honor a life cut far too short.

Another 500 feet and we heard cheering from high above. We looked up, and, to our amazement, saw someone leaning out a top story window, cheering us on and waving an orange pom-pom. We let out a thunderous roar of approval, and marched onward.

It was 500 feet later that I would meet Owen. We heard a band playing live music off to the side. Mid-song, the lead singer scanned the crowd, saw the orange, and said, “We got a big group of orange shirts here, looks like they’re walking for Owen Bissing. That’s what it’s all about, folks. Great job, guys!”

At that moment, seemingly out of nowhere, an orange monarch appeared and flew directly underneath the banner with Owen’s picture on it. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up, folks. Our jaws collectively dropped. My wife looked at me, tears in her eyes, and said, “Did you just see—“. She needn’t have finished, as I simply nodded my head yes. Audible gasps were heard amongst us orange walkers, as everyone started to observe the monarch.

There were no other monarchs around. None. The one butterfly that decided to join Al’s Run just happened to follow our group. Owen was there…I am convinced of it.

Later in the walk, our team moved off toward a big orange “Sunburst” structure for a big photo op. When we were all assembled, orange upon orange, smiles on our faces, we started to hear more applause, this time from fellow walkers. I looked out amongst the crowd and full teams were applauding us. I’m not sure if they knew Owen’s story, were impressed with the dedication of tie-dying shirts, or simply were applauding the fact that we had experienced a loss and were respecting his memory. The bottom line is they took the time to express their condolences and appreciation by way of applause, and it was just a really cool thing to experience.

This is the first day in my life where I was honored to wear a color. We were absolute celebrities walking a massive Owenge carpet, with groupies and paparazzi to boot! I can’t help but wonder where that butterfly is at this moment. My guess is it’s flying outside a window at Children’s Hospital, watching firsthand how the money 30,000 people raised is making a difference.

My hope is Mel continues this tradition annually. I believe she will, and I believe team Owenge will only get stronger in both member numbers and total donations.

Rumor has it the monarch is already signed up for 2012.

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Tomorrow is a big day

My head feels like it’s going to explode. I’m sick. I think jaden shared his strep throat with me. I’m heading to the doctor to get it checked out. I can’t miss the walk tomorrow!

I’d like to take a sick day from my day job please …. kids you are on your own. Mom has checked out. Oh to have a nap, to have a fantasia thing going on where the laundry folds itself and the dishes dance into the dishwasher. And the babies are entertained by a foot stool that turns into a puppy like character.

But the reality is harsh. I don’t have time to myself. I’m running from one meeting to the next. I’m trying to stay awake long enough to see the kids off to bed and sure enough just when I finally have the option to sleep … I’m wide awake. I know that’s what will happen tonight. I’ll be tossing and turning, arguing with myself to just go to sleep. My sinuses hurting, my neck sore with aches and pains … But wide awake.

I have to turn the monitors down just low enough so i can still hear when they cry but not every movement. Every cough, every sound of the covers or moan would make me stir. Making it impossible to fall asleep. The monitor has a sound bar that gets read when there is noise … I watch it sometimes to see if they are stirring a little. I worry when it gets suddenly quiet. The silly worries of a mother. The worries that were proven true three months ago.

Wow three and a half months. Over one hundred days. And I’m still wearing orange.

I got a packet in the mail from the SIDS association today. I don’t read the grief booklets that come in the mail. I don’t have time. Today I did. Just started to skim. A part resonated with me. Grieving parents feel like they shouldn’t let go. Like they should feel sad and heavy the rest of their lives. They want their child’s life to matter to everyone. It’s true. I want everyone to know Owen and sing his story. Live a life of hope and service because they know him. But that’s not realistic. He serves a purpose for some, heck i think I could say many. But not all. How could he?

But I feel guilty for being ok. I feel guilty for being in a stable place. Some moms I have met who have also lost children still have crazy anxiety or are crying all of the time. Yet I don’t. I’ve had a few dark nights or days … But nothing compared to some women. Shouldn’t I be stricken with sadness and unable to function?

Tomorrow will be a big day! We have a few triplet families walking with us along with a sorority sister who is driving all the way down from Wausau (4 hour drive). Wd have over 60 people on our team. When you say 60 in comparison to the 18,000 that are expect to show, we are still small. Yet I feel important. We will be owenge in the sea of white shirts. I will walk hand in hand with family and friends. I’d like to say we are wearing orange so when Owen is watching the race from the clouds he’ll be able to see his mom easily.

This one is for you chunky monkey. I hope I make you proud.

Love, Mel

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Filed under Owen Fundraisers, Posted by Melissa

I’m proud to know her

I sat at Starbucks tonight to hand out shirts for the walk on Saturday. It was so awesome to see some old friends who are honoring Owen and walking with us. It reminded me of when I first walked with an old high school friend who is a breast cancer survivor. I registered to walk with my mom. In fact I walked shortly after I found out I was pregnant with triplets and the triplets walked with me last year.

It’s been three, maybe four years since the first time I walked on her team. I was energized to walk for someone I knew. I felt like I had a link to the cause and that I belonged at the walk. Even though it had been years since we talked, i walked with purpose and emotion. Wen i think about it, the feeling was out of place in a way since I hadn’t had contact with the friend since high school. Yet I found myself saying “I know someone who has had breast cancer.” Sharing with others that “a good friend from high school had breast cancer”. I hung the newspaper article of her story in my cube at work. Her beautiful face and bald head from the front page article looked at me every day. She was the image of a survivor to me. I was proud to say I knew her. I was proud to say she was a friend. I had no idea if she said the same about me.

We don’t talk a lot. In fact we see each other only at the walk, once a year. But I think of her. I watch her Facebook page. I wish her well all the time. Her story is beauty. Her story is strength and survival. A reminder to live life.

I think I’m thinking about her a lot tonight as she handed out this years walk shirts at the same Starbucks i sat at tonight.

I ended up there on accident. I meant to send the address to the Starbucks on the other end of Moreland. But I found myself there tonight. Wondering who she sat with … If anyone. What does she think about? Does she relive her cancer each year? Does she find celebration in handing out the shirts? Does the emotion dwindle or does it get stronger over time?

Am I like her? I survived a death … She survived cancer. Are they similar? I have no idea …. I’ve never had cancer.

What I do know is that I’m proud to know her. I’m proud to wear her name on my back every time I participate in the Riverwalk for breast cancer. I am one of her warriors every year. Every day i wear the shirt. To think that Owen will have over 60 warriors this year. There aren’t words to express how honored I am.

Bring on the orange!

Love, Mel

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Filed under Owen Fundraisers, Owen's Gone, Posted by Melissa