Category Archives: LLS Team in Training

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. My event is the fall 2010 Zion National Park hike.

Small Donations

Every donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, no matter how small, helps us towards our goal of finding a cure for cancer. In fact, some of the most memorable donations are quite small. Back when I was training for the cycling event, before I broke my thumb, I was riding along a city green space trail wearing my shirt that says, “Ask me why I’m riding.” Two rather scruffy young men, engrossed in conversation, were walking side by side blocking the trail, oblivious to my repeated, “Passing on your left!” I was just about to brake when they finally heard me and jumped out of the way. As I sped past, gaining speed for a small uphill stretch, I heard a shouted, “Why are you riding?” They were the first ones to respond to the message on my shirt, and when I stopped and explained my mission they pulled every last bit of change they were carrying to donate.

Another donation came from a friendly mail carrier in Longmont when we were delivering phone books. The phone book routes are based on mail delivery routes, so we crossed paths several times. The first time I saw him I was parked in the ample shade of one of the maple trees that line the older streets of Longmont. The mail carrier was loading his bag for the next stage of his route. “You learn fast, parking in the shade,” he called out.  Susan was helping me deliver that day, and when we met up later I found out that she, too, had chatted with him. When she had explained that we were not earning money for ourselves but for the LLS, he reached in his pocket and pulled out a small donation.

The spontaneous generosity of complete strangers in a chance encounter is what makes these two donations special. Another memorable chance encounter happened on our training hike yesterday. We were hiking the trails of Mt. Falcon Park, starting from the east side, and had just finished ascending the 2000 feet to the remnants of John Brisben Walker’s dreams.  Walking along the trail with their three humans were two beautiful black dogs with rather unusual coats that caused some speculation about breed, so of course we stopped to chat. Once that had been cleared up (Was it Weimeraner and Setter? Don’t ask me, I’m not very doggy) conversation turned to why we were hiking. The response was unexpectedly emotional, because Judy is a cancer survivor. That’s her, fourth from the left, and her friend Andy (Andrea) had been part of her journey from her diagnosis on. (That’s daughter Abby holding the leashes, and I hope I spelled everyone’s name right.) When Judy mentioned that she wished the LLS had a baseball cap, because she usually wore one when she was hiking, Zoe (our coach, who must be taking this picture since she’s not in it) pulled one out of her pack and gave it to her.

The day was already on my list of best training hikes, but there was more good in store. First, wild raspberries. I always love eating the smaller but intensely flavored wild fruits, and I spotted a whole gully full of raspberry bushes.

Last of all came Janet and Lee. When I switched from the cycling event to hiking I wanted an “Ask me why…” element in my fund-raising, but a T-shirt doesn’t work when you’re carrying a pack. I needed something that could be attached to the back of a pack, easily moved to a different pack, and that was lightweight and waterproof. I worked on the problem for a week before I came up with the answer–a mouse pad held on with two of those hook-and-fuzz fasteners they make for keeping computer cords organized. This was the first hike I wore it, and I also carried my business cards (with fund-raising page and blog addresses). I gave out several cards to people we encountered, and Zoe gave me a push towards a bit more assertive asking–a call to action, not just a look if you want to. We were almost back at the parking lot when a mountain biker sped by, calling out, “Why are you hiking?” but not stopping for an answer. When we arrived at the parking lot, there she was, asking us to help her out. She and her friend Lee had parked their respective cars at opposite ends of their day’s ride, but she had left her car keys in his car. A few of us drove Lee to his car while the rest of us had a chance to sit and answer Janet’s question. Janet is a research scientist working on childhood diabetes, so she understands the importance of foundations in making progress against disease. She explained how satisfying her work is now that her lab is closely connected to a clinic, and she can see the research she did a few years ago directly helping patients today. Both she and Lee donated on the spot. So, for the last three weeks I’ve been walking the streets both training and fund-raising, and yesterday I walked the trails both training and fund-raising.


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Raising Matching Funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

That’s what this is all about. My house, my summer projects, and my life are all being thoroughly neglected until Yellow Book has no more routes available. Every day I stick slippery phone books into plastic bags made uncooperative by heat and sweaty hands. I trudge up and down sidewalks and try to make sense out of haphazard house and apartment numbers.

The stairs--good preparation for Angel's Landing at Zion.

Yesterday I finished a route with a dozen buildings where every six books delivered required climbing two steep and rickety sets of stairs: two books to the first floor, two to the second floor, and two to the third floor. Then I accidentally chose a route that was small–that is not much money–but that took forever because it was primarily three large office buildings.

Huge and mostly empty.

The challenge: in this huge building (see photo) find the fifteen businesses that actually exist. My paperwork shows twenty businesses, but they don’t match the building directory. One law firm is listed four times: each of the three lawyers and the name of the law firm. Stop to write in the five businesses on the directory that aren’t on my list. Then start wandering the halls to deliver the books. The delivery instructions are to get the name of the person who takes the book as well as a phone number for businesses not already on the list. Some doors are locked tight, others have a buzzer to push so they will let you in. The easiest ones were those few that had a friendly receptionist. Some front desks were empty. Some offices seemed empty until I called out, “Is anybody here?” Amazingly, several people who took the books didn’t know the business phone number. When I finally finished this route I was careful to choose one with over 900 residences and fewer than 20 businesses. My faithful daughter Traci and her friend Jenny bagged about two thirds of the books for me, and I delivered one residential street this evening and was treated to a flaming sunset for my reward.

So, folks, I’m not just asking you to donate to find a cure for cancer–I’m spending the last few weeks of my summer wearing out my shoes and my knees (those stairs yesterday were killers) and sweating buckets in the July heat to match your donations. If you want to join me in this challenge, click on the link to my Team in Training page.

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Posted by on July 23, 2010 in LLS Team in Training


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Why exercise to raise money?

It may seem strange in the light of my participation in Team in Training, but the concept of doing some kind of exercise to raise money for a good cause has never made sense to me. What does walking a few miles have to do with the local animal shelter needing better kennels? The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program explains the connection as a way of honoring the challenges faced by cancer patients by challenging ourselves physically. Somehow I don’t see them as very comparable. I am thoroughly enjoying the hiking, even when it challenges me physically. I doubt if I could find a cancer patient who feels the same way.

However this week I have found a very strong connection between exercise and fundraising as I pound the pavement delivering phone books to raise funds to match the donations people have given. It has been beastly hot (note the overheated faces in the picture), and because the warehouse and the delivery routes are all at least 30 miles away I haven’t been able to start early enough to avoid the heat. Thanks to our team mentor Susan Henderson, who has joined me almost every day this week, we have completed three routes. We are paid approximately $1 for every 5 books we deliver, and according to our calculations the routes average about $100. I may not have loads of friends I can invite to skin care home shows or bar-hopping parties, but I can work hard, and that’s what I’m going to do for the next few weeks. Deliveries nearer home start next Tuesday, so I should be able to spend more time delivering and less time (and gas) driving.

The Impreza loaded up with bagged phone books.

Susan and I cooling off after 20,000 steps up and down the streets of Longmont.

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Posted by on July 16, 2010 in LLS Team in Training


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Roxborough Park II: Cameras slow your heart but fill your soul

Saturday (June 19) was our TNT hiking team’s week off. I went back to Roxborough with my camera. Hiking in  a group, even a very compatible group, isn’t conducive to photography. Stop for just one picture and suddenly you’re huffing and puffing, trying to catch up. By myself I confirmed that cameras slow your heart rate, expecially in a place and at a time of year so full of beauty. There was never a long enough stretch without a potential picture to get my heart rate up. However, what I lost in cardio workout I gained in the renewal of my soul. In fact I stayed out twice as long as I intended.

Now if only I could figure out how to control the images on this blog, I could rotate the ones that are sideways. I guess you will just have to turn your head:


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A Wet Hike

Saturday’s hike was wet and chilly, but not enough to make it miserable. Even the mud wasn’t bad until the second half, when it gave us an extra workout by adding an extra few pounds to our boots. It is fun getting to know some of the open space trails down here on the plains and up against the foothills. It has been so lush and green each weekend that I just drink it in.

I need to get back into exercising more than just the Saturday hikes. Because I am more comfortable with hiking, I don’t feel so pressured to keep up during the week. However, as I have been reorganizing my bookshelves I have noticed that when I stoop down it is hard to get up using just my legs. When I was in Arizona cleaning out Mother’s study I had been excited about being able to get up and down more easily than I have in quite some time. This backsliding doesn’t feel good, but it’s definitely under my control. So I’ll get off this computer and to the gym. I’ve made enough progress on my various urgent tasks so that if I’m tired when I get back I don’t need to worry. I just need to write up this week’s lesson plans, since part of our committment is to send in written plans that can be used for the ELA Summer Academy in the future. It’s always a bit of a chore to write them up for somebody else, but I think what I’m doing this week is worthwhile so I don’t mind (much).


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Posting frequently? Not so much in my harried life!

I think it will take me a while to get in the habit of frequent posting. After the TNT training hike last Saturday I meant to post right away, and here it is Friday night and I’m just getting to it. Right now my life is pulling me so many different directions. My house looks like the aftermath of a tornado, and I’m trying to  make some progress on it. The jigsaw puzzle I bought right after Mother died a year ago (good memories of doing puzzles together and, wonder of wonder, Dad actually joining in the last few years) was still unfinished until last night. The summer program I am teaching for English language learners is well designed, but takes some preparation if the student’s sacrifice of summer hours is to be worthwhile. And my LLS Team in Training fundraising needs more time if I’m going to meet my goal. Unpacking? Well, even if I managed to put away all the things I brought back from Arizona, I still couldn’t put the car in the garage. There are a few more loads to take to my daughter’s rented storage, and more boxes from school, always a summer problem.

However, I’m going to continue to try to develop the habit of frequent postings. So many books and articles on writing say that the only way to become a better writer is to write, write, write. The difference between trying to do that in journals, whether paper or Word documents, and a blog is that a blog has the potential to provide an ongoing audience, which is intriguing and motivating. Are all the books being overly optimistic when they say, “If you write it (often enough) they will come”? In order to find out, I have to write often enough. So tomorrow I will write another post, probably about our predicted chilly and soggy hike.


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How to be known as a good photographer:

My grandfather, Art Cunningham, was a pioneer in the photofinishing industry. He loved to take pictures of his grandchildren. My brothers seemed to enjoy it. I most definitely did not. The pictures were not candid at all. They very often involved costumes or props and were carefully posed. Though I didn’t like being his subject, I have followed in his footsteps in enjoying photography. The most important thing he taught me was how to make everyone think you take fantastic pictures. It’s not that great photographers have 20 amazing pictures on a 24 exposure roll of film. They may only have three pretty good ones and one great one. But great photographers don’t keep, or at least don’t show anyone, the 20 “fair to middlin” ones. Now that my brother has produced the card reader that will allow Dad’s ancient computer to see my pictures, I have discovered that of the 15 pictures I took the other day only one is good, two are pretty good, and only one is worth sharing. Here it is: 

An agave on the ridge trail.


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