Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat!

Ghosts and goblins…pumpkins and princesses…angels and all sorts of animals – I’ve seen them all tonight while handing out candy to all the trick-or-treaters of Bucklin!

I have so many Halloween memories growing up. As a young child, my mother dressed me in all sorts of costumes which ranged from anywhere from a duck to clown to an old lady and a bunch of my friends would load up in the car and go around town. 

No matter how many houses we had to visit, there was a guaranteed two stops every year – Frank and Evangeline Fletcher’s, where Frank would take a picture of each and every trick-or-treater that visited, and Barb Hanson’s, who gave out the best popcorn balls one could imagine!

As I got a bit older my trick-or treating days slowed and my memories are filled with having water fights with the cops and perhaps moving a car or two. There may have been a few windows soaped and some toilet paper tossed around as well, but one must not disclose everything…

Now-a-days, my Halloween nights are quite different from what they used to be. I help hand out candy and wait for my three little trick-or-treaters to make their way over here! 

Eli - the Cutest Pumpkin there is!
Karlee and Jake - the Best Doctor and Patient ever! 

To Every Season

As one season was beginning on Friday morning, another one was coming to a close…flurries were in the air as the girls boarded the bus and headed Northeast to Hays, on their quest for a state title.

After two hours, we had arrived on Vine and headed to our “usual” pre-state restaurant, Napoli’s, where the girls filled up on pasta and Italian eats. The mood was light as the girls joked around, but yet you could see a fire in their eyes…they were ready to get to the Coliseum and play some ball.

Once we got to the Coliseum on Fort Hays State’s campus, the girls got changed just in time for the Opening Ceremonies. After the teams were announced and the Star Spangled Banned played, it was game time!

Hoxie was up first and I think the girls may have had a few jitters in their system because we lost the first set 16-25. We fought back to win the second set 25-22 and battled in the third set, but came up just a little bit short, losing 18-25.

After a couple of hours off, we took the floor to face Centralia. I’m not certain if any of you have ever seen Centralia play, but they are good and have a laundry list of accomplishments and have been to state numerous times. Like Hoxie we started out a bit shaky and ended up losing the first set 16-25, but came back to win the second set 27-25. We began the third set strong and the girls were playing well, but we just couldn’t finish like we needed to and lost 17-25.

Waverly was up next and the girls were playing for pride. With our defeat from the other two teams, we knew at that point we weren’t going to make it out of pool play, but the girls dug down deep to battle Waverly and come out with a win. Things didn’t click the first set and we lost 13-25, but they quickly regrouped and came back to win the next two sets, 25-21.

Our suitcases came back a little lighter than we hoped, but I cannot tell you how proud I am of these girls. I am truly blessed to be part of such a wonderful team and want to thank each and every one of them for their heart and their hard work throughout this season, and that includes Coach Wyrick and Coach Kreutzer as well.

As the volleyball nets are lowered and the girls begin to prepare for basketball, my whistle will hang in my closet until next year…only 290 days or so, but hey who’s counting?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Learn at Lunch

These past few days have been fairly hectic…now I can’t say that I have an extraordinarily large amount of things to do, but I just have a lot on my mind. While at work, I find myself thinking of volleyball…at volleyball, I find myself thinking about work…in the evenings it’s all of the above plus my Ms. Wheelchair Kansas duties, all while trying to watch my few favorite shows!

Today was different. I woke up with one thing in my head – United Way’s Learn at Lunch. This appearance had been in the works for a little bit and finally, today was the day.

Right after I arrived the seats started filling up and before I knew it, the meeting had started, we were eating, and my presentation was soon to follow.

After a few bites of some delicious brisket, I headed up to the front of the room and began. I talked of my accident and what I had learned from it, then of Ms. Wheelchair Kansas and all of my travels and appearances. The majority of my presentation focused on telling the group about my platform, Empowering Youth to Define Themselves.

Although today’s group consisted of just adults, I still think that a good portion of what I speak about is still relatable.  Most adults have a good sense of who they are and what they stand for, but we are still changing little aspects of our lives and who we are. We are still influenced by others, and sometimes still do things that really don’t fit who we are and what we believe. No matter what age a person is, they are still responsible for who themselves!

I had an amazing time today and the group was great! It was also great to be able to look out in the audience to see some of my favorite people in the crowd…so I must say thank you for coming and a huge thank you to the Dodge City United Way for allowing me to come and speak! It was such a great opportunity!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hays Bound...Lady Ace Style

In just three short days, I will be packing my bags and heading Northeast with only one destination in mind…a state championship!

As most of you know, I am one of the assistant coaches of the Bucklin High School volleyball team, and last Saturday we laid it all on the line in the Sub-State championship game to win a close match against Spearville.

As I mentioned in For the Love of the Game, when Coach Wyrick asked me last year to help him, I was hesitant to say yes – I wanted to take the position badly, but did not know how the girls would perceive me. My hesitation went out of the window the first day of practice last year and it is nowhere to be seen nowadays.

These girls have worked their butts off, putting in countless hours and playing through pain and sickness to get to where they are today and I cannot even begin to tell you how proud I am of them. I love walking into the gym every day to seeing their smiling faces and sharing my knowledge of the game I care so much about.

I hope that I have been able to help them these past two years as much as they have helped me. These girls helped reignite the spark and the love of the game of volleyball that I have, but never thought I would be apart of again…that is before last year. They have helped me grow and be more confident in who I am and I cannot thank these girls enough for that.

We head into the State Tournament ranked #7 and will face Hoxie, Centralia and Waverly in pool play. I am not going to lie when I say it will be tough, but I have complete trust and faith in my girls. They will play their hardest, once again leaving it all on the line…not leaving Hays without a state title in our suitcase!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Back to School

I’ve had my share of school…two years of pre-school, one year of kindergarten, six years of elementary school, two years of junior high, four years of high school, one year of junior college, and three years of college. (Most likely everyone reading this has put in this many years as well…maybe less, maybe more, but typing all of it out sure does make it look I’ve been in school forever!) Nonetheless, earlier this month, I had the chance to go back to college and I couldn’t wait!

While at the KS Truck Mobility Rodeo last month, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Stucky, the Director of the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program at Newman University in Wichita, and we got to talking about my injury/accident and the importance of physical and occupational therapy. At the end of conversation, he took my card and said he might be in touch.

Much to my surprise, I received an email from him the very next day asking if I would be willing to come and speak to his OTA Clinical Conditions class as they were getting reading to cover spinal cord injuries. I jumped at this opportunity – it was going to be a change from my “normal” MWKS presentation and I would be able to talk about my experiences and how vital physical and occupational therapy is for spinal cord patients.

On Thursday, October 4th, I took off from work a bit early and we headed east. Upon my arrival, the 21 students of the OTA class greeted me with a huge welcome that they had to have rehearsed a few times! After a student presentation, I was up and unlike some of my speaking engagements, I wasn’t super nervous about this one.

After telling them a little bit about myself, I dove into my accident, my therapies, and what it is like to live with a spinal cord injury. I spared no detail, as I knew this was the audience who wanted to details…they wanted the nitty gritty. After my presentation, I opened the floor for questions and boy, did I get some good ones. They ranged from questions of pregnancy to relationships with friends and family to how I do certain things and what type of adaptive devices I use.

I feel extremely grateful that I had this opportunity because by being able to speak to this OTA class, it made me feel as if I was perhaps giving a little back to those physical and occupational therapists who gave everything they had to help me get to where I am today.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Girl Talk

After a Friday full of rodeoing, we made our way north to Topeka where I was blessed with the opportunity to speak at the Back to School Girls Leadership Summit at the Boys and Girls Club of Topeka.

Let me rewind back to April just for a second when I received an email from Carrie, which asked me if I would be interested in being the keynote speaker for the event. I was shocked and amazed – the keynote speaker…that’s a huge thing! I agreed to it immediately after I read that they are hoping to promote positive leadership in young girls.

Fast forward back to the end of September, I walked into the BGCT building to find a group of girls playing a game of telephone at the table. It instantly took me back to my junior high days and at that point I became a little nervous and I hoped that they would like my presentation!

This is my ideal age group of girls I like to speak with as this was who I had in mind when I thought up my platform for Ms. Wheelchair Kansas. This is the age where judgment often gets skewed and we lose who we are to who someone else thinks we need to be, or we do things that are not true to ourselves.

The girls were great and listened intently to what I had to say and to the presentation. They had some awesome questions and when I got to the part in my presentation where I talk about unique qualities often being insecurities – I had a feeling that these girls knew who they were and they had it figured out…they didn’t seem to be afraid to step out from the crowd, they weren’t trying to be in that cookie cutter mold. This truly made me smile.

I had an amazing time speaking with the girls and I must thank them for giving me such an opportunity. I hope they were able to learn as much as I did! 

Let's Rodeo!

I must apologize as I have fallen a bit behind on my blogging, but I am bound and determined to catch you up on what all has been happening!

Last week, I saddled up bright and early and headed down to Wichita for the Kansas Truck Mobility Rodeo. Now, I know when I mention you’re thinking of bull riding, steer roping, and barrel races, but this was not the case last Friday!

The Mobility Rodeo is a daylong event aimed to raise awareness about the vehicles, equipment, and services available to enhance mobility. There were over 20 booths and numerous other vendors set up. I was able to spend my day near my Ms. Wheelchair Kansas booth meeting and talking with the 350-400 people who attended the event.

I had an amazing time hearing all of the different stories and sharing with them the purpose and mission of the Ms. Wheelchair Kansas organization. It is unbelievable how many people I ran into who share the same interests or know the same people as me. The state of Kansas may be 82,277 square miles, but it truly is a small, small world!

It may have not been the traditional rodeo I had in mind when I first heard of the event, but I had a great time nonetheless and I hope to return next year!