Thursday, March 28, 2013

Project Walk

I had an amazing opportunity on Monday to speak at the Project Walk Kansas City 4th Annual Charity Dinner and Auction. After getting a few things together at work Monday morning, we hopped in the car and headed east…well, northeast really. The event was at the Boulevard Brewing Company in downtown Kansas City and when we arrived, the snow had begun to fall and you could barely see up the street. It was absolutely beautiful and I was really glad we weren’t still driving in it!

The event began at 6:30pm and after a few hors d’oeuvres and a drink, I was so excited to see Kenny and my Aunt Nancy walk through the door. For the next hour or so, a silent auction was being held and I had a chance to get caught up with Aunt Nancy as well as do some mingling. As 8 o’clock came close, Chris took the microphone and talked about Project Walk’s mission and what we celebrating and raising money for. Not long into it, he introduced me and I took center stage.

My focus for my presentation was to not only tell my story, but to tell the crowd about the importance of physical rehabilitation for individuals who have sustained spinal cord injuries. For those of you who know me, know that I have a strong opinion about PT and that I love every minute of it…I really wanted to share that passion with the people who came out for the event.

After I spoke, the fun began. The Nigro Brothers kicked off the live auction and they were some fun auctioneers. Trips to Florida and Vegas were auctioned off, as well as sports memorabilia, art, concert tickets, a Boulevard Brewing tasting event, and so much more.

I think they were able to raise a good amount of money that will go towards scholarships available for clients and aid Project Walk Kansas City into getting some new equipment.

It was a great event and I truly enjoyed every minute of it…I hope to be able to check out their facilities sometime soon and possibly get a home program going!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

#TBW Early Egg Hunt

Since I started my Throwback Thursday posts on Wednesday, I thought I would just keep it that way...I've never been known to stand in the crowd for too terribly long, so why start now!

As Easter is just right around the corner, I thought it would fitting to showcase a picture from the past..taken just after the Easter Bunny left our house! 

Aren't we cute??

Happy Easter Everyone!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Throwback Thursday...oh Wait, it's Wednesday!

So here I am jumping on the #tbt bandwagon, but I have a slight problem - its not Thursday. Oh well, I’m still going to take it back…I’m a rebel like that.

Nonetheless, the lucky photos are…two of my fav's from Cliff and Blake’s Wedding!


It is only fitting I chose these pictures because just three short years ago, I was blessed to serve as the maid of honor to one of my very best friends as she married the love of her life.

 Happy Anniversary guys…may you have many more years of laughter, love, and life together! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Onto the Next Chapter

I cannot believe the time has come for me to write this specific post, but as Semisonic once sang, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” This past weekend was the 2013 Ms. Wheelchair Kansas Pageant.

With the contestants and our escorts
Two contestants embarked on the journey to become Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2013 on Friday afternoon as they went through orientation and volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House in Topeka. I joined in on Saturday as they began their leadership sessions where we had some great presenters speaking about the importance of communication, advocacy, and pride.

With one of the judges and my stage escort!
My favorite session has always been the fitness session! Last year we had a personal trainer come in and show us some good cardio and toning tips and tricks targeted for those in chairs. I was expecting something similar this year, but was completely blown away when Zumba was on the schedule. It was definitely a lot of fun and let’s just say I have added a new workout to my routine. Don’t worry though, you won’t be seeing any of these moves in a public gym or class…I’ll be shaking my groove thing in the comfort of my living room!

After a fun pizza party Saturday night with the girls, I woke up on Sunday with a bittersweet feeling in my stomach. It was pageant day and I would be passing on the crown in a few short hours. With the ceremony practice and pampering out of the way, it was 1pm and I reported down to the Emerald Ballroom and took my place.

Our Keynote Speaker, Jesa Lopez
The judges hard an extremely hard decision on their hands because both ladies presented great platform speeches and answered the questions with ease, but in the end, I am proud to announce that Mrs. Angel Shaver is the new Ms. Wheelchair Kansas titleholder.

Angel and her family
This past year has been amazing for me and while I may have been a bit hesitant to begin this journey, I am more than glad I did. It has allowed me to grow not only as a person, but it has helped me become a better spokesperson, advocate, and role model.

After the Crowning
I wouldn’t have been able to do what I have done this past year as MWKS without numerous people. First and foremost, my family! I cannot even begin to thank them enough for their support and all that they have helped me with. Secondly, I must thank my employer, BTI, for all of their support throughout the year. Not only did they allow me to take off time to travel to all of my appearances, but they also financially supported my entire journey. I also must thank my friends for all of their encouraging words and helping me book numerous appearances. Lastly, I must thank my mom. Yes, I know, she technically is included with family, but I absolutely could have not done this without her.

I am truly blessed to have had such an opportunity to travel across the state sharing my story and I can only hope that it has inspired someone as much as this experience has inspired me.

Tony and I
Thank you all for the support and a huge congratulations to Angel Shaver. I have no doubt in my mind that she will be a great representative for not only the Ms. Wheelchair Kansas organization, but the state of Kansas as well.

A few more pictures!

Becky came all the way from Arkansas!
Meeting Curtis's sister
Look who stopped by, Senator Garrett Love!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Walk it Out

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend and have a booth at the MDA Muscle Walk at the Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita. After arriving early and getting set up, I was ready for all the walkers and it wasn’t long before they began showing up!

We were supposed to try and support the Superhero theme as well as having an interactive part to our displays. Unlike the MDA volunteers who handed out bananas and bottled water, I decided upon candy. Everyone got at least one piece of candy, but if they could guess within 10-50 miles of how many miles I had traveled for appearances as MWKS, they would receive a giant Kit Kat or Twix.

I had so many guesses, but only ended up giving away 3 giant candy bars. I was still pretty impressed with that! Now, I know what you’re thinking…how many miles was it, and so here it is…are you ready? 8,536 miles to date.

The MDA Muscle Walk is a great event that not only allows people to honor adults and children who have been diagnosed with any of the 40+ diseases in MDA’s program, but it raises funds to help the Muscular Dystrophy Association foster research and provide vital services to families affected by neuromuscular disease.

Other than seeing more than 300 people support such a great cause, the coolest part of my day was to see a few familiar faces who I’ve met throughout my journey as MWKS. I saw a few athletes from the Challenge Games, a few volunteers from the MDA Summer Camp, and a few familiar faces who live nearby.

I had a fantastic time and couldn’t believe when the clock hit noon and other vendors were packing up their booths, but this event was also a little bittersweet for me as it was my last MWKS appearance before I hand over the crown on March 17th.

I’m going to refrain from recapping the events of the year and saying my goodbyes for now, but I do want to say that if you ever have a chance to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association, whether it be by donations or competing in a 5K, please do. I must say that after being allowed to partake in not only one, but two MDA events, it has not only shown me what services and opportunities they provide for those affected by neuromuscular disease, but what a great organization they are.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Big D...and I Don't Mean Dallas

Every day while I am eating lunch I scour MSN and CNN for the latest news and headlines. Well, the other day my curiosity was sparked when I saw the headline “America’s Most Miserable Cities.” I had my guesses as to what cities I would see on the list and was not surprised one bit when I saw Detroit topping the list as the Most Miserable City in America.

Although I was not surprised to see Detroit in the number one slot, I do not necessarily agree with this ranking. Yes, Detroit’s economy has hit rock-bottom…it has the highest crime rate in the country…and as of Tuesday, the city announced that they are in the midst of a financial emergency; but even with all of this going on, I have nothing but love for the city.

Driving into Downtown via Woodward Ave
I have spent quite a bit of time in Detroit since my accident because they have one of the best spinal cord rehabilitation facilities in the country. For months at a time, my mom and I would pack up half of our house and head north, in order for me to spend my days working towards my goal of getting stronger and more independent at the Center for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery (CSCIR).

Physical Therapy

In 2009, Mom and I rented a loft in downtown Detroit, right on Woodward Ave., where we lived for five and a half months. I will never forget the day when we arrived…we pulled into the alley to unload our stuff and a homeless man approached our vehicle, asking if we had some cheese.  To a small-town Kansas girl, a homeless man approaching your vehicle is a bit daunting and I have to admit, it produced a little skepticism. However, it didn’t take long for love to replace that skepticism.

Our Apartment Building
I spent numerous hours every day at CSCIR, whether it was my day or not for physical therapy, but for the rest of our time, Mom and I explored downtown Detroit. Our apartment was centrally located and just a few blocks (or a quick ride on the People Mover) from anywhere one might want to go – Comerica Park, Ford Field, the River Front, Greektown, Campus Martius, Joe Lewis Arena, and the Eastern Market.

Tigers Game at Comerica Park

Half of Campus Martius

Tracy and I at the River Front
I spent many hours per day at the Campus Martius basking in the sunlight and reading my book…took in numerous Tiger games at Comerica Park…spent too much money at the Greektown Casino…and hit some great concerts/shows at Ford Field and Joe Lewis Arena. (Unfortunately it was neither football or hockey season while I was there, but if it was, I can guarantee you that I would have partook in those activities.) I can’t even begin to tell you about all the restaurants, but I will say if you are ever in Detroit, you must get some authentic Cuban food at Vicente’s, a steak at Michael Symon’s Roast, a coney at Lafayette’s, and some barbeque from Slow’s!

Eastern Market with Jason and Heather
Kenny Chesney Concert at Ford Field

Eating out with my cousins, Gywnn and Vance
In just five short months, I grew to love this “miserable” city; it has allowed me to get stronger, meet new friends, become more independent, take in some excellent entertainment, and most of all, it has allowed me to grow. I’m not saying that Detroit is all unicorns and roses, but with good always comes with bad…and believe it or not, Detroit has plenty of good, you just have to scratch beneath the surface a little!