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The Challenge Weekend

Well, our site’s been down for the past 3 days. I’ve felt a little lost as to what to do because I’ve had things to tell you and pictures to share, but nowhere to put them! I’m also thinking that I may have to have Pete organize an email list, because that way I can let you all know when there’s been an update and I can let you know if there’s a change or problem with the site. I want to thank everyone who emailed to ask if we were ok and to make sure that nothing bad had happened. It’s nice to know that we aren’t those people who could die in their apartment and no one would now until the smell wafts into the hallway….we have people who care!

Just a note about some pretty special people in our lives. The company that hosts our website belongs to our friends Lloyd and Sandi Kirk. Lloyd worked with Peter at Verizon for a while and then their family moved to Mississippi. I’ve missed them so much and we’ve kept our friendship through the distance and the years. When Sandi and Lloyd found out about Peyton, we asked them if they would host our blog and they jumped on the chance to do something for us, they do it for free and they do it with the warmest and most loving hearts. As much of a lifeline as this site has become for those that care about Peyton, we need to send out a HUGE thank you to GCIS for the wonderful gift they’ve given us.

So much has happened in the days since the site went down. It’s been a very busy weekend.

Friday was a big prep day for the Cure Kids Cancer Challenge. Peyton and I spent the day with the other planners and volunteers and PCF staff at Hit the Trails in FishHawk, the site for the walk. We had early registration so that people could come and get their goodies, t-shirts and drop off donations. When we started on Friday morning, we had 300 registered walkers from online registrations and by end of day we had at least another 50 walkers signed up to walk. In planning an event like this for the first time, it’s hard to guesstimate the reception we’re going to get. 400 t-shirts had been ordered and we worried that we would run out.

We were blessed to be very right. We ran out early during the pre-registration on Saturday morning, I’d bet we had at least another 150 walkers sign up the morning of. It was AWESOME!

I don’t even know how to really explain what a fantastic day it was. There were less fantastic parts, like getting up at 4:30 to be ready to start setting up at 5 AM!! We were short tables and we had to get more ice, but those things were so inconsequential in the tremendous response we had.

By the time we had everything set up and ready to go, we had people showing up and milling around and it was obviously going to be a great turnout. But even hoping and praying for success doesn’t prepare you for the blessing it is to see the outpouring of support we received. It was chaotic, we had registration problems, we were running from one issue to the next, and it was so worth it all!

Moments before the walkers and runners took off, 8 families touched by pediatric cancer stood up and we read a poem.

From Left: The Baby Leo Astacio family, The Taylor Arrington family, The Jacob Duckworth family, the Zach Tucker family, me (ummm…don’t ask where the family is…Pete ran a few minutes late), and the Paige Wirth family.

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited…

It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot steal eternal life
It cannot conquer the spirit.

It was such a poignant moment. We shared in a moment of silence for the many children, the valiantly fighting, our cherished survivors and the precious lost.

Looking over the crowd of participants, my heart just felt like it might burst. We worked so hard, we planned and prayed, so much of our hearts were in this event and to barely be able to see the end of the line of walkers and runners, I just felt like Heaven was full of lots of little happy faces looking down on us with blessings on our efforts and all these people.

Once everyone got off, it was scramble time to get ready for them all to return…hot, sweaty and hopefully ready to spend some money. Our raffle tent was busting at the seams with baskets and auction items…we had a huge row of food offerings…we had fun stuff for the kids to participate…. and the crowd answered the call.

I unfortunately have very few pictures of the day because it was a constant run-do-go kind of morning. But I saw so many friends who’d showed up to support us, friends from our kids’ school, our nurses and child life specialist from the clinic where Peyton gets treatment, people from our church, friends we’ve made along the way.

Baby Leo and mom Lori Astacio, our #1 fundraising team!!!

Dad Leo Astacio

Cindy and Louise, two of the greatest pediatric nurses to ever walk the earth!!

When the announcement was made about the top fundraising teams, it was just amazing to hear that the top 5 teams alone raised over 25,000$!!! Our goal was to raise 75,000$ and although no official numbers have been given, I fully expect to hear that we surpassed it by around 25,000$. Does that just blow you away, or what?

The kids had a blast in the water fountains in the middle of Park Square, there were many jealous adults who would have loved to just take a run through them as well.

I’m glad it’s over. We had such a busy day after the walk, we had a birthday party we were supposed to go to and then Light the Night was in St. Pete that evening. I went home, I went to sleep. We missed everything else. Luckily, Peyton wasn’t the Honored Hero for this particular event, because I could not have dragged my exhausted butt out of bed for anything! It was worth every meeting, every email and phone call, every time we were told NO, every drop of sweat, every tear shed, it was worth it. I can’t wait til next year.

These were the pins that I made that we wore in honor of Peyton and her bravery. Don’t mock the lack of real craftiness, I figured Peyton’s pictures were so cute no one would notice the complete slacker-artistry. We see her every day, we’re with her good and bad, and sometimes we forget what an amazing little warrior we have in our family.

Here is the newscast of the interview that Peyton and I did with Channel 10’s Isabel Mascarenas. She was lovely and did a great job of putting together the piece. You can click on the video story to see the whole shebang. Peyton will be signing autographs upon request. HA!

I found this interview that we did last year because we were stuck in the hospital over Thanksgiving. What a huge difference in us both! I guess we’ve both got more comfortable in front of the camera. Just a sad note, the little boy, Mark Demaris, passed away shortly after this was filmed.

I have to share this story about a new friend we made this weekend. Tim Lee is training for the IronMan Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii. He’s going to swim 2.4 miles in the ocean, bike for 124 miles and then, just because there’s nothing better to do, he’s going to run for 26 miles. I have issues with how far I have to walk to my car at Wal-mart, this guy is going to do all of this in, his estimate, about 13-14 hours. HOURS, people! But his heart is as big as his ambition because he’s running this event in memory of Taylor Arrington, a beautiful young girl we lost this spring to Ewings Sarcoma. Tim didn’t even know her, never had the chance to meet her, but he’s taken her brave fight for life as an inspiration for all his hard work. He’s going to swim, bike and run in honor of Taylor and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and I just ask you all to pray for his endeavor. I’ll post more info about what this phenomenal guy is doing as the IronMan Championship draws near.

Monday is Peyton’s big day of the month, as well as her big day of this cycle. In the morning I’m taking her for the physical therapy evaluation in hopes they can help her with the leg/foot issues she has. I don’t know if it’ll be a therapy solution or some sort of insert to put I her shoes to force her to walk properly. But hopefully it’ll help.

In the afternoon we head up to our clinic for her tri-monthly spinal tap. She’ll have fluid pulled to check and she’ll have her Methotrexate administered spinally. She’ll also get her Vincristine in her port and then we’ll start her 5 days of steroids. On top of her nightly 6MP….. can I just say that the phrase Maintenance is a complete fraud!?! But wow, I had dreams of the day we’d finally get to this point, last year it seemed so very far away.

f.r.o.G….fully relying on God

2 Comments on “The Challenge Weekend”

  1. #1 Angela
    on Oct 1st, 2007 at 7:34 am

    I am glad you all are okay. I asked mom last night if she had heard from you and got her worried too. I am glad you were just busy and tired.
    I will call you tonight.

    Thanksgiving,,,,,, we are counting the days…..can't wait!!!!

  2. #2 Lorrin Wagner
    on Oct 1st, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    Great videos! I love the pink boots and you were very well spoken! Peyton was at least in her right mind when you bought the boots. I am glad you all had a good although exhausting day on Saturday. Sorry I didn't make it out. We are going out of town next week but perhaps we can get together when we get back. Have a good one and try to get some rest!