An Open Letter to my friends and colleagues
Today is the day that I step up and help a friend, will you consider helping me?
First, let me start by saying I never send emails like this and this email is not a chain email but actually originated by me to help a friend and co-worker’s sick daughter who is battling Cancer. As you know, childhood Cancer is both an emotional and financial devastating disease. As a parent, I could not imagine the impact of having my son or daughter diagnosed with this horrible disease and how Rene and I would deal with this tragic news.
Barton and Amy Olney where faced with this reality in 2007 during the standard 4 month wellness visit for their daughter Deborah. During the days that followed, it was found that Deborah had a rare and deadly form of brain cancer. After several surgeries, hospital stays, 18 months of chemotherapy, pain management, and the ongoing physical therapy the Olneys have gotten the great news that Deborah is cancer free. Although she has overcome the initial hurdle of beating the cancer, the road to recovery is a long one. Cancer at such a young age leaves behind many challenges, not the least of which are the financial ones. Although the Olneys have health insurance, there are many things that the insurance doesn’t cover; physical therapy visits, pharmacy and doctor co-pays just to name a few. When you are in the hospital sometime three plus days a week or more along with the multitude of medicines the co-pays alone can quickly add up.
I have been considering doing something and have began writing this letter several times. I have hesitated for many reasons: fear of not finishing, fear of the commitment, denial of the financial impact on the Olneys, laziness on my part, or many of the other justifications I have used to ignore the fact that every little bit helps and I could do something to help if I took action. Those days are over for me. Some of my procrastination may have been partly because of the grace and dignity that the Olneys have shown throughout this whole ordeal, but regardless of the reason, I know in my heart I should have done something long ago. Although I couldn’t imagine nor will ever know privately how this affects them, publicly they have purposefully downplayed the impact to them and appear to be the pillars of strength for the rest of us to admire. I can’t turn back time and do something when I first realized that I should have, but I can do something now. If you know The Olneys, they are very private people who are the first to help you when you need it, and are the last to ever ask for help when they need it.
Although I can only imagine the challenges they face, I have decided to commit to complete and IRONMAN Triathlon in honor of Deborah and the Olneys in an effort to help raise funds to help offset the mountain of costs of battling this disease.
For those of you not familiar with the Ironman Triathlon, it consists of a 2.4 mile open water swim followed by 112 miles on the bike followed by a full 26.2 mile marathon. The event takes place in one day and each leg of the race has a time cutoff. If a participant doesn’t make the time cutoff at each leg the race is over. For the Ironman to count, you need to finish in less than 17 hours. It is arguably one of the most challenging 1 day events ever. I am currently registered to attempt Ironman Arizona November 21st, 2010, the weekend before Thanksgiving, exactly three years from the date Deborah was diagnosed with Brain Cancer.
The Olneys have a website that has been up since the beginning of Deborah’s battle. I ask you to please read Deborah’s story. It is heartbreaking at times, uplifting, inspirational and always positive even during the darkest days. If you have any wonder about what makes this family great, take a few minutes and read about them at http://www.olneyfamilyonline.com/ It will not take long for you too to be inspired and touched as my family has.
The second page to look at (if you care to) is my record of my training. I originally set up this site with the intent of one day being able to share it with my young children when they are old enough to understand. It is a rough chronicle of the operational side of training for this endurance event while juggling work demands, family demands and many life challenges. You can find this blog at http://tracybutlersironjourney.blogspot.com/ . You can follow the blog so when I update it a couple times per week you will be notified. I promise to make it short and light hearted if possible. I will keep track of my race reports leading up to the IRONMAN along with how I am preparing and of course, what the results are on the big day.
Last and most importantly, with the help of Craig Robinson, a close friend of the Olneys, there is a PayPal link where you can make a donation. The link is on the Olneys home page at http://www.olneyfamilyonline.com or you can go directly to the link here or manually send money via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org (if you don’t have a PayPal account you can still make donations with a credit or debit card). 100% of the donations and all proceeds go to help the Olneys deal with the costs associated with Deborah’s ongoing recovery.
Although they would never ask, please consider helping me help them by making a donation, read, share, and/or send Deborah’s story to people you know with a note asking them to help and if nothing else, take a few minutes and post a message of encouragement to the Olneys on their site. Bart and Amy both have told me it seems like so little but makes such a huge difference when they know people care and are thinking of them. They have climbed the mountain but their trip is not over yet. Together, if we can flatten a few of the bumps it would go a long way to helping them persevere.
Thanks for your consideration and I hope this finds you well!