Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gratitude from the Bledsoe Battle

As I reflect on the things I am grateful for, I realized that I wanted to thank you to each of you for your participation in this year’s Light the Night walk.  Team Firefly was again the top Friends and Family team for the Seattle walk.  This is the 4th year in a row that we have claimed that honor and I thank each and every one of you for your help in raising over $22,000 to fight blood cancers.

We were the 2nd place team overall, chasing the incredibly impressive Seattle Genetics team who raised over $49,000 with 157 team members.  As I talked to their team at the awards ceremony, each of them was incredibly impressed with all that our team has been able to do without the backing of any corporate sponsor. 

Did you know?  When LLS was founded in 1949, a blood cancer diagnosis was almost always fatal.  Thanks in part to innovative research funded by LLS, survival rates have improved dramatically. Today, an estimated 274,930 people are living with or are in remission from leukemia. 



FUNDRAISING CLUBS:

This is the first year that we have had 6 team members joining the Bright Lights club.  Do you think we can break that record again next year??


TEAM FIREFLY BRIGHT LIGHTS (Raised over $1000)
  •    Christine Watson - $1691.46 
  •    Carrie Numata - $1472.46
  •    Ken Mock - $1121.46
  •    Andrea Coughlin - $1079.51
  •    Becky McLellan - $1053.71 

 
TEAM FIREFLY CHAMPIONS – THE 100 CLUB!
  • Vivian Oehler - $936.71
  • Ceci Rozendaal - $806.46
  • Celeste McArthur - $521.46
  • Bonnie Rydman - $506.46
  • Carol Bonenko - $491.46
  • Scott Bledsoe - $453.71
  • Paul Giering - $426.46
  • Thelma Westberg - $371.46
  • Mackenzie Martin - $366.46
  • Debbie Carroll - $252.46
  • Erin Aten - $205.46
  • Hans Loland - $203.71
  • LeAnn Miller - $201.60
  • Zea Carter - $123.71
  • Dorothy Gorman - $106.46
  • Benjamin Bonenko - $103.90 
  • Aleksandra Bonenko - $103.71
  • David Bonenko - $103.71 
  • Jacque Bonenko - $103.71
  • Laura Mitchell - $103.71
  • Steve Mitchell - $103.71
  • Jennifer Hugill - $103.71
  • Libby Dermenstein - $103.71
  • Bethanie Roddy – $103.71
  • Amy Donlan - $103.71 
  • Cynthia Loland - $103.71 
  • Michele Bleser - $103.71
  • Dave Carroll - $101.60
  • Lauren Schepman - $100
  • Lynn Roediger - $100

Thank you for all that you have done to help fight cancer.  I’m deeply touched by the fact that family and friends continue to join me each September in my current version of the Bledsoe Battle – my efforts to fund a cure for blood cancers.

Registration for next year’s walk begins in February.  I hope that you will consider joining Team Firefly again.  Invite your friends and neighbors and coworkers to join us in fundraising.  Let’s give those corporate teams a run for their (research) money again next year!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,


Mandy Bledsoe
http://bledsoebattle.com

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Feeling the Loss

I've been feeling more subdued and more grumpy than normal for the last week or so.  I was just blaming it on not getting enough sleep, but today I finally figured out that my emotions are on edge more than usual because Tyler's birthday was Halloween.

Although on most days I am doing really well, I have found that just the thought of his birthday (combined with the necessity of sorting through some of his belongings) have made me miss Tyler more than usual.  Today I am feeling the tragedy side of things...  I'm just so sad that he was stolen from us so early.

As many of you knew him or came to know him a little bit through the blog, you know that he was a kind and loving man.  He inspired so many of us with his integrity or athleticism or kindness or one of his other wonderful qualities.  I'm sorry that he isn't with us still.

So... I'll issue a general apology to the people that have to be around me day to day and hope that my grumpiness fades quickly.  But I ask that you take one more day with me to acknowledge that cancer steals light and life from people.  As we wrap up October, widely acknowledged as breast cancer awareness month, and celebrate Tyler's birthday on the final day of the month, I urge you to make a difference in some way in the fight against cancer.  Wouldn't that be an ideal birthday gift to a friend lost to leukemia?

What can you do to help save the person who will be diagnosed with any form of cancer tomorrow?  I've chosen fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as my vehicle to continue the fight.  If you would like to make a donation in memory of Tyler, you can donate at http://bledsoebattle.com.  Thanks to all that have already supported my quest for a cure!  With your help, I'm taking the Bledsoe Battle to an entirely new level.

In loving memory of Tyler...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Light the Night

We have only two weeks until this week's Light the Night walk and I'm excited to see friends and family there!  Team Firefly is currently in second place in the team fundraising, so we need to have a good push this week to catch up with Seattle Genetics.  I'd hate to have another team win the Tyler Bledsoe Memorial Award for the top fundraising team... :)

If you are coming to walk with us, you can register for Team Firefly (please note that a second team with a similar name signed up for the Seattle walk, so you will want to be careful to join the correct team).  The top team as of Wednesday 9/26 will be announced at the walk.  The top 10 teams at that time will be awarded a tent on the night of the walk and get to skip the check in lines, etc.  You can mail your donations in to the LLS office, or drop it off at their upcoming bank nights, or deposit it online at your website.

In the meantime, I have been keeping busy watching our online fundraising auction.  If you haven't checked out the wonderful items available for bidding, please visit the auction at http://www.facebook.com/events/266809260097392/ or our auction photo album at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.117076831774654&type=1.  I'm shocked to see that a guitar signed by Blake Shelton is only at $100...  Isn't a guitar alone worth at least that much?  You can also help us out by forwarding these links on to your other friends.

See you on walk night!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Light the Night Walk Update - 6 weeks to Go!


If you will be walking with us this September, please contact me to get signed up (or sign up online at http://pages.lightthenight.org/wa/SeattleL12/TeamFirefly).  We are up to 25 team members so far, but several other people have told me they plan to join us.
 
Walk Night Details
Seattle Walk
  --  Saturday, September 29th, 2012
Green Lake Park, Seattle
 
5:00pm – Remembrance Ceremony
5:30pm – Check-in & Festivities
7:00pm – Walk
 

Upcoming Fundraisers
Let me know if you have an upcoming fundraiser and I am happy to share the information with team members.  Use this area to know how you can support our team, to spread the word about events, and to get some ideas on what you can do!  Contact me if you need more details about any of the events below.

- Tyler Memorial Golf Tournament, Marysville -- August 23rd
- Flea Market, Sequim – September 8th
- Bake Sale, Kent – September 15th
- Facebook Auction, Online
     - Everyone is encouraged to participate!  Call businesses you frequent to see if
       they will make a donation to support LLS – TAX ID number available…
- Women’s Clothing Swap, Lynnwood – October 20th
     - Contact Mandy for more information
 

Become a Champion For Cures
Every walker who raises $100 or more will become a Champion For Cures and recognized on the night of the Walk with the following benefits:
            - A Light The Night t-shirt
            - A Light The Night illuminated balloon
            - A wristband for food and refreshments
 
 
Fundraising Tips
Here are two quick and simple fundraising ideas to help rake in the donations:
1. Game Night/Poker Night: Suggest a minimum donation to enter and/or a donation to compete in each game.
2. Food/Beverage Sales: Baked goods, donuts, bagels, breakfast burritos, popcorn, hot dogs, pizza, ice cream, smoothies, etc.



Top 5 Fundraising Teams   (As of August 16th)
  -->  We just lost our first place position, so it is a very good week to start your fundraising!

1.      Seattle Genetics                           $5,260 raised
2.      Team Firefly                                 $4,959 raised
3.      Team Nanchantress                     $3,750 raised
4.      Team Seattle Children’s              $3,410 raised
5.      Biff’s Beauties                             $2,300 raised

 
 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shop for a Cause

It's time to shop; but this time, shop for a cause.

I am happy to tell you that Macy's is partnering with LLS by offering 25% off for shoppers with the $5.00 purchase of a Macy's shopping pass for Saturday, August 25, 2012.

Anyone with a $5.00 Macy's pass can shop at any Macy's and get 25% off all purchases including regular, sale and clearance items (10% off electronics, watches, furniture and mattresses).

Not a bad way to shop especially with back to school coming up!

100% of the shopping pass proceeds will help fund lifesaving cancer research plus you get a chance to win a $500 Macy's Gift Card!

I might suggest not waiting until the last minute. Go online now and purchase a $5.00 pass ($5.00 is the minimum donation but feel free to donate more)! The passes can only be used in-store and not online.

It's programs like this, people like you and the generosity of companies like Macy's that enable LLS to be able to fund the cancer research that saves lives every day.

You can purchase your passes here.

Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Light the Night Kickoff


The 2012 Light the Night Kickoff was a great opportunity to get some new ideas for this year's walk and be reminded of why I continue to fundraise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Roger Levesque joined us for the event and took a few minutes to share his thoughts on how commendable it is that we are fighting cancer.

Then we heard from a lovely young lady named Rose Egge who shared her remarkable battle against Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma.  She was diagnosed in May 2011 at age 25.  Imagine what goes through your head when something so scary is dropped in your lap.  She came out of her treatments with a passion for fighting cancer - fighting for her future and fighting for the friends she has made along the journey.

For each of us that has been touched by cancer, we respond in many different ways.  For me, I became extremely passionate about living my life as fully as I can and pouring some of my energies into the fundraising I do for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I'm extremely blessed to have supportive and generous friends around me that allow me to achieve my own fundraising goals in these areas. I have been a top fundraiser for LLS for the past few years thanks to your generosity. If I haven't said it recently, THANK YOU!!!

But... I couldn't do it without a team.  So it has come to that time of year and I want to invite each of you to join us for a lovely evening stroll around Greenlake.  The Light the Night walk will be on Saturday, September 29th this year.  Last year we had over 100 walkers on Team Firefly and I would love to match that total again!  Look at the statement we make in the team photo below!



If you would like to join us, please visit http://pages.lightthenight.org/wa/SeattleL12/TeamFirefly and click "JOIN" at the bottom of the page.  You can also just let me know that you want to join us and I will make certain that you get registered.  We are planning to have an auction between now and the walk and would love to have a few other team members participating in the posting of auction items and helping us to spread the word for online bidding.

If you can't join us for the walk (and I really hope that you can), please consider donating at http://bledsoebattle.com

Thanks again!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Light the Night Kickoff Event - July 21st



FUN for EVERYONE and  FREE to join!
·         Guest appearance from a Seattle Sounders player!  Meet and take your picture for unforgettable memory!
·         Free to attend for everyone - team members, family, friends, and coworkers
·         Carnival games, festivities, and prizes
·         Complimentary food and refreshments
·         Meet your local Honored Heroes
·        Learn fundraising tips from your LLS staff and past teams
Win a Light The Night/Sounders FC Scarf!
       Raise $100 by our Kickoff date AND attend our Kickoff to receive a special Light The Night/Sounders scarf*! 
*must be present to win/while supplies last.

When & Where?
     Saturday July 21st, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
      REI Flagship Store - 222 Yale Ave. North, Seattle, 98109

RSVP today!  Email LightTheNight_WAS@lls.org or call Lauren at 206.957.4592



Friday, May 4, 2012

The Long and Winding Road

After the soccer game in Barcelona, we began our journey homeward.  First was the drive back to Madrid.  Our final tapas run happened somewhere along that road, but it was a perfect representation of tapas all over the country.  From first thing in the morning until last thing at night, there were plates of food set out all over the city.  You order a little of this and a little of that, along with your beverage of choice.  For the Spaniards, it seemed like the beverage of choice was quite often an espresso.  They had incredibly complex looking espresso machines all over the country and my friend, Ruth, said that the coffee was fantastic over there.



It was a wonderful trip and I am so thankful that my mother and I got to explore the country.  Thanks to all of you for joining us on the journey!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What's a Soccer Fan to Do?

If you are a soccer addict and find yourself in the city of Barcelona, what else are you going to do?  We got tickets to see FC Barcelona play a home game! We watched them play against Malaga and were thrilled with both our seats and the game. 



The club's motto is "Mes Que Un Club" which translates to "More than a Club".  Based on what we saw, FC Barcelona is a way of life!  The club has teams for several other sports (like basketball -- who has heard of the Barcelona basketball team?), they have a huge youth program, they have their own television channel, and a huge complex at the stadium with tours every day.


I didn't know it at the time (since I speak neither spanish or catalan), but we watched Messi set a record for the most goals in a season.  I shouldn't spoil the score line for you but it was fantastic to watch magic happening, even if I didn't know what the magic was.


Mom said before the game that "Messi is her guy".  I'm not sure how she can have a guy on a soccer team in Spain, but he lived up to her expectations and I became a Barcelona fan myself that day.


After the game, we joined the entire city in the line to the metro.  :)  It was amazing to see that many people trying to leave the stadium at once.


The FC Barcelona game was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  I had looked into it before we left and thought it was too expensive.  But, I'm so very thankful that we decided to splurge!


Exploring Barcelona

Because we couldn't miss out on Barcelona, we headed south again and back into Spain.  Barcelona is a city devoted to its arts, especially Gaudi.  You see his art EVERYWHERE around town, but in my tiny little bit of research about Spain I had decided that I wanted to see Park Guell.  Antoni Gaudi was commissioned to design a housing community for the affluent and began building it in 1900.  It was a fascinating concept and way ahead of his time, but Gaudi's habits of bringing the natural world and a whimsical spirit into his art is evident everywhere you look.



It was definitely a highlight to wander around the park and enjoy the afternoon sunshine (along with the rest of Barcelona).

On the way out of the park, we tripped across a lovely church and admired the art and the peace there.  I couldn't even decipher anything to tell us where we were, but just enjoyed the moments of tranquility.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

More France

The next morning we headed just outside of Narbonne to l'Abbaye de Fontfroide.  It was a functioning abbey up until about 1901, when it was abandoned by the monks and purchased by a local family.  When we arrived, they were closing for lunch so we wandered the grounds first.


It was incredibly windy, but so very beautiful around the abbey.


After the lunch break was over, we took a tour inside the abbey.  The tour was only offered in French, which I was hoping would be okay after taking French classes for a few months before the trip.  Unfortunately, I couldn't understand anything the tour guide was saying and ended up being very thankful that I had gotten the audio guide in English too.  I guess I need to head back to French class again soon!


The tour was very interesting.  There were both monks and lay people that lived inside the abbey when it was a functioning monastery.  I found it interesting to learn that the lay people had to take the same vows of celibacy, poverty, etc as the monks, but were not actually monks.


Another highlight of the abbey tour was that they actually let us take pictures of the stained glass windows.  Most cathedrals we visited had signs indicating that we shouldn't take photos, so we didn't get to share much of that glory with you.  But the colors were incredibly bright and vivid in all of the stained glass we saw there.  I had forgotten, but the stained glass is one of the things I really enjoyed about Europe! I'm pretty much an uneducated lout when it comes to most artwork, but the way they meld those colors together and the sheer beauty when the colors stream through amaze me.


We enjoyed more delightful french bread and cheese and various pastries.  Sigh...  It was good to eat food I know again!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Vive la France!

On Sunday morning, we were both up early and were anxious to hit the road.   This probably had nothing to do with the fact that we were about to cross the border into France.

Just before the border, there was an incredibly busy town advertising duty free stuff of every possible variety.  There were swarms of people EVERYWHERE, and cars pulling into or out of parking spots seemed to bog everything down further.  Just after the town we crossed the border without even being sure that we had.  We didn't even have to slow down as we passed the border patrol folks, let alone stop and show our passports.

As soon as we figured out that we had indeed crossed the border, I suggested to mom that we should find a boulangerie as soon as possible because I wanted some REAL French bread.  We found one and added on a quiche and a vegetable filled pastry too.  We were both in heaven!

We continued north into Narbonne, a mid sized town for this area and found a place to stay.  I think this was the earliest in the day that we have found a room!  After unloading our luggage, we headed out to the archbishop's palace.  It has been converted into two museums, one with art and one with archeology.  We toured the archeological museum, but were very thankful that we both speak French.  A few of the signs had English on them, but the majority of the information was in French.  My brain started to hurt from having to focus so intently on reading the signs, but I think I got the majority of what I read.  Narbonne was very closely tied to the Roman Empire, so the museum talked a lot about the Roman influences on architecture and home door.

After the museum, we also visited the cathedral of Catherine-St Just.  I find cathedrals to be one of my favorite sights.  When you step inside and look up at this amazing vaulted ceiling or admire the intricately detailed stained glass windows or feel the devotion present in the various small chapels around the edges, you can't help but be awestruck at what they were able to accomplish. This particular cathedral was never finished as they built it too close to the city wall.

We wanted to sit down to a nice dinner, but almost everything that wasn't touristy was closed because it was Sunday.  So instead we opened a bottle of wine and had ourselves a little picnic for dinner. We will go out for dinner tonight instead.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Soccer match in Girona

Friday was a driving day, getting from the Costa del Sol to Valencia.  We were trying to find a hotel close to the freeway, as we knew we would want to head out early in the morning to make it to Barcelona.  We had spied a second division soccer match about an hour north of Barcelona and thought that we could make the timing work, but first we stopped at Camp Nou - the home of FC Barcelona.  We were planning to take a tour of the stadium, but after seeing the crowds we remembered that it was a Saturday and speculated that the tour might be easier on a weekday.

We headed north to Girona and started looking for a hotel.  The only hotel that we could find happened to be loading up a team of soccer players in uniform.  We decided to pretend we were groupies and followed the bus to the stadium.  After we figured out where the stadium was, we headed back into town to continue our search for a hotel.  We finally found a hotel with 1 room left, but it was 140 euros for the night ($200+).  Time was getting short before the match start, so we decided that we would just go to the game and hope to find a room afterwards.  Since the game started at 6pm and the next down was maybe only 30 minutes away (and hopefully not clogged with soccer fans and high end weddings like this one) we thought we would have better luck.

The soccer match was fun.  We bought seats that were supposed to be behind the south goal, but ended up too close to the 10 foot tall fence separating the home fans from the visiting fans and couldn't see 75% of the field clearly.  We ended up moving seats pretty early on in the match.  Our new seats had a much better view, but were somewhat less appealing in smell due to Mr Cigar 2 rows in front of us.

Because time had been so short getting to the match, we hadn't had any sort of dinner, so I had the challenge of figuring out the concessions stand.  In Girona we paid at one window and were given a colored token based on the amount we paid.  Cold sandwiches were 3 euros and hot sandwiches were 4 euros.  I bought two hot sandwiches and moved over to the food area to try to order them.

In the end, it took 4 concession stand employees to help me order two different kinds of sandwich.  I could easily order the Frankfurt, but had trouble figuring out what other kinds of sandwiches were available. We think we ended up with a pork sandwich, but they might have been charading something else for me.

The game ended in a 0-0 tie, but we enjoyed the soccer despite the lack of goals.  I was intrigued by the yell leader who walked back and forth in our section all game long, trying to get us to cheer more.  I'm still chanting Gee-Rona - hey! in my head at random times.

After the match we headed back to the car and then went in search of the freeway again.  In Spain, many of the freeways have tolls.  We have been trying to take the older highways that parallel the toll roads, but that lends additional challenges as we try to decipher the signs on the side of the road.  In any case, we for a hotel next to the highway on our way out of town for only 52 euros, so we happily booked a room there.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Thursday in Spain

Unfortunately, I was slow to get moving on Thursday morning and we had to modify several plans that day.  The first was learning that we couldn't get Alhambra tickets for any of the days that we could make Granada work, so we had to cancel that plan.  The second change came around lunch time.  We had been heading south towards Tarifa, so that we could catch the ferry to Morocco and spend the day there.  At lunchtime, I finally admitted that we weren't going to make it in time to see Morocco that day.  The next day (Friday) is their holy day and we didn't have enough to see in that area to wait around until Saturday.  I'm bummed to have missed out on Morocco, but will have to pick it up on one of my next trips.

Because we made that decision, we were able to stop and enjoy lunch along the Costa del Sol.  The restaurant we chose was suffering from an invasion of ladybugs so we were covered with them almost as soon as we sat down.  I've actually never seen so many ladybugs in one place.  The restaurant was actually losing business because of it.  But our sangria was delicious and the food was outstanding, and the ladybugs were avoidable once we switched to an inside table.  Our waitress was very sweet and we liked her enough to invite her to come visit us in Seattle.

With the change in plans for the day, we bumped Gibraltar up a day.  We took a tour of the Rock and were fascinated by the history of that area, as well as the amazing views.  They have a long and varied history, but are proud British citizens now.  Our favorite part was the view from the top.  I took video of the amazing 360 degree view, but I am certain that it won't be able to do justice to the amazing sights!

After our afternoon in England, we started back up the coast again, headed towards Barcelona.  We made it to Malaga before I demanded food.  We ended up at a cafeteria, trying to use their wi-fi to look up hotels.  The streets were narrow, one way, and difficult to navigate.  We were tired and really wanted to find a place, but weren't having much luck.  Finally we just decided to head a little bit out of town.  There weren't many options on the way out of town, so we finally pulled off the freeway again at Cala del Moral.  Lucky us, we found a fabulous little gem of a hotel with low prices and friendly staff.  The desk clerk told me that I was very beautiful, which I'm sure was a lie since it was 11pm at night and I was exhausted.  But we got checked in and then we happily collapsed in bed and slept.

In the morning, I headed out for my first post-marathon run.  It was quite muggy out, but I enjoyed the opportunity to run along the paseo and on a great path up and around a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Ocean.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Toledo Exploration

We have a rental car for the rest of our trip, so we have complete freedom to wander wherever we want to go.  On the trip between Segovia and Toledo, I caught up on emails, read, and enjoyed the scenery.  Mom (the driver) did her best to point out a church in every city and to figure out the logic between which roads have tolls and which do not.  Having the directions that we could walk through on the iPad made it much easier to get out of one town and head to another.  With luck, TMobile will figure out what is wrong with my phone soon so that we can get directions on the fly if we change our minds.

Toledo is a medieval city with much to see, but we were primarily interested in their cathedral.  It was well worth the stop.  We parked outside the walls of the old city and took the escalators to the city itself.  Nothing says medieval city like an escalator, right?  At the top, we had a short discussion about whether or not we should stop in the tourist information center to get a map.  I thought we could just follow the signs to the cathedral. It turns out mom was right.  Even with a map we got lost several times.

We had another audio tour of the cathedral and it was positively amazing inside.  My favorite part was the transparente.  Because it was such a big and dark church, they decided to cut out a skylight.  But then they had to figure out how to blend that in with the rest of the church.  The result is a combination of fresco, sculpture, and God's own sunlight that takes your breath away.  The best photo I have been able to find was at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dschwabe/2311973004/ but it still doesn't really do the church justice.

Mom really liked the choir area.  Each of the seat backs had beautiful carvings, depicting battles that Spain had won defending various towns.  I was impressed that the clergy that made up the choir had to stand for long masses, singing from giant hymnals in front of them.  They carved "mercy seats" into the designs of the choir seats, allowing the clergy to perch on them slightly even though they weren't allowed to sit down.

On our way out of Toledo, we ran into Barb from the LLS office.  Unfortunately it was her last day in Spain, but it was very fun to run into her randomly!

After chatting with Barb for a few minutes, we headed south to Granada to spend the night there.  Well, actually...  I think we probably headed north, then west, then east and then south.  ;)  Having Internet access makes quite a difference with finding the right roads to get on.  Spain seems to share highways quite often, so we find ourselves sorting through 5 highways listed on the sign to see if the one we want is there.  Then we have to figure out which direction it is headed.  Spanish highways don't say anything about north/south or east/west.   They just list a couple of cities that direction.  Since we don't know where anything is, we have to search on the map to see if those cities are in the direction we want.

We stopped for gas on our way south and were able to grab some Internet, so I looked up directions to a hotel in Granada.

We arrived in Granada after dark on Wednesday evening and I lost the directions to the hotel just after we pulled off of the freeway.  Because people are not allowed to drive through the center of Granada, we were a little stressed out about just wandering our way to the hotel.

In the end, we decided to pull into 4 star hotel we had driven by and ask how much the room would be for the night.  In Spain, there is a national rating system for hotels and this one looked like it might be closer to my Madrid hotel which had charged us a couple hundred dollars/night for a double room.  Anyways, much to our surprise, the hotel said only 60 euros for a room and had parking underneath for 10 euros more so we decided to stay there.

We were tired and hungry so we went to the hotel bar for dinner and ended up seeing the Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich game on TV.  There were only about 15 minutes left in the game when we sat down, but the teams were kind enough to take the game to OT for us.  Mom gave me grief for ordering a hamburger for dinner, but it was well worth it.  It did say that it was an Andalucian hamburger, but the only difference I noticed was the addition of an egg.  I had heard from friends that the egg on a burger thing was good, but had never tried it.  Mom has really been embracing ensalata mixta, which is a green salad with tuna on top of it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Travels in Spain

Travels in Spain Now that I have run my race, the fun can finally begin!  After a day of rest, Mom and I headed to Segovia to admire one of the last standing Roman Aqueducts.  It was amazing to see such an imposing structure up close and then be able to walk in and around it.



This particular aqueduct has been standing for over 2000 years without any sort of mortar to hold it together.  Engineering is completely amazing for the tools they had available at that time.


After wandering around the city admiring old buildings and learning about them with our audio guide, we finally sat down to enjoy some tapas and sangria at El Gato.  I picked the first round of tapas, so we enjoyed patatas y salchichas (potatoes and sausages) and tortillas (a potato and egg cake similar to a quiche without a crust).  Both were served on slices of crunchy French bread.


Mom chose the second round of tapas, so we had a different potato and sausage combo and then she also chose cold, slimy clams.  I ate one, but a significant amount of sangria was used to wash it down.  She happily enjoyed both of her clams and my second clam.




The cost for the sangria and tapas was only 8 euros! After two glasses each of delightful sangria, we headed out to wander around Segovia a little bit longer.  I really enjoyed the sights of the city while the sun was setting. On Wednesday morning, we were trying to find directions to a cafe with free Internet by asking the delivery men and bartender at El Gato.  We accidentally found out (thanks to a nice couple from Colorado) that all we had to do was ask the bartender for a password to their wireless and we could get online to grab directions to our next stop.  So we hung out in the bar for breakfast and ate more sausage and potatoes and tortillas.  Breakfast only cost us 2 euros, which was most likely mom's tea. We headed to Toledo then. More on that in my next post...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Why I Do What I Do

This article shows one of the major reasons I am so committed to fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The drugs we have aren't as smart as the disease yet.
http://www.cityofhope.org/about/publications/news/Pages/city-of-hope-researchers-show-how-cancerous-stem-cells-manipulate-their-environment-to-enhance-their-own-growth.aspx?elq=0a8a28452e03456c9fd6d175daab9659
I think the researchers are making some great progress and I am excited to play a part in that. I remember Dr Oehler telling us that Tyler's leukemia had found a way to recognize his Dad's stem cells by dropping that part of their cell structure. I didn't ask if that meant that Tyler was now a woman (since his cells dropped the male half of their XY structure), but it definitely meant that his disease was way too smart for the treatment option of a bone marrow transplant.
Thank you so much for helping me fund a cure to blood cancers. The Team in Training group at the Madrid Marathon raised $1.5 million dollars with 266 athletes entered in the race. That is making a statement, isn't it? My friend Ruth put the best line on her race shirt... The shirts have a place for us to put why we are running on the back and Ruth wrote that her reason for running was "finding a cure, duh!". Same here, Ruth!

I am a Marathoner!

Yesterday, I finally accomplished my goal of running a marathon in memory of Tyler. The whole Team in Training experience was amazing - meeting and getting to know so many wonderful people for the last 6 months as we trained together, as well as knowing that we are making a difference in the fight against blood cancers. I have, however, decided to retire from marathons and stick to half marathons or less for the forseable future. That is still a Long distance than I expected to be willing to run and I admit that I want to continue my training runs. But I can be proud that I finished the race, which was a worry of mine primarily because of the 6 hour time limit. If at any point during the race I fell behind that pace, I would be forced to quit. And I am SLOW at running! But I was running ahead of my own projected pace until about the 25km, at which point I started walking a lot more of te time -- mostly because there were some serious hills there. I finished strong and was proud of at. My photos aren't being uploaded, so I will have to share those later. But I am a Marathoner!





Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Verse for Race Day

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.     Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Marathon Eve

It is time to go to bed on the night before the marathon. Thank you all for providing encouragement along the way. I can't believe I am finally here, but hope to make everyone proud by finishing the race tomorrow. I'm pretty nervous that the heat will make me run even slower than normal (tomorrow is forecast for 68 degrees) and I'll miss the cutoff, but I'm going to give it my best shot. One blessing from today's meetings - I found out that I am the top fundraiser for the Seattle to Madrid group and was only about $3000 from 10th in all of US and Canada! Thank you all for your financial support along this journey. I couldn't make any sort of difference without you and your willingness to help me honor Tyler and the many other patients that have touched my life. As my dear work friends said, Corre con el Viento! From Madrid with love!



Thursday, April 19, 2012

Madrid Day 1

Made it to Madrid safely, so we are just trying to recover from the long, long day of flying.  Off to have lunch with my teammates, but looking forward to the race in just a few days.  I´ll post more if I can find access again.



Sunday, April 15, 2012

One Week to Race Day!

I completed my final long training run on Saturday morning, and just have two more US runs and two more Spanish runs before race day!  I'm still in shock that, after 6 months of training, I am final approaching the big day.  I've had several requests to post updates and will certainly try to accommodate, although I can't make any promises.

My goal for the day is simply to finish the race within the time limit.  The weather is forecasted for a high of 67 degrees, so I'll likely get completely sunburnt while running from 9am until 3pm!  I wish I could move a little bit faster, but 42 km (26 miles) is a really long way to go and I have to save a little bit of energy to stagger across the finish line.  :)

One week to RACE DAY!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sneak Peek

Do you want a sneak peek of my race?  Check out a video of the course I will be running at http://vimeo.com/user11068139/recorrido-rocknroll-madrid-maraton

I'm surprisingly moved just seeing the course in high speed...  Wow!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Final Countdown

It is the final countdown to marathon day!  Two weeks from now, I should have finished my race and be enjoying a flamenco show with my Team in Training friends.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has encouraged me along this journey!  I am so very appreciative of the friends and family that surround me and help me believe that I CAN accomplish big goals like running a marathon while raising over $6000 to fund critical research that will someday cure cancer.

I don't think I have shared this before, but I will be dedicating portions of my race to the many patients and survivors that inspire me to keep working towards a cure.  I am running in thanks for the health of Hans, Yanni, Melissa, Janell, Shane, Darren, and Steven. These names just barely scratch the surface of the survivors that I have met, but it inspires me to see each of them thriving despite a blood cancer diagnosis. 

I also want to honor the sacrifices made by those lost to cancer, including Cathy, Nick, and Tyler.  Each of them was lost far too young, which greatly increases the pain of their loss.

Finally, I am dedicating some of my energy to the caregivers for the patients above.  Spouses and siblings and parents that make sacrifices during treatment and learn to live with the big C fight a very different battle, but it is a valiant battle all of the same.  To each of my fellow caregivers, I salute you and the many ways that you demonstrate your love and support!

I'll try to post some photos from the race (assuming my mother can actually find me in the midst of all the other runners) so that you can see how much "fun" I am having over there.

Thanks again for the gift of encouragement and the generous financial support that you have provided along the way for the last 6 months!

Madrid -- Here I come!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Meeting Goals

What a great weekend for my Team in Training adventure!  I met my fundraising minimum for Team in Training (so I get to focus on running for the final month) and I set a new distance record for myself in the same amount of time as it took me to run the half marathon.  I'm feeling good about being able to run an additional mile in the same amount of time.  I'm up to 14.1 miles in the bank.

This week is a "rest week" so I only have to run for 2 hours in my long run and I get to skip my Wednesday run.  It's amazing what things make you excited when you are training for a marathon.  I "only" have to run for 2 hours.  How many of you think that sounds like an easy day?  This marathon thing seems to mess with my brain.  Maybe that is why so many of my teammates are addicted enough to be competing in their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or higher marathons.  After we finished last week's run, several of them laughed when I told them that I plan to retire from marathons after I finish the Madrid marathon next month.  They are convinced that I'll be back for more.

Thanks to the fundraising events over the last week (and a great pin I got from my participation on the Light the Night board), I have had the opportunity to share my personal mission (fundraising for a cure to blood cancers) with many people over the last week and have been richly rewarded by peoples' generosity.

Now I am able to focus on getting better at running and learning about Spain. At least for the next month...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Trying to Best my PR

With this weekend's run scheduled to be as many minutes as my half marathon, I am hoping to beat my distance along the Burke Gilman trail.  That will help show that I can still continue to improve as I approach the final weeks before my race.  This is the second to last increase that I will have in my long runs.  Two weeks from now, I will run for 3 hours and that will be my longest run until Madrid.

Five weeks until race day!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I am a Half Marathoner!

I accomplished an unexpected goal this weekend, as I completed my first half marathon.  Though it may be surprising to hear, I never had a goal to run a marathon.  I prefer the shorter races, as my lifelong training in soccer is much more conducive to sprints.  It was the LLS's Team in Training program that convinced me to do it. I originally was planning to complete a triathlon through the program, but figured that wasn't a big enough goal as I have already completed triathlons.  I decided instead to go big and train for the marathon.

As we begin to approach the big day, my coaches suggested that those of us who have never run a marathon should enter a half marathon race to help us develop a race strategy and learn what the full marathon might be like.  It turns out that a lot of thought goes into running for multiple hours.  I have to figure out what and when to eat or drink, the day before and during the race and after the race.  Most likely I will be running for 5-6 hours in Madrid, so I have to think about when to let my body take a break and walk.

The half marathon definitely helped with all of that.  I think I started out running a little bit too fast, so I will have to be more careful in Madrid.  But, even though I walked more than I wanted to in the 2nd half of the marathon, I FINISHED!  I was only about 10 minutes behind my goal time which gives me hope that I will be able to complete the Madrid race within the time limit after learning more about racing for a long time.

It was much harder than I imagined it would be, but it was also my longest run to date.  Up until this point, my longest run had been 10.5 miles.  I bested that by a good amount with 13.1 miles logged today.  My run tracker tells me that I burned over 1500 calories during the run.  Can you believe that?  It might explain why I am always ravenous these days.  :)


Thanks to everyone who encouraged me along the way today!  It was such a great treat to have Facebook posts giving me strength before the race and helping to celebrate my accomplishment when all was said and done.


Six weeks until race day!
To donate, please visit http://bledsoebattle.com

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Team Firefly takes its First Steps

On Wednesday morning, I participated in the first Executive Committee meeting for the 2012 Light the Night walk.  It is hard to believe that we are already getting started (and the LLS staff is well under way) planning for another amazing Light the Night event.  Since they have just forged a new partnership with the Sounders and Seahawks, I am DEFINITELY on board.

Seriously though, I am very excited about this year's walk and am thrilled to share that Team Firefly is signed up already!  If you want to join us for a stroll around Greenlake on September 29th, you can go to http://pages.lightthenight.org/wa/SeattleL12/TeamFirefly and click "Join" at the bottom of the page.  Since we have been the top fundraising team for the last two years (Go Team Firefly!), we are starting to get a reputation and may need to start fundraising early this year.

If you haven't joined us for a Light the Night event yet, come join us this year!  It is a wonderful event and great for the entire family.  The Remembrance Ceremony will start at 5pm, the kids' activities will start at 5:30, and the walk will officially start at 7.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Could you send me your legs for a week?

I'm preparing to set another personal record next Saturday when I run my first half marathon race! 

Up until today my longest run was 10.5 miles, but next weekend I will conquer 13.1 miles in the Lake Sammamish Half.  We'll run from Sammamish State Park to Marymoor (and then hope that I can still walk afterwards).  My friend Carrie signed up to run with me and I just learned last night that my friend Darren will be running it too, along with several others from my marathon training team.  I'm looking forward to having some friends along the route to cheer me on (especially since the Madrid fans will all be speaking Spanish and I won't know if they are cheering me on or not!) and to achieving this next goal in my training.

Six months ago, I would not have believed that a half marathon sounds like no problem.  I've never been one to run regularly, preferring to have a ball in front of me to motivate me to run, but regularly training with so many supportive people has really made me feel that I can do this!  While I only ran 10 miles this week and last week, my 8-10th miles were my fastest of the day.  Who would have believed that?

Several people have told me that they could never run a marathon and I just wanted to share that I am living proof that you can.  It was never a goal of mine to run a marathon and, while I think races are fun (I'm very goal oriented and having a finish line just in front of me is awesome!) I never enjoyed races that were longer that 3 miles.  But next Saturday, I will run 13.1 miles and I am VERY excited about it!

The fundraising is going great and I just had a taco feed to raise a little bit more for the battle, thanks to a generous donation from Whole Foods Redmond.  Thanks for your support, Whole Foods!  I have raised about $4000 so far and have just a little further to go.  Thanks to the many generous friends and family members and strangers who have helped me to raise so much money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Seven weeks until race day!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Remembering

Five years ago today, I said "I do" to the most wonderful man I have ever met.  While he is no longer with us, I am thankful to have had the years that I did with him.  Today, I am going to remember the very best of Tyler and the many blessings that we had.

Do me a favor and give an extra hug to your loved ones today -- just because you can!

Friday, February 10, 2012

An Easy Week

I'm very excited for my "easy week" this week. Out long run on Saturday is only 90 minutes long, so it is a "short" one. What universe do I live in now that running for an hour and a half is a short run? It blows my mind!

But... If you compare to last week's 2 hour run (with the same anticipated for the couple weeks after this one), this Saturday will be a comparatively easy one for me. I'm looking forward to actually being able to run strong throughout the long run.

Here is a picture of us after our 2 hour run last weekend. Isn't great to have so many teammates to cheer you on each week?


Thursday, February 9, 2012

TNT Auction

Just a few days left on our Team in Training auction...  If you haven't checked out the great stuff for sale yet, you can visit https://www.facebook.com/events/280572435294096/ to bid on bottles of wine, personal trainers, stamp sets, video games, gift cards, an iPod, a T-mobile cell phone, and MORE!

Whatever you bid will be a donation to the Team in Training participant that posted the item you bid on, so you get great stuff at a great price and you help us fight cancer at the same time!

Thanks so much to the supporters who have already gone out to bid -- we appreciate all of your help!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I was listening to a webinar on fundraising and the speaker was asked how much he had raised for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Hearing the question, I started to wonder how much we have raised. When I did the math, I realized that with your help, Team Firefly as a group has raised $51,960 since we founded the team in 2007! That money has been used to provide financial support to blood cancer patients, as well as funding promising research into cures. If you want to know more about how LLS uses the money we have donated, you can find out more at http://www.lls.org/#/aboutlls/financialinformation/

WOW! Thank you all so much for your help in raising funds to fight against the disease that stole Tyler from us. I could never have made this kind of impact without your help.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

How to Help without Giving Money

I have been blessed by very generous people, who continue to help me in my efforts to fight cancer.  But what if money is tight right now...  What can you do to help?  I thought the video in the link below gave a great idea of something we could do to help without costing a lot of money.  The girl in the video (a local Seattle girl) was saved by having a second transplant from an unrelated donor.  I can't help but think of what might have happened if Tyler had been able to find a match in the Bone Marrow registry.  Would he still be here?  Only 3 out of 10 patients currently find a match in the registry.  The best way to improve those odds is to get everyone we know to sign up and be willing to save somebody's life!

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/34107503/ns/today-today_health/t/woman-meets-stranger-who-saved-her-life/#.TytUN8gzCSo

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Longest Run

I am continuing my training and am amazed by the fact that I still go out and run each week.  I don't really like running (and still haven't hit that fabled "runner's high") but I went out again for a long run today and covered 8.3 miles.  I think this might have been my longest run ever.  As a high schooler, I ran a 12K and decided that the experience was far too painful to repeat!

But, as I have discovered over the last few months, everything becomes easier when you have a powerful cause and friends to help you along the way.  Most weeks, I join other Team in Training participants that are training for either the Madrid marathon on April 22nd or the Vancouver marathon on May 6th for our long run.  About 25-30 of us meet at 8am every Saturday morning at locations all around the city and go on increasingly longer runs.  I think that is my favorite part of participating in the Team in Training program.  Every Saturday morning, I have coaches and mentors to help me get better at running and stay inspired.

I truly appreciate all of the support that I have received so far -- both personal and financial support!  With a generous donation this weekend, I just hit the 50% mark in my fundraising.  Together we are funding the kinds of research that will help eradicate cancer deaths.  In fact, I was moved by a statement made by a relative who was offering a donation to my run.  She said that one of the reasons that she was contributing was because cancer and deaths from cancer seems like something we should be able to prevent.  I completely agreed with her!  Thanks for helping me support that dream.

Putting one foot in front of the other...

Mandy
To Make a Donation:  http://bledsoebattle.com

Friday, January 6, 2012

Why I Run

When people ask why I am running away to Madrid, I have to share my story about the Bledsoe Battle and the amazing man that I shared the battle with. While I couldn't fight the cancer myself, I can certainly do something to make a difference.

--> I'm running 26.2 miles to honor my husband and the courageous battle he fought against leukemia. When it gets hard and my body hurts, I will remember watching Tyler decide to fight each and every day.

--> I'm training up to 5 days a week to inspire others to help fight cancer with me. The dollars we raise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society are used to aid patients in their battle and to fund promising new research for blood cancers. I pray that each new discovery helps keep another patient from suffering and helps somebody reach remission.

--> I'm punishing my body with 5-6 hours of running in April in hopes that new research helps some other wife to keep her husband for a long and happy life. No one should lose a loved one to cancer and a happy marriage should get to last longer than 4 years.

--> I'm pushing myself further than I ever thought I could run because I have discovered that each of us has a wellspring of strength inside us. If my strength can be a weapon to help protect my loved ones, both those lost and those that are currently fighting, I will use it in any way I can.

--> I will ask each and every person I know if they will help me in this battle. I can do the run, but I need your help to raise the money to fight against blood cancers. Will you donate? Will you share this message with everyone you know to help me remember Tyler in the best way I can?

To donate, please visit http://bledsoebattle.com
To read the story of our battle, please visit http://bledsoebattle.blogspot.com

Thank you for joining me in this battle!

In loving memory of Tyler Bledsoe...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Look who is famous now...

I accidentally tripped across this video after watching a video about caregiving. My friend Hans is the star, talking about the point when he and Cynthia really felt in control of his CML and decided they were ready to move on with life again.

http://www.patientpower.info/video/a-clinical-trial-and-a-growing-family 

A second video was just posted and shared on Facebook about Hans.  Check out the revised version if you only have time for one:

http://www.patientpower.info/player/national-cml-society/#

Hans is such an inspiration and does lots of work on behalf of e CML Society, but I don't know how much of it he shares with others. I consider myself lucky to count him among my friends.

It's good to see that all of this research into CML drugs IS making a difference!  The drug that Hans is on is the Ariad drug that Tyler took last fall.  While it didn't make the right connections for Tyler, we were both so thankful that it did get Hans on the right path.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Running for Tyler - Saturday, January 7th

I just wanted to post an open invitation to attend my next marathon practice.  The January 7th run will be dedicated to Tyler's memory, so I wanted to invite anyone in the area to come out and join me at marathon practice that day.  We will be heading out for 50 minutes that day (at 8am in the Genesee area) and you are welcome to run or walk or any combination of the two.

If anyone wants to join me that day, just let me know in advance so that I can have my mentor bring a waiver for you to sign.

Thanks!