Sunday, July 25, 2010

A day for Hanna (but first a word about Team Kermit)

Today the community will pitch in to throw a fundraising BBQ for Hanna at the lake. I plan on documenting the event for this blog. With this said, I wanted to take some time to talk about pediatric cancer. In the past few years I have had a few friends and neighbors loose a child to cancer. Cancer is a battle that is never easy to swallow, but in the case of a child, it resonates in a different manner.

I spent the past week in Maine with my friend Pete. Upon returning home I found my son had shaved his head and my daughter told me that Irie and Hanna had both cut their hair to donate it to "Locks of Love".How incredible it is that Hanna, with all she is going through, donated her hair? I only wish that Chris had thought of St Baldrick's before taking the buzzer to his head, after all he once donated his hair to "Locks of Love". As many of you know I shaved my head last year and I plan on doing it again soon. The organization raises money for grants for research. This is important because it allows research that would normally be deemed to remote to pursue as funding is tight. What I learned about research practices in the past few years has been eye opening. Most of the time research is funded by a consensus. Often projects have to have a HUGE bandwagon to get the funding. Some of the smaller projects may never get off the ground no matter how promising they may seem. The little guy with the fantastic idea has to really sell his work to the community, and hope that it is noticed. Its like you or I running for President without being a prominent politician.

A few years ago, I watched my neighbors and friends Gina and Jim and their girls watch their 6 year old son/brother slip away, loosing his fight with brain cancer. He was the first boy born into a family of six girls. He was such a sweet child, so interested in fire trucks and butterflies and everything six year olds are interested in. A few days after he lost his battle with cancer I rode my bike across CT to set a record with prayers for Jimmy written all over my legs. Jimmy was a very big part of this community despite his young age. My heart was broken.

Exactly one day before, my friends Steve, Ellen and Adam were beginning the grieving process for their son/brother too, who had lost his battle with brain cancer as well. I didn't know Jared, but I feel very connected to him in certain ways. I think its because he went to Alfred University to study Art. He would have graduated the same year that Justin started at Alfred. I often wonder if they would have known each other that year. He was granted his BFA postmortem. I remember seeing one of Jared's pots published in a book earlier this year, and suddenly being hit with the enormity of these losses.

Jared was treated at Dana Farber Hospital at the JIMMY FUND CLINIC, which is the pediatric clinic within the hospital. It is a place where Steve, Ellen, Adam and Jared found hope and support in dealing with Jared's illness. Since then the Branfman's have set up a fund within the Jimmy Fund for Pediatric cancer research called the Sunflowers for Life fund which supports research for cranial and spinal tumors.

Over the past three years Steve and I have built a friendship that most would classify as one of those that would be counted on one hand. We have a great deal in common. He is a potter, parent, HS teacher, avid cyclist and from Bayside Queens, where I spent the first year and a half post college. I think of how supportive he has been in regards to many aspects of my life. He often pushes me to reach for the stars. I am sure that this has more to do with his observation of what my character demands. This year I had planned on joining Steve, Ellen and Adam in riding my bike from Sturbridge, Ma to Provencetown as part of Team Kermit during the Pan Mass Challenge. I hadn't done a charity ride in a few years and thought that joining them this year would be perfect way to thank them for their friendship as well as utilize my bike. Unfortunately, in my quest to better myself as an artist (thanks to Steve's ENCOURAGEMENT), I have found myself in an exhibition in Korea at the time of this year's ride. I will be on a grand adventure across the Pacific. In any case I have decided to participate as a virtual rider. I hope that you can help.


Jientje said...

Thanks for your kind comment on my blog!

K Pugliano said...

You amaze and inspire me with all that you do.

I love you!

Can't believe Korea is just a week away! :)