Sunday, December 1, 2013

I Love This Video!

Take a moment to watch this short video.  It brought back a lot of memories of the day when Nash was born.  He's such an integral part of our lives and considered such a blessing that I think I forgot what those first few days were like for me after he was born.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

More Than Winning

Last month in October the children and I were invited to a soccer practice with team Shazam!
This team of 10 and 11 year old girls had been having an incredible undefeated season. Their coach, David Child wanted to teach the girls that they could do a lot more than win games together. He came up with the idea of having these girls put their talents and efforts into working together as a group to raise money for the RODS orphan Lark.
They invited us to come to one of their practices so they could meet Nash and learn a little more about what RODS does to try to help orphans with down syndrome find families. The girls were so excited! They gave us the warmest welcome and made my kids feel like they were famous. Brynlee, Nash and Ridge had so much fun getting to know these sweet girls while running around the soccer field. Nash was heaven with all of their attention!

At the end of practice their coach brought the team together and they told us their goal of raising $1000.00 for Lark during the month of October as a team. That meant each girl had an individual goal of raising at least $100.00. Their coach also encouraged them to create awareness by telling as many people as they possibly could about these orphans while they were fund raising.
I left the field in awe of their kindness and enthusiasm. I knew these girls were a whole lot more than good soccer players and I couldn't wait to see what they would do!
Now fast forward to November when they invited our family to come to their end of the season celebration.
Once again they fed us, made us feel welcome,
and had Nash laughing like a mad man!
Their coach put together a fun video of their season and then he spoke about the effort the girls had put into their fundraising. It was touching to hear some of the stories...One of the girls had gone from door to door almost every day after school collecting mostly 1 to 5 dollar donations and had raised over $500.00. Two girls had gone to a high school football game together where they found $72.00. They turned the money in but after two weeks no one had claimed it so the money was split and given to them. Both of them were happy to add their $36.00 to the collection for Lark. One of the girls and her little sister entered a pumpkin carving contest, they both won $5.00 which they insisted be given for Lark. These wonderful dedicated selfless girls dug deep and reached outside of their comfort zones which helped them to more than double their initial goal of $1000.00!
They presented RODS racing with a check for $2105.00!

How incredible and inspiring! A team of twelve 10 and 11 year old girls raised over $2000.00 in one month to help a little girl they have never met! I love that you can see the look of joy and accomplishment on their faces in these pictures. These girls learned about so much more than soccer this season. I am sure this is a season they will never forget! When they come together again next season Lark will be home running around with her family!
Thank you team Shazam for helping bring Lark one step closer to home!
And a huge thank you to your awesome coaches, Dave and Alan!
What great role models you all are!
 Go Shazam!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Innocence and Strength of Our Children

Here's another great event that took place a few weeks ago.  I met Jed Grunig 11 years ago.  We became friends and have stayed in touch ever since.  Jed joined RODS this year and had a wonderful idea on how to raise some funding for our RODS Orphan. 

Jed is the principal at Bridger Elementary.  Here is a summary of the event.

RODS Fundraiser -- Bridger Elementary

Bridger Elementary school is  a K-5 school located in Logan, Utah.  The school serves a population of students that has 85% of students receiving free lunch, and 50% minority students. 

As a school we set a goal to raise a total of $2,000.  We felt it was important that we not only raise money for our focus on Leadership, but to also raise money that would go to helping others.   Many of our faculty didn’t think we would be able to reach our goal, but we set out to get it done.

To raise the money we first formed a committee of teachers with representatives from each grade level, and  a parent representative.  We first came up with a list of incentives that students would receive if they brought in different amounts of money.  We tried to pick things that would be highly motivating for students, and would add much to our expenses.  Below is a list of prizes:





Bring in



Chic-Fil-A Lunch


Spirit Sleeve



  Silly String War
$5.00   Aquatic Center Family Evening (Family of 5)




  Wii dance party

Whatever amount a student brought in more then $1.00 they would receive all the prizes bellow that number.  For example, if a student were to bring in $11.00 they would get the Spirit Sleeves, Silly String War, Aquatic Center, and Wii Dance Party.  

Our expenses were $500 to rent the aquatic center, $1 per can of Silly String, and $4 per pair of Spirit Sleeves.  The PTA donated half the cost of the Aquatic Center so we actually only had an expense of $250.   Chic-fil-a donated the cost of the lunches.

The committee then planned an assembly that was designed to get the kids excited about the project and teach the students about the prizes. Helping them get familiar with RODS and the work we are doing.  Brady came and did a great job showing pictures and video that really inspired the kids to do a great job.  After the assembly a group of Harley riders, and Hot Rod Cars did a drive by, showing their support for what we are doing and to the students.  They parked their cars and motorcycles on the playground and allowed the students to take a close look.  The group also got us started by donating our first $100. 

After the assembly the kids were SUPER excited.  I was surprised though by what they were excited about.  A couple of students told me they weren’t excited about the prizes, they were excited about helping the kids. 

We had volunteers from the PTA go around each morning to collect the money and we would count it in the office.  We tracked our progress on a big “thermometer” we created and updated it daily.

The first couple of days we did pretty well, but things really started picking up when we sent home RODS pass along cards.  It gave the students something to give to their friends and relatives that they were talking to about the fundraiser that showed it was legitimate. 

It also helped when we started passing out the Spirit Sleeves that got the kids really excited.

A 5th grade girl that was given up by her mom a year ago, and is now under the custody of her 20-year-old sister was very inspirational.  She didn’t have $20.00 to donate so she built a lemonade stand and worked for a week, making $28 all of which she donated to the fundraiser.  We had families bringing in money that I KNOW didn’t have $20 they could afford to give, but they wanted to help.  Several days I cried as I counted the money in my office after school.  Thinking about the sacrifices these kids were making was very moving. 

Another student told her teacher that he would donate $1 for any student that couldn’t bring in any money so that their whole class would be able to go to the Wii Dance Party. 

I can’t begin to describe how proud I am of my school, staff and students.  These kids, most of whom have so little at home were so generous and caring.  We hit our goal almost exactly!  After expenses we were able to donate $1,000 to RODS!


Angels Among Us...

A few weeks ago we had our annual race in Meridian.  One of the race participants had a special surprise prepared for us that day.

Earlier this year Brooklyn McKenzie had a dream not unlike many grade school kids, which was to go to Disneyland.  She had a plan on how to do it as well.  She would pick berries from the family garden and make jam and jelly to sell.  It was sure to work!

Shortly after her endeavors started she made a decision that most kids wouldn't, she decided to forego the dream of Disneyland and instead raise money for a little orphan who has Down syndrome in South America she had never met so that he could have a family and so that he could someday go to Disneyland too. 

Brooklyn labored all summer picking the berries, making the jam and then going door to door telling the story of this little orphaned boy and what she was doing to help.  One jar at a time she started to make a difference.  The difference was small at first then it grew.  By the time she was done, she had collected $562!  After her story ran on KSL, a couple in St. George donated enough to make it $842! 

Here's another amazing part of this story.  As a team, RODS has been raising funding for months for Vaughn, but we weren't quite there yet.  Our goal was to raise $15,000.  After having dozens of athletes all over the country racing all summer we had made it to $14,500.  That's when I got a call from Brooklyn's mom. 

She put the phone on speaker and handed it to Brooklyn.  I heard an innocent little voice tell me what she had been up to.  She even recited the script she had prepared to help promote the jam.  In the end she told me the amount that she had raised.  Chills came over me as I knew that this was just enough to get Vaughn over the $15,000 mark!  It seemed fitting that a 7 year old would be the one to get our little 7 year old orphan to the goal.

This experience has reminded me of something I firmly believe which small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

Because of Brooklyn's example, we have made her an honorary member of RODS.  Brooklyn's example as well as some other experiences and suggestions from team members I have had recently has spurred on the thought of starting a Junior RODS team.  There are many kids that could make a difference similar to Brooklyn.  This would be a great experience for them and for us to take part in. 

I have a feeling that Brooklyn's work is going to turn out to be something that neither her or her family could have imagined.  Again, by small and simple things are great things brought to pass...

Thank you Brooklyn McKenzie for following that ever small voice that whispered to you "That Vaughn needed a family more than you needed to go to Disneyland."  Because of your willingness to follow this prompting you truly made the world a better place!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

2nd Annual RODS Race for Vaughn

We've had some incredible fundraising events over the last year and a half.  As I look back at all the different ideas I can easily pick out the RODS Fun Run as one of my all-time favorites.  That's why I was a little bummed when my career took me down a different path that didn't include me living in Meridian earlier this year. 
When I moved from Idaho to Utah I knew that the likelihood of being able to do another community race in Meridian probably was very slim.  With my new job, the move and everything else we had going on with RODS it just seemed like it was going to be too much for me to handle.  At least that was my mindset until later that summer went on I got a phone call from Angela Redding to talk about doing another race.
As many of you who may have followed this blog over the last 18 months have come to find out, Angela Redding is a RAINMAKER when it comes to events.  She was the brainchild behind the snow cones for Kona campaign.  She also organized the Tyler Stenson concert last year as well as was a major part of the first RODS Fun Run.  So when Angela called to talk about organizing another race despite the fact that I lived in another state I listened.  It only took a few minutes of conversation to convince me that this was a great idea. 
I knew from the onset that I wasn't going to be able to attend the event.  This was hard for me but I've also come to the realization over the last few months that the only way this organization is going to grow to it's fullest potential is if individuals like Angela are given opportunities to take the ball and run with it with or without me.  And run with it she did!
Similar to last year, Angela decided to do some "multi-tasking" for the race.  "In addition to saving orphans, why not help a young man out with his Eagle Scout Project", she said.  That young man's name is Jonny Holm.  He did a fantastic job in taking charge and organizing this race alongside Angela. 
In addition to Angela and Jonny's efforts, there were some incredible people in the community who stepped up and volunteered their time and talents as well.  Special thanks (in no particular order) to Docena Holm, Tracy Coltrin, Randy Stenson, Kerry Stenson, Shauna Jenks, Chelsea Rippy, Tiffany Erickson, Leah Stenson, Sheena Lindholm, Carrie Paternoster, Alexis Jorgenson, Lori Jorgenson, Kim Redding, Michael Nelson, Maria Hoagland, Becki Goodwin, Brian Preece, all the timers, Erin Larkin, Rachel Jessen and the activity day girls signs and especially to ALL OUR RACERS WHO CAME OUT FOR THE BIG DAY!!!  As well, I'd also like to send a special thanks to FRANZ, our special guest who once again was the life of the event!
I'd also like to thank all of those who sponsored the event.  If you have any chance to use any of their professional services, PLEASE DO SO!  These individuals are the reason why there was so much good that was accomplished during this race!
In the end, this event played a major part in RODS Racing reaching our ultimate goal of raising $15,000 for Vaughn, a young orphan in Columbia who has Down syndrome.  This money will go towards the adoption costs in bringing Vaughn home! 
One housekeeping item is the race shirts or better yet, lack there of.  We had over 60% percent of our participants sign up less than 8 days before the race.  We LOVE the participation but it put us in a bit of a pickle with race shirts that had been ordered.  The good news is we have a big order in for more shirts that will be done the week of October 10th.  As soon as we get the shirts we'll be in touch to get them to you.  Sorry for the delay!
RODS Racing has continued to grow in a way that nobody could imagine just a short 18 months ago.  My son Nash was the original inspiration for RODS.  However, that inspiration now comes from so many others as well.  It's individuals like Angela and all the other volunteers for the race that personally take on the call to action to do something outside of their comfort zone with the intention to simply do good in the world that make RODS Racing what it is today.  It's because of these selfless acts that a young boy has a chance at life now. 
For that I want to say one last THANK YOU to each of you for being who you are and doing what you do for Orphans with Down Syndrome.  Here's a few pictures from the days events.  You can see all of the race pictures at HISSHEENA.SMUGMUG.COM  Huge thanks to Sheena Lindholm for volunteering her professional photography services for the event!
Keep training and keep up the great work!