Racing Towards the Finish
Dec 23, 2012 by Ashley Balavender
The past month has had its ups and downs. I think it's time for an update!
The FUN in Fundraising
My Connecticut fundraiser was a huge success. Many of the donations are still being processed, but I am happy to report that I have surpassed my fundraising goal! I have to give most of the credit to my mother Karen and my aunt Laurie for all of their hard work organizing this event. It was a lovely afternoon honoring my grandfather Richard Sakowicz with family and friends. I would like to thank all of those who couldn't make it, but sent in generous donations. The response was remarkable!
Remembering Richi at my CT fundraiser
On a similar note, I spent this Friday night raising money for Hurrican Sandy relief. My very talented friends Jamie Stellini, Liam Baum and I rode the NYC subways singing Christmas carols in a three-part harmony and passing the Santa hat. We were surprised to find so many people excited to donate. Back in Astoria, we caroled around to local bars. At the end of a few hours, we had raised $700! Jamie was able to secure a double match from Mutual of America, bringing us up to $2,100. We are so excited, and the money has already been sent to Save the Children of NYC.
Warming up & counting our funds after wassailing!
While I have reached my fundraising goal, I am always happy to help my teammates. So last night, I offered a date with myself up for auction to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. All I will say is that it was a nerve-wracking experience, but totally worth it.
So Close, Yet so Far
While my fundraising efforts have been successful, I can't say the same about my training. After weeks of physical therapy for a heel injury, I finally got back on the street at the New York Road Runners Ted Corbitt Classic 15k. It was my first road race, and the first long run during which I ate. It was exciting and all things considered, I didn't do too bad. I finished the 9.3 miles in about an hour and a half, with a 9:40 pace. I may have pushed it a bit much however, and strained my knee. The excruciating ice-bath I took afterwards helped a bit, but I have been benched once again by my physical therapist. With less than a month until my races, I am itchin to get back to group training sessions!
Cold but ready to run in Central Park
Why We Run
I am happy to announce that the Durham-Middlefield Patch website posted a nice article about my efforts. It gives a more in-depth look at Team in Training. Click here to read it.
Finally, it is with a broken heart that I give you one example of why we run to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This weekend a little girl from my hometown lost her battle with Leukemia. Brenna was only five years old, and her nickname was "Bean." You can read more about Brenna here.
It's hard to find the words to describe how powerless one feels against diseases like leukemia after it has forced a sweet, little girl and her family to suffer so much pain. All we can do is offer our support, be thankful for those we love and try to find a cure. This is what Team in Training is all about, and I am so grateful to be a part of it. If you haven't yet, please join me in the LLS mission of finding a cure and helping those who suffer.
An Amazing Way to Recommit
Nov 12, 2012 by Ashley Balavender
Recommitment is this Wednesday, and I've already submitted my paperwork. This means I will be officially signed up for my race and MUST meet my fundraising goal. It is an exciting and nerve-wracking time. I am entering Phase Two of my training, focusing on strength and speed. Since I'm ramping up my running, I've decided to take a leap with fundraising as well and have recommited to raise a minimum of $3,700. This is it folks!
I'm scared, but I couldn't be more excited after my experience with Team in Training this weekend. On Saturday, I joined over 100 alumni and current TNT participants to spend the day helping people in Staten Island. It was an emotionally and physically draining day, but it was the most rewarding Saturday I have EVER spent.
Everyone brought supplies, and we met at the Staten Island Ferry at 8 a.m. Some of us were deployed by Rebuild Staten Island and others walked around simply asking if people needed help. I personally helped one man empty the waterlogged contents of his mother's home, helped another man rip out all of his carpeting and tore down dry wall, bagged it and hauled it out for a woman who couldn't stand to watch. The most important part of the day was talking to these people and offering emotional support and a smile. I still can't believe how strong and kind everyone was in the wake of losing their homes.
Later in the afternoon a group of us delivered food and water to people before running the 7 miles back to the ferry. Less than halfway through the run through Staten Island, I realized I might be pushing it...but in the end, I felt great about the whole day. I'm learning that this whole experience is about pushing yourself, to do something good for yourself and to do somethng great for others.
Fundraising: Hitting the Halfway Mark
Nov 04, 2012 by Ashley Balavender
I am thrilled to report that I am halfway to my fundraising goal, and I have so many people to thank. Here's a little recap of my fundraising efforts over the last few weeks.
Dans la Cuisine: Private Dinner
As my first fundraising event, this was a great success. Eight of my close friends donated generously for a private dinner cooked by chef Eric Milley in his home. We shared rousing political discourse and laughter over a six-course meal and several bottles of wine. I was quite proud of myself to contribute to the dessert course with my first tarte tatin. I want to thank Brad Lee Thomason, Jamie Stellini, Jena Ellenwood, Charlie McConnell, Nicole Carnaggio, Katrin Hier, Angie Knudson and Josh Bernhard for a magical evening. The dinner brought in $600, which after cost resulted in a $410 donation. I think we would ALL like to thank Eric Milley for donating his time and incredible skills to provide such a delicious seasonal meal.
Frightening Friday: Halloween Bash
I can't thank my new roomie Lauren Cantor enough for the success of this event. I was resistant to have a Halloween party, but when she offered to donate a keg and make it for charity I couldn't refuse. She also gave me the ingenious idea of dressing as the road runner. Thank you to all of our friends who showed up in costume to support my fundraising efforts. I had a blast! The party raised $235.
I'd like to also give a shout out to Mike Free, who couldn't make it to my events but donated generously nonetheless. And I'd like to thank Lauren Collier who heard what I was doing at a party and gave me a donation minutes after I met her. All I can do is thank you all over and over again. My heart is so full because of your love and support.
Oct 22, 2012 by Ashley Balavender
This week is an exciting one as far as fundraising is concerned. I am thrilled to have reached almost $1,000 over the weekend and to be over 25% of the way to my goal!
I'd like to take a moment to say thank you to all the family, friends and co-workers from all over who have generously donated AND offered support. It is empowering and humbling to think about the impact we are making on people's lives. Also, thank you to my anonymous donor. Whoever you are, I appreciate your help.
I'm also pumped about this week because I'm hosting my first two fundraising events: an intimate dinner in the home of a professional chef and a halloween bash in my own backyard. Thinking of ways to raise money has stretched my creative muscles over the last month, and I am eager to see how these two very different events turn out. Please stay tuned for details about future events taking place in Astoria and Connecticut.
I will post photos and info on the success of this week's events. In the meantime I'd like to extend one more thank you to the people who are donating their time and talents to make them possible. I feel very blessed!
Oct 03, 2012 by Ashley Balavender
I just got home from the Team in Training season kick-off in the city, and I just have to quickly say that it was emotional and inspiring. Before the season has even begun, the NYC team has collectively raised $81,000! We got to hear from our coaches about the physical challenge we are about to embark on, and I met my mentor who is already giving me some great fundraising tips.
But the most important part of the evening was hearing from cancer patients and survivors who are participating. They each told their stories and talked about the amazing work that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) is doing. One woman, who has had Chronic Myeloid Leukemia for eight years talked about how LLS has helped her pay for her $6,000/month medication and $500/month deductible. Another women, in remission from Lymphoma for 10 years, explained how helpful LLS volunteers were throughout her chemotherapy treatments. They all made clear that the fundraising we are participating in is not only contributing to finding treatments and a cure, but it's also helping patients everyday in a very concrete way. One of the most inspiring statements of the evening: "Running is the opposite of cancer."
I am so excited to help through both fundraising and volunteering! I will write about it all along the way. I'll leave with one last thing. If you haven't seen this video, it went viral back in May. It was made by a 22 year-old who was just diagnosed with leukemia. If this isn't inspiring, I truly don't know what is: