It is finished...
Jun 22, 2011 by Jolee Perez
After six months of training, fundraising, and a lot of praying, I write as one who has returned from Alaska with a medal. Oh, sure, I have some blisters, some chaffing, even a little bit of swelling in the ankles, but boy, oh, boy does this not compare to carrying my medal. I finished the great 26.2 mile marathon. I finished because Freddy couldn't.
This event has forever changed me. It was one of the hardest goals I've ever had to accomplish. It was one of the most emotional rides I've ever been on. And it was for a purpose much greater than I.
To those who have been on this journey with me, I thank you for all that you've done to support my endeavor. I thank you for the financial donations, the emotional support and encouragement and the ability to deal with me talking non-stop about this project for the past six months! Thank you for listening to Freddy's story. Thank you for letting me introduce him to you and help you understand why I ran. Thank you for being a part of the race for a cure, saving lives one mile at a time.
Below are a few pictures to share in the experience. I hope that some day you, too, will consider stepping out of your comfort zone in the name of something bigger than yourself and accomplishing a goal that you felt was nearly impossible. It was life changing for me and I'd do it again anyday.
Picture 1 - The Alaskan Full Marathon Team from the Rio Grande Valley
Picture 2 - Me along the course, approximately mile 19
Picture 3 - Finishers circle
Picture 4 - Team In Training Picture
Picture 5 - Alaska mountains with crystal blue frozen waters
Picture 6 - Alaskan terrain
Thirty-Five Days Away....
May 14, 2011 by Jolee Perez
Wow.. What a ride this has been. I am completely humbled to announce that as of Friday, I've met my fundraising goal and have surpassed $5,400. I did not do it alone. It was by His grace, through the hands of many friends in the community along with thier prayers, that this was accomplished. While the goal is met, we will still take donations over the next month as the cure has not been found yet. So, do feel free to continue the blessings.
As for the second part of this endeavor that I ventured into last January... I have at this point experienced some of the fun little "rewards" of running. I've lost two toe nails to date. (Bet you thought that would say pounds!) Gained several pounds (Bet you thought that was going to be a different word as well) and my body now reflects a schmorgisborg of colors, cuts, scratches, blisters and bruises from chaffing. Plus, let's throw in some very fun bouts with hives after the last few runs, and we'll have a complete list!
BUT IT'S BEEN SO MUCH FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These are my war wounds. These are my battle scars. These are my trophies, my way of shouting out from my inner soul to the world that I, a fluffy 31 year old, chose to train to run a complete marathon!
These "rewards" will also go away and be healed. But to a cancer patient, they may never get to experience a time that their battle scars are completely gone. They may never enter recovery and remission or complete healing. Their war wounds may go with them to the grave. So, I will rejoice in my battle scars because they are temporary and I had a choice to endure them. Cancer patients do not.
Today, I ran 20 miles in 5 hours and 15 minutes. It was the longest run I'll endure before I hit the Alaskan Trail in 35 days. I am beyond awe that I was allowed the strength to endure these long stretches of training and I am thankful that many of you have kept me inspired along the way. The next time you hear from me will be post event where I hope to bring you some photos, tales of an experience had and my take-a-ways from this amazing journey that I hope you one day get to experience. Until then...
Two Months Away!
Apr 19, 2011 by Jolee Perez
We're just two months away from the historic run of my life. On Sunday, I was thrilled to have broken my record by completing 14 miles in one run. I am filled with such gratitude at the strength that my Lord has given me to complete this physical challenge.
My financial challenge is awe inspiring as well. To know that I am now just under $1000 away from reaching my financial goal for this fundraising campaign is completely overwhelming. I've got just about twenty days left before my goal must be met and I believe it will be done.
My birthday is just around the corner, April 29th to be exact. As I sit here thinking about the fact that I'm turning 31, in the best shape of my life (I did just run 14 miles, remember?) and the happiest I've ever been, I can't help but to think of Freddy, who never turned 31. He died just short of his 31st birthday because we didn't have a cure. I am about to begin experiencing a year in my life that he should have been able to experience, more so because he had a wonderful wife and son to share it with. Thirty was too young to die.
I'm on the lookout. I'm on the lookout for the last 100 people who will donate $10 each so that I can fulfill my part in honoring Freddy and his testimony. I'm looking for the 100 people who will donate $10 to honor someone that they love who was impacted by these horrible blood diseases. I'm looking for 100 people who will donate $10 each because they want to give to a cause that not only has produced treatments for cancer, standardization among therapies, but also some of the leading treatment drugs for alzheimers and other conditions effecting millions of people daily. LLS is an amazing organization that exists because of the generosity of people like the 100 persons I am asking for.
You woke up today. Somebody else didn't. Please help.
3 Months Away as of Yesterday!
Mar 19, 2011 by Jolee Perez
I'm so amazed at the progress both financially and physically. It's so true that when you rely on God's strength, you can do much more than you ever thought.
Today, I completed 10 miles. I must confess that I had to speed walk about 5 miles of the 10, but that was primarily because my coaches said I was over training. (How funny is that? No one from High School will ever believe that! They saw me try to run back then!) I had run 4 miles up/down hills on Wednesday, then 6.4 miles on Thursday and another 6.4 on Friday. They told me that my runs during the week should be a bit shorter and more cross training instead. That's why my legs were pretty tired today, but I still made it the whole ten miles!
Fundraising has now hit 50%, with another $300 or so in donations anticipated this week. I did some streetcorner panhandling today with a group from the team. We had a lot of fun and so many generous drivers out in the McAllen area.
Now - it's on to my big, big, big event! I'm hosting two nights of speed dating (March 30th and 31st). It's called the 25 for $25 (25 dates for $25 dollars). If you are in the McAllen area and are single, you will not want to miss this! It's going to be a lot of fun, along with door prizes, drinks and appetizers. If you are interested, email me and I'll send you the flyer. What a great atmosphere and all for a great cause!!
Successful Day of Fundraising!
Mar 14, 2011 by Jolee Perez
Today was our fundraising garage sale. What a day! I was setting up the tables way before the sun came up. Enjoyed reminding shoppers of why we are fundraising and why we are crazy enough to do the things we do (like my recent election to be a bone marrow donor if needed). It's all because of Leukemia and Lymphoma, and its efforts to take away those we love way too soon.
Below are some snapshots of the days events. With the help of generous donated items, I was able to raise over $550! Everyone that helped me in one way or another should pat themselves on the back! Job well done and I am so, so very appreciative of the support.
Pictures 1 - 3:
Me and Andy setting up and working event. Again, he's my biggest supporter!
Pictures 4 - 5:
Our team's Honored Hero, Jared whose first years of life were only known by his treatments, doctors & hospital visits. Praise the Lord, he is currently in remission!
Just over 3 months away!
Mar 04, 2011 by Jolee Perez
Thought I would give a bit of an update as to how my endeavor has been progressing. I'm excited to say that I'm about 30% completed with my fundraising goal. That doesn't mean I can sit back and relax just yet... I still have about $4000 to raise! Wow!
To do that, I'm excited for next Saturday's garage sale (March 12th). I truly hope that you if you live in the RGV, that you'll try to stop by. It's on McColl between Freddy Gonzalez & 107 in Edinburg. I've been collecting goodies for several weeks from some great peope and I'm just sure you'll love giving some of the items a new home, especially knowing that your donation is going straight to a great cause.
As for the running, I've been able to train 2-3 days a week, but am striving to hit 6 days this coming week. Given that I'm a bit fluffier than my fellow teammates, my work has to be a bit harder to achieve my goal of 10 minute mile averages over a long distance haul. To show you how dedicated I am, I allowed our cable network to actually video tape me running!! Yikes! But, all in the name of finding a cure, right?
I am overwhelmed at the emotional and financial support that I've recieved so far, and I pray that it continues at a steady pace as I try to focus more on my physical training and a bit less on the fundraising. I hope you stay tuned for my next update in about a month!!
Pictured is our team after a Saturday morning run..
A bit about Freddy...
Jan 29, 2011 by Jolee Perez
Born October 30, 1977, Freddy's first experience with cancer was at the age of 16 when it claimed the life of his mother. She spoke the love of Christ into his heart daily and instilled in him the love of the Word of God. He kept it in his heart throughout his days.
Freddy moved out of state at 18 and began going wherever the work would lead. Along the way, friends he met became family and together they decided not to live a boring life. Let's just say that Freddy lived some amazing, adventurous stories; Some so outrageous, even his wife still has trouble believing they were true. She, to this day, is having stories confirmed by Freddy's friends as they reminisce of a life well lived.
Freddy met his beautiful wife when she was just a senior in High School. On February 21, 1995, Juanita began dating the love of her life. Young love proved challenging as they wove through the strands of emotional ups and downs, but they stayed true to their heart and on October 28, 2000, Freddy knelt on one knee in front of Juanita's family, asking for her hand in marriage. On June 28, 2002, Freddy and Juanita married. A few years later the couple welcomed their son Gael into the world on June 15, 2005. Freddy settled down in one place, taking on the role of caregiver to their newborn as Juanita recovered from her delivery and later went back to work at the school where she taught. Freddy loved his new role as daddy.
In December of 2005, Freddy began experiencing ankle pain. Believing it would go away, he waited a bit as most of us tend to do until he could no longer ignore the swelling and pain any longer. He went to Reynosa, Mexico to seek help from a doctor as he did not have health insurance in the U.S. There, he was misdiagnosed with tendinitis. By January 2006, he had not only required crutches, but couldn’t walk any further. Treated again, they believed his continued swelling to be due to an infection that resulted in antibiotics. When that didn’t ease the pain or swelling, blood work was done.
Juanita was contacted by the doctor where her world was shaken. The doctor said that Freddy had an aggressive Leukemia that he would not be able to treat in Reynosa. Juanita then had to not only process this information internally, but then relay this to Freddy himself. Freddy took the news well; concerned only of his family and whatever he had to do to get better. On January 28, 2006, Freddy checked into MD Anderson and was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with a Philadelphia Chromosome. A blood clot had spread all the way from his foot to his rib cage on the right side.
Freddy never asked why or doubted God’s divine plan. He gave thanks continually for being alive. He completed his treatment at MD Anderson and his regular treatments back home after some difficulty finding help within his local area. Freddy beat the odds of adult cases by completing treatment and attained remission by his birthday in October of 2006 where he celebrated cancer free.
During this year, Freddy took care of his family, caring for Gael during all of his treatment. He began searching for a church home where his family could grow in their relationship with the Lord. This is where I met Freddy and Juanita. They came in April of 2007 to Cornerstone Church in McAllen, Texas, where it felt like home to them both. They plugged in right away and I was able to be a part of a small group with them. Being a part of the group with Freddy and Juanita, I was truly inspired by this man and his family who taught me to live out your purpose to its fullest potential each and every day. Freddy wanted nothing more than to share the love of Christ with others. His passion to tell someone of the grace, mercy and unconditional love of his Father radiated from him. This became one of the most inspirational things I have ever witnessed.
In November of 2007, Freddy came out of remission. This time, Freddy had a lot more difficulty finding the help he needed to get treatment at home. The Rio Grande Valley on the border of Texas does not have the resources to help as one might find in Houston. Freddy fought a courageous battle, always, ALWAYS, giving praise and knowing what he wanted. He wanted someone to meet Christ as a result of this experience. He even told his wife from the ICU room prior to losing ability to speak that he would do it all over again as long as someone else received Christ into their heart as a result.
Freddy’s last few days were spent in the hospital surrounded by his music, his scripture and his friends and family. He was never afraid of dying and had been prepared since his first diagnosis in 2006. After losing ability to speak, he would respond to the “how you doing?” questions by pointing up towards heaven, ensuring everyone knew where his joy could be found. On January 10, 2008, two days after the doctors had said Freddy had lost all ability to hear and his heart should have stopped, a special nurse told Juanita that Freddy was waiting for her to say goodbye. Juanita took his hand, put her arm around him, and told him that she and Gael would be fine because the Lord would take care of them. She then felt him squeeze her hand as he went to be with Jesus.
This is a glimpse into the legacy of a life well lived.
My Fundraising Page
Jan 30, 2011
I'm running because Freddy can't. I'm running because there are so many out there who are in the battle of thier life against blood cancer. I'm running to save lives.
I'm training to participate in an endurance event as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Team In Training. All of us on Team In Training are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives. Those battling these illnesses are the real heroes on our team, and we need your support to cross the ultimate finish line - a cure!
I will be traveling to Alaska to participate in the Mayors Marathon on June 18th. That's 26.2 miles. That's 138,435 feet. That's 1,661,220 inches. That's scary. But what a patient with cancer has to go through, what they have to think about, what they have to overcome - that is much more scary to me than having these two feeble legs of mine carry my weight that far.
Please consider making a donation to support my participation in Team In Training and help advance LLS's mission. I hope to share my story of participation, along with Freddy's legacy with you over the next few months. This story is personal to me and I hope to be authentic and real with you as I allow my heart and head to experience all that is in store. My own family has a long heritage of Lymphoma and Leukemia and I can't help but to wonder if I'm running to help save my own life someday.
Please be sure to read the post on Freddy Garcia so that you can get a small fraction of a glimpse of what I was allowed to see. Perhaps you know your own Freddy. I'd love to hear about your story. I'm running for everyone, I'm running for anyone and I'm running because I can.
Picture One Below
Me and my most amazing husband and biggest supporter.
Picture Two Below
My first generous giver towards the cause and my adoptive (little?) brother.