Monday, April 26, 2010

Ramapo College Dance Marathon

Well, last Friday, the 23rd of April, we participated in our first ever Dance Marathon, held at Ramapo College in Mahwah, NJ. Sponsored by Mr. Cupcakes, Panda Buffet, and many others, this marathon was organized by the students at the college to help benefit the patients of Children's Specialized Hospital, a Children's Miracle Network affiliate.

Mackenzie & Michael were in school all day long, and we left as soon as they got off the bus for the long ride up to Mahwah. I wish I could express how truly grateful I am for Nicole Fulmino, she always takes the very best care of us! She is our CMN Representative, and she made sure to tell us that there was going to be PLENTY of food for the kids, and she hooked us up with a room and free breakfast at the local Courtyard Marriott in Mahwah so we didn't have to drive home in the middle of the night. We'd be a mess without her!

As I said, we had never been to a Dance Marathon before, so we were not sure what to expect. We arrived and ate dinner with the college kids, walked around a bit to see what was what, and then things started to pick up! Our MC, Kristina, started us off and showed our nomination video to the participants. I got up and said just a few words, truly just expressing my thanks to everyone for all they were doing for our kids and others like them. You could tell by looking at the expressions on their faces as they watched our video how much it really brought it home for them.

We did a choreographed dance, there was a tug-o-war, group Twister, a Guitar Hero competition, and a Dance-Off that was judged by our wonderful Miss New Jersey, Ashley Schaffer. One of the Westpoint Cadets even grabbed up Michael in his wheelchair and they started a Conga Line! When I say that these kids were out of this world, I mean it!

Not only did we have a ton of fun playing games and dancing the night away, but we also got to hang out with the 2009 NJ Champion Family, the Clutters. They have been so kind to us, and have really showed us the ropes and been a great support to us at all the events. It means a lot to Mackenzie to have Caitlin there, too.

We also met the Riccio family, a wonderful Children's Specialized Family that has endured so much, and has really come out above it all! I think everyone became fast friends!

I will have a photo uploaded later today, but for now, enjoy the video that MACKENZIE created (with a little extra taping done by her mom! :) Mackenzie has created a YouTube account to document her adventures as a Champion Child! Check it out and pass it on!

Our next event is our big KICK-OFF! Yes, finally, we will be going to the North Bergen Wal*Mart for Mackenzie & Michael's formal announcement of their year as the Champions Across American for New Jersey. That will be May 6th! May 7th, we have a Meet & Greet Breakfast at SAMS Club in Freehold, and May 8th, we will be at two Costco's for Meet & Greets, one in Brick and the other in Manahawkin....all of this leads up to more mid-May events, and our big trip to WASHINGTON, D.C.!!! The kids are starting to get really excited and are counting the days. Michael is so siked to meet Obama, while Mackenzie is excited to meet all the other kids! It's going to be fabulous, we can't even wait!

Hope this blog finds you all well! See you soon!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Early Show on CBS

Yesterday, we had the fabulous opportunity to be on The Early Show on CBS. We were asked by Children's Miracle Network, a little over a week ago, if we wanted to appear to help support Dairy Queen, one of the largest sponsors that CMN has. Dairy Queen was promoting the 25th Birthday of the Blizzard, while traveling to 25 different cities in the US & Canada to give away free Blizzard treats and create awareness for Children's Miracle Network. The tour leads up to August 5th, which is Miracle Treat Day, a day where with a donation to CMN, you get a free Blizzard! It is the largest fundraiser that Dairy Queen has for CMN.

We all went to sleep as early as possible here in NJ on Thursday night, because we knew that we were going to have to get up VERY early for the ride to NYC. My father was nice enough to drive us there, as I am not too good about driving in the city.

At about 4am, my husband got the kids out of bed, and Michael jumped up and shouted "ICE CREAM!". He knew that today was DQ day! We dressed our sleepy heads and headed out into the dark of the early morning for what proved to be an easy ride to New York.

Of course, with our luck being what it is, we wound up being in the city on the ONLY day of the week where there was rain! But, we all smiled anyway, because we knew we were there for a good cause!

The show starts at 7am, but the first pan of the crowd does not happen until 7:30am. The great thing was, at exactly 7:31am, the rain stopped! We were all so happy! It was only a bit chilly, and we hung in there! We were surrounded by some Dairy Queen Franchise Owners, who were the greatest people. We met, Chad, the driver of the Blizzardmobile, who told us his stories of life in L.A. We spoke to Maria, who was one of the P.R. people for Dairy Queen, and she really made things happen.

Mackenzie wound up being on TV for most of the time that they took video outside with the crowd. She was in a great spot. When Dave Price, the weatherman and reporter for CBS & The Early Show came out and directed the news to the local weather, they zoomed right in on Michael and we got a great shot. It was a fantastic experience for them and for me & my Dad. Dave was so kind, and even came back out after the show so that he could get in a picture with Michael. I was really impressed with what a nice person he was.

We were asked if we wanted to go to Children's Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ to see the Blizzardmobile in person from 1130-1pm, but truthfully, I was just SO tired that we decided to go home and take the rest of the day to relax. The kids were given free t-shirts and we hung around in them all day and had a nice time as a family.

Next up is the Dance Marathon in Ramapo College on April 23rd! CMN has even put us up at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Mahwah, NJ for the night to make us more comfortable. It is going to be a fantastic time!!!!!

(In photo: Dave Price from CBS & The Early Show, alongside Mackenzie, Michael, Caitlin (NJ Champion 2009) Chad, and Dairy Queen Franchise Owners)