Three important events transpired this past weekend. The first was the Bingo for Boobies fundraiser at Mortimers Bar in the epicenter. There was a great turnout for the event…and I can honestly say I’ve never had so much fun playing bingo. Here are a few photos from the event.
The second was the Komen Race for the Cure event here in Charlotte. I’ve been talking about how disappointed I was to miss the race because I wasn’t going to be in town L All of my wonderful friends still participated and raised money through Team Dolla Dolla Bills…and looked like they had a really great time! Thank you so much to everyone who ran the race on my behalf. I’m so sad I couldn’t be there…because it looked like you all had a lot of fun…but truly appreciate you continuing the team in my honor despite my absence!! A HUGE thank you to Brandii, Jessica, and Wanda for all of their work organizing both events, and creating another kick-ass t-shirt. You guys are awesome!! Here are a few photos of friends rocking their second annual Dolla Dolla Bills t-shirts (thanks to New Directions, Inc.).
There is a really nice write-up of both events on the Bobcats website including a link to the full gallery of photos if you want to check it out.
“As teams across the area prepared for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Saturday, October 1, 2011, our very own Lady Cats fielded a team consisting of current and former Lady Cats, as well as family and friends. For the second year in a row the team participated in the 5K run early Saturday in honor of their friend and former Lady Cat, Nicole Bills.
After dancing for the Bobcats for three seasons, Nicole was diagnosed with breast cancer in June of 2010. An avid runner and marathon competitor, Nicole ran the race herself last year with the team, in the middle of chemotherapy treatments.
“It was a joy to get together with the Lady Cats, both current and past, to celebrate Nicole and those we know whom have battled with breast cancer,” said Lady Cats alum Monique, a member of the inaugural Bobcats dance team. “I personally am touched by all of the faces of the girls that support Nicole, whether they danced with her or not. I think that’s a testament to our sisterhood as a team and organization.”
Former Lady Cat Ashley said, “rallying around Nicole the past several years has made such a huge impact on not only my life, but the many friends and family that surround her. To me, participating on ‘Team Dolla Dolla Bills’ in the Race for the Cure represents celebrating survivors, honoring those we’ve lost and at the same time raising awareness.”
The group held a mixer at Mortimer’s on Wednesday, September 28, 2011, to raise money towards their team fundraising goal. Those in attendance enjoyed multiple rounds of Bingo to raise money and also competed in hula hoop contests.
“It was good to see everyone and to raise money to beat breast cancer,” Lady Cat Lindsay said. “It’s awesome to see the present Lady Cats involved, even though they didn’t dance during Nicole’s seasons with the Bobcats.”
This year, Nicole was being inducted into her college Hall of Fame at Central Michigan University and was unable to run in Saturday’s race, so the Lady Cats were truly “running the race” for her. For Nicole, running an easy 5K would be nothing, but for some of the Lady Cats, it was much more challenging. Let’s just say the celebration dance they did at the finish line was well worth witnessing.”
The last event was my Hall of Fame induction I’ve been talking about for a few months now. I was up in Michigan all weekend (hence my not being able to do RFTC) for all of the festivities surrounding my Hall of Fame induction. Friday evening consisted of a pre-ceremony reception, followed by the actual Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Both events were held in the new McGuirk Arena on CMU’s campus….which was really nice!!
There is a hallway dedicated to all of the past hall of famers where each person’s photo will hang for the rest of time…well maybe not that long, but you get the picture! There is also this really neat interactive touch screen computer of sorts mounted to the wall. You could scroll through each class, click on any individual you wanted, and view their athletic profile and photos. Very cool feature!!
The ceremony kicked off around 7pm. All of the inductees were seated in chairs on the floors in front of the podium. Fortunately for me, I was picked first to give my speech…which made me SO HAPPY. I was stressing about my speech for the last month, and was grateful to be able to get it out of the way without having to sit through anyone else’s.
I’m going to toot my own horn for a second and tell you all how awesome my speech was. Word on the street was that my speech was the best of all the inductees. It may have had something to do with starting that rumor….but it stuck They videotaped the whole ceremony, and we’re all supposed to get a copy on DVD in two months (along with our Hall of Fame rings!!!). Depending on how silly I sound, I may post it on my blog some day.
On Saturday, my old coaches threw a tailgate in my honor before the football game. It was a lot of fun, and was really nice and to meet all the current girls on the gymnastics team. At half time during the game, we were brought out onto the field and introduced.
All in all, it was a very memorable experience, and I’m very thankful to everyone who put in their time and effort to make the weekend so special.
You can read my speech below….warning: I wrote out word for word by speech, including the jokes I wanted to say. I’m guessing it won’t be nearly as funny without my quick wit and stellar delivery. AND, it’s pretty lengthy.
“Thank you all so much. I first would like to say how honored and blessed I feel to be here. If someone would have told me all those years ago when I walked onto CMU’s campus as an anxious / nervous / naïve / scared out of her mind freshman that I would be getting inducted into the Hall of Fame 15 years later, I wouldn’t have believed them. I consider it an honor and privilege to be standing up here tonight and to the selection committee… I thank you for granting me this incredible award.
I was born into the sport of gymnastics; it was a way of life for me. There are very few childhood memories I have that don’t revolve around the sport, let alone take place in the gym. Growing up, my parents owned a gymnastics club. Because they, along with several of my aunts, were my coaches at one time or another, it quickly became my second home. By the age of 2, I was taking dance and gymnastics classes…although I don’t think you can really call what I was doing at that time gymnastics. By the age of 7, I was competing and working towards my goal of going to the Olympics and becoming the next Mary Lou Retton. I quickly decided I wasn’t really Mary Lou material, so around the age of 12 I shifted my sights on something else….college gymnastics. For the next 6 years, throughout countless hours of sweat, tears at times, and I’m sure a little (or a lot) of complaining on my part, I trained with the goal in mind of becoming a college athlete. Lucky for me, that all paid off.
I remember the night that Jerry called and extended me the opportunity to join the gymnastics team like it was yesterday. I was surprised, ecstatic, and intimidated all at the same time. See, I had heard through the gymnastics community that Jerry was a stern / tough coach who ran a pretty tight ship here at Central…little did I know he would actually turn out to be such a softie. No more 7-minute mile Jerry? I never thought the day would come….kudos to whichever of you girls in back presented such a strong & compelling case to him that he finally caved. The 7-minute mile was the beign of my, and many girls before and after my time’s, existence!! Gymnasts aren’t known to be the fastest runners around town!
Despite my fears and apprehensions, I came to Central and found that I fit right in. Jerry and Christine demanded a lot out of us, but it was only to make us the best athletes we could be. I learned more skills, and grew into a better gymnast then I could’ve ever imagined. I quickly came to realize that the tough guy reputation that preceded him, wasn’t accurate at all. Don’t get me wrong, my will power and dedication were continuously put to the test. Jerry pushed you to your limits, but never more. He required you to give 110% every day, but always ended the day with some sort of positive thoughts or feedback. I walked out of the gym after each practice feeling good because I knew I had left everything on the floor. Jerry and Christine didn’t just teach me how to be a great athlete….they taught me that through hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, and determination, you can push through any challenge and achieve your goals.
I have so many fond memories of my time at Central, but I think what I remember, and appreciated the most is the family like environment that Jerry and Christine created amongst the team. Whether it was a movie night at Christine’s, or a pre-meet spaghetti dinner at Jerry’s, you both went above and beyond the duties of a typical coach. You not only opened the gym up to me and so many others, you opened your home and hearts as well.
Finding out I was being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a day I will never forget. I was coming home from a golf outing at work when I received an email from Jerry. Reading through the email quickly, as I was at a stop light and only had a few seconds to spare, I thought Jerry’s email was to let me know HE was being inducted into the Hall of Fame. To which I thought, “It’s about time!!” Jerry’s had such great success as a coach, so naturally it only made sense. As I approached the next stop light, and had time to re-read the email, I saw that he was actually emailing to let ME know that I had been selected as part of the class of 2011. I was literally in shock! And by the way Jerry, I still think you deserve to be inducted!!
It goes without saying that to be inducted in the Hall of Fame is the ultimate honor that an athlete can receive. There are no words to describe the joy of experiencing this final chapter in my gymnastics career. Because for a sport where going on to play “professionally” isn’t an option, this is truly as good as it gets. It should also go without saying that one does not come to stand at this podium without the guidance, the direction, and the love & support of others.
To my parents…thank you for turning what started out as a tiny business on Farragut St into something that would change my life forever. The never-ending, unconditional love and support you’ve always shown me will never be forgotten. It wasn’t always easy having your parents own the gymnastics club you train at, and even though there were times when I didn’t necessarily agree with some of the decisions you made on my behalf (like foregoing my senior year spring break with friends in lieu of the gym hosting level 10 regionals), I’ll never forget how much you sacrificed to allow me to achieve my goals. Thank you for pushing me to stick with the sport, even when I didn’t want to, and always being a constant source of encouragement and positive reinforcement.
To my sister and brother, thank you for trekking to as many of my gymnastics meets as you did….and for letting me be the center of attention at times….we middle children need that. It goes without saying that 5 hour gymnastic meets can be monotonous…and you attended more than your share.
To my aunts Nanci and Lisa…not everyone is lucky enough to have one their aunts coach them….I was lucky enough to have 2. Thank you for helping me realize my dreams of becoming a college athlete. You instilled in me the importance of having a strong foundation and solid basics as a gymnast…something that I believe always set me apart from others. Because with that, you can learn any skill you desire. I never fully appreciated my ability to do a straddle press with ease or splits on both my right and left legs until getting to college and seeing that many people struggle with that.
To my extended family….thank you for always being my #1 fans. Tonight is one of the many examples of the unwavering love and support you have always shown me.
To all of my friends…near and far…old and new…I couldn’t ask for a better support system to provide constant encouragement. Thank you for always being there to pick me up when I’m down and celebrate my successes with me.
To every one of my former teammates…thank you for 4 of the most memorable, entertaining, and gratifying years of my life. Being part of a team with such a special and talented group of girls was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I will never forget the highs and the lows we experienced together…losing MACs my freshman year (at home no less), winning MACs every year after, twice a day workouts over Christmas break, beam routines in the middle of the student activity center, road trips in the silver suburbans (because we didn’t get to use the school busses until my senior year), ¼ mile sprints, 6am weight lifting sessions (thank you Keith!), the list goes on and on. They are moments that could never be replaced and I’ll cherish forever. The successes I had as an individual were great, but the successes we had as a team are what I look back and remember the most.
To all of the girls on the team now….enjoy each and every day of your journey…because it goes by in the blink of an eye!
To my fellow inductees…I couldn’t be more honored to be part of a class of such talented and extraordinary individuals. You were the best of the best of your respective sports…and I feel so privileged to go through this experience with you all.
To Ramone and Keith…thank you for providing comic relief at the times we needed it most and for always being an advocate of us girls.
To Christine…what can I say? You started out as someone I was a little afraid of as a freshman, (I don’t know if I ever told you that), and grew into a great friend by the time I was a senior. I’ll always remember the long chats we used to share and appreciate your willingness to put up with all of my quirks. I don’t know many coaches that would let their gymnast purposely set their equipment down crooked because for some strange reason it calmed their nerves. You let me be me, and never questioned the means behind my madness. Thank you for always believing in me….even during the times that I didn’t believe in myself.
And finally to Jerry…thank you for giving me the opportunity of a life-time. I’ll never forget the days of you lying under the balance beam trying to break my focus or looking over at meets and watching you pace back and forth with your eyes closed. (I still to this day don’t know if you ever actually saw one of my beam routines.) You are a one of a kind coach, and I’m incredibly grateful for the life lessons you taught me. I came to Central as a cautious, timid, not-always-sure of herself young girl, and walked away confident that through hard work and determination, I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. Thank you for always instilling in me the importance of a good attitude and strong work ethic…because with that, I’ve been able to get through all of life’s challenges.
That’s the funny thing about life….you never know what kind of crazy curve balls will be thrown your way. A year ago, I was at the lowest of low points. I’d been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, had just finished my second round of chemo, and had officially lost all of my hair. I was feeling incredibly sorry for myself and every day I questioned “why me?” I’ve done a lot of reflection over the course of the last year…and I finally came up with an answer. Why me??. Because I could handle it. I was pushed to my limits, but I was equipped to handle it. I don’t know if tonight would be so sweet had I not been humbled so greatly. I’ve truly been blessed in life. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some experiences and successes that only a small % of people get to have…and I’ve been fortunate enough to be faced with disappointments in life that have allowed me to fully appreciate those special times.
“In order for there to be ups, there must be downs. Remember all your failures, so when you succeed you can look back and have pride that you had strength enough to overcome anything.”
Tonight is definitely a success.
Tonight is something I will remember and cherish forever.
This is a very long post, so I’m going to try to wrap up without any more of an update!! Here are photos from 45 weeks post chemo…