Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sweet Sara's Chargers

“Training is the opposite of hope”. –Nike slogan 2008

My long term goal is to establish a non- profit organization that will provide financial assistance for uncovered medical expenses of chronically ill children. The costs of caring for a chronically ill child are staggering. In our case, Sara has private insurance coverage, as well as supplemental Medicaid called The Katie Beckett Waiver. The Katie Beckett Waiver is not based on income, but rather medical need and was designed to pay for co pays, premiums, prescriptions and most uncovered medical costs that would otherwise cause hardship for a normal, working family.

This year some changes were made to this program, probably due to funding cuts and system abuse which have made it very difficult to qualify, and just as hard to get actual expenses covered. It is now a system of denials and appeals, and only the most persistent get results. We still have costs of over $1400 per month that is uncovered by either plan. I still ask openly and with amazement, “how can this be?” I exchange ideas and resources with other parents, and find my dear friend Jenny and her sweet baby boy Bryce with a diagnosis of cystic fibrosis does not qualify for assistance, and I openly ask “how can this be?”

I want to do my own fundraising and empower other families to do the same. Ultimately money will go towards either medical expenses, or any unsubsidized item prescribed to address special needs by speech, occupational, or physical therapists, or special needs educator. Families may fundraise on their own behalf, friends and family may fundraise on behalf of specific friends in need, and anyone can apply for assistance from the general fund, and hopefully they will be able to do so with as little red tape and “case working” as humanly possible. I am working diligently to develop a program that will address these needs with as little red tape as possible, but with guidelines that assure money is not misused. My good friend Katie Elwart has volunteered her legal services toward the goal of establishing our non- profit charter.
To raise money, we will register in local races, and solicit sponsorships for our participation. Prior to each race, runners will be given a fundraising goal, and a pledge form to collect donations. We will meet on race day wearing our Sweet Sara’s Chargers t-shirts to raise awareness about our project. I am hoping that once we have established ourselves this year running, we can then host our own races and invite runners all over Atlanta to join our cause.

My short term goal is to create a team of runners of all abilities, to fundraise in honor of my darling daughter and also towards my long term goal of starting a non- profit foundation. I am hoping that my efforts to stay active will motivate and encourage others to maximize their own fitness potential.

My specific goals for 2009 are as follows:

*Find at least 25 people to set personal goals, and commit to a training schedule to run or walk on Sara’s team “Sweet Sara’s Chargers” in various running events throughout the year. Each member will use running and walking to fundraise on behalf of the foundation.

*Raise funds to help supplement or cover Sara’s uncovered medical expenses, and those of two other families in need. I nominate my friends The Jones’ and their sweet baby boy Bryce as one of those families.
*Raise 1000$ for the CHARGE syndrome foundation. CHARGE syndrome gets virtually no exposure in the media and is pretty much unheard of; they need all the help they can get.

*Raise 1000$ for the American Partnership for Eosiniphilic Disorders (Apfed).

*provide 6 meals for families staying at The Ronald McDonald House here in Atlanta. This means catering a meal for 12-16 people on 6 separate evenings. The Ronald McDonald House is a pretty high profile charity that receives almost so much support that providing a meal means being on a waiting list to volunteer there. Therefore, I will not being fundraising on their behalf, just asking for volunteers that can donate time and food to each meal, and possibly help us serve it. We have stayed at The Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati many, many times, and simply want to repay the kindness and encouragement extended to us there. It is an amazing place.

*Complete my first full marathon in 2009 and write about my experience in my other blog; The GRITS runnning journal.

To join Sara’s team as a runner, a volunteer, or even as a donor, please contact us at sweetsaraschargers@yahoo.com, and we will add you to our mailing list. Everyone has different abilities, experience and levels of fitness. I encourage everyone to set a goal just slightly out of your current ability and work towards it slowly and carefully… you will amaze yourself with what you can do. You may walk, or run any distance you choose. A 5k race is 3.1 miles, which is roughly the equivalent of 30 minutes of cardio. A 10k race is 6.2 miles, a half marathon is 13.1 miles, and a full marathon is 26.2 miles. Some of those distances may seem a little daunting at first, but with practice and the encouragement of others with common goals, you will get there.

I encourage everyone to ask your employer to sponsor your participation, and anyone you are willing to ask to pledge donations for your efforts. Some employers may even agree to match donations you collect, it’s always worth asking. Donors will be able to contribute online, and also by cash or check. We will provide pledge forms and the materials you need to solicit donations. We will have the t-shirts ready for sale shortly and they will also be part of our fundraising efforts. Our first race is February 28, 2009, so while we get those wheels in motion, start spreading the word.

Here is the first string of races I have chosen for our team, if anyone would like to add more please just let me know. I found them all through www.active.com:

Guns N Hoses 5k, February 28, 2009, Woodstock, GA You may choose to run for the “guns” or the “hoses”

10th annual Colt’s Cup 5k, May 2, 2009, Alpharetta, GA

Gate River Run 2009 5k and 15k, March 14, 2009, Jacksonville, FL

ING Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon March 29, 2009, Atlanta, GA

Peachtree Road Race 10k, July 4, 2009, Atlanta, GA

To register, go directly to www.active.com.

Direct any questions to sweetsaraschargers@yahoo.com We can recommend an online training resource for your specific goal, or you may find one of your own. I really like Jeff Galloway because his training schedules are conservative and geared towards beginners. I don’t want anyone getting injured! I am no expert, just an enthusiastic runner and will do my best to connect you to the best information out there. We have several experienced runners on the team, but when in doubt, please ask your doctor!

Here are some great online training resources:

Runners World
Marathon Rookie
Jeff Galloway
The Complete Running Blog Network

Here are some inspirational books worth reading:

“The Art of Happiness”- The Dalai Lama

“Eat, Pray, Love”- Elizabeth Gilbert

“Galloway’s Book of Running”- Jeff Galloway

“The Courage to Start”- John Bingham

“Ultra marathon man”- Dean Karnazes

“50/50”- Dean Karnazes
"Comfortable with Uncertainty" by Pema Chodron

"There is really nothing you must be and there is nothing you must do. There is really nothing you must have and there is nothing you must know. There is really nothing you must become. However, it helps to understand that fire burns, and when it rains, the earth gets wet." ---Buddhist saying

"Forgiveness is a gift. Bestow it on yourself."


  1. A few quotes that get me through rough times:

    "There is really nothing you must be and there is nothing you must do. There is really nothing you must have and there is nothing you must know. There is really nothing you must become. However, it helps to understand that fire burns, and when it rains, the earth gets wet." ---Buddhist saying


    "Forgiveness is a gift. Bestow it on yourself."

  2. Is that Guns and Hoses on 2/28 the same weekend as our glamour shots get together? I can't think of a better reason to generate some yaya love. Get all sweaty then take glam glam photo shots :) Count me in!

  3. "Comfortable with Uncertainty" by Pema Chodron. The book is written in little daily affirmations, and I swear whenever I'm at the end of my rope, this book brings me peace.

  4. One last comment - here's a great program I've been using to get me huffing and puffing up all those hills :0)


  5. you know if i was in your area i would run or wheel my way for u

  6. One more quote,

    "Whatever happens, I *will* handle it."

    Hey, you might handle it BADLY lolol! but at least the next time you'll handle it better. No matter what happens, you will HANDLE it :)

  7. Wow, this is impressive, Melissa. Beautiful and costly, like most things worth really working for. I will pray God's blessing on your efforts -- what a sweet baby girl!