Friday, July 29, 2011
Vacation Month of July: Blog 5-Letters from Mom & Mimi
Your Mimi and I are writing together again over a soothing cup of tea and some goodbye tears on Sunday morning (your Mimi’s words are in italics and mine are in regular font again). Your Great Grandmom Jones, Aunt Sheri and Stephanie just left to return to Green Bay. It is the day after Kyle’s walk. We can only say that we are deeply touched, speechless, and in awe of the success of this year’s Kyle Russell Callahan Scholarship 5k Walk/Run. We know that Kyle is smiling down because of how loved he was and how supportive our family is through our endeavor of keeping his memory alive through the State College High School Scholarship. We want to extend many heartfelt thanks to those who attended, donated, and helped set up and gave their time to be with us especially all family and friends who traveled many miles (we had people come in from Vermont, Florida, Wisconsin, Colorado, New Jersey, and from all over Pennsylvania). And even those people that didn’t travel that far, we thank you for making time in your busy schedule to remember Kyle.
Ellie, if there ever were a day that you could truly feel Kyle’s presence, it would have been yesterday. You see it has been intensely hot here for the past few days. The heat index hit 100 degrees and we all were very worried about the runners having heatstroke. Well, right before 9:00 am when Kyle’s 5Kwalk/run was about to begin, the hazy blue sky clouded over and a slight breeze blew through the park until the event finished. Ellie it was amazing! Kyle was very much with us! You more than anyone knew that, as we could see it in your eyes when the butterflies were released. One of the Monarch butterflies even landed on your daddy… how awesome was that! Speaking of your dad, I have to tell you that both of your parents gave beautiful speeches in honor of Kyle that were heartfelt and inspirational. Your mom spoke so lovingly of Kyle and his will to live. And she also thanked everyone in a very touching and personal way for their kindness and support as only your mommy can do. With great pride as well as heartache your daddy continued on and spoke of Kyle’s courage and determination. His speech was so moving Ellie, one filled with love and a very important message to us all. He quoted Jimmy Valvano, a college basketball coach/broadcaster for ESPN and ABC Sports, who was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1992. Your dad eloquently stated Jimmy Valvano’s quote: “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up.” “There are 3 things we all should do everyday of our lives. #1 is: Laugh. #2 is: Think; spend time in thought. #3 is: You should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy, but think about it. If you laugh and think and you cry, that’s a full day. And if you do that 7 days a week, you’re going to have something special. Kyle taught us that too Ellie and he gave us something more. Memories. 11 days of loving, happy, sad, tearful, silly, thoughtful and meaningful memories. Prayerfully his spirit will live on and on through the scholarship foundation set up in his name. Now onto the actual Walk. Once it officially started, you, your mommy and I stood on the sidelines cheering, encouraging and thanking all who walked the Walk! (OK, your mommy and I did most of the screaming while you stayed snuggled securely in my arms and quite happy with all the jumping up and down we did, but no matter, you were very much a part of your Brother’s Day. You also ate the bananas, drank the water, nibbled on some soft pretzels that were supplied for the participants and you were happiest of all when you could just sit in the park sandbox and play in the sand! (We probably should replenish some of that sand as you brought much of it home with you… in your diaper, your hair and the layer that settled everywhere else on your body!) All in all Ellie, it was a beautiful morning!
So many people helped out by attending, donating, and wishing us well but I need to give my sincere appreciation and thanks to these specific individuals for their extra efforts at the walk: Gram & Pop Russell who donated the bananas; Mimi & Poppy for the Park Insurance, bags, water, soft pretzels, and the BBQ after as well as the early morning set-up; Ryan & Samantha for the bibs, signs, spreadsheet and also the early morning set-up; Ally for keeping my sanity in check and also manning the registration table; Stephanie for helping with the early morning set-up; the Russell-Stigales for the very special surprise of releasing butterflies in Kyle’s honor; Suzanne Devlin-Brown of Mommapia for providing Ellie’s special green angel dress in honor of her brother; Gram Jones and Aunt Sheri for taking care of Ellie while we prepared for the day; and Jackie for being the best photographer.
Ellie, stay close and stay in touch with all who love you. If ever a day comes to your life where you need the love and support of your family and friends, they will be there. Kyle’s Walk is testament to that!
But honestly, the way to tell you about Kyle’s event Ellie is not through words but something far better- Pictures. We think only images can do his walk justice (thank you Jackie for always capturing the best photographs, I am so glad you are sharing your gift with us)…
And from Jackie’s pictures you can see that Kyle’s Walk also brought a wonderful weekend of celebrating with family. The family BBQ at the hotel both Friday evening and Saturday day was a blast Ellie. When we first got to the hotel, instead of mingling with all of our guests, all your eyes focused on was the pool! You certainly are a fish (well maybe a guppy) when it comes to water! You loved dunking your face into the water and letting it roll down your nose over and over again! When you finally got out of the pool you were quite hilarious with the pool towels. You had us dry you off and then wrap you up or rather roll you up in the towel looking like an old man heading off to the sauna! Your older cousins Annabelle and Lexi were there and you were elated to play with them! Your little cousin Parker and Rich were there too, but you were more interested in poking, touching and pushing them away! Your cousin Colin (who is quite gentle) was willing to play with you also, but sharing at this stage of your life is not quite your best attribute. In fact, Colin wanted to share an animal wooden puzzle board with you. However when he went to lift out the giraffe piece you quickly grabbed it from his hand and with all your authority, you quickly and forcefully pulled it towards your chest. The funny thing is Ellie that your mommy and I can read your facial expressions like a book. What happened next was Poppy told you in a calm but stern voice that you needed to share, and yes, that readable facial expression of yours came out with flying colors! I knew instantly one of us was in your line of fire. That “someone” happened to be me!” When Colin went to take the giraffe and Poppy said the word Share, your eyes quickly assessed your surroundings and I, who was sitting to your right, got whacked hard with the puzzle piece! Ellie, it took all my might not to break out in laughter, but I knew if I did, I was going to get whacked again! You do have an Irish temper little one! Both days wore you out completely and you slept quite peacefully on your purple hippopotamus pillow pet that Poppy and I bought for you! Actually I think everyone slept contentedly both nights as all the family seemed to enjoy sharing time with each other, yumming up all the delicious food and drink, soaking up the sun, dipping into the refreshing pool and chatting about the next exciting event that is going to take place in the family!
I am so humbled by the past week Ellie; we sure are loved!!! Kyle’s walk was a huge success- over $10,000 was raised this year alone and 200 people attended the 5k!!! Family and vacation go hand in hand! What an awesome time we had.
So I guess sweetheart that it only makes sense to continue the month of August with the same theme as July. Let’s keep the Vacation Theme going for one more month Kim since you and I still have a few more trips planned before school starts (sadly not all of them are with each other.) It will give Ellie and understanding later on in her life as to why she has such an adventurous spirit! With you and I as her mentors Kim, Ellie will never experience a dull moment!
Till next time Ellie-bean.Love, Mom & Mimi