Monday, February 11, 2008

3rd Annual ALS Spin a Thon - Exceeding Expectations!

Wow! (Put on Seal's Amazing and read this blog entry.) ALS has picked the wrong people to screw with. Give me 200+ Type A personalities and we can conquer just about anything.

Above is a shot of (L to R) John Wolski, Aimee Chamernick (38, ALS patient, mother of three, celebrity and hero to many), Bob Lee and me.

What an event! This was our best year ever!! 20 bikes and for 10 hours they never stopped in the march against ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). My day began at 4 am (after going to bed at 11:45 pm) and it ended about 10:30 pm with a "good tired" rarely felt. I felt like we would have a good event but was nervous because you never know who will show up...and boy...did people show up!

This year we had folks coming out of the wood work! We are currently at $5,000 but we still have people donating. This puts the ALS fundraising on pace to eclipse $90,000 if we hold this pace. (In 2007, we did $60,000.)

Bob Blais and Jack Keenan - We Want You!

First, a thanks to those who put in money along with their time:

Palatine YMCA Staff - for three years we turn your Saturday completely inside out. We thank you for your patience and spirit of giving. We could not have come this far without you all.
Katie Sweeney - 1) motivated the entire YMCA spinning staff to come ride 2) raised money 3) rode all 10 hours (2nd member of the 10 hr club joining me)

Mary Beth Sammons - you are the "quan" (Jerry McGuire). Your help with the media helped to boost this event to even greater heights. You rock!

Vince Boyer - Co-Owner, Village CycleSport - Vince helped forward the email chain along and donated money and MotorTabs. Other bikes shops may come and go, but Village is where the people are.

WGN Radio 720 AM - To the producers of the morning show and the noon show as well as Dave Eanet, Bob Sirott and Spike O'Dell. Thank you for helping us promote this event across 38 states and Canada. We could not have reached a bigger audience. We cannot possibly begin to thank you enough for air time in a sweeps month.

WGN TV 9 - Christa Miller - Thank you for trying to get a remote to us.
NBC 5 Chicago - Mike Adamle - thanks for the advice and plug! You will return to Kona soon and you'll do it on athletic ability and heart.

CBS 2 Chicago - Katie McCall - Thank you for trying to get a remote to us.

ABC 7 Chicago - Diana Palomar - Thank you for trying to get a remote to us and station involvement.

My Allstate Colleagues - Wow, did you guys show up in force! I have great friends at Allstate.
MotorTabs - Greg Sellers - Your generousity toward the cause was noticed by many. Can't wait to see you in March.

Team Polar - Way to show up in force! Below I am chatting with Laura Perez - 5th in her AG at 2007 Ironman Wisconsin. Mike McGeehe listens in.

Team Polar - (L to R) me, Laura Perez, Ron Kowalczyk(team captain), Susan McArthur and Bob Blais
Most importantly (to me): To my wife, Lorrie, thank you for jumping right in with both feet in everything you decide to do. I am reminded daily that I am a lucky man and I'm very thankful for you picking me.

Stacey (cousin-in-law) and Lorrie. Lorrie's cousin Bob would ride after Stacey.

We will change the course of this disease in our/my lifetime and we will do it together.

(Below) Aimee and her family - it was so good to get a chance to spend more time with them this year at dinner after the event. We talked about just about everything and understood more of what a small world we really have. We'll go person by person and explain the disease and how it affects way more people than is truly understood. This is especially true in newsrooms. No time to do a story on the ALS efforts but pleanty of time for several meaningless stories about animals. Priorities check please? People first folks. These are real families.

Bob Blais speaking to the riders and about the meaning of all this. I think the continent was moved.

Jack Wolski - 5 nearing 6 years old and understands more about giving to people than most will understand in their entire life. Your a good kid. Scratch that...great kid; but with your parents it is easy to understand where you get it.

Caryn and Dave - Caryn is due in July and is still more fit than I am. You guys totally "get it".

Liz (massage therapist) donated her entire day for riders.

One guy...and a whole row full of fit gals...

Some of the ladies of the YMCA Triathlon Team - single missed a HUGE opportunity to meet some hot chicks - captive audience on bikes for a long time. Give serious thought to next year.Rock star triathlete - Dean Dean ever not smiling or getting someone else to smile?

I've written a lot here but feel like I haven't quite captured it all. Can you feel the enormity of what is going on? Can you see how it is affecting the lives of real people and their families? Can you see why you should be involved at least one day a year?

Here are some e-mails post event:
Canadian - Ryan Van Praet - Ryan is going blind. His last Ironman (with full vision/without a guide) will be Ironman Hawaii in 2008. His father died of ALS 14 days after he finished in Lake Placid last year. He is a selfless guy. As I've told you Ryan, if you EVER need a guide to train or race with - you call me because I will be there.

"So glad the day was a success as i was thinking of you on saturday. You are correct, ALS has pissed off the wrong group of people...the fact that many have NO clue what ALS is, drives us all to shove it straight at them and say "hey!, look how lucky you are, look how much you have to be thankful for.....get your A## on that bike:)!!" good luck to all the SAT'ers...Thanks to all who fight hard, thanks (John Wolski) and Bob guys set the bar high:)"

Writer, Mary Beth Sammons -
"I want to thank you for the honor and privilege of allowing me into your inner circle to share the powerful story of the triumph of the human spirit all of you represent in the legacy of Jon Blais.
I have spent 25 years telling stories, but this one grips me in a way I can’t let go of. I will strive for the right words to pay honor to all of you, to Jon, to Amy, and to all who need to understand that yes, you can say, :"I can make a difference." If I take action. You guys are that personified. I hope I can do justice to your story. Thanks for letting me in. You are all AWESOME.. "

Team Polar - Laura Perez - "I'm very proud to know someone who gives so much to so many... It was obvious on Saturday how many lives you have touched.
Keep it up!!!!"

Rob Vigorito - "You Rock (Wolski) and The Palatine Team."

(L to R) Bob Lee, John Wolski, Bob Blais, Bill "The SUV" Elwell, Jack Keenan, Bob Mitera (in front)

More media coverage to come on Thursday from the Daily Herald, Chicago Tribune and Pioneer Press.

Hug and tell your family and make sure they know how you feel about them. It matters.

1 comment:

  1. Bob, you are amazing that you do this every year...! Nice job and I am SO proud of you that you do this every year. You are awesome! Jen H.