Why this all started…
As with so many charitable causes and nonprofit endeavors, there is a spark that ignites a bigger flame. This story starts with an experience so moving, so utterly life altering, that it caused a profound shift in the way I will forever move about in this world. This story’s beginnings are all about the experience of one incredibly amazing woman, my wife Denice (Danice to me and her friends).
It started only a few years back, with what was supposed to be a simple checkup to determine why her energy levels had slipped and how she had acquired some annoying and excessive bruising. Blood tests would reveal very poor counts and many questions without answers.From steroids to chemo blends, nothing seemed to stop the landslide and her counts continued to fall, deep and fast. To add frustration, our current attending physician was doing all but throwing darts at a chart in hopes of hitting something accurate. All the while, her blood counts continued a steep drop.
As you might imagine, concern, anger and bewilderment took hold of us and with it, fear. The kind of fear that rattles a person to the core. It was at this point, we moved this medical treatment fiasco aside and sought out the very best there was in the world. Fortunately, the best are at SCCA (Seattle Cancer Care Alliance) in downtown Seattle. Still standing strong and defiant towards anything or anyone that would hold our lives hostage, we met with a Dr. Becker and shared the facts of where we were.
That meeting ended with my Danice being sent home on what can only be described as house arrest – job, family, friends, even going outside, on hold. You see her blood counts had dropped so low and her immune system was so non-existent, that even a simple fall or cold could have life threatening consequences. No longer a mystery or a misdiagnosis, we discovered she had Aplastic Anemia – a rare but nasty blood disease. The first sentence of its medical explanation includes the words, ‘usually fatal’.
Life went from color to black and white in an instant. Two treatments – ATG therapy (poor results at her age so not a secure option) or, a complete bone marrow transplant (without a perfect sibling match, likely fatal results at her age). Treatment would require weeks in the hospital, massive chemo and literally, a rebirth of sorts. Fear returned, deep and painfully omnipresent no matter where we turned for relief. To witness her life trying to steal away, presented a level of pain and fear so unimaginable and unbearable, that part of it will remain within me forever. My Danice is more than just the love of my life, she is the very air that I breathe.
And then some crazy good news finally swung our way! Against ridiculous odds, her sister was a ‘perfect’ donor match! Off to the UW Medical Center’s Transplant unit Denice went and after a month in the hospital, complete with the loss of her hair from the massive chemo and the discomfort from all he drugs, her recovery was going, perfect – best they could have ever hoped for! The nursing staff called her their “Transplant Rock Star”! She had beaten all the odds. Yes, she had walked right up to the Grim Reaper himself, kicked his little ass and did it all with a strength and grace that I cannot even fathom, let alone understand. This was her journey, I was the spectator, and able to offer little else than holding her in my arms and loving her with everything I had. That was a couple years ago on January 18th, 2012, her new birthday, and where that shift I mentioned earlier was started.
Cheryl, a member of my crew at Union Home Benefit came up with an idea for a ride that summer before this experience with Danice ever happened. No big whoop, just a little ride with a few of our Brother, Sisters, friends and business associates to grab some BBQ and share a great experience. After it was confirmed that Danice was out of the woods and safely into her recovery, I returned to work – very different than when I left. I looked at the professional and personal sphere I had in my world and saw an opportunity to do more by bringing those worlds together with a commonality of purpose for something bigger than ourselves. It could no longer be just another little run – it could be more.
Yes, I made promises in the darkest of hours – she stays and I celebrate the gift of her life by sharing. I am not a religious man but I believe in Angels! So became my sense of urgency to ensure that a footprint of having done something good, something important for others, was behind every step we take. I honor my wife and my word by keeping that promise through this event. I am in awe of her, the most amazing creature I have ever known and am grateful for every woman in my life that calls me their friend and that are my family. I am proud and honored beyond words to dedicate this year’s event to the Working Women of Washington so that their voice can be shared loud and proud. Nothing in this world happens without them, and most great things happen because of them.
To encapsulate my thoughts for you, I believe that if you have the resources and ability to reach out to those who need a helping hand, then you share the responsibility to do just that. The 2014 Union Ride & Charity Rally™, Ride to the Arena and UnionRide.org are merely an extension of that fundamental belief. There is something different about participating in an experience like this. Perhaps it’s a sense of solidarity, of belonging, or of community. Or perhaps it’s simply feeling a greater sense of confidence, that together we could actually make a difference. Whatever it is to you, I hope you let it carry you towards action, so that you and someone else may experience a happy ending as we did.
Thank you for your interest to read this far and for considering any measure of support for our efforts. Join us on our historic Ride to the Arena, hang out with us for great music, food and fun. Or do it all and end with the Storm’s final season home game and feel the spirit! Helping others just might be the best ride you ever take. Ride safe and ride free!
PT & Danice
UnionRide.org is a charitable IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit community organization in the state of Washington