Tuesday, April 9, 2013

From the beach to the desert

“The reason we race isn't so much to beat each other,... but to be with each other.”
Christopher McDougall,

I love being part of TAPS Run and Remember Team; Honoring our fallen through the miles, remembering their sacrifice and their lives. Saturday morning I ran the Huntington Beach Tri the Beach 5k with the parents of a fallen soldier and the aunt of a fallen marine. We spent most of the 5k talking about their son/nephew, their likes and dislikes and reasons for joining their respective branches. Often people see the loss of these lives as bigger than the lives they lead. They were men and women that fought and died for a country they love; they had amazing personalities and live on through their families.

This weekend I once again carried the photos of PFC Kelly McGuire and Sgt. Clayton Dunn on my back. After the run I was on the road to another event in Las Vegas when I had an opportunity to talk to PFC McGuires mother Lurlene for the first time. I wanted to know more about her son, about this young man whose first name was my middle name. It turns out that Kelly was married and had a young son when he died; he was a musician at heart but joined the Army to provide a good life for his family and had a pretty big personality. His son is now 5 years old and the apple of his grandparent’s eyes. Kelly is never far from their minds. I am friends with Kelly’s family on Facebook as well as the surviving spouse of Sgt. Dunn. Sgt. Dunn’s wife is doing an amazing job of raising their beautiful little girl.

Kylynn Maxwell and I after setting up the TAPS booth

My sister and I after the run - I was emptying the sand out of my shoes

TAPS Run and Remember post HB 5k sand run

Once we got to Las Vegas I felt even more fulfilled from this conversation. I was there to attend the Gold Star Wives of America regional banquet. Gold Star Wives was organized in 1945 by war widows from World War II. It is a Congressional chartered, non-profit organization incorporated in the State of New York. Eleanor Roosevelt signed the original GSW incorporation papers. The history of this organization is as wonderful as they work they do for our communities and surviving spouses.

We watched the installation of the new regional board, ate a wonderful meal, enjoyed some entertainment and conversed with each other. I had the opportunity to sit next to an 83 year old woman, her husband passed away 10 years ago. She talked me about past wars; deployments spent waiting for physical letters and the love between she and her husband it was inspiring. We forget how much different it was in older times, past wars and simply life.

Patty Termini, Southwest Regional President and Jeanette Early, National President

Monday, April 8, 2013

GoRed for Women Luncheon - OC

The fact is: Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. That’s approximately one woman every minute! GoRedforWomen.org

On March 22 I was honored to be invited to the Orange County GoRed for Women Luncheon.  After meeting with the Orange County office I was energized to learn more and be a part of this great movement.  Although I was very busy volunteering during the event I was able to listen to the guest speakers.  One of them was a in her mid 40’s with school age children.  When she drove herself to the hospital during a heart attack her thoughts drifted to who was taking her son to practice and if the dishes were done.  As moms we never take time for ourselves; she had been ignoring warning signs for quite some time.  Her words made me stop for a moment and realize that she and I were not too dissimilar.
Throughout the month of February I learned more about heart health than ever before.  I learned about small easy things we can each do to safeguard ourselves and loved ones against heart attacks as well as start my daughter off on the right path with hearth healthy lunches and snacks.

I was grateful for that opportunity and look forward to both the LA and OC heart gala’s in the next few months.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A flag to honor

On March 30 I was asked, as Shana, to attend a memorial flag raising to honor a soldier from Corona, SSG Michael Cardenaz. I met SSG Cardenaz' wife in December at the Snowball Express send off at LAX along with her sweet daughter (1 of 3). Each time I see this family the little girl looks for my purse and my crown, after all a queen ALWAYS has her crown. This time though...I did not.

Upon arrival I spent some time with the Chaplain that was deployed with Michael. He had some great stories about a man bigger than life, personality for miles and a deep love for his family. Then came the Patriot Guard Riders along with the Soldiers family... quite a sight!  Michael's widow, Active Duty Army in her full military uniform, spoke quietly with thank yous and memories while their daughters cuddled up on the laps of their grandparents. Krystina and I joined other surviving spouses and Michael's family and friends, while the Honor Guard placed the flag on the hooks and started to raise it. To my humbled amusement the perfectly still day became breezy although just enough to fly the flag perfectly up the pole. It was a sight and reminder that this family is never alone.

After the ceremony, the children went off to play while the adults chatted for a few more moments.  Sharing in each others happiness, sadness and in between is what military spouses do. We are each others support no matter what.  

One of my favorite things about this family is that the wife is active duty Army as well - as my daughter says, "She's an AWESOME girl soldier!"