Magical Moments

Magical Moments

Our morning was filled with magical moments as we joined Santa to deliver gifts to the beautiful kids at ARC Broward.  This is my second year leading the initiative with my incredible partner in crime MK.  Consequently, it was also my second time attending the gift delivery.  Last year,  the event blew my away.  When I left last year’s event my heart was full after watching these kids and their parents relish their moment with Santa and their gifts.  I couldn’t wait to go back!

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This year ARC Broward’s preschool is under new leadership, so we’ve been working with new people.  Can I just tell you how amazing these people are?  They do an incredible job educating, advocating and creating futures for people with disabilities.  When we first arrived,  Shawn ushered us into a room where ARC’s Culinary program had catered in breakfast.  Their culinary program provides post high school education via a certificate to adults with disabilities.  The food was absolutely amazing!

As we finished our amazing breakfast, ARC’s high school class came into the room to visit us.  They performed a couple of songs and posed for pictures with all of us and Santa.  It was magical.  These high schoolers had incredible energy and were filled with joy. ARC’s commitment to these teens and young adults is to give them the skillset to find a job they want in the community.  Indeed, it’s all about creating opportunities for these students to excel.

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Afterwards we headed over to the preschool to start handing out the gifts. I struggle to words that adequately describe how beautiful and amazing it is to watch these kids receive their gifts and see Santa.  While some were afraid to sit on Santa’s lap, many were excited beyond belief.  They bounded with joy to get their presents and see Santa.  Their innocence, excitement, happiness and gratitude were overwhelming. It’s hard to watch without getting misty.

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I was so excited to buy for my angels after having met them both last year.  These two girls are incredibly sweet and full of energy.  Fortunately, I had the opportunity to give one of my angels her gift today.   Moreover, I was able to meet her mom (who’s incredible) and chat with her for a bit.  Many times we donate to charities or toy drives and don’t have the luxury of getting to witness the child receiving the gift. I can tell you that there is nothing better than watching a child receive that gift.

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It’s no wonder that we left today’s event with a full heart and complete joy.  There’s something beyond gratifying in making someone’s world a little better.  As we go on our journey around the sun, it is easy for us to get stuck in the rat race.  We don’t have to be stuck!  We can live our legend, even if we’re punching the clock at a 9 to 5.  Sure we’re not crossing the Sahara looking for an alechemist, but we can find ways to fee our soul.  For me, it’s paying it forward via Angel Tree or raising funds an awareness for pancreatic cancer research.  It doesn’t have to be grandiose to be magical.  It would be a small, purple pony that you give to a little sister who didn’t think she’d be getting a gift.  Sometimes it’s all about the small things.

Tonight’s song performed by U2 is “Christmas.”

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Breakfast With Santa

Breakfast With Santa

Today was our annual Breakfast with Santa at work.  I know what you may be thinking.  We’re far too old to be eating with Santa, but you’d be wrong!  Importantly, our annual breakfast is the culmination of our Angel Tree drive. In fact, this year we adopted 363 angels for Christmas!

Our Angels come courtesy of ARC Broward, which is an incredible organization that provides people with disabilities and other life challenges the opportunity to fulfill their potential.  Raising children in modern times is incredibly expensive.  Unfortunately, for parents of special needs children, the costs can be exponentially higher, which is where we come in.

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This event started over seven years ago when my CRO and his wife adopted their daughter’s classroom having seen the need first hand.  Thankfully, my CRO shared this opportunity with our military team and we took up the challenge.  Excitedly, this is my second year leading the event with my partner in crime MK.  By comparison to years past, our team is bigger, more diverse and incredible this year.  We made a concerted effort to expand the team outside of our unit, so it would encompass representation from units across the company.

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First, we started off our morning staging the gifts downstairs.  As a result, our employees could get their pictures taken in front of the gifts with Santa.  The sight was beyond impressive with gifts for over 300 people including 20 bikes staged in reception! What struck me as I looked at the gifts, was the amazing generosity of my colleagues.  In that moment, I felt truly blessed and proud.  Blessed and proud to be a part of an organization where community involvement and philanthropy are prized and encouraged.

Importantly, current employee engagement theory has shown that engaged employees happier and more productive.  Since I had the pleasure of taking the pictures with Santa, I got to witness our employees reaction to the event first hand. Without fail, our collective generosity blew away my colleagues.  Time and after time, people made comments about how awesome it is to work with such great people and at a great place.  Undoubtedly, for me, witnessing both their pride and their joy was a profoundly rewarding experience.  As a result, I have no doubt that today’s event was an employee engagement win!

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Afterwards, I headed back up to meetings.  Meanwhile, the team loaded the gifts up for delivery.  I simply cannot wait to go hand out the gifts later this week.  Last year, it was such an amazing, life affirming experience.  Unquestionably, the joy on the children’s face coupled with the gratitude of the teachers and parents is indescribable.  Meanwhile I’m filled with the joy and gratitude for today’s experience.

Tonight’s song performed by  music legends David Bowie and Bing Crosby   is “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.” 

giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday

As we wind down a glorious Cyber Monday, may we give our full attention to Giving Tuesday.  Tomorrow is all about paying it forward and supporting causes that are near and dear to our hearts.  November, for me, is all about building awareness and funds for Pancreatic Cancer Research. When I run, however, I use charity miles, so for every mile I log a donation is made to the ALS Foundation.   Undoubtedly, it is a wonderful way to tie my training and important causes together.

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This month our Purple Stride Team, Deb Force Five, raised almost $10,000 for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  A lot of this important came from the tight knit hockey family, which has rallied around Debbie and her family since diagnosis.   The support of the hockey community continued last weekend, which was great to see.  Debbie would have been proud.

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In addition to the Purple Stride event, the Mayor’s team also collected food to donate to families in need this Thanksgiving.  For my kids’ it is almost incomprehensible that their are children in their community without a bite to eat.  I’m so happy the Mayor had an opportunity to participate in this initiative.  A big thanks to VM, SF and JF for organizing it for our team!

Speaking of bites, I’m gonna make bake some cookies tonight.  I wanted to bake them for the boys’ lunches yesterday, but ran out of time.  While they bake, perhaps I’ll finish the copious amounts of laundry that went undone this weekend or perhaps not….

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In the spirit of Giving Tuesday, here’s the link to Team Deb Force Five.  While the race and competition is over, the need for funds is not.  Consequently, you can donate here: Team Deb Force Five.

Tonight’s song is “Buddy Holly” by Weezer.  This video was one of my favorites when it debuted in the mid 90s.

Wage Hope

Wage Hope

There are only 28 days remaining until we wage hope at the Purple Stride event in Debbie’s honor.    Team Deb Force Five was the top fundraising team in 2016 and the 3rd place team in 2015.  Since her diagnosis in 2015, she became an advocate for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PANCAN.) Most importantly, it is our team goal to continue the mission and support the work of PANCAN.  PANCAN’s goal is to double survival of pancreatic cancer patient’s by 2020.    This is a huge undertaking.  Furthermore they cannot achieve this goal without our collective support.

Here’s the link where you can donate or sign up: http://support.pancan.org/goto/DebForceFive

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What do Luciano Pavrotti, Count Basie, Joan Crawford, Micheal Landon, Patrick Swayze, Steve Jobs, Alan Rickman, Dizzy Gillespie, Sally Ride and Bill Hicks all have in common?  Pancreatic Cancer.  It is a disease that does not discriminate against race, income level or even age.  Consequently,  I had always thought of it as a disease of the elderly, until my healthy friend was diagnosed at 41.  It was an enlightenment I could have done without.

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Faced with the diagnosis of Stage IV pancreatic cancer, Debbie chose to live life to the fullest.  She was a huge advocate for PANCAN and the great services they provide.  Significantly, she was the keynote speaker at last year’s Purple Stride event.  In her two year fight against pancreatic cancer, Debbie taught me and many others a lot about what it means to live, love, fight, persevere and be brave all with grace and dignity.  Debbie will always be a beacon of light in the many lives she touched including mine.  This event is a wonderful opportunity to honor her and support her beautiful family.  Lastly, I look forward to walking, running, skipping, hopping or dancing with you to wage hope.

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