Running 500 Miles for SMA

There is an app out there called Timehop. I am not big on revisiting the past other than for purposes to mark achievement. I often speak to running/walking groups to talk about goal setting and maintaining motivation. I preach the basics of forgiving yourself, be kind to yourself and let the past go. Mistakes happen, move on. Except for measurement. I think TIME  is a marvellous tool for measuring progress. For example, 2010 I couldn’t walk up the stairs without major effort. Getting out of the bathtub was hard for me. As you all know, I started moving more and eating less. I am 117lbs further away from 2010. It amazes me.

I was flipping through TimeHop and came across a photo of my desk piled high in books and papers as I was writing my Capstone.

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This photo made me pause. I suddenly remembered all the steps that got me to this point.

I needed a project to work on for my final project. So I called my pal Joe because he often asks me the kind of questions that inspires me to think out of the box. We began talking about goals and future projects that would be huge or at the very least, take serious time and effort to complete. He disclosed that he would like to ‘one day’ run from the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco to the esplanade in Disneyland Resort. I said, “Lets do it!” So we started planning and this became my Capstone project. Project Planning on an epic scale. I got an A+ but something else happened.

We started a foundation called Do Away with SMA. Part of this adventure was because if you are going to do something big, do it for a great cause. Joe’s family was personally affected by SMA so we decided to make this personal and choose that cause to work for. Why? Because other charities that you hear about are just that…charities that you hear about. They have a name and are doing well and meeting their goals. Apparently, Joe and I are two individuals that who like to go big or go home. Starting from scratch is a big deal for us. So, with the support of our families and friends, here we are. Co-Founders with the help of our friends in the foundation DAWS. All because we thought it might be fun to run 500 miles for charity.


Its suddenly a reality.

This August is when it all happens. The way my life has turned really makes me blink with shock and awe. Whose life is this anyways? How did I get to this point? This is definitely not the old me. The new me is a very different person from 10 or even 5 years ago.

I invite you to follow our adventure on our blog at I will post adventures here and we will have a photo gallery on Facebook. Here is a link to our Crowdrise page that is raising money specifically to support this adventure. We hope to secure corporate support and raise money to help us fund this run as well as raise money to for our foundation. The Foundation support is found here .  That Cutie on the page is Claire. Claire has SMA. We met her Aunt through our Running Team and we heard amazing stories and saw adorable photos and suddenly SMA became REAL to the board. It was always real for Joe, his brothers died from SMA Type 1, but Claire is a typical kid living with an Atypical genetic disease. Now it is more important than ever that we raise money to support DAWS. We want to support kids like Claire in making every day tasks easier and to support researchers so they may find a cure. We want SMA to be eradicated. That is why Joe is running 500 miles. For kids like Claire.


Here is what I hope to achieve by doing this grand adventure:

Raise money for our Foundation DAWS so we can help fund research and support parents and children who are living with SMA. 

Support Joe as he runs really far. Between you an me, he gets cranky when he is tired so this may be a challenge for me. See how I make it about me? Because I am awesome like that.

Share all kinds of daily adventures because you can’t run a marathon everyday and have nothing happen.

See the Coast of California. I haven’t been there since I was a kid. It should be a beautiful scenic adventure!

Meet amazing people along the way both on the road and in social media. 

I suspect this will be one of those life changing moments that teaches you about yourself and your friends. Joe’s Road Crew has 3 of us on board for support, food and fights   companionship. The off road support has many more….who may get calls from me as I will need to talk to people who don’t live in the car with me.

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There are 2 ways to support.

1. You can donate directly to 500 Miles for SMA. When your donation reaches different levels, there are gifts that coincide with the donation level.

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2. You can donate DIRECTLY to the Foundation. We have lofty goals for finding a cure and supporting families and their children. That gets expensive. The great news is, Do Away with SMA is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation. That means I copy the legalese here for your reading pleasure:

The Do Away with SMA Foundation is a public charity and is tax exempt under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All donations made to the foundation may be deducted from your federaly taxable income to the extent permited by law. You should contact a tax professional to determine whether and to what extent donations are deductable under your particular circumstance.


This August is SMA Awarness Month. I invite you to come and cheer Joe on along the route. Here are our projected dates and places.

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I will be posting our location with video and photos and stories of our adventure. We hope you will join us.

We simply want to help as many people as we can, and play a part in defeating this disease. When I run, I always remember the faces of my younger brothers. ~Joseph R Kolinksy

Look for us here:

DAWSfacebook-logoinstagram-logo-vector-image10563174_1069997636362126_3316911294968633912_n11119531_842698832491196_2374805040860945477_oLOGO: Twitter. twitter logo-1024x1002.jpgCrowdrise_logo_151x48-1



I am a big believer in giving of your time for social justice causes. Especially if you have a talent of knowelege that will help someone out. This year my time and effort is going towards the Scarecrow Festival. The Festival raises money in  support of ABC Head Start. A Charity very near and dear to my heart. ABC Head Start works with low-income families and their preschool children to achieve success in learning and life.

I am now blog writer for the Scarecrow Festival. I invite you to come and read my weekly post here. I will be there every Monday morning bright and early. Please feel free to like and comment. Then head over to Facebook and like Scarecrow there. You will learn lots about weird scarecrow trivia like this one: In Kojiki, the oldest surviving book in Japan (compiled in the year 712), a scarecrow known as Kuebiko appears as a deity who cannot walk, yet knows everything about the world.

I bet you had no idea scarecrows were that old, did you? Then come to the festival and bring your kids, or come to the Gala and leave your kids at home. Either way, you will have funa nd support a great cause. Changing the world starts with one person…you.

@edmscarecrow  on twitter

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

I’ve started paying attention to signs. Not just road signs, but clues or meanings that trigger directions for me to follow or messages I am suppose to be aware of. Usually they are verbal but every now and then they are words I read. Over the past 7 days the message I have received loud and clear is, if you want something bad enough, say it out loud. Tell people you desire this.

It all started last week in my Qualitative and Quantitative Research class. My Professor gave me an article she found on LinkedIn. It is called,

Four Ways Women Stunt Their Careers Unintentionally  by Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath, and Mary Davis Holt, you can read the blog here.

Essentially, The article tells women to be proud of their accomplishments and say so. Don’t assume the people in power know what you are capable of, tell them. Be assertive. Men typically do this all the time. When women do it, they are looked at as bossy or pushy. Have you ever heard the old adage, the squeaky wheel gets the grease? Well, it’s true.

My mom and I had a sit down the other day talking about selling yourself. My mom is likely the best sales person on the planet. She can sell ice to Inuit. She maintains that if you can’t sell yourself to a company you want to work for, than how can you be expected to sell anything once you work for them?

Good point mom. I also know if I sell myself too hard, than I risk being shown the door. I’m okay with that. I am confident enough in my own ability that finding a new opportunity down the road is possible. The bottom line is, I know what I want, I can see it clearly. I am taking steps that put me in that direction. I have told people what I want and I am 3/4 of the way done in terms of furthering my education to get me that position. Today I had three separate conversations that pointed back to that sign.

The first conversation was with a person who just finished the very same degree that I am currently working on. We were chatting about the Master’s program, when she commented about my skill and mentioned that I may be a good candidate for a future endeavor. I replied, that’s the plan Stan! I told her I think it’s important to share your plans. She agreed, she said no one gets ahead by staying quiet about their intentions. EXACTLY!

The second conversation was with a new employee who has her eyes set on a brass ring. I can see the hunger in her eyes. She also is telling everyone who will listen her ambition. Good for her, I like her tenacity.

The third conversation was with a dear sweet friend. We were talking about personal goals, not work related ones. She had mentioned that she was interested in running the half marathon with me next August. I said it’s a date! Meanwhile, I mentioned that I had hoped to run the Donald Duck half marathon January 6, 2012. I was currently training for it and if all went well, I would be there because it is the 15th anniversary of the race. I was told there would be a bit of fan fare surrounding it! She asked me what was holding me back. I replied, CASH. School is expensive and that is my priority right now. She reached into her bag and gave me $5.00! She said if everyone who read my blog gave me $1 than I could go easily. She is right,and I would have money left over for a big donation to Make-A-Wish too. Before I left, another friend over heard our conversation. She gave me $5.00 too. So now I have $10.00 towards my flight! I have taken some Face Painting jobs this Christmas, so that will cover half my flight. This no longer sounds crazy! Okay, it sounds crazy, even to me.

I do however, come with a set of beliefs and values. I believe that no good deed goes undone. So… I am not going to ask you for a donation to send me to Walt Disney World in January. If you would like to contribute, THANK YOU!! But that sounds selfish. I am going to ask you to think about giving $1.00 to your charity of choice instead of me. I am not a charity – as much as I like to think I am – but I do believe in giving of yourself and money.

I will be optimistic and say WHEN you donate to a favorite charity because you read THIS blog, please tell me and I will write the amount on a piece of paper and put it in my fund. You can email me:

you can tweet me: @edmontontourist

You can Facebook me: The Edmonton Tourist

AND of course you can comment below!

I want to see the generosity of people, of my readers. I want to know how much – I’m asking that you give $1, your morning coffee costs more…just saying, and where you give it.

As for my fund, If I don’t raise enough for 2012 marathon it’s okay, I KNOW I will raise enough for the 2013. Any extra will go to the charity I will run for, Make-A-Wish foundation. I will run for them, because I have been lucky enough to have my wish come true, Make-A-Wish gives kids a chance to have their wish come true. Dreams that come true are the second best feeling, making someone elses dream come true is the best feeling.

Thanks Laurie xoxo

I Recieved a Love Note Today

At lunch today a note was slipped under the Staff Room Door for me. It nearly brought me to tears – in a good way. I received a lovely hand drawn piece of art by a former student of mine. This girl is in grade 3 and has a reputation for being a handful. 5 years ago she was my handful.

The drawing was of me. I am smiling with a flower in my hand. She wrote out my name on artful, fancy ways all over the paper and she signed it with a heart.

I teach in a neighborhood that is refered to as “The Hood”. Our school is surrounded by social housing projects and poverty rears its ugly head in the families that attend our school. This girl is from such a family. They live across the street in a tiny townhouse meant for a family 4. They are a family of 8. Mom stays home and does a fine job of raising nice kind kids. Dad is on his second tour of Afghanistan. I think it’s a crime that our military families live in poverty.

This young girl is the middle child. She is not as bright as her older siblings and not as cute as the younger siblings. Therefor she was my favorite. Her cries for attention manifest in typical ways like temper tantrums and not so typical like wetting her pants long after the age where it is deemed acceptable. School learning is harder for her than her extremely bright brother. She is often alone on the playground, or waits for the bell to ring before she will cross the street and get to class. Peer social interactions never came easy for her. She always needed adult support to start a conversation. As she has progressed in school, less adults in the classroom mean less support in forging new relationships. This girl would benefit from having a Big Sister through Big Brothers and Sisters.

Everyday I make the effort to find her and say hi. I tell her I miss her and wish her a great day. Every now and then I see her hanging around my classroom door. I introduce her to my students as a girl who used to be little and was in my class. I always make an effort to tell my students what a nice girl she is, and if they ever need help on the playground, find her. This girl never says a word to me. She will smile, but her words are silent. I am not even sure if she really remembers being in my class. But she does know I love her and I care about her. That makes a difference in her life. I am that someone who notices her and tells her I miss her when I don’t see her.

Every year I get a child like her in my class, from a large family who gets lost in the shuffle. Combine that with all the issues of poverty, and my job can get emotionally overwhelming. Today I read this blog a contribution to the Edmonton Journal’s Opinion page. The blog is from ABC Head Start, a program that works with preschool children and their families in poverty. It was a note about judging.

Now imagine being a family living on limited income. You have this preschool child (and maybe a few other children too) who is growing like a little weed! You want to wait until the last second to buy winter items for your child so that (fingers crossed) these expensive winter items last ALL winter. And lets face it, in Alberta that could be 13 out of 12 months. So you wait, one more pay check, two more pay checks, until the snow starts to fall to run out and purchase these items. For far too many parents this is the reality.

So next time you are at the grocery store on a particularly chilly fall day and see that family who’s children are not quite dressed for the cooler weather, let’s smile instead of judge because perhaps your patio furniture is still sitting on your deck.

Because I work with children who do not have much, I keep that in mind when I provide for my own. My children understand the balance between indulged and impoverished. They are lucky and know it, but they also have to do without. They know the value of social justice and earn volunteer hours for school. They have helped me collect things for the children at my school and will ask their friends for warm coats and mitts.

The next time you are out shopping and see the bin for Toys for Tots or Santa’s Anonymous, consider dropping a toy or more into the box if you are a family of HAVE. If you are lucky enough to be on the receiving end, remember to say THANK YOU. Showing gratitude causes things to multiply.

If you are fortunate enough to have a little extra money this year and not sure what you would like to do with it, please think about helping children who are hungry, cold and who go without. I’m sure you have a few ideas where your money would do great work, but if you need some ideas, I have included some of my favorite places to give:

Team For Kids, ABC Head Start  Big Brothers and Sisters , Santa’s Anonymous