Just look what you did!

On July 12, SouthSide Early Childhood Center will have it’s official ribbon cutting!

Whether you supported the runs, came to the gala, volunteered at the school, or simply gave of your time or money, give yourself a self-five:tumblr_m8qtfucGiD1r31dt0o4_400Because IT HAPPENED!

The new school is amazing (see pics below) and I wanted to thank everyone that has helped us get there. Instead of the 1950’s era cinderblock school, the kids have a bright new place to learn and play!

It's Massive!

It’s Massive!


Here’s the front entrance, showing secure entry, and admin offices above!









Once past the front doors, there’s a bright and open reception area, with secure doors leading to the classrooms.

Infant Room!






Here’s one of the classrooms for our infants!  (We have children from 6 weeks old to 5 years old in our classrooms).  This is just one example of the great space and light we now have for our children.



And, when they get hungry, not only do we have an incredible kitchen…













But we also have a kid’s kitchen where they can learn to prepare meals, and then pass them through to the chef to cook!

Future Iron Chefs?

Future Iron Chefs?











Because of our new space, we’re also able to increase the diversity of our students by bringing in a small number of full pay students.  We are staying true to our mission of nurturing, educating and inspiring our children, and bringing in economic diversity helps them even more!

I hope you have the time to come down and see the new school for yourself. Check out their site at http://southside-ecc.org/ if you want to arrange a tour.  I was only able to give you a small glimpse, and as you know, the real magic is done by our outstanding teachers and staff.  Come see them in action!

I also hope you continue to gain inspiration from this journey we’ve been on. The kids are the start and finish.  They continue to struggle, but will have to struggle less because of great places like SouthSide.  You made this happen through your dedication, time and money and for that I can’t thank you enough. I started this by drawing inspiration from the children, but found so many more sources along the way.

Stay Inspired!


The Idiot

Run until it’s DONE!- New challenge for 2013-14

As most of you know, we’re nearly there in fully funding the new school for SouthSide!  Thanks to your generosity, we’re going ahead with groundbreaking THIS THURSDAY!  To celebrate how close we are (and hopefully get us across the finish line), I’m taking up a new challenge for 2013/14, and I hope you’ll join me!

We’re calling it Run until it’s DONE!, and the challenge is as follows.  Starting at groundbreaking (Feb 28) and for the next 12 months, I will run 2,014 miles in a combination of races and training.  We’ll finish up when we open the doors next year!

To put that in perspective:

  • It’s about a 1/2 marathon for every child we can accommodate in the new school, or
  • It’s a marathon every week (plus another 10 miles or so), and
  • I’ll burn about 260,000 calories (that’s 788 cheeseburgers!) 🙂

“How can I get involved?” I hear you say.  We’re working on that right now, but rest assured, whatever you’re motivated to do- run, donate, help out at SouthSide, we can accomodate it!  Full details on support coming soon!

So, I’m starting Thursday, and I’ll post my progress every week.  I’ll use my GPS watch to track progress, so you’ll be able to follow along.  We’re going to races around the country, so it should be a bit of an adventure!  I’ll post my races as I sign up for them, I hope to have all of them, and my training mapped out on the site in the next few days.

We’ll also bring you stories about the great kids at SouthSide you’re helping every month.  This is my inspiration, and I hope by sharing some of their stories, you’ll find a reason to be inspired, or just smile.

Finally, I’d ask that you spread the word!  Every time I talk to someone about the kids or the great work the staff and board does at SouthSide, a little inspiration grows.  Help us plant that seed.

See you on the road!

The idiot

Do YOU have what it takes to be an inspired idiot?

So, after resting a bit, I’m back to running and thinking about what’s next (no, I’m not going back out into the wilderness just yet).  My initial goal was to see what barriers I could break while raising awareness of the great work our staff does with the kids and their families at SouthSide Early Childhood Center.  I took inspiration from them and from all of you and made it through.  We not only raised awareness, but put us on track to raise the $3.5 million needed for a new school (if you’ve seen the old school, you know this is definitely a NEED, not a want).  That campaign still continues (we’re about $750,000 from our goal, nearly there!) and so if you know anyone that can see the need and wants to help, let them know about the site!

One of the things I’ve learned is that inspiration comes from some of the most unlikely places (just look at me :)), and I know you’ve either personally experienced or heard of some inspired idiots out there breaking barriers.  There are enough negative sites on the web, I’d like to keep this one up and running as a source for inspiration, but I need your help.  Send me your links, your stories, stories you’ve heard or experienced yourself.  If you know of an idiot or two, even better!  I’d like to help share those stories.  Here’s one to get you started:

George Swain, Head of Middle School at Poughkeepsie Day School (NY), is an avid biker and blogger. In 2010, as the Endless Mountains 1000K began, he was hit by a car from behind, resulting in trauma that included 24 broken bones. He’s back on his bike and recently rode a tour of all of the communities that Poughkeepsie Day serves, 300+ miles in the hills of upstate NY.

George’s blog post introducing the PDS tour:

A description of George’s catastrophe of 2010:

Look forward to hearing more stories like George’s.


Why am I doing this again?

Again, a big thank you to everyone that’s supported me! The run could be an end to itself, but it’s much more than that. SouthSide has published a piece that I think says it better than I ever could. Take a look here

Oh, and we’re over $25,000! (Blackboard will be updated when I get home) If you want to wait to see if I actually finish the run, no problem! As I’ve found, inspiration can strike at any time!

In the meantime, drink plenty of fluid, and stay out of the direct sun!

See everyone soon!



“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”- Calvin Coolidge

I have this quote on my wall in my office.  My dad gave it to me to remind me that whatever gets handed to us, moving forward tends to solve things.  That’s what he’s always counseled me on whenever things looked too tough.  When I was in high school, I started at quarterback for the first time and threw more passes to the opposing team’s cornerback then total passes (the math doesn’t seem to work logically, but I know that’s how I felt).  His advice was “figure out what you did wrong, fix it and get back in there.”  My freshman year in college, when the engineering school and I mutually agreed that it wasn’t in my best interest to continue there because of my grades and lack of attention.  He sat me down, helped me figure out what to do, and then press forward with something I could do well.  It prepared me for the difficult decision to not fight a birth father for custody of the little girl we were adopting even though we had raised her for 10 months and he had shown up at the absolute last minute, not wanting anything to do with her until that point.  By moving forward, we were ready for our first and then our second beautiful sons, the center of our lives. The advice and guidance I was given helped make me who I am.

What concerns me, and why I really want to help these kids is, many of them go through far worse, with much less, if any guidance. Without schools like SouthSide, they don’t stand a chance.  Without guidance, they have no direction.  Without direction, they’ll founder.

The expert staff we have at SouthSide, however, are trained to recognize these needs.  They design individual programs for each child, programs that will get them ready for what lies ahead and fills in the gaps, socially, educationally, and emotionally.  Whatever barriers they face, we can help them.  With persistence, they will succeed.

That’s why I’m running.  To raise the awareness that we can make a difference with these kids right now. Thanks for helping me make this possible.

And yes, even after this run, I’m going to keep looking for ways to help them.  You can blame my dad for that… 🙂

Meet one of our great kids!

Kirby is one of the kids at SouthSide that I’m running for. He’s only five, and he’s had more challenges thrown his way than I’ve ever had to deal with. The teachers, staff and specialists at SouthSide are incredible in their dedication to Kirby and all of his classmates. Just like I’m continually fueling during my long training runs with water, food and electrolytes, they are bolstering Kirby with hours and hours of targeted services that will make it possible for him to make it academically and socially.

SouthSide’s new school will be great for children like Kirby. Right now, when he has individual therapy, he and his therapist have to sit at a table in the hallway, because there just isn’t space anywhere else. And there are about 25 children like Kirby who need those services. We need more space!

If you want to read more about Kirby click here

Anything can happen on a run…

It may be cliche, but read the rest of this and then you tell me.  It all started innocently enough. Standing on the starting line at a 24 hour race in Iowa, my goal was to get at least 70 miles in, test out different fueling and gear, and not injure myself to the point where I couldn’t run Death Valley in July.  In other words, a typical weekend run.

I toed the starting line on a 1/4 mile track with 41 other runners, ranging in age from 19 to 65 at 7 AM Saturday morning.  The goal was to get as many miles in as possible in 24 hours, taking in 22 ounces of water, 300-400 calories and 600-1000 mg of salt every hour to keep my electrolytes in balance.  I had set up my own aid station, as had the others, stocked with what I thought would get me through the day-carbohydrate gels and drinks, recovery drinks for some protein, and “real” food (potatoes, pbj, ramen noodles) for later in the race.  My strategy was to try to maintain a 12 min/mile pace through the first 12 hours, get 60 miles in, and then, taking rest breaks, average 18 min/mile to get the remaining 40 miles and my 100.  In reality, anything over 70 was going to be a good run and a personal best, so I tried not to put too much pressure on the 100 at the outset.

The first few hours were run under a mostly cloudy sky, which kept the heat down and gave me some confidence that may have been misplaced.  As we moved past noon, however, the sun came out and a high of 77 felt a lot warmer.  My first mistake was realized about this time – my first 12 hours of carbs was basically all sweet-tasting.  I was taking in enough salt, but my stomach decided it was done after about 8 hours.  I couldn’t put another Gu packet in my mouth.  I ran on for about 2 hours on no additional food, drinking water from time to time and still taking the salt pills.  My body also tried to trick me into stopping.  First, the left hip started hurting, after an hour it went away.  Then, my right knee started acting up.  Again, in an hour or so, it had disappeared.  All of these games meant, however, by the time my pacer (aka Sandra) showed up, I was slow and feeling like crap.  She had brought McDonald’s cheeseburgers (330 calories and 800 mg sodium, so perfect!) and Ramen Noodles. She walked with me as I ate 1/2 a cheeseburger and then some Ramen, and I almost immediately began to feel better.  We restarted a run walk pattern, and I was able to get to 58 miles in the first 12 hours.  Not on pace, but not too bad.

The sun was down now and I was feeling better.  Averaging 11.5 min miles for the next 20 miles put me ahead of schedule.  About mile 80, both my feet started to hurt.  I had to stop from time to time and massage them both.  I switched out shoes, which didn’t help, and then switched them back.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I had developed a blister under my big toenail on my left foot and under the little toenail on my right.  I had also strained a tendon in my foot, but all I knew was that it hurt.  By mile 88, I was averaging 18-20 min miles.  By the time my watch gave out, I was still within reach of 100, but every step was very painful.  About 22 hours in, 100 was slipping away.  I stopped again to rub my feet and decided to look at emails and pull some more strength from all the encouragement I was getting.  One e-mail caught my eye.  I read it, decided the race was over, called Sandra (waking her up at 5 am), and started packing up my things.

The e-mail was from our adoption lawyer.  Our birthmother was in labor in Salina, Kansas- 8 hours away, and our son was entering the world 3 weeks early.  Luckily my mother was home with our two year old son, so as we tried to decide what to do (detouring to St. Louis would have added another 4 hours to the trip), we called her and she immediately volunteered to stay longer and watch him.  We packed up the jeep.  I passed out and Sandra drove to Kansas.  We arrived 20 minutes before he was born and had him in our arms shortly after that. He’s the perfect addition to our family.  

When I think back to all the things that happened that have brought us to this point-deciding to check e-mail at that point; having Sandra at the race and having my mother at home so we were able to pick up and go; Patrick being 3 weeks early but waiting until we arrived before coming into this world-it reminds me of two things: 1-No matter how in control we think we are, we’re not, and 2-No matter what world you’re born into, everyone deserves a chance.  I love that we can give Patrick that chance and I hope that we can give the kids at SouthSide as much of a chance.  But hey, I’m not in control, right?