Gavin’s Story

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I started Team Tiny Oranges last year because I wanted to do a charity project through my blog.

I knew I wanted it to benefit a charity that helped children, so when I heard about the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation’s (PCRF) annual Cinco de Mayo Run / Walk event which happened shortly after I posted this guest blog from a mommy reader who was a pediatric cancer survivor looking to raise awareness, I knew this was the cause I wanted to support.

I wanted the opportunity today to share the story of a mom I met last year through PCRF, Kim, and her son, Gavin.

When you are not personally affected by pediatric cancer, those words are just that, words. But what I learned through doing our team, is that behind the words, “pediatric cancer” there are countless stories of families facing this horrendous disease. Families that need our help. 

If you are inspired today to do something to help fight for Gavin and all the families like Gavin’s who face the unfathomable, please join us on Team Tiny Oranges 2012!  Click here for info on how to join our team. There is no minimum fundraising, and you DON’T have to run a half marathon! There is a 1K, 5K, 10K and half, an event for everyone.

May Gavin’s story also be a reminder, that even on your most challenging, craziest of days, to have healthy kids is a blessing beyond measure.

You can read their amazing story in more detail in her book she published last year, Hope Room. It gave my life an entirely new perspective.

Gavin’s Story

“In 2009, I was the happy mother of an infant daughter, Mia, and a 4 year-old son, Gavin. My husband and I were enjoying watching our healthy, happy family grow. We had a great summer enjoying Mia’s first year and Gavin’s first real swim lessons.

Gavin started preschool that fall, and suddenly was getting sick all the time. We, along with everybody else, chalked up his fevers and recurrent ear infections to his body being exposed and getting used to all the germs in preschool. Fall turned to winter and when Christmas finally came, Gavin was too miserable to come out of his room. We saw the ENT right after the holiday weekend, who diagnosed acute mastoiditis and immediately admitted us to the hospital. The pediatrician on the floor looked at Gavin’s blood work and told us that we should be transported up to CHOC, on the oncology floor. She believed that there was more going on in Gavin’s body than the mastoid bone infection. After a bone marrow test at CHOC, the doctor led us to another room on the oncology floor, where he sat us down and told us that 75% of the cells in Gavin’s bone marrow were cancer cells. Gavin’s diagnosis was acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Gavin’s oncologist informed of the good news: he had the most treatable form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, which is itself the most common type of childhood cancer. There is a distinct and well-established protocol for treating his cancer. Then the bad news: the treatment protocol would involve 8 months of intensive chemotherapy followed by 3 years of less-intensive chemotherapy called “maintenance.”

It’s been a long road. Gavin endured many phases of chemotherapy including scores of different drugs. He lost his hair and grew it back. He puked everywhere. But today, he is 6 years old and child-of-the-week in his kindergarten class. He just started playing T-ball. His best friend in his class, coincidentally, also has ALL. They compare the toys they get when they go in for chemo, which is served up either through an IV or spinal tap monthly.  Gavin takes his chemo pills every night and he will continue his chemo regimen through May 2013. They’re normal kids, who happen to have cancer.

Our family supports PCRF because the money they raise goes directly to pediatric cancer research. It goes towards finding better treatments for the 1 in 330 kids who will be diagnosed with cancer before they turn 18. It goes towards finding drugs with fewer horrible side effects. It goes towards finding long-term cures for these children who deserve to live out the full life that lies ahead of them.

I have so much respect for Jen for starting Team Tiny Oranges to raise money and awareness for PCRF. I am grateful for her commitment to a cause that doesn’t directly affect her family. I’m involved because of my son and because of all the other kids who fought cancer, are still fighting, or who passed on far too early. Jen is involved because she wants to be, and that’s simply awesome.”

Thank you so much Kim, for sharing your personal journey with us. Kim’s family and supporters will be out in full force on Team Gavin this year at the PCRF Run / Walk. They also wear Orange (Gavin’s favorite color).  Gavin, you know what? It’s mine too! If you would like to make a donation to support Team Gavin, please click HERE.

[Photos compliments of the Rowe Family.]

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Join Team Tiny Oranges 2012!

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For those of you that are new to my blog, Tiny Oranges was a part of something very special last year when 110+ people joined our Team Tiny Oranges to help find a cure for pediatric cancer in the Cinco de Mayo Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (PCRF) Run / Walk in Irvine.Together, we made a difference in the lives of children and families affected by pediatric cancer.

Now Team Tiny Oranges is back again to make a difference in 2012! Will you join us?

As a mom, this cause touches me deeply.

Through my experience last year I was profoundly touched and inspired by the people and families involved in the PCRF.

It is a grass-roots organization focused on laboratory research that translates into immediate treatment for children with cancer.

80% of all funds raised for PCRF goes to research.

Now a little about the event!

Taking place on Sunday, May 6th, 2012 in the Irvine Spectrum area, there is an event for everyone including:

50K Bike tour – starting at 6:30am
Half Marathon – starting at 7am
5K Run – starting at 7:15am
10K Run – starting at 7:45am
5K  Walk – starting at 9:30am
1K Kids’ Fun Run – starting at 11am

Then at the Expo & Finish Line Fiesta you will find a super fun family event with bounce houses, food, festivities, music & more.

Team Tiny Oranges will have a booth set up where you can come by and hang out! SO much fun! Here is a recap of last year’s event.

How to Sign Up / Help / Get Involved: 

1. Click HERE to Join Our Team!  No pressure to fundraise, even the money raised for registration helps.

2. Can’t make it? Click HERE to donate. Even $1 or $5 will help!

3. Want to fundraise but can’t make it on May 6th? Enter as a Virtual Participant! Click “Join Our Team” and follow the registration and then click “Virtual Participant” for your event.

I hope you will join us and bring your family to this amazing event.  It is a great opportunity to teach your kids about giving back, a wonderful family event, and there is no better way to start the new year than with a fitness goal. So maybe this just might inspire you to run your first 5K or 10K?!

It is 3 months from today – PLENTY of time to start training!

Thanks and hope to see you on May 6th! Woo too! Go Team Tiny Oranges!  Who’s IN???

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team tiny oranges reached for the cure

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It’s taken me the week to process the event from last weekend but I am now ready to share all the amazing details and wrap up what has been an incredible experience.

Special thanks to Kim Harvey Photography for donating her time to photograph our event!  All photos in this post are Kim’s unless otherwise noted.  She did SUCH an amazing job!  Thank you!

On Sunday, May 1st, 2011 one hundred and eleven people  from Team Tiny Oranges showed up to the Irvine Spectrum to participate in an inspiring event to reach for a cure for pediatric cancer.

We joined thousands of other moms, dads, kids, families and teams to walk and run together for a cause that has now become very close to my heart – raising money to help fund research dollars that will go to the best scientists and best researchers to help save lives of children across the world.

Through various fundraisers, email campaigns and creativity, our team collectively raised over $23,707.70 dollars for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation to help save lives and our team took home the award for top fundraising team!  So exciting!

Here were some of my teammates that went up to accept our award!

Everyone was decked out in, you guessed it, ORANGE!   We had cute PCRF t-shirts for our team with our big Tiny Oranges logo on it and some gals wore a tank the Running Divas made for us with our team slogan, “you are strong” on it.   Not only do I love this company and their hip apparel, but the owners could not be nicer people.  Thanks Marc for all your help!

I saw this shot below on the blog Hearts and Scars and Chelsea was nice enough to send me the image.  Chelsea is a pediatric cancer survivor with a beautiful blog – please click the link and check out her work and make sure to read her post on the event for more images.

I thought this picture really epitomized the feel of our YOU ARE STRONG team!

My parents got there early along with four of their friends to set up our team booth as I was running the half marathon. Afterwards I had to wonder WHAT the heck I was thinking trying to coordinate a team AND run a half marathon?!  I am so lucky to have such amazing parents and family friends that were willing to come and help me.  Here was our cute booth! Thanks again to Calee from eXist Designs for donating the banner to us!

And another special thanks to Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market in Costa Mesa for donating bottled waters, cereal bars and raisins for our booth. I am and forever will be a loyal customer for life after experiencing their kindness first hand!

And, if I can have a drum roll please…

The amazing Montage Laguna Beach was one of our team sponsors and was kind enough to donate a one night weeknight stay at their fabulous property to the top fundraiser on our team.

Through personal fundraising efforts and a big fundraiser she coordinated in February for our team, the lovely Tera Rae Stephens wins the award with $3,635 dollars raised for our team to help find a cure for pediatric cancer! Congratulations!

Now, a little about my actual race.  After barely sleeping at all due to nerves, my husband and I walked over to get ready to start the half marathon.

It started with the National Anthem which always makes me teary and then some girls from Lululemon played some fun music and did a warm up with everyone before the gun went off to start.  I was filled with excitement and buzzing with anticipation and adrenaline.

Then off the gun went and we were on our way!

As it turns out, God chose to shine the sun down on us big time that day, along with the wind.  Um, head wind, so I have to say this was by far my hardest half and also the hardest physical challenge of my life.  I went out too fast for the first 6 miles and then sort of hit a wall and was feeling pretty terrible.   The last 7 miles were a huge challenge for me.  Every race I learn a new lesson.

But I powered through, one step at a time, and let me tell you there were many times along the way that I wondered if I could do it and had to say to myself, “keep going, you are strong.

One of the coolest things for me, was at the last mile, the torturous mile 12 which seems to last for eternity, I saw two Team Tiny Oranges teammates, Kristal and Sharon, who were both running their first half marathon.  It was SO cool to be at the finish with them.  I was so proud!  At one point Sharon turned to me and said, “you are strong!” and we kept going.

As I crossed the finish, it was surreal. I saw my parents, my parent’s friends, my sister, my inlaws, my GIRLS, Kristin Enrico and her mom who inspired me to start this team, my best friends.  It was a moment of a complete HIGH like I have never experienced before.  Because even being the worst personal run ever, I still did it, and to see all the people I did at the finish was completely exhilarating.

And to know the REASON I ran those 13.1 HARD miles was the most important thing of all.

Here is my finish, thanks Kim for capturing this shot.  It means more to me than you know and symbolizes more than you know! I worked SO hard and put SO many hours into this event that to cross that finish was a true “we did it!” feeling.

I got to see a handful of team members at the booth after the race and everyone was glowing with accomplishment.  It was really an awesome moment.  The collective feeling was one of joy and that it was so cool to be a part of something special; something bigger than ourselves.

Then we walked over to the 1K Kids’ Fun Run.  My girls were SO looking forward to “running” in it, and it was the CUTEST thing ever!

{bottom left & bottom right photos were taken by me}

When the kids finished they all got MEDALS which were a  BIG hit.  HUGE.

Then Emma asked me if she won the race, and I said, “yes!!” And then she asked me, “did you win your race?” And I said, “Yes! We ALL won our races today.  We are all winners today.”

Sounds so corny, but it was true.

In wrapping up this process, I would like to say the following…

Thank you to my incredible team for joining us and for working so tirelessly to raise money for kids that need help.  Your dedication and enthusiasm was remarkable.  We made a difference.

Thank you to Kristin Enrico for writing this beautiful guest post about being a pediatric cancer survivor that got my wheels turning on what we could do to make a difference.  You were the inspiration to start this team.

Thank you to everyone that donated to our team and supported our fundraisers.  I was overwhelmed by your generosity.

Thank you to Jordan, Gina and Taite from PCRF for being my cheerleaders and providing me with help and motivation throughout the entire process.

Thank you to Kim from Team Gavin for reminding me every day why I am fighting for this cause and for inspiring me with your story and resolve.

Thank you to all my sponsors I mentioned above.  Your willingness to help meant so much.

Thank you to my husband, parents and friends for supporting me and being there for me.

Thank you to all the OC bloggers who joined us on our team.  The power your outlets provided to spread the word and awareness had a huge impact and I feel honored to be a part of your community.
I am also proud to call you friends.

And to all the children and families facing pediatric cancer:  we walked or ran with you in our hearts last weekend.
Thank you for inspiring us with your strength. I pray for a cure.


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Core Athletica Bootcamp & Raffle for PCRF!

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Mark your calendars and join Erica from Core Athletica and her team on Saturday, March 26th, 2011 at Corona del Mar Main Beach for an awesome beach bootcamp benefiting Team Tiny Oranges and 100% donated to the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation!

She has assured us that all fitness levels are welcome and when a few of us have asked about the intensity, her response has been, “You will be FINE!” 🙂

So grab some girlfriends or bring your significant other and enjoy a morning on the beach
enjoying a great workout for a great cause!

Here’s how to sign up…

Click HERE to donate $25 to Erica’s personal fundraising page and then click HERE to leave a comment on her post to let her know you made your donation and you will be there!

The workout kicks off at 8am and will last about an hour.  Parking in the main beach lot per the website is $15 per car. There is also a lot of street parking up above the beach and it is a 2 minute walk down the hill.

After the workout she will do the drawings for this AWESOME raffle! Only $2 a ticket! You need not be present to win, so if you can’t make the workout, consider at least buying a few of these tickets to enter to win some of these amazing prizes which include…

A fitbook pink & fitbook junior from fitlosophy (love mine!) ($50 value)
A 3 day Ritual Cleanse (who will also be present at the fundraiser handing out samples!) ($285 value)
2 private ($160 value) or 5 group pilates sessions ($175 value) with Core Athletica
4 HUGGS from Grin and Bear It Designs (never seen these – cute!)
2 private training sessions from Jeff at  Norcross Fit ($150 value)
A $52 gift card from Seasons 52 restaurant in South Coast
A one hour facial AND one hour massage from Body Design in Newport Beach
A $50 gift card from Words to Sweat By to shop on their site
An assortment of high quality candles (valued at $50) from Ted’s Shreds
A new pair of athletic shoes from Mizuno USA (valued at $85 – $115)
A basket full of Larabars
A haircut & highlight from the ever so fabulous Tera Rae Stephens ($180 value)!

So, just to clarify, tickets are $2 per ticket, so first decide how many you want and then click HERE to make your donation.  Then after you have made your donation, click HERE to go to her raffle post and leave a comment on how many tickets you want put in for each raffle prize for the tickets you purchased.

For just a little (tax deductible donation) you could win some BIG prizes!  I mean what if you spent $10 on tickets and ended up with a prize MUCH bigger than that?  All the while knowing you are helping find a cure for pediatric cancer. Now that’s what I call WINNING!

Hope to see you on 3/26 for this awesome fundraiser!


For more information on how to join Team Tiny Oranges click here

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Team Tiny Oranges Reaches for the Cure

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I have a dream, and I need your help.

Before you get scared that I am going to try to get you to run a Half Marathon, let me be clear, to be on the Tiny Oranges Team, you can choose to participate in any of the events, the Half Marathon, 10K run, 5K run OR walk, even a 1K kids’ fun run!

Now that hopefully your mind is still open, please keep reading on how this idea all came together and what we can do together to make a difference in a child’s life!

Last year on December 31st, I wrote a list of resolutions. Things I wanted to do this year.  #4 on my list was to organize a charity project through Tiny Oranges with your help.   I just didn’t know what it would be.  So I waited and listened because I had this feeling it would just come to me.  And it did.

A couple months back, I got an email from an old friend that wrote this beautiful post on surviving childhood pediatric cancer.  And it sat heavy on my heart.  Because as a mom, I can’t even wrap my head around how you would cope if it was your child.

Then I did some research and I learned how UNDERFUNDED pediatric cancer research is and that made me sad and angry because we are talking about CHILDREN.

Then when I picked up my bib for the Long Beach Half Marathon last month, in it was a flyer for the Cinco de Mayo Reaching for the Cure Run/Walk to benefit pediatric cancer research.  It was right then when I KNEW, in my heart, this was it. This was the project.

So I am asking you {and your husbands, friends & relatives) to please join TEAM TINY ORANGES! Because together we have the opportunity to raise money for this incredibly important cause and make a difference.

$2000 is my team goal to raise.  But between you and me I am hoping we blow that number out of the water! And I think, no, I know, we will!

So, six months from today, on May 1st, 2011, I hope you will join me and Team Tiny Oranges as we get ready to ROCK the Cinco de Mayo race benefiting the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation!

1. Click THIS LINK to go to the Tiny Oranges Team page
2. Click “Join Our Team” at the top
3. Agree to the terms
4. Then you will enter in your information, select your race of choice and enter payment info.  After you register, you will be directed to a personal page where you can put in a personal fundraising goal and find the forms to  email contacts and spread the word to your friends to start raising money.

But this is also an important note! If you are uncomfortable fundraising, please know that this is not a requirement to be on the team!  I hope you do, but you don’t have to.

And that’s all folks!   I have to have 10 people to even be considered a “team” so my goal is by the end of the day today that I can have at least 10 people signed up so I can be “legit!”

I would love you to please post this on your Facebook pages too! Here is the link to this post:

Team Tiny Oranges Reaches for the Cure

If you have never attached a link before on Facebook, let me tell you how!

1. Select the entire line above from the http part to the last word, then right click and copy
2. In your status update you can write whatever you want
3. In the grey box where it says “attach” click the first icon for “link”
4. It will pull down a white box where you will put your mouse and hit “paste”
5. Then click “attach” and then “share”

Thanks friends! Can’t wait to see our team grow!

And feel free to email, forward, do anything you can to spread the word and help recruite team members!  I am SO EXCITED you guys!   I can’t wait to see what we can do!  XO

{P.S.  If anyone out there is looking fear in the face at this moment, thinking “could I maybe, possibly do a half marathon?

Let me tell you, there is no feeling that will compare to when you cross that finish line. Even if you have never run in your entire life (like me when I trained for my first one.)  I thought I could NEVER do it.  But I did, one foot in front of the other, and it has been a life-changing experience.

Six months is more than enough time to train, and I am so happy to provide tips and encouragement along the way! I applaud you for even considering it!}

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