2013 has been a year like none other. It has been a year of unexpected twists and turns that when laid to pen….I can hardly believe the journey. It reads like a fiction novel…but every word is the truth.
The year started out rough for me personally. I lost my mom unexpectedly in June of 2012 and started this year with my step dad of forty years following in her footsteps. By late spring we were scattering his ashes in the same place we scattered our mothers. Through all this hardship I always felt blessed that my work was also my life’s passion. To come to work and have the opportunity, each and every day, to make a difference and to work with people who share this passion truly became extraordinarily valid and amplified after what I was going through. It is true…as one door closes a window opens somewhere.
-A woman from Oxbow-
Back in March we got a phone call from a woman in Oxbow, ND, Becca Murphy. She was entering a pageant to compete for Mrs. North Dakota. For 15 years, she has been a Fitness Trainer and reached out to us because she wanted her pageant platform to be kids’ fitness. She quickly raised $1500.00 and organized a fitness carnival. We sent in our Master Teacher, Steve Cox, to introduce and lead PFA activities at this event. Not only was this event amazing and hugely successful, but prior to the event, she met with Scheels Sporting Goods and single handedly raised $17,800 to bring our initiative to Cass County as our first model and pilot program for North Dakota! We are currently running a call for proposals to match those funds with a school. She was not chosen as Mrs. North Dakota. She did win the Director’s Award, which is such an honor …and the Fitness Award..which we never doubted for a second!! Becca’s goal was to compete and create a Cass County model of Fitness in Education for kids. Working with her has been an honor. Her spirit, drive and deep commitment to fitness is the kind of inspiration you don’t see every day. To have Becca on your team is something special and we look forward with great anticipation to working with her in 2014 and beyond! She is our Mrs. North Dakota through and through…and thousands of kids are going to have their lives changed because of her decision to go for it!! Can one person make a difference? Absolutely!!
Throughout 2013 we were cooking on all four burners with our goals in sight every day…to raise awareness on the importance of funding Broad Based Fitness in Education in schools. By the fall, we were able to work with over 200 schools nationwide. No sooner did August arrive and our work shifted into high gear city-by-city, state-by-state. Every day for three months straight was super charged. The hours were long, the work was inspiring… literally thousands upon thousands of kids were impacted!
Across the country our Mentor Teachers/Trainers were out in field working with our grant schools, their communities and Sponsors ..all at the top of their game. Every project was stellar. Each community a true beacon of the good things taking place for children’s education in this country and what is going right with our schools. It is impossible to single out a community for a spot light as they all are incredibly inspiring. We can say on great authority, that when a community comes together and decides that kids and schools come first, with a commitment to teach the whole child what happens next is pure magic. Each school and community is blazing a trail that will be impacting children’s health for years to come. They have set the bar high and hitched their wagon to a higher star! We can’t wait to be in field again in 2014 and to work with each of you. It is an honor and privilege to be a part of your community.
In the midst of this work in October one of our own here at home office lost her home to an electrical fire and her father seriously injured. There are no words to describe the pain and sadness. There are also no words to describe the phenomenal outpouring of hope, support, prayers and love that came from everywhere through a community that extended far beyond our four walls and into the hearts of many.
Her father was recently moved to a rehab facility, has many health complications and heals slowly, but each day brings hope. It is one day a time. Then just in time for the holidays she was able to finally move out of the hotel she and her family had been in for two months and into a temporary home for the next six months while she works with the insurance company to rebuild. Through all this, she has inspired us and given a new meaning to the words hope, faith, gratitude and love.
Toward the end of October USA Today Pop Music Critic, Edna Gunderson, interviewed Ringo Starr about a book he was releasing called Photograph. The centerpiece of this book was a picture he took in 1964 of a carload of teens he “met” on the Van Wick Expressway leaving JFK for the BEATLES first appearance to do the Ed Sullivan show. In that interview with Edna he said he would like to know who are those “ kids in the car?” His quest for those “kids” went viral. The next day my husband, Charlie, and I woke up to the phone ringing off the hook very early. We do not pick up and let it go to the answering machine. Only to hear someone saying “Charlie, a BEATLE is looking for you! Ringo Starr wants to know who you are!”
What happened next is beyond surreal. Every media outlet you can think of called us..it became the top trending story …next thing you know NBC/TODAY SHOW sent a car to our home, fly us to NYC and next thing I know..there is my husband in “hair and makeup” with Carson Daly! and on the TODAY SHOW with Matt Lauer et al. and to boot…we got to be in the Orange Room with them and watch Celine Dion perform.
While on that show, Matt Lauer tells us that they are sending us to Las Vegas for the final concert of Ringo’s Tour at the Palms Hotel and to meet Ringo himself. So the weekend before Thanksgiving they send a car to our house and flew us to Las Vegas! Only way to describe all this..a Magical Mystery Tour! One we will never forget!
You cannot make this stuff up. Life is truly stranger than fiction. If I have learned one thing from 2013 it is to expect the unexpected, to have faith in good times and bad, and to never stop dreaming….because ANYTHING is possible!
This has been one heck of a ride, a year I will never forget for so many reasons..but most of all…what I will never forget are the people with whom I have been blessed to work with and my family. You blur together and become one in my heart.
With deep gratitude to all of you!