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Hi Everyone,

We are slowly getting back to normal after our big event this past Saturday night. Now it’s time to get “back to business” on all the other things that take a back seat to a big event. But before we do that……………..I wanted to say THANK YOU to a bunch of people who made it such a successful night! First, to Stephanie, my Communications and Special Events Coordinator. Yes, it’s her job to do this, but she went over and above, even putting in the equivalent of a full day’s job on Saturday. Second, to Scott Barna, Donna Christman and the entire staff at Route 23 Auto Mall in Butler, NJ for hosting the event, helping with set-up, clean-up and everything in between. Third, to our sponsors and players – thank you for your support and for joining us for what I hoped was a fun evening for you! And fourth, to all the volunteers that night, who managed to keep everything running smoothly. Together, we all raised about $13,000 for Push to Walk and people with spinal cord injuries! Awesome!!!

Also a special shout-out to my friends Ethan Ruby and Jeremy Schwartz at Poker4Life in New York City. I can only dream of putting on an event like these guys do! First class all the way. They let me in on some of their secrets and shared information with me so Push to Walk could host our own event. They realize we are all in this together, and have been generous with their time and ideas, in addition to participating and supporting us financially. THANK YOU!

We are working on some pretty exciting things here at Push to Walk, including a future research project, buying new equipment, and plans for Summer Camp. Stay tuned for details!

Have a good weekend!

Cynthia

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March 23, 1986 – a day I’ll never forget! I am guessing most mothers remember the births of their children with an amazing amount of clarity. It IS a life changing event, especially the birth of the first child, so that should not be surprising. But every year, I think about the events of that day (and the night before as well) and it seems so hard to believe it happened 26 years ago! Wow!

I often stray from my self-prescribed topics of blog posts for Push to Walk, but today I am going to tie in triumphs and successes to one of my favorite people in the whole entire world – my son, Darren. Today he is 26 years old, and I am going to do what every mother loves to do – brag about their children.

Darren was always the strong, silent type. He was not rambuctious, running around crazy or loud. He was thoughtful, sensitive and caring. He is still all of those things and more. After sustaining his spinal cord injury at age 18, we shared many hugs and tears, more than one would ever imagine. We have also shared smiles and laughter, along with more hugs and tears of the happy kind. I think this has all brought us closer. But the fact remains that he is 26, wants to be independent, on his own and making his own decisions. As with most moms of young adult children, we let them find their way, make mistakes, offer guidance and then hold our breath as we watch them conquer the world.  Sometimes they trip and fall, but we are not always there to catch them. They (hopefully!) figure it all out.

Darren lived on campus three of his four years of undergraduate school. He then moved back home while getting his Master’s Degree. Almost simultaneously, he graduated, got a full time job and moved into his own apartment. I thought it was too many new things to do all at once. Can’t you get settled in your job before you move out, I asked. Don’t you want to enjoy a little time off before you start working for the rest of your life? Don’t you want to live at home and save some money? All of the answers, of course, were no. He had a plan and he followed it.

All of those things happened about 9 months ago. And all of those things seem to be going well. I say “seem,” because I am not privy to all the details of his life anymore. He is private and keeps some things to himself. I respect that. I’m curious, yes! But he tells me what he wants, and I guess what he thinks I need to know. I have to accept that. And that is OK.

So for today, I am trumpeting about Darren’s successes and triumphs. He is doing what so many other 26 year olds want and should be doing. Don’t get the wrong idea – every day is not a happy one, for either of us. We have our down days, our sad days, our frustrating days. The days I still want to scream and yell – Why Darren? Why me? Why us? Why ALL of us in the world of spinal cord injuries? There are no answers, no solutions, except to look deep inside ourselves and listen to our hearts. Acknowledge the hurt, but also the joy. Accept what is today, and hope for a better tomorrow. Recognize the weakness, but concentrate on strength. And, as much as possible, stay positive.

As I reflect on Darren’s 26 years of life, I celebrate all that he is, who he is and how he lives his life. I am so proud to be his Mom, and I wish him the BEST birthday ever.

Thank you for reading these words from my heart.  I am grateful to have the opporuntiy to write and share my feelings. I hope you enjoy sharing them with me.

Cynthia

P.S. Celebrate Darren’s birthday by registering TODAY for Push to Walk’s Poker Tournament on March 31. The price goes up $25 at midnight tonight!!

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As I continue my training for the NJ Marathon on May 1st, I mapped out a route of two segments of 9 miles each. There would be about a 10 minute break in-between, to transport me from one location to another. In the past, I have run this stretch of road, and it is just too dangerous. So my husband met me and drove me from the end of the first 9 miles to the beginning of the next. It was kind of brisk weather – mid 30’s – and sunny. I was psyched for the distance and liked the route I had planned. I overdressed (as usual!) and had to ditch a layer and my hat halfway through. Otherwise, the run went well! I was even able to push myself at the end, with the saying “run, Cynthia, run” (as in Forrest Gump) keeping me going.

During this three and a half hour activity, I was reviewing everything about the Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament the night before. The planning was a little easier this time around, as usually is the case, when you are repeating an event. I learned from last year to have more helpers, and that worked out great. I had the best people helping, offering to do whatever needed to be done, and when they finished one thing, they jumped right to the next task.

As the players came in, it was nice to talk with those I knew, thanking them for supporting Push to Walk once again. I met some new people, too, and enjoyed talking with everyone. With more help this year, I was able to “work the room” and wasn’t tied down to a job for the evening. That was nice!

What I thought about most during this run, though, were the people in chairs who came to support our cause, even though they are not clients of Push to Walk. One guy came all the way from Flemington, another lives in NYC and had been traveling most of the month of March. He came back early just so he could come to our event! Between the long drives and the planning it takes to do extra events like this, I was so appreciative they made time for Push to Walk! And several of our clients, too. It was great to see them there, having a good time.

These thoughts morphed into thinking about so many other people I have met who use wheelchairs for one reason or another. In  most cases, a chair is being used for a spinal cord injury, but not always. I have met some wonderful people and their families, all dealing with their injuries and their challenges in individual ways. Some seem to have it all figured out (I don’t know if they really do, or just seem that way), some have challenges that are on-going, persistent and difficult. As I meet each person, I enjoy talking with them, learning about them and spending time with them. It doesn’t necessarily involve any conversation about why they’re in a chair. Sometimes it comes up; oftentimes it doesn’t.

In any case, I guess my mind was quite occupied with these thoughts, as my 18 miles didn’t really seem that terrible  (until the next day that is, which will be the subject of my next blog!). So as I reviewed the success of the event, the people who helped and those that supported us, I was grateful that Push to Walk has so many “friends.” Thank you, friends – all of you – for helping us accomplish our goals. And thank you for the motivation to reach my own personal goal – running a full marathon in just 5 more weeks!

Cynthia

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This past Friday night, Push to Walk hosted its 2nd Annual Casino Night/Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament. We had a great turn-out and were very happy with the event. Scott Barna, Donna Christman and the entire staff of Route 23 Auto Mall in Butler, NJ made this event possible. Scott is very generous to Push to Walk, donating the use of the dealership, his staff, getting players to attend and advertising the event. We couldn’t do it without him! Thanks, Scott!

As we learned last year, the people who come to play are quite an eclectic group. They come from all walks of life, and are attracted to the main prize of $5000. Some have a relationship with Push to Walk; some don’t. We hope that after attending, they’ll have learned about Push to Walk and the wonderful work we do for people with spinal cord injuries. And of course, we hope everyone who came had a good time!

We have such a wonderful group of volunteers, Board Members, clients and family members, sponsors and friends who all help with the event in some way. It is truly a team effort and one I am so thankful for.

About 100 people played poker, and as Darren ended the introductions and the tournament director instructed the dealers to “shuffle up!” you could feel the energy in the room. It was great to watch and see people having a good time. As the break drew near, people were up and about, chatting with others if they were out, or buckling down for the serious rounds to come. It really did seem like everyone was enjoying the night so far.

As the excitement built for the final table of 10 players, now there was a more serious feel to the atmosphere. The spectators were paying attention, and the players were focused on the cards. Each new round usually meant someone was eliminated, and the tension became more noticeable. With only the final 2 players left, the crowd leaned in, wanting to see what was going on. All of a sudden, it was over, and the winner was named. Wow! How exciting! Not being a poker player myself, and not understanding the finer points of the game, someone had to tell me who had just won!

Both players seemed happy with their prizes: #2 won a 55″ TV and the grand prize winner won $5000 in gift cards. In a VERY generous gesture, the winner gave back half of the winnings to Push to Walk. What a kind and caring man. He didn’t want any publicity for it; just did it quietly. How wonderful for Push to Walk and the clients we serve. How wonderful that there are so many caring, generous people in the world. With the entry fees, re-buys, add-ons and 50/50 raffle, the players were extremely generous and helped Push to Walk in ways they’ll never know. Preliminary figures show we raised several more thousand dollars from last year, coming close to raising $18,000 for the night! Awesome!

Events like this, even with the amount of work they involve, bring warmth to my heart and strength to my soul. Seeing so many people who want to help, while having a good time, too, is just such a wonderful feeling. THANK YOU to all the players, sponsors, volunteers and clients who helped make this a success.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Cynthia

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