We’ve had more exciting opportunities to spread the word about St. Jude, and also help out a local Cancer organization here in Tampa. Life hasn’t slowed down one bit lately, but honestly it feels so good to be able to say YES to some fun things and not turn everything down because we don’t know how Caleb will be feeling.
So, first I will start with a photo shoot that took place earlier last week. The shoot was for the Children’s Cancer Center. They are an amazing resource for cancer families right here in Tampa. We were able to attend their Christmas party this past December, and they also helped provide the kids with some gifts at Christmas time. We haven’t been able to attend too many of their groups since we have been home because of Caleb’s counts being so low, but they have different groups that meet during the month such as a Teen group, family connection group, and even a survivor’s group to help kids re-adjust to life after cancer. They are really an amazing resource to have in Tampa, so when they asked if Caleb would want to be a part of the photo shoot we said “sure!” As always he was a trooper and had a great time. I can’t wait to see the professional photos once they are released but I got a few behind the scenes photos!
As far as St. Jude goes, I reflected on all the amazing opportunities they have given us and I can’t even believe it. I am not a person who is usually comfortable speaking in front of people but somehow when it comes to St. Jude I just feel so strongly about sharing their mission that I put my fears aside and do it. And of course Caleb is fearless so he goes right along with us. I was overwhelmed as I thought back to all the amazing things we’ve done starting with traveling to New York for Caleb to shoot a commercial with Michael Strahan. Caleb and I walked in a fashion show, and I also shared our story at that event. We were a part of the St. Jude Radiothon at our local station, which included answering phones and being interviewed on air. We got to travel to Nashville to attend The Million Dollar Show, where we met Bobby Bones, Sam Hunt, Old Dominion, Brooks and Dunn, Brett Young and more…. I was interviewed as part of a podcast that aired locally here in Tampa. And on and on and on… we have even more events on the books coming up (that I will share at a later time) but for now I will share with you the most recent opportunity we had… Supercross!!!
When we were approached about attending Supercross I said “sure, the boys will love that!” I knew we would have a fun night, probably take a few pictures for St. Jude, etc…. no big deal right!? WRONG! Supercross gave us the most amazing night and Tyler and Caleb are now fans for life! So, let me tell you what happened this past Saturday night because it was pretty awesome! We arrived at Raymond James Stadium and met up with the people from St. Jude. They gave us some t-shirts to change in to and we were immediately escorted trackside to watch some of the qualifying races and do an interview for Race Day Live. This was just one of many interviews we would come to find out. The stadium was not too full at this point, so it wasn’t as intimidating as it would be later in the night!!
After this we walked to the Fan Fest area. This is an area where there are additional experiences for Supercross Attendees, but the teams are also in that area preparing for the race. We were so fortunate to be able to meet Ryan Dungey and his team of racers. Ryan is part owner of the GEICO Honda team. He was so nice and took so much time showing the boys the trailer and how they were preparing the motorcycles for the race. He showed the boys how they keep all their spare parts, engines, etc. in the trailer. The boys were so amused by this. He also showed us a small room where they review race footage and review their laps, and also the bunks where they can sleep. He signed hats for the boys and let them sit on a couple of the real motorcycles. The boys were so thrilled. We were so appreciative of his time, and he enjoyed hearing our experience with St. Jude, as he has been a leading force in getting Supercross to be involved in the partnership with St. Jude. We are so grateful that he was inspired to do that, and so grateful that we were able to spend that time learning from him.
Next we were escorted back trackside where we did another interview and started to prepare for the start of the race. The start of the race is super exciting! All of the riders come out and take a lap around the track by themselves to get their fans excited. There were fireworks going off. It was very loud, and very exciting! The boys were a little scared the first couple times from the fireworks, but then got into it as they got used to it!
They asked us earlier in the day if we would like the boys to start the race by taking a lap around on a little motorized bike. I thought sure, if they want to, that would be cool! Ok, but at this point Raymond James Stadium is full, the fans are pumped because all the riders just came out and are at the starting gate, and all eyes are on us! Tyler decided he didn’t want to do a lap, but Caleb did. So that was completely fine with me. Tyler and I decided we would be cheerleaders, and James would help Caleb take a mini lap on the course to start the race. I was interviewed, and then James and Caleb did their lap! But first let me say, the stadium is LOUD! And once you start speaking on the mic, you hear yourself in a delay about a second later. It is very hard to stay focused on what you are saying and not listen to what you just said when you hear it through the speakers. I was trying so hard to stay focused while I was nervous HA HA!!! But all went well and Caleb and James got the loudest cheers as they rode a little ways up the track and back. They surprised the boys by telling them those bikes were theirs to keep and they got to take them home!!! What an awesome surprise!!! Tyler was thrilled and was already riding it through the halls of Raymond James before we even left. Caleb still needs a little help balancing but Tyler has pretty much mastered it and loves it! We spent the rest of the night watching the Supercross competition from the Press Box at Raymond James, so not a bad place to watch a race! Ha ha! We are so so thankful for this night! It was all completely unexpected but made the boys so happy!
I would be remiss if I didn’t say THANK YOU to FELD Entertainment for the amazing hospitality, STACYC for the amazing electric dirt bikes and St Jude for hosting us and allowing us to share Caleb’s story with the world! Saturday night literally put the biggest smile on Caleb and Tylers faces that we have seen since the day this all started, THANK YOU!!!
Whew! It’s been a whirlwind of events, but we are so grateful for all the memories we have made. We can’t get the time back last year that we spent sitting in hospital rooms, or stuck inside our apartment. But I feel like we’ve doubled up on fun since we have been home and we are so grateful for all of those experiences!
In “normal life” news, Caleb’s counts are officially high enough for him to attend school and so he will be going on a regular basis now. He is excited, as he has a great group of friends and 2 very kind and caring teachers. It’s a great environment for him! And as much as I will miss our days at home, now I get to look forward to picking him up from school and hearing all about his day! His first week back included Valentine’s Day and James and I were able to attend his class party. It was wonderful to feel normal again, and the boys just loved Valentine’s Day!
We are going to St. Jude the first week of March for Caleb’s “post treatment” scans. We are very nervous but optimistic that everything will be good. We could really use prayers that Caleb’s scans and lumbar puncture are clear and show No Evidence of Disease! More updates soon!
Very happy for Caleb and all of the family that you can all enjoy fun events!
So happy that you are able to do family events without worry. You all look so happy. Sending continued prayers that all Caleb’s post tests come back great. Love and hugs to all of you.