Ten years old

From Daddy...

Dear Max,

10 years ago today you amazed us with your easy and (mostly?) painless entrance into this world. You almost came out of mommy before the doc had a chance to get to our labor & delivery room. I remember the nurse asking mommy, in a serious manner, if she could "slow down a bit" because the doc couldn't get to our room in time! It all worked out in the end, and you were born without a hitch :)

a little about Max’s favorite things….

  • ANIMAL: A lot were favorites, these were probably the most frequently mentioned/read about/worn on shirts (and thus "favoritest" status): Kimodo dragon, praying mantis, sharks
  • TV SHOW: Dogfights (now-defunct air warfare re-enactment show on History Channel)
  • CARTOON: Kim Possible (he loved Ron's naked mole rat)
  • MOVIE: Wall-E, tho we didn't take him in time to see it... :(
  • DRINK: Daddy juice (Trader Joe's Heart of Darkness mango juice)
  • FOOD: "Food is not a surprise!" but from time to time enjoyed dungeness crab
  • BREAKFAST: Plain bagel, chocolate milk and a walk down to the park-by-the-beach
  • COLOR: Orange, Black, Red, Blue
  • SONG: Ring of Fire/Social Distortion, Blitzkrieg Bob/Ramones
  • THING TO DO: Legos, Wii/PS2 (Lego Star Wars/Lego Indiana Jones), PC/computer (Snowy Bear, Feeding Frenzy), drawing pictures, fishing
  • LOCAL ACTIVITIES: Lagoon hikes, park by the beach
  • SPORT: Soccer, T-ball, and loved watching big kids skateboard
  • VIDEO GAME: Lego Star Wars
  • TOY: Lego's
  • VACATION: Disneyland
  • HOLIDAY: Christmas
  • SEASON: Summer (beach)
  • WEATHER: Sunny and warm
  • RESTAURANT: Fish Market (until they stopped making their fish-shaped cheese pizza for kids)
From Mommy...
Today has been creeping up on me. I've tried to ignore it, but this morning I had a hard time sleeping but I just didn't want to get out of bed. I took my coffee in a mug that was given to Max on his birthday by two of his friends on his 6th birthday.

This day - Max's Birthday - has become so significant to me. This is a day that should BE the material birthday of a boy who should be 10, who should be going into 5th grade, who should be here with our family. What it has become, is a remembrance of the things he loved to do, and probably would love to do on this day.

I can say that all four of us had a great day today. And we did remember our son and brother with every step we took. We picked up bagels and walked to the beach for the morning. While at lunch, at the Fish Market, of course, Hannah asked if Max would’ve been a rollercoaster kid like her. I said definitely, because he did everything she did. I think she was wondering if Max would have gone on all the crazy rides with her at the fair. Yes, he would have. And he would have gone on all the little kids rides with Nicky to keep him company. Hannah filled in for him at the Fair this afternoon. On our way home Nicky reminded us to pick up balloons for Max. We made a paper airplane with birthday greetings from each of us, attached it to the balloons and sent them all off to him in heaven. We closed the day with one of Max’s favorite TV shows: Dogfights – P51 Mustang.

There is much happiness in our lives. How could that be? Well, I think we’re better equipped to take the good as “amazing” on each given day, and live it to the Max. And still there is an underlying sadness that can’t be ignored fully, nor do I wish to ignore it. With every happy memory of Max there is a tinge of sadness no matter how I pretend to play it off. It may not occur to me right away, but it will catch up later.

I’ve got nothing profound to say today. This day has exhausted me both mentally and physically. I wish my kid were here.

Yeah… I wish Max were here to have a ridiculous party with too many kids, like we used to.

Happy Birthday in heaven, Max.


Touch A Truck = 4,637 Guests!

In only it's third year, Touch A Truck attendance has grown tremendously, and this year we welcomed 4,637* guests to climb on, climb in, and honk the horns of hot rods, construction vehicles, public safety, military, and many other cool and special vehicles. In addition, three bands played, five food trucks fed, and three lemonade & one coffee stand quenched the masses.
For more pictures go here.
Also this year, we stepped out into new territory and invited a few friends to join us: Alex's Lemonade Stand, a national childhood cancer foundation that raises millions each year, and Erin's Dream Lanyards. The reason to invite other childhood cancer foundations and fundraising efforts is simple: we (meaning the childhood cancer community) need to start working together. Touch A Truck is quickly becoming a festival of sorts, and there is plenty of room at Max's table for other childhood cancer organizations to join us at this event. Next year, we're going to try to bring even more childhood cancer organizations to Touch A Truck - in order to maximize awareness and giving... this should be exciting so stay tuned!

In all, we brought in $46,000* - all of which will go to childhood cancer research and treatments at the NMTRC.

An event like Touch A Truck happens in two ways: the first (and easiest) way is to hire an event production company and pay them to do everything. Who knows how much money would go to childhood cancer research - maybe less, maybe more - than what we raised this year with the aforementioned approach; the second (and way more difficult) way is to do it with unpaid volunteers and dedicated sponsors, and grind this sucker out - which is what we did in 2011. We have some of the most amazing volunteer leaders. Folks who hold high-paying, time-consuming jobs - that still, out of the goodness in their hearts - decided to commit 10/20/30 hours a week to making this 3rd annual Touch A Truck so successful.

Our expenses this year came in slightly under budget - that's good event management (ie, Melis!). We couldn't promise that 100% of the money raised at Touch A Truck went to childhood cancer research and clinical treatments if it weren't for our fabulous sponsors, whose time and money are the "fuel" which makes Touch A Truck happen! Thanks again to:
Mauzy Air
Aspire IRB
Building Industry Association (BIA Cares)
Semantic Research
Schoolhouse Realty
Athena Capital
Dixon & Thurston Orthodontics & Dentistry
Pfizer Oncology
Encinitas Sign-A-Rama
Merch Lackey (tee-shirts)
YMI (sound and video)
Anna Watts Photography
Johnson & Associates (who kept our money/CFO and venue safe - thanks Aaron!)

Finally, this event would be irrelevant if it weren't for the 4,637 guests we had the honor to welcome and entertain for 5+ hours last Saturday. Max taught us to serve others with smiles on our faces and in our hearts, and without your generosity and attendance, we would not be providing hope to kids fighting some of the most aggressive cancers with new and innovative therapies.

Thank you everyone and stay tuned for more news on Touch A Truck 2012 (moving to a new venue 'cause we have definitely outgrown this one!). We'll be publishing a survey soon in order to better understand what works and doesn't work at Touch A Truck, so that we can make some changes, makes some tweaks, and try some new ideas too. When the online survey is released, we'll publish the link here, send it out via email, and on Facebook, etc. - but please also pass it along to anyone you know who came to Touch A Truck (as guest, volunteer or exhibitor), since we don't necessarily have email addresses for everyone who attended.

Also, mark your calendars September 25, 2011 for Max Run II, now named Max's Ring of Fire Lemon Run because we've teamed up with Alex's Lemonade Stand! We are so excited to be working together, collaboratively, to make a huge impact in September, which is childhood cancer awareness month (part of the problem if we're having to remind you - the readers of this blog - when childhood cancer awareness month falls). Stay tuned for more information shortly forthcoming about MROF Lemon Run!

*46 (and it's variants) is a special number in the childhood cancer community. 46 children are diagnosed with cancer every weekday (every school day) - this is the inspiration for the 46 Mommas Shave for the Brave movement, which is one of the most inspirational and powerful singular statements by a group of individuals you will ever know.


Touch A Truck tomorrow

It's all for you Max. All because of you Max. All through you Max, that Touch A Truck happens. You have inspired tens of thousands of people to sit up, take notice, and take action - out of goodness in their hearts that was unlocked by you. You are missed, boy. We love you.