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Whenever I’m out walking or biking with my kids and they start to dilly-dally — you know, stopping to fiddle with the bell on their bike when we have to be at school in five minutes or standing still to tell a story when they can just as easily tell the story while walking, I always tell them, “Forward motion, guys, forward motion.” Always moving, getting to some destination.

And so that is what we’re doing … still moving forward, in ways both meaningful and mundane.  Remember my May Madness post?  Well, none of those tasks on my to do list disappeared just because Austin might have cancer. Oh, actually, one of them disappeared: the Rainbow event on May 25 at which we were to be the honored family. There is simply nothing I can stand up and say to those people at this moment that wouldn’t be completely depressing. So, we’ve backed out of that one.

But everything else is still on. The Family Connections Carnival took place last Saturday and we reached our budgeted goal, even surpassed it by a small amount. Cullen Sweeney’s fundraiser is still taking place at our house this Sunday and you’re all still invited. And, of course, The Young Authors Conference at Fairfax is in full swing, although I have cut down a bit on my daily classroom appearances.  I’ve actually really enjoyed the time I’ve spent with the kids, they are so sweet and so eager that they sweep me up in their childlike creativity. Coordinating the volunteers with the constantly changing schedules of twenty-seven very busy teachers is rather more difficult, but it’s happening.  The students will finish their drafts by Monday and then starts the next big phase: typing.  I’ve managed to finish a few of the early ones here at home, but am worried when Braedan tells me that his story is 24 pages long! Uuuuummmm, what’s wrong with eight paragraphs?

Some people become paralyzed with fear or uncertainty in these situations, others spring into action. We’re springers. It’s just how we deal. Always moving forward.

For those of you who are local, there are a few great ways to support the CureSearch Walk even if you’re unable to actually walk on that day. (Although if you are able to walk, please do! Register here.)

The two events below honor the memory of Olivia Crowley, a Cleveland Heights girl who lost her three-year battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma at the age of ten, shortly before Austin was born. I didn’t know her, but I know some of you did and have heard that she was a vibrant and loving child and a beloved student at Ruffing. Her parents are the co-chairs of the Northeast Ohio Walk and Mark and I have had the pleasure of working with her father on a variety of cancer-related issues.

So, in Olivia’s honor, raise a glass and a fork to help Reach the Day when all children diagnosed with cancer are guaranteed a cure:

May 16-22: “Olivia’s Pasta” special at Marotta’s Restauran— (2289 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights). Marotta’s is offering “Olivia’s Pasta”: fusilli pasta tossed with artichoke hearts and fresh spinach in a lemon cream sauce, served with a field greens salad and crusty Italian bread (available for eat-in or take-out). The cost is $24, with 100% of proceeds donated to the CureSearch Walk. The special may last longer but be sure to get yours while it lasts!
May 28:  “Kegger for the Cure”— The Crowleys’ friend Shawn Paul is hosting a party with BBQ and beer for a $25 donation; all proceeds are going to the Walk. Saturday, May 28 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, 3140 Corydon Road in Cleveland Heights. All are welcome.

Walk with Austin.

The CureSearch Walk for Children’s Cancer on Saturday, June 4 will raise awareness and critical funds needed for research into the prevention and treatment of childhood cancers.

While we all hear a lot about the advances made in cancer treatments, the truth is that for pediatric cancers, progress is painfully slow. Most national dollars go to adult cancers, and drugs and procedures then trickle down to kids. Sometimes this works fine, but it fails to recognize the impact of long term side effects on those who still have fifty or sixty or seventy years of life ahead of them.

I remember countless times when we were making medical decisions for Austin and his oncologist would list the potential side effects, things like heart failure or secondary leukemia, that might occur ten or twenty or thirty years down the road. We would worry and fret, wishing we had options, but his oncologist would always say, “You can’t worry about what happens in twenty years. You have to get to twenty years.” So we did what we had to and, while we are of course thankful for each moment we get today, he nonetheless has a lifetime of major health issues ahead of him.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be that way. We must insist that doctors and researchers (and funders, both individual and federal) work in a way that guarantees progress. Currently only 5% of the budget of the American Cancer Society goes toward pediatric cancers. The same is true for the National Institutes of Health. Major nationwide fundraising activities, like Relay for Life (often hosted by high schools and colleges), dedicate less than 5% of their dollars to childhood cancers.

We can do better. CureSearch and the Children’s Oncology Group are the key to making a difference. They are conducting the research that may be too late to help Austin but could cure the child who is diagnosed today and another who is diagnosed tomorrow and another the day after that. All you have to do is sign up to walk on Team Austin on Saturday, June 4 at Wade Oval. Follow the steps I outlined here to make your registration as painless as possible. And make sure you join our team!

You may not cure childhood cancer. But you can take a first step.

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