Pre-game Festivities

Game Day

What happens when arch rivals come together ONE day a year to battle in an aggressive game of football for a greater cause?

Watch the pre-game festivities video:

To see photos, go to: Turkey Bowl V

Turkey Bowl V

Turkey Bowl V…For Papa & PPA

GameDay: 365 Days of Waiting…0 days to go!

Who wants it more?


To donate, go to: PPA Research and Education Fund (Run4Papa)

Where & When? Andover Field –  November 25th, 2011, 9:00 AM

What happens when arch rivals decide to come together ONE day a year over Thanksgiving weekend? Time to pick a side!!!

For years, we have had an annual Thanksgiving day game in Detroit and I am not referring to the Detroit Lions. The game is known as The Turkey Bowl and always kicks-off on Black Friday in our hometown of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The rules are simple: whichever team scores 10 touchdowns first wins. We play an aggressive game of 2-hand touch where inevitably someone is walking off the field injured. Not surprisingly, our shirts are white and theirs are black (insert any creative metaphor you like here). Make no mistake, this is an extremely heated rivalry between two teams: F.A.M.I.L.Y. versus The DARK Team.

BUT this year, we have the notion of a greater good being a fundamental staple for our annual game. We want to come together to support a cause by fundraising for not only this year’s game but all future games down the line. With that premise, we present: The Turkey Bowl V Meets Run4Papa Challenge  to help raise awareness and funds for those fighting PPA each and every day.

The minimum goal is a $1,000. 

Each player is going to pledge X amount as well as promote the game and cause together in hopes of spreading the word about PPA and getting others in the community to be part of this annual event. 100% of all donations go to fund research.

The winner of the Turkey Bowl gets to choose the charity for next year so besides bragging rights and pride, this incentive adds so much more to the rivalry.

The F.A.M.I.LY. – consists of my younger two brothers, my first cousin, and 3 of our closest family friends. We have no egos, we are unselfish, we have no names on the backs of our jerseys and we don’t care who scores so long as we come out victorious. We are unified.

The Dark Team – a bunch of highly fueled competitors who we have grown up with that come together one day a year to go up against us. They constantly replace teammates on a yearly basis if they don’t perform. Nonetheless, do not be fooled. They are highly individually talented, but when put together, things can get chaotic. “You guys are family. We are individuals.” – Andrew Sherman, member of the Dark Team.

Officially, The F.A.M.I.L.Y. leads the overall series 3-1; however, the DARK team won convincingly last year and are looking to retain the title and repeat. Just like Michigan v. Ohio State, both squads look forward to this game for 364 days a year and bragging rights are everything. Losing last year has left the most sour taste in our mouth and I can’t fathom how they dealt with it the previous 1,095 days before!

We have a couple special surprises in store and look forward to competing head-to-head on the field.

If you have any questions, please email: [email protected]


2. Enter $$$ next PPA Research and Education Fund (RUN4PAPA) – then continue to step 2
3. Scroll to the bottom: In the comments section, write Turkey Bowl V
4. Fill out personal info and you’re finished making a difference and enriching the Turkey Bowl

The 32 Rules of Thanksgiving Touch Football

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Thunder Road Half Marathon

Once is Enough. Bring on the Ice!

Coming into the Thunder Road half marathon in Charlotte, North Carolina, I was keenly aware of the race reputation: tons of declines v. inclines that test the calf muscles and will power of most runners. They don’t call it Thunder Road for no reason!

There are several different mentalities when preparing for a long-distance race:

1. Run the path beforehand

2. Drive the route and visualize your run

3. Go in blind – ignorance is bliss

My preference will ALWAYS be #3. I thrive on having each and every mile fresh in my mind and enjoy not knowing what is around the corner. The newness helps keep me motivated, physically on my toes and also the primary reason why I never run to music. I feed off the atmosphere of each city’s supporters and want to hear their words of encouragement. Is it stubborn? No question, but it has worked thus far…

The morning hovered around a chilly 30 degrees-cold for Charlotte as we are spoiled down south-so I warmed up in one of the buildings downtown before the race. A common rule of thumb in running is to dress 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. With that in mind, I wore shorts and a short sleeve dry-fit running shirt as I knew the temperature would rise about 25 degrees from start to finish.

With over 1,200 (full marathon) and 3,000 (half marathon) runners, the clear skies and welcomed sun made race conditions ideal. Despite knowing about the challenging hills, I was still taken aback. Mile 1 was pretty flat as we raced through the downtown area; the cold was a non-factor as my body temperature warmed by Mile 2. By Mile 3, the main theme of Thunder Road emerged: fairly short declines matched immediately with larger (at least triple the length) inclines.

Many people think sharp declines are welcomed for runners, but I bet those people aren’t runners. When running downhill, a runner has to be cautious not to over-stride and control their body’s momentum. It is easy to run these stretches too quickly only to be immediately met with a hefty uphill battle. From Mile 3 to 13.1 this rotation of decline v. incline ping-ponged back & forth for the duration of the race – a mental test to say the least! During the sharper inclined hills, I kept my head down and ran. Occasionally, I looked up to gauge the distance (until the hill leveled out), but it was far easier to approach each hill as another obstacle to be conquered.

One of the toughest stretches for me was Mile 7. There was a small incline, followed by a bigger incline, layered on top of an even larger one. I am always nervous about cramping and was convinced that was going to happen on this upward slope. As my calves tightened midway, I convinced myself so long as I could reach the top, all would be well. Thankfully, I made it up without any cramping and continued forward. This type of self-manipulation has enabled me break through some pretty tough walls in the past and this was no exception.

For the first time in the history of Thunder Road, the organizers moved up the date by one month to give runners better weather conditions. Throughout most of the race but especially from Miles 8-13.1, the view was unbelievably scenic as the leaves recently turned in Charlotte and the multitude of colors were widespread along the route.

As I approached Mile 12, my right knee started to feel unusually sore and I am confident my little sister would say I am getting old (of course I would adamantly disagree). Regardless, I pressed through the last 1.1 miles and sprinted toward the end.

Running across the finish line in most races is especially gratifying but no more so than a half or certainly a full marathon – the overwhelming sense of accomplished engulfs your body and instantly becomes the best feeling in the world!

It’s hard to express in words, but your mindset and life are forever changed.

I finished the half marathon in 2:05:22, about 18 minutes quicker than my last half marathon almost a year ago (what say you now little sister?). I was pleased with the 9:34/mile pace and believe I can run quicker moving forward.

On the walk back home, I mentioned to my friend Brad the value of an ice bath for recovery. We hopped in his car and took a detoured route because the roads were blocked off for the full marathoners. We drove from approximately Mile 26 to Mile 19 which was a different experience seeing the range of emotions on the runners faces knowing how much more was left to go. I knew those expressions and body posture all too well.

When we got back, I filled the bath with freezing water, jumped in for roughly 3 mins (give or take a min!), preceded to stay indoors for the remainder of the night and let my body recover.

By Sunday morning, I was virtually back to normal and am ready for the next adventure to begin…any suggestions?

To watch video commentary of this race and a segment on an ice bath afterward, go to: Thunder Road + An Ice Bath

To see photos, go to: Thunder Road Half Marathon

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Run4Papa Meets Thunder Road

Running Up & Down Hills + An Ice Bath

Coming into the Thunder Road Half Marathon in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, I was keenly aware of the reputation of this race: a ton of inclines v. declines that test the calf muscles and will power of most runners.  They don’t call it Thunder Road for no reason!

Read what it’s like to run on Thunder Road: Once in Enough. Bring on the Ice!

To see photos, go to: Thunder Road Half Marathon

LPL Financial Food Fundraiser

 Cooking for the Cause

Due to the positive swell of voting and support for What Would You Do For THE CAUSE? video from employees at LPL Financial, and unbeknownst to myself, our senior management team took an unexpected initiative and approved a food fundraiser to benefit the Run4Papa campaign the day the charity contest totals were announced. Kathy, one of the managers on theNew Accounts Team in Charlotte and well-known for her culinary skills (she could easily be mistaken for a gourmet chef if she weren’t working in finance full-time) lead the way. Minus the cost of food, all contributions would go directly to fund research for PPA.

Kathy offered to cook twice during the week. On Monday, she prepared chicken curry with rice while on Friday, she cooked stir fry with spicy noodles ($5 a plate). Both days included spring rolls (2 for $1) and cupcakes ($1) which were handmade by her daughters.

Our entire team was emailed the Run4Papa Meets LPL Food Fundraiser flyer. On Monday morning, Kathy prepared a massive cauldron of her homemade chicken curry with over 300 spring rolls and 80 cupcakes to compliment the main dish. Several co-workers paid in advance and requested Kathy set aside their plates due to meetings during our lunch break; some even requested multiple plates – one for lunch and one for dinner (they had sampled her food in the past).

We brought the food up to our break room and before we finished setting up shop, a line had already formed. The mix of curry spices, chicken, vegetables and rice was emanating throughout our floor; the smell alone would make you salivate. We went through all the chicken curry within an hour and had repeat customers for the spring rolls. In the latter part of the afternoon, we walked from floor to floor selling the remaining spring rolls and cupcakes.

Word of mouth spread about Kathy’s cooking from earlier in the week and people from not only our department but numerous others lined up to eat, donate, and express their praise about the campaign. Similar to Monday, the stir fry with spicy noodles and egg rolls went quickly. Moreover, there were people who would donate more than the cost of their food and others who had brought their own lunch but wanted to contribute to the cause.

The takeaway from the LPL food fundraiser amounted to $489! On top of that, Kathy made the donation on behalf of our New Accounts team which ended up being doubled through our firm’s matching program. Overall, the success of the food fundraiser attracted people’s immediate attention, raised awareness for PPA, and collected monies to the tune of $978!

My co-workers had clearly been inspired by the video and previously had no idea about PPA, let alone the symptoms of the disease. I am proud the PPA video produced this type of positive reaction and thus created more awareness about this widely unknown dementia.

Hopefully this video will enable people to take more notice of those battling this disease, and one day with that mentality, PPA will be as familiar to people as Alzheimer’s is today…

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LPL Financial Charity Contest

Voting for the Cause

I always had the goal of producing a creative video to help create more exposure and awareness for PPA research before the New Year. This idea quiclkly became fast-tracked due to my company, LPL Financial, offering a $500 prize for best charity video, $250 for 2nd place, and $100 for 3rd place. Since I won the last two firm wide competitions-one for our New Accounts Team and another to cover our Annual Conference as a “Rovering Reporter”-I knew people would be gunning to knock me off.  In fact, I got emails internally stating that “You will not 3-peat” and “I was going down.” With this type of incentive and motivation, I wanted to craft a movie that would instantly grab the viewers attention as well as educate people about this relatively unknown disease.

I needed an idea that was fresh and would stick in people’s minds longer than 5 minutes after they saw the footage.

I brainstormed the idea of a silent movie with cue cards explaining the symptoms of PPA and why fighting to raise awareness for research is absolutely essential. The original premise was to stand in a dimly lit room with a spotlight pointed squarly on my body dropping cue cards one at a time while music playing in the background. About 10 minutes into filming, my friend Brad and I realized this wasn’t going to work nor be as effective as we wanted to portray.

We talked about it and came up with something special.

Instead of solely standing in one place dropping card after card, why not venture around Charlotte (my current place of residence) and take photos with the cue cards all over the city? This approach would defintely captivate people’s attention by demanding they not only read each written phrase but also have a scenic visual along the journey. The concept was so moving that we went out that evening and started shooting.

Over the course of the next couple days, we photographed all our shots, edited the movie and blended in background music. I submitted the video to my company for firm-wide voting and qualified in the Top 3. The 3 videos included:

a) Unchained Dogs – building fences for dog owners so they don’t have to chain their dogs down for fear they will run away.

b) Rescue Mission Farm Project – growing fresh produce for those in need in the Temecula and north San Diego County regions.

c) What would you do for THE CAUSE? – creating awareness and research for PPA while bringing light to a disease that over 1,000,000 people fight everyday.

The voting period went from Monday-Friday and on Thursday morning, the 3 of us received an email – 1st Place: Unchained Dogs (113), 2nd Place: PPA Video (101), 3rd Place: Rescue Mission (76). I immediately assembled a meeting with my AVP’s and managers in hopes of spreading the word amongst my firm by establishing a marketing strategy that targeted all 3 of our office locations: Boston, San Diego and Charlotte. The hardest part about generating exposure is ensuring people take a couple minutes out of their busy day to be cognizant of what’s going on. While voting on the video contest will clearly benefit all charities involved, with all work responsibilities we have on a daily basis, this competition can easily get lost in the shuffle of daily emails and routine homepage postings.

Since my SVP has strong working relationships with our Boston office, I asked him to email the executives and get them to view the videos for voting. One of my AVP’s worked in San Diego for years, and I insisted she email all the managers out west and make them aware of the competition. Lastly, I decided to personally email each employee on our marketing and sales teams about the closely contested race and provided them with a direct link to the movies. They now had every opportunity to watch the video submissions and make an informed decision.

The next morning, I got a phone call from corporate communications, “You Won! How did you get so many votes?  What was your secret? We will email you the final totals by lunch.”

Final Totals: 1st Place: PPA (245), 2nd Place: Unchained Dogs (145), 3rd Place: Rescue Farm Mission (131).

The hidden secret to the massive swing in votes for this race was nothing that secretive at all, rather what we are always trying to promote for this campaign: AWARENESS! When people are presented with information about this disease and cause, they take notice.  Managers sent emails to their teams, employees emailed one another and I received loads of complimentary emails from fellow co-workers. Even from the guy who said “You will not 3-Peat!

Substance = Results.

It doesn’t take much to spread the word, just a couple minutes out of your day. And for spreading the word, Run4Papa raised another $500 for research thanks to the employees at LPL Financial taking a couple minutes out of their day to learn more about a disease they had never heard of moments before…

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Red Rock Amphitheatre

Running the Steps in Altitude

After hiking through the Red Rock Canyon trails out in Colorado, my friend ilana drove us over to the Red Rock Amphitheater. Having never heard of this place before (yes music is not one of my expertise categories in life), I was intrigued to see this venue carved out in the middle of these beautiful Red Rock Canyons. We toured the “wall of fame” and saw all the artists and bands that performed over the years: The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, The Allman Brothers Band, The Grateful Dead, R.E.M., Fleetwood Mac, Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Coldplay, and of course local folk rocker John Denver (and hundreds more not listed).

The amphitheater is a rock structure where concerts are given in the open-air amphitheater. There is a large, tilted, disc-shaped rock behind the stage, a huge vertical rock angled outwards from stage right, several large outcrops angled outwards from stage left and a seating area for up to 9,450 people in between. This was some sight to see during the daytime, I can only fathom the experience at night under the stars.

Overlooking the railing at the top of the amphitheatre, we saw row after row of seating (no seatbacks, just benches). The rows were spaced apart to the point where you would have to take one very large stride to reach the next row.  There were a handful of people running the stairs from bottom to top & top to bottom while other people were running up one row and then down another. And of course, you had a couple characters who were flat out insane doing all sorts of intense pushup’s and lunges from one side to the other in the seating area (it hurt to look at!).
I had every intent on soaking up the surrounding scenery from the impressive architectural layout to standing on a stage where so many legendary performers have played over the years. However, watching people train at this venue quickly became too good an opportunity to pass up. I had to improvise and seize the opportunity…

I asked my friend ilana to film several clips for Run 4 Papa campaign in the amphitheater at altitude. Just like running in the south can help prepare for long distance races due to the heat, the altitude is a solid test of how fit one actually is. Not surprisingly, while running these steps and rows, the altitude attacked my lungs and forced shorter breaths as fatigue set in at a faster rate. The recovery time was far harsher than I envisioned, but another important learning experience that will be invaluable out on The Great Wall of China.

All in all, it was a memorable experience and one which I was appreciative to share with my friends and all of you who continue to support the cause to raise awareness for PPA research on behalf of all patients and families fighting everyday for a cure.

To watch video of this improvised run, go to:

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Running in Altitude

Run4Papa Meets Red Rock Amphitheater

Turning up to see the Red Rock Amphitheater started off as a venue to take in the beautiful scenery in Colorado, but quickly turned into a training session shortly thereafter.

To read more about this run, go to: Improvising on the Fly

A Year Ago

365 Days Ago The Journey Began

Good luck to all those running the ING NYC Marathon today! A year ago today, the evolution of the Run4Papa campaign started to become a reality. A simple suggestion and conversation with my little brother after completing the marathon began a journey that has continued to inspire so many…

Denver Gorilla Run

 Running Wild in The Mile High City

When Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson did not “complete the process of the catch,” the Detroit Lions ended up losing  a heart breaker on the road last season to the Chicago Bears. He clearly caught the ball, but it was ruled an incomplete pass. My friends and I decided right then and there we were going to take a road trip next season to watch our boys play in person.

When the schedule was released earlier this spring, Denver was the unanimous choice.  What originally started out as weekend trip to see our boys compete, ended up turning into an extended trip to The Mile High City that embraced Halloween, hosted one of the most enjoyable 5K events around the nation, and of course magnified the hype that is Tim Tebow.

The 8th annual 5K Gorilla Run attracted more than 1,200 runners in ape suits to the Wynkoop Brewery to raise money for the Denver-based Mountain Gorilla Conservation fund.  You can go around this course anyway you would like that is not motorized. For the diehard runner and going for 1st place (male and female), the only requirement is that you have to keep your full gorilla suit on.

There were 3 waves: 1st wave was all gorillas with wheels (bikes, roller blades skateboards, wheel chairs, etc.).  The 2nd wave was all “Silverback” runners (the competitive ones that plan to win the race).  And the 3rd wave was the rest of the walkers, joggers and etc.

Each runner is given a full-on gorilla suit accompanied with a mask and gorilla hands. Most people elect to “add” to their costume.  For example, there were groups of people dressed up as Star Trek Monkeys, Bay Watch Monkeys, Hockey Monkeys on Roller blades and even two monkeys running while carrying a “mock-human” on a stick (arms and legs tied together).

We chose to outfit our costumes in Detroit Lions jerseys! #81 (Johnson), #26 (Delmas), #90 (Suuuuuuuuuuh) and #9 Stafford. From the minute we got out of our car we were getting positive reactions from on-lookers.  Other monkeys wanted our picture together, with them, and of course “Tebowing.”

Since we weren’t in the timed wave, my friends and I really took in the atmosphere of this race. It was a welcome change from some of the other races where my competitiveness takes over and I am shooting for a particular time to hit.

The weather was about 65 degrees and sunny when the race began.  We ran alongside the streets and river of downtown Denver.  We chased after people dressed as bananas, went between a semi-circle of rocks to do a unified “Tebowing,” and stopped at various points to take pictures of fellow monkey runners dressed in costume.  At one point during our race, I saw a skater park and veered off course temporarily to pose on a skateboard. The skaters were laughing and not entirely sure why a monkey wearing a Lions jersey was on their skateboard.

The entire event was so much fun and I highly recommend participating in this race if you live in Denver or if you are thinking about coming to Denver over Halloween weekend in the future. Of course, it didn’t hurt either that the Lions demolished the Broncos and confirm that in fact, Tim Tebow does not walk on water with a 45-10 victory!

To watch video, go to: Running Wild in The Mile High City

To see photos, go to: Denver Gorilla Run

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