Happy to have this problem

Official total to be announced NEXT Friday

Contributions are still rolling in for this past weekend’s Support the Climb of 5,164 fundraiser from people who were unable to attend or heard about the cause online and decided to donate. We want to ensure that our count is as accurate as possible for all those who have generously taken the time to support this special event.  As a result,  we have postponed our announcement until NEXT Friday, October 21st, upon which we will provide you with an official total.

To watch video of the event:

Awaiting the Results

Support the Climb of 5,164 – Donation Totals to be Released Friday 

Thank you to everyone that reunited with my “Papa” and supported the climb of 5,164!  It was a fantastic atmosphere and a memorable experience.  We won’t know the official total of donations until the end of this week as more continue to pour in online and through the mail; however, it’s fair to that that we far exceeded $5,164.  I might have to run the steps 2 or 3 times over…

Support the Climb of 5,164

Reunite with Dr. Louis “Papa”Heyman –  Sunday, Oct 9th, 2011

Here is an opportunity to come together for a special reunion to honor and meet up with Dr. Louis “Papa” Heyman in the local Metro Detroit area.

Since there are 5,164 steps to climb and descend on the Great Wall of China Marathon, we thought it would be a creative way to organize a fundraiser where former patients, employees, colleagues, students, friends and family can help pledge $1 a step to reach the goal of 5,164.


To make a donation online, go to: http://www.giving.northwestern.edu/nu/CNADC (RUN4PAPA)

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Running Cliff-side

Teetering on the Edge

I had the great pleasure of running alongside the sunset cliffs located in San Diego, California.  The views Ever thought about running a sandbar from one end to the next? Me neither until recently.

View some footage before & after the sunset.



Read was it like to run 5 feet from some of the most beautiful cliffs ocean-side, go to: On the Edge of the Ocean


Run4Papa Surveys Sunset Cliffs

On the Edge of the Ocean

There is no shortage of beautiful panoramic views throughout the city of San Diego, California.  One could clearly run along Harbor Island with it’s scenic view of the downtown skyline, take a hike around the Historic Lighthouse at Pont Loma, or handpick anyone of the famous beaches along the coast from Ocean all the way up to La Jolla.  And while I was tempted to run in each of these locations, I was persuaded by my co-workers that Sunset Cliffs was the ideal locale to run ocean-side.

I arrived to work at 6AM and left at 2:30PM in order to take full advantage of each and every day since clear blue skies and 75 degree weather were a constant fixture in this city.  My co-workers apologized for the poor weather because “it was partly cloudy” (until 10AM) and then the sky cleared like clockwork everyday!  I would say San Diego-ans are spoiled rotten but they aren’t.  They just chose to live in a place where the weather is picture perfect 95% of the time!

My good friend Pat grabbed me from a beach social at Mission Bay (an after work get together of course) and drove toward sunset cliffs as we prepared for an hour long trek overlooking the sea…

When we arrived at the cliffs, we a saw signage posted every couple of hundred feet: Danger.  Sheer Unstable Cliffs. STAY BACK.

Ever so carefully, I walked near (just near mom) the edge of the cliffs and prepared a little commentary before our run.  The panoramic view was breathtaking.  To the left and right as far as the eyes could see were an endless amount of cliffs parallel to the sea. Below me – a solid couple hundred foot drop to the ocean floor. In front of me – a glowing sun symmetrically reflecting off the sky and calming body of water.

We zigzagged through the sandy path (about 5-10 feet from the cliffs) carefully avoiding bystanders sitting in chairs sipping on cold beer, couples comfortably nestled up together on towels and cars hugging the roads absorbing the ever-changing scenery. I wish I had a time lapse camera to capture the sunset throughout the duration of this run; however, I was able to secure a handful of images along the way.  I will have to put the other images in my mental vault and store them away for safe keeping.

As the sun continued to set, we headed back towards the car.  The sun was about to dip into the sea so we quietly filmed a wrap-up so as not to disturb the locals from enjoying that special moment of their day. As the sky turned into night, I found myself snapping one last shot.

I became lost in my own thoughts but I wasn’t lost at all…I was just in paradise.

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Run4Papa versus The Sandbar


You might not think heading to a lake would be an ideal running spot to train; however, with a venue like The Great Wall of China, I am constantly thinking outside of the box. There is no handbook to simulate the elements of this run so I figured any type of training would be beneficial. With this in mind, my father and I headed to  Union Lake, located in Commerce Township, Michigan.

We headed out on our pontoon boat and took a loop around the lake.  The weather was around 75 degrees and being a fall Sunday in September, there weren’t many boats on the water. As we reached the midway point of our ride, I had the notion of running the sandbar: End-to-End. I figured, why not? I have run on all types of surfaces and races the past couple months; surely, this would be a one-of-a-kind training experience.

I had no idea exactly how accurate that statement would turn out to be…

For those of you unfamiliar with the depth of a sandbar, it is roughly 3-5 feet.  Most people pull their boats into the designated area, anchor, and swim. With only a couple of boats on the lake, we dropped anchor and I slid into the water – slightly cooler than 4th of July weekend.

When I began running the sandbar, there was soft sand beneath my feet which produced minimal resistance in my strides.  This lasted for several hundred yards and was comfortably manageable.

As I continued getting further and further away from the boat, the dynamic of the run shifted because the surface below was getting deeper and muckier. My strides shortened considerably and transitioned from a solid run to a slower jog. The once smooth sandy surface quickly turned into a thicker muck surrounded by algae (god only knows the species roaming around below).  It felt like someone attached 10 pound weights to my ankles because my feet were sinking and needed to be stretched ever so carefully to release them from the surface below.

Step after step became tougher and tougher; however, like running any long-distance race, you just put one foot in front of the other and push forward.  I was able to reach the end of the sandbar and was jumping up and down for a long-distance picture.  On the third jump, my sunglasses flew off my face into the murkier water.  I held my breath, cupped my hands and dove below to try and catch ’em.  For the record, I have never lost a pair of sunglasses on any body of water; yet, a pair of $7 Venice Beach sunglasses were just donated to the bottom of Union Lake.

After reaching the far end of the sandbar, I thought it only appropriate to run back to the boat.  Without a doubt my father would have grabbed me, but he looked pretty content relaxing on the boat.  And to be honest, it has never been my mentality to do anything halfway.  Putting one foot in front of the next, I strided back through the sandbar until the muck was behind me. At last, I was able to run full stride and complete the Run4Papa v. Sandbar challenge.

This valuable run proved to be a solid test of both mind and body because you can never fully anticipate how the elements and mother nature are going to alter your route. Marathon preparation is 80% mental & 20% physical so when unexpected moments occur, you need to be able to readjust your approach and improvise along the way…

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Run4Papa “Under the Lights”…sort of

Michigan v. Notre Dame 9-10-11: First Night Game Ever!

I managed to record a brief clip of the madness that captures the essence of the night:

9-10-11.  Sure that sounds like a numerical sequence, but on this day, or should I say this “night,” that order of numbers would mark a very special evening for the University of Michigan football program.  The first ever night game took place at the Big House between the two most storied universities: Michigan v. Notre Dame. 10 out of the previous 20 meetings have been decided by 5 points or less.  This game has been “hyped up” for over a year in Ann Arbor and throughout college football.  All you can hope for in a setting like this is for good weather and a close game, or as my father would say “I would be comfortable with a 30-point lead by halftime!”

The idea was to tailgate with friends for about 4-5 hours, head to the stadium, watch a competitive football game “under the lights,” and then run around The Big House at night.  Pretty straight-forward approach (on paper) or so I thought…

Unless you have been locked away in some dark room or pretending you didn’t make the drive from South bend, you should know by now that this battle royale was one of the, if not “the” best games ever played at the Big House.  Down 24-7 at the end of the 3rd quarter, the mighty Wolverines came back with a 4th quarter for the ages – an instant classic.  A fumble by Michigan’s running back at the Notre Dame 1-yard line could’ve been disastrous, but QB Denard Robinson picked up the loose ball and ran in for the touchdown.

Momentum is a funny thing.

No matter what the venue or setting – be it a collegiate football game, a relationship, life or certainly training for the likes of the Great Wall of China.  It’s contagious and you better take full advantage of the the ride when it’s moving your direction.

As Michigan narrowed the gap from 24-14, then 24-21, the stadium was erupting!  I have been fortunate to see many games at the Big House, but this was unlike any my eyeballs had witnessed before.  I couldn’t believe the atmosphere.  With 1:10 to go, Michigan took the lead 28-24 on a dump-off pass to RB Vincent Smith. I couldn’t hear a thing, the noise level was deafening.

This was one of the greatest comebacks in Michigan history or so it seemed. 40 seconds later, Notre Dame scored a touchdown and like many times before, this game was being decided in the final minutes. I texted my good friend Derek and said “We are still going to win.”

:30 to go, Michigan had the ball on their own 20. An incomplete pass left :23 on the clock.  My heart was racing, the stadium was shaking and the tension was eerily all-encompasing. Robinson stepped back and made a pass to a WIDE open Jeremy Gallon who sprinted down to the Notre Dame 16-yard line with only :08 remaining.

A field goal to tie, a touchdown to become legendary.

Michigan QB Denard Robinson took the snap…7,6,5, – the ball was lofted to the corner of the end zone, 4,3,2…


114,804 fans were going bonkers!!!  Michigan wide receiver Roy Roundtree came down with the football making the final score 35-31 for the Maize & Blue.  Originally, I wanted to run around the Big House for Papa & PPA research but this environment was too insane.  I fully admit I got caught up in the chaos. The Big House was rocking, under the lights, and no one was leaving, not even the Irish fans (probably from being in shock more than anything).

Rest assured, I will return against our arch-rivals, the hated Ohio State Buckeyes.  One way or the other, Run 4 Papa will run around the Big House even if it’s single digits outside in the heart of wintertime. I’ll just make sure not to wait until the very last second…although that can be exhilarting!

To see more pictures from the game, go to: Under the Lights

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Former Detroit Red Wing Backs PPA

Shawn Burr Endorses Run4Papa

Former Detroit Red Wing left-winger Shawn Burr agreed to go on camera to help raise awareness for PPA research:

Burr joins the fight!

After a very fun and adventurous night out with my buddy Dan in Tampa, I awoke fairly early on Saturday morning.  Instead of sleeping in, I decided to head up to the pool area around 9AM.  I figured why not go for a swim before starting my day.  When I got up to the pool deck, I changed course and headed over to the jacuzzi.  Even my 32-year old bones need relaxing every now and then…

As I quickly sat in the mildly warm jacuzzi (keep in mind it’s Tampa and it’s plenty humid int he summertime), there was a man who looked eerily familiar in the hot tub.  We started chatting a little bit only to find out that we both lived in the state of Michigan for quite some time. I introduced myself and he replied “Shawn Burr, nice to meet you!”

Like the Bill Rodgers experience, I felt a little embarrassed I didn’t recognize him at first considering my passion for all-things Detroit but he brushed that off pretty quickly and we continued chatting for the next half hour.

While Shawn still resides in Michigan, he was visiting Tampa to see his daughter compete in a volleyball tournament for Eckerd College. You could see the pride in his eyes as he spoke of her.

After laughing about stories of Michigan v. Ohio State, rivalries in the hockey world and likely some other stories that are best left on that pool deck, he briefly transitioned to an appreciation for life.

Shawn informed me that 8 months ago he had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and had undergone 4 rounds of chemotherapy treatment.

“The day before my wife and I went to the hospital she bought pomegranate seeds from Costco.  In the morning, my tongue had red spots on them and I figured it was a reaction from the seeds. After getting some blood tested my doctor said ‘We need to check something.’ I knew I was in trouble.”

My heart broke.  He went on to describe the past 8 months but was filled with a sense of optimism. What struck me most about this conversation wasn’t the fact that here was a 16-year veteran of the NHL who on the outside seemed to be healthy, happy and full of life, but rather someone who was frustrated with the lack of financial support to fund research for Leukemia.

“I was on meds that were helping and then all of the sudden the pharmaceutical company doesn’t receive enough funding and the meds are no longer available.”

I understood.  I more than understood. I explained my cause to raise awareness for PPA research and how my grandfather and so many others were struggling with the disease. And like many other fatal diseases, the importance of research and funding is essential for progress.

He was inspired by my Run4Papa campaign and generously offered his support for the cause. As if we were friends since he got drafted in ’84 he said, “Email me when you get back to Charlotte and I will pass around your story throughout my office and garner support for your Papa.”

Shawn Burr, the left-winger I had grown up watching and rooting for in Detroit all those years was now backing the fight for PPA and my Papa.

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