Category Archives: Heroic Deeds

A Flying Ambassador for Wild Orcas

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Wild Orca SeaplaneMy good friends Anna Gullickson and Michael Hays are working to support wild orca populations. To raise awareness in the PNW through their foundation Wild Orca, Michael and Anna hope to transform a Kenmore DeHavilland Otter float plane into a whale. Check out the video below and consider donating to this great cause.

 

 

Meriwether Distillery: The Very Best Use of Your Liver

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Transplants, Avalanche Bombs and Other Adventures

Transplants, Avalanche Bombs and Other Adventures

Five years ago Whitney Meriwether made an amazing sacrifice. He let the surgeons at the Mayo Clinic split him open, take half his liver and give it to my husband in a procedure known as a living donor liver transplantation. I wrote about the transplant–and many other exciting things–in my memoir  (insert shameless plug here).

In other words, Whitney saved John’s life.

I remember driving the two of them home from the hospital after surgery to our little apartment we kept in Rochester, MN during the ordeal and overhearing this conversation (or something like it):

John: Now that we’re out of the hospital, what should we do next?

Whitney: I’ve always wanted to make something, to create something with my hands.

John: You should make vodka!

Maybe that wasn’t the exact words, but you get the gist.

PrintWhitney is a man of his word. Once he sets his sites on something, he’s like a pitbull. He doesn’t let go easily.

Meriwether Distillery is now producing Speakeasy Vodka, and it’s very good. He’s also got a kickstarter campaign going. I encourage you to check it out and support his efforts. Because, after all, vodka is the very best use of a liver. Just saying.

Kickstarter Campaign

Kickstarter Campaign: Click for More Info

Here’s a little more from their website:

“For this project we are hoping to raise $50,000. This seed money will go to our new distillation equipment and allow us to update and prepare our site for higher production and the addition of three new products to the Speakeasy family in the next twelve months. We appreciate you taking the time to read and thank you for your backing. Please tell anyone and everyone you can think of to check us out. Thanks!”

High-Five Report: Shirley Sundt

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Shirley Sundt is my hero. She came to skiing later in life, but once she started, she never stopped. Now she’s in her 80’s, has battled cancer three times, and most recently she wouldn’t stop for chemo to save her last breast because she’d already bought her season’s pass. Instead, she told the doctor to, “just lop it off.” She didn’t want to miss a season at Crystal Mountain.

I recently wrote a story about Shirley for Powder Magazine. Check it out here, and see if you don’t just feel a little more inspired. I dare you.

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Aspen Event to Promote Organ and Tissue Donation

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The 7th Annual Summit for Life Event in Aspen on Dec. 7-8 will raise money and awareness for organ and tissue donation. I participated last year and many of you made donations in my honor. This is a great event, full of energy and enthusiasm to celebrate second chances. My husband was given a second chance four years ago. Below is a video from the event last year. See if you can spot my cameo appearance.

This year, I’m making my donation in honor of Chris Klug. In 2000 Chris received a life saving liver donation and then went on to win a bronze medal in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games. When my husband was waiting for his liver transplant and heard about Chris’s story, he was motivated and hopeful. Chris gave John the hope and drive to get through the ordeal. Since meeting Chris and participating last year, I can say he’s one hell of a guy. His enthusiasm for life is infectious. Being a part of Summit For Life last year was fun and exhilarating. It is a celebration of life.

Today Chris heads the Chris Klug Foundation, which promotes donor awareness and puts on great events such as Summit For Life. Today 116,000 people are waiting for lifesaving organ donation. One donor can save 8 lives through organ donation and enhance 100 lives through tissue donation. 90% of Americans support organ and tissue donation, but only 30% take the necessary steps to becoming a donor. Thanks to people like Chris Klug, this is changing.

Please visit Chris’s donation page and support the cause.

Over the Edge Raises Funds for Special Olympics

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Last weekend Over the Edge 2012 raised $225,000 for Special Olympic athletes in Washington State, enough money to support 360 athletes at Special Olympics for one year. Each one of the 160 participants rappelled 40 stories down the 1000 2nd Ave. building in Seattle and raised a minimum of $1250. One participant, Dale Doornek, rappelled the 490 feet in a wheelchair. Paraplegic since a 1994 motorcycle accident, Dale told King 5 News, “People with any type of physical disability, mental disability, don’t let that stop you.”

Judging from the video below, looks to me like Dale had a pretty good view on the way down.

Click on photo to watch video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Olympics offers athletes the opportunity to develop physical fitness and demonstrate courage and joy. What better way to raise funds than to ask the same of the participants. To put yourself out there, to risk something  for the good of another, what better way to express yourself in the world?

Every year this event has sold out. It’s a great cause and an awesome event. Thank you Special Olympics for the work you do, bringing out the heroes in every one of us. High five. You guys are my heroes.

Weekly High-Five Report: Brotherly Love Run

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Chris Praetzel is running across America to raise awareness for Organ Transplantation. In 1996, at age 3, Chris’s brother, Brian Praetzel, received a life saving kidney transplant. His doctors had held out little hope, knowing the wait for a transplant might simply be too long for his young body. Fortunately a kidney came through in time.

Today Chris, along with another brother, Jaime offering ground support, is running from Los Angeles to Atlantic City. He started his journey on May 23rd and his latest blog update comes from Craig, Colorado.

With 42% of Americans signed up as organ donors, and 100,000 patients currently waiting for an organ, Chris feels we can do better. He’s right. If you are reading this blog and have not yet signed up to be an organ donor, consider doing so right now.

Along the way Chris has slept on church grounds, been questioned by curious police officers, dodged forest fires and has been extended free meals as a token of other’s great appreciation. Most days Chris is running 30 miles and some days he’s covering as much as 50+ miles. That’s pretty awesome. For anyone who has ever run a marathon, imagine doing that everyday for three months. I’m impressed.

Bravo to Chris for undertaking this worthy cause. His website, Brotherly Love Run, gives details about the course and the motivation behind his undertaking. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. I just love to hear about brave athletes putting out hard endeavors. But add raising organ donation awareness to the mix and I’m thoroughly behind it. Go Chris Go!

Weekly High Five Report: Bonnie Prudden, Ski Patroller and Exercise Guru

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Bonnie on the cover of Sports Illustrated, 1957

Bonnie Prudden is my new hero. She was the first woman to earn a National Ski Patrol badge, an exercise expert before there was even a name for such a thing, and a champion of children’s fitness. Six months ago I’d never heard of her. She passed away in December, and I recently wrote an article about her life for National Ski Patrol Magazine (to be pubbed next Winter). Even though I never met Bonnie, after interviewing her long-time business partner and close friend, Enid Whittaker, I feel like I know her. After proving herself in the very male world of skiing patrolling and rock climbing (putting up many first ascents in the Shawagunks), Bonnie wrote articles on fitness for Sports Illustrated in the 1950s, such as “Shape up for Stretch Pants,” as well as recorded what must be the very first ski fitness album, Fit to Ski, based on television episodes of the same name. Bonnie was a few decades ahead of her time, before VCRs and Jane Fonda and YouTube.

Bonnie Prudden

She taught fitness not as a means to subsidize her own lifestyle, but knowing that fit people were happy people, she wanted to spread her message. Plus, who could argue with the title Shape up for Stretch Pants? That has to be the world’s best Sports Illustrated title ever. Bonnie went on to cofound the President’s Council on Physical Fitness which utilized the “President’s Fitness” test we all endured in P.E. classes, in which I wondered who in the world could do so many pull ups. It was probably a good thing I hadn’t heard of Bonnie back in the awkward years of sixth grade gym class. It only would have given me someone to blame (even though Bonnie’s version of the fitness test was much easier than the one later adopted by the Council). But I did live on Grape Nuts as a kid, and Bonnie was a spokesperson for them, which is awesome. If Grape Nuts needs me to be a sponsor for them, I am totally available.

Recovering from a ski injury these past few months, I can look to Bonnie Prudden for inspiration. She claimed that it wasn’t years that aged us, but rather pain. I can relate. But she had a solution for that too. She called it myotherapy, and while researching my article I enjoyed a few sessions. It was totally awesome. Even if you aren’t in pain, you can always pretend and go get some sessions anyways.

As Bonnie liked to say, “You can’t turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again.”