Category Archives: Heroic Deeds

Facebook Saves Lives

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Are you feeling guilty about all those “wasted” hours on Facebook? Do you scroll through your news feed with a sense of irresponsibility as the work piles up in your inbox?

Well, now you don’t have to. Check out this video explaining how Facebook and Donate Life are saving lives. Just click on the image to start the video.

 

Facebook has partnered with Donate Life America and  recently announced the new “organ donor” status tool. Now, you can declare your live-giving choice to your friends. The first step in organ donation is making the choice. The second step is letting your loved ones know your wishes.

Every day 18 people die waiting for a organ donor. You can save 8 lives and improve many more by becoming an organ donor. No one wants to think about their own death. I don’t. But I signed up to be an organ donor when I was sixteen years old and I have the little heart on my driver’s license to prove it. I never expected that my husband would need a liver transplant some day. When the time came, the wait list was too long. John would have died before he got a liver. Instead, a heroic member of our family donated half of his liver to John and saved his life. Luckily his anatomy matched closely enough for a successful living donor transplant. Not everyone is so fortunate.

Here’s how to declare your status:

Go to Timeline, click on “Life Event,” select “Health and Wellness,” choose “Organ Donor.” And make sure to click on the “Officially Register” link to make your decision to be a donor official by registering in your state. It’s that easy! Please share this post with everyone you know.

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Crying Like a Girl with a Skinned Knee: Why stoicism isn’t all its cracked up to be

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I am tough. I can handle whatever comes my way–whether its a torn ligament, a mouse trying to nest in my hair, or my husband’s brush with a deadly cancer. I can take it.

At least that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

I’m not sure when I decided I couldn’t show my weaknesses publicly. It has taken me years to learn that sharing my little flaws actually helps me connect with people. Who wants a perfect friend? You know the one. That guy or gal with flawless hair and skin? Chances are if you know someone like that, you secretly hate him or her. My husband reminds me that it annoys him when I’m perfect (although I have to admit that even in this context that perfection-striving ego of mine always loves these comments). He’s specifically referring to my ability to be calm under pressure, tough in an emergency and generally “get all Zen” when the s**t hits the fan. But I’m like a dog working for a bone. I love positive feedback.

I was twenty-two years old when I got my first dose of positive feedback for being tough. Rollerblading was all the rage in the late 90s and I was getting the hang of it. Too cheap to buy knee pads and a helmet, I preferred to roll along the Sammamish River Trail unencumbered by such nonsense, listening to Hootie and the Blowfish on my Walkman and weaving around pedestrians.

Up ahead I noticed a grate covering a drain and figured I’d just ride around it. No problem. The Sammamish River Trail was busy that day. It was one of those rare early summer warm days when the entire population of the Greater Seattle area goes outside to dry out the webbing between their toes.

The grate was just a few rolls away, so I glanced over my shoulder before making my move. Thanks to the rocking tunes in my earphones, I didn’t hear the cyclist as he passed me. He was one of those bearded recumbent guys–all geared out and chill. I couldn’t veer around the grate, I’d have to go straight over it.

I hadn’t yet mastered the brake on my rollerblades, and instead of slowing down, I sped up as if to launch across the four foot expanse. The recumbent guy and I were neck and neck. There was no room for error. I had to go for it. I would have to clear the grate by jumping over it.

I almost made it too.

The wheels of my right blade nearly made it across the grate. But instead of landing of solid concrete, they landed on the drain and wedged neatly between the metal bars. My foot stopped instantly. My body flew forward and I landed hard. My right knee took the brunt of it, and my palms absorbed the remainder of the impact.

It took me a while before I could stand. My right knee was splayed open in three distinct flaps and I could see the white bone of the patella flashing obscenely inside. Later I would find out I’d chipped and cracked the knee cap. But at the time, all I knew was that I was a long way from the car.

A couple stopped to ask if I was okay, their eyes wide and their nostrils flaring in disgust. I smiled and cleared my throat. I looked down at my knee. Blood oozed from the gash, creating a long line that soaked my sock and disappeared into my rollerblade.

“Wow,” the woman said. “I can’t believe you’re even standing.”

I kept smiling. My knee hurt, but she was impressed. I could tell.

“Do you want us to call somebody?” The man asked.

“I’m fine. Really.” I left the couple and started back towards the car. I passed numerous runners and cyclists, each alternately horrified and amazed at my toughness. I kept rollerblading. I put my earphones back in place and held my head up high. Later, my knee would stiffen up and the wound would someday look like a pitchfork splitting my kneecap. But for the moment I was numb, I was headed home and I was tough. I hadn’t cried like a girl with a skinned knee.

Of course now, all these years later, I would have taken the couple up on their offer to call somebody. I would have received a ride and put ice and a bandage on that wound right away. I don’t have to be so tough now.  I’ve found that stoicism isn’t all its cracked up to be.

Specifically I’ve found that if you are always tough, then others expect it. No longer amazed by your stoicism, friends are confused when you do show weakness. More than abandoning stoicism I’ve also learned to ask for what I want. If I need a ride because I’ve split my knee open and just looking at the wound makes me want to throw up, I’ll just go ahead and ask for it.

But I probably will, at a later time, look to my husband and ask if he thought I’d “been tough enough”, to which he will roll his eyes and answer “Yes Kim. You’re always tough enough.” Which is yet another reason why I love this man.

Weekly High-Five Report: “The Mountain Runners” Documentary

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The Mountain Runners is a film by Pedal Power Productions, showcasing the history of a grueling race which was the forerunner of today’s Ski to Sea.

In 1911 it was called the Mount Baker Marathon. That year 14 competitors traveled by car or rail from Bellingham to the base of Mount Baker, then up the mountain and back again. It lasted only three years, and that first year the prize was $100 in gold coins.

The film is set to be the released the last week of May 2012 in time for the annual Ski to Sea race which can be traced back to the Mount Baker Marathon.

The film makers need a little more help to bring this project to fruition and have started a page over at kickstarter.com in hopes of pushing their film over the edge. Check out the film trailer and find out more on their website. With all the ski movies and pov edits out there online these days, its worth a look at how they did it old school. I mean really old school.

Bravo guys for making this film happen. I, for one, look forward to seeing it soon.

Avalanche Deaths

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Avalanche Debris at Crystal Mountain, 2011

Yesterday was a bad day for skiing in Washington. Four people were killed in two separate avalanche incidents. It’s been all over the news–especially the avalanche at Stevens Pass that killed three. As I followed the condolences and shock on Twitter and Facebook yesterday afternoon, I realized how easy it is to cast judgement. I live and play in the mountains. Even those that have never spent a day chasing powder have still taken risks that 99% of the time do not end poorly. But when others take risks and die, the convenient response–the reaction that makes us feel just slightly better–is that we would not have taken the same risk. We would not have skied in the backcountry when the avalanche danger rating was high. We would have been more responsible, more careful, more lucky.

I knew those that passed away at Stevens Pass yesterday–Johnny Brenan, Jim Jack and Chris Rudolph. They were all good men, and an important part of the local community. Chris was the marketing director at Stevens. I can’t imagine how they must be navigating this tragedy when the very one who would normally field questions from the press was a victim. Our hearts, not our judgement, should go out to Stevens.

They were careful, they were wearing beacons and avalungs and carrying all the right gear. They had stopped in a group of trees, skiing from safe island to safe island, one at at time.

Just the way we are taught to mitigate risks. But mitigating risks doesn’t mean eliminating them.

The deaths in Tunnel Creek, as well as the avalanche fatality that occurred in Alpental’s BC yesterday, are tragic accidents. Yes, risks were taken. But we all take risks every day. My heart is heavy today for the families that have lost their loved ones.

If a lesson can be teased from the wreckage, it is in Elyse Saugstad’s story. She was standing in trees with the others when the avalanche broke out above them. She, too, heard the freight train sound of the avalanche barreling down on her. She, too, was taken over 1,000 vertical feet in the debris. But she wasn’t killed or fully buried. She was wearing an ABS system and deployed her airbag. It saved her life.

Click this link for a firsthand account of the avalanche from ESPN’s Megan Michelson, who was there. Megan describes the scene from the top of the slidepath and interviews Elyse regarding her experience. This is the best footage I’ve read so far.

Weekly High-Five Report: A Birthday for Bubbles

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Bubbles Birthday Cards so far

Since I have the World’s Best Dad, I can understand the love a daughter has for her father. A woman’s father is her #1 guy, the model her mate will have to live up to, the one she wishes she could be if a Y chromosome snuck in somewhere. So when I heard about Sarah Shattuck’s plan to blitz her father with birthday cards on his 75th birthday, I was intrigued.

Here’s the scoop, straight from the blog she created just for this occasion:

First, three things you should know:
1) My Dad is turning 75 on February 14, 2012.
2) He has one of the greatest laughs on the planet. You know that full body silent laugh?
He’s a pro.
3) My family has created a scheme to fill his birthday with laughter and you can help!
Here’s the plan. I’m asking friends, friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends to send birthday cards to Bubbles. New cards are great, as are reused (truly, cross out your name and write his, then cross out Grandma’s and write yours if you wish).  Cards that are funny, sentimental,  tacky, colored by toddlers etc— whatever strikes you would be most welcome. What we’re going for here is volume—both in cards and the resulting laughter. We’re shooting for at least a 1,000 cards with postmarks from at least 25 countries. Scratch that– we were shooting for 1,000 cards from 25 countries, but we quickly doubled our goals, then upped them again.

We’re shooting for at least 10,000 cards from at least 50 countries.
My Dad is a character. He loves people, and he loves jokes, and surprises. Which is why we think this is idea is right on! (Anyone who has gone by the name Bubbles since age 7 must be a character, right?!)
Are you up for sending him a card? Can you think of others who like spreading a little love, like laughter or have great fathers and families? Please ask them to join the fun and send a card!
Please send cards to:
                   Bubbles
                   P.O. Box 426
                   Oxford, MD 21654
Anytime after February 7th is great, but don’t worry too much about timing. Early is great, as is late!

Thank you for your support!

Honestly, you should go check out the cards that are streaming in. And since today is Bubbles birthday, here’s a special shoutout to him and a high-five to Sarah for blitzing her #1 on his 75th. Bravo Sarah. High-five Bubbles.

Weekly High-Five Report: The love of a good dog

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Rocket and Kim at Work

A good dog will ruin you. Anyone who has ever loved a dog knows this. Even bad dogs can be ruinous. They bury into that tender spot just beneath our heart and stay there, like a chigger or a tick. Each time we leave them at home, their noses slashing smudges on the window beside the front door, that small place under our heart breaks open. A new and larger scab forms over that spot, and each subsequent leave-taking grows more painful.

Dogs know this. They know how to make us love them beyond anything rational. We constantly try to remind ourselves, “he’s just a dog. At least he has a warm house to sleep in while I’m away.” But it doesn’t matter. We know that the dog has vowed to be part of our pack, to find his place in our lives, to fit around our daily tasks like a pool of still-warm jello until it finally hardens and he becomes part of us.

Rocket was the dog that ruined me. When he died a few years back, I wasn’t sure I could love another dog, and so far I haven’t been able to. We called him Rocket Dog, Rocket Ship, Rock Star or, at the end, just Rock. We made up songs about him to the tune of Elton John’s “Rocket Man“. He was an avalanche rescue dog, and I took him to work with me every day. He would sleep below the bench in the patrol room quietly, but the moment I would ask him to “go to work,” he’d pop out, his nose wet, his tail wagging.

Hoot in her element

My mom’s dog, Annie, passed away yesterday. She was a golden retriever. A little bit spazzy and she breathed too heavily on me when I visited, Annie was the most loving dog I’ve ever met. She had many nicknames; we rarely called her Annie until she got sick. Instead we called her Spaz Dog or Hootenanny or, most often, just Hoot. She only wanted to please her people, and would usually run out onto the street to say hello to a passing human.

She also loved the elk that patrolled around my parents’ cabin, and would often try to blend in with them. On several occasions she narrowly escaped a vicious kick from an elk; but like any golden retriever, she wasn’t deterred from negative feedback. She just couldn’t believe that another living thing didn’t love her. She just wouldn’t buy it.

The love of a good dog is a blessing like few others in this world. It is untainted, unbiased and completely unconditional. It is a gift.

But there’s a catch. Dogs don’t live long enough. They leave us just when that scab has grown too large, just when their jello has hardened around the routine of our lives; without them we feel loosened and off-kilter. Old leashes gather dust in the garage of our heart, but we can’t bring ourselves to throw them out. Perhaps the fact that dogs die too early is a lesson reminding us that nothing in this world is perfect. Even the perfect love of a dog is not permanent. This would be a helpful lesson if I was a Buddhist. But I’m not. I’m just another ruined dog owner.

Goodbye Hootenanny. Your love made the world a little brighter. Bravo girl.

Weekly High-Five Report: Random Acts of Kindness on the King

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Topping out on the King

At the start of every season, we patrollers carry emergency equipment to the top of the King (Crystal’s Southback peak), tie it to a tree and hope no one ever needs it. The toboggan is propped on its end in plain view, along with a backboard, sled pack and several probe poles as a constant reminder that this is dangerous business out here. While Southback isn’t true backcountry, much of the adjacent terrain is, and when rescue is possible, it could be long and even costly.

Last weekend was busy for ski patrollers, and the King’s toboggan got more use in one weekend than it normally does in an entire season. The weekend started with a backside rescue in Crystal Lake’s Basin, when a skier didn’t arrive home that evening. Several patrollers scoured the boundary that night, finally finding the missing and injured skier early Saturday morning far off the backside of the ski area. The sled at the top of the King was used to bring him out the heavily-treed drainage to the closed highway below.

It takes a village

The weather and wind didn’t allow us to bring the toboggan back up on Saturday. Only an hour after South had reopened Sunday morning, even before we’d had the chance to hike all that equipment back to the top, we received a cell phone call–a skier was injured on the North side of the King, and the only way to get to her was up and over.

Seven of us headed towards the King, each carrying a piece of the bulky and heavy equipment, listening for radio updates from the first patroller on the scene. Two patrollers battled with the toboggan, each carrying a part of it up the 1st and 2nd steps of the hike. In order to be more efficient, patroller Paul left his skis beside the trail, figuring he’d come back for them once the sled reached the top.

At one point on the hike, with a mental clock ticking in my head, wondering about the condition of our patient, a skier looked at Shannon and I with–dare I say it–a look of awe. He said he was impressed by how quickly we were getting the equipment out there. I nodded and continued on.

I suspect it is to this man that my weekly high-five goes to. Because someone, I’m not sure who, picked up Paul’s pair of skis and carried them to the top of the King. When Paul arrived at the top with the toboggan, his skis did as well, and he was able to bring the sled to the injured skier more quickly.

Shannon posted a note on Facebook, applauding the “unknown skier”:

Yesterday’s serious injury on the North side of the king required at least 7 patrollers to hike from chair 6 and arrive on scene with backboard, oxygen, belay equipment and a sled. The two patrollers with the sled, in their haste, left a pair of skis at the base of the hike to be retrieved after the sled made it to the summit…
Cheers to the unknown skier that pitched in and hiked those skis to the summit for us. That’s why we all love Crystal.

So here’s a shout-out to the “unknown skier” that helped out on Sunday. Bravo man. Thanks for pitching in. So, if you want to be like the unknown skier and start spreading kindness around, please do. Then the whole world would be a better place.

Oh, and later that day, the toboggan made it back to the top of the King, thanks to patroller Rich. Let’s hope it stays there.