Archive for September, 2014

Heart Walk 2014

September 28, 2014

While I was walking Rudy into the Kindergarten play yard from the parking lot one day last week, one of his classmates walked alongside us and politely peppered me with questions about Rudy.  After a little pause in our conversation she asked “How old is Rudy?” and I said “He’ll be 6 next Wednesday.”.  Without hesitation she said “WOW! He’s old!”.  I think I surprised her a bit when I threw my head back in laughter and responded “You have no idea how glad I am to hear you say that!  We sure have lots to celebrate next week!.”  🙂  Even though this little one is likely only a few months behind Rudy in age, I love that there are now kids younger than Rudy who see him as a “big boy”…a GREAT reminder of how far Rudy has come!  🙂

The celebration of Rudy’s 6th birthday started early yesterday with a fun turn out for the American Heart Association’s annual Heart Walk.  The crazy heat wave finally broke early last week and we enjoyed a gorgeous Saturday morning along Cabrillo with the ocean as our back drop.  Local friends along with some friends from L.A. and Irvine joined us for the 5K Walk/Run and I’m SUPER proud to report that “Team Rudy” surpassed it’s 10K goal by raising a total of $11,620.00…putting our cumulative grand total at nearly $52,000.00!!!  TRULY AMAZING!  Well done everyone!

It was fun to share the morning, once again, with DP’s drum line and Westmont’s baseball team…with special “heart” buddies like fellow-survivor John Dixon and Logan’s mom, Rayme…and countless friends from the special community that surrounds our whole family.  What touched my heart most this year was watching how the big sibs engaged in the day…they put great thought into their plans leading up to the Heart Walk, took it upon themselves to invite friends and enjoyed the event together but in their own individual ways.  It’s familiar to them now, they’ve caught a vision and they were invested…LOVE IT!

Rudy?  Well, he definitely had a plan of his own as well.  After weeks of walking up a storm at home, he chose NOT to walk at the start of the event…stubborn would be putting it mildly.  It’s as if he was saying “I’m not your performing monkey” while refusing to walk in front of the drum line, cheerleaders, dozens of onlookers AND the media all waiting for him to triumphantly walk unassisted!!!  Rolf and I pulled out every trick in the book to coax him into walking but his determination to NOT walk was steadfast.  He did, however, feel all kinds of freedom to walk when all was said and done and the crowds were long gone!  Honestly!!!  🙂  I decided pretty quickly, though, that I can’t be too frustrated with him as it’s that stubborn streak of his that has likely contributed to where he is today…it’s a big part of what we’re celebrating in him this week!  🙂

Of course, celebrating Rudy goes hand-in-hand with acknowledging the hundreds of people in his life that have played a part in his successes…everyone from those who have said a prayer to those who are hands on in his care.  You are all heroes in our book and we invite you to share in the celebration!  To the larger “Team Rudy” community…YAY YOU!!!  We are so grateful!

Here are some HEART WALK 2014 highlights (by Greg Lawler):

Team Rudy was easily identified by our trademark blue balloons!

Team Rudy was easily identified by the trademark blue balloons!

Rudy sending off his friends with a fist pump at the start of the walk :)

Rudy sending off his friends with a fist pump at the start of the walk 🙂

"Ready, set, GO!"

“Ready, set, GO!”

NOPE!!  Rudy protested by refusing to put his feet down when Livy and I tried to help him along!!!

NOPE!! Rudy protested by refusing to put his feet down when Livy and I tried to help him along!!!

At one point he turned around and took a step or two in the opposite direction!

At one point he turned around and took a step or two in the opposite direction!

Even Daddy couldn't talk him into cooperating!

Even Daddy couldn’t talk him into cooperating!

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Rudy ended up catching a ride with Olivia and friends!

Rudy ended up catching a ride with Olivia and friends!

All smiles now!

All smiles now!

Another perfect day in Santa Barbara...

Another perfect day in Santa Barbara…

Rudy and his heart buddy John Dixon!

Rudy and his heart buddy John Dixon!

Rudy and the Westmont Warriors!

Rudy and the Westmont Warriors!

Rudy and the Dos Pueblos JV Cheerleaders!

Rudy and the Dos Pueblos JV Cheerleaders…

and the Varsity cheerleaders!

..and some of the Varsity cheerleaders!

Rudy and the Dos Pueblos drum line!

Rudy and the Dos Pueblos drum line!

Maxo and friends!

Maxo and friends!

Team Rudy ROCKS!!!!!

Team Rudy ROCKS!!!!!

1/2 Her Life!

September 12, 2014

This has been a BIG “Back-to-School” week for us…we’ve had a “Back-to-School” night at a different school almost every night!  🙂  Although the introductions to the kids’ teachers are always lightening-quick and information-packed, it’s great to get a glimpse into the kids’ day and meet the individuals who are investing in them so significantly…it’s an impressive list this year!!

We’ve also spent a good bit of time preparing for the Heart Walk and the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s annual fundraising event BOTH less than a month away!  Yikes!!!  This is always a full time of year with many significant celebrations but this week included one of the most special…the anniversary of the day our sweet Olivia was born!  🙂 Although her 12th birthday on Tuesday was full with school, soccer practice and a jr. high bible study, we managed to squeeze in some celebrating!!  This is a particularly significant bday for Olivia as it’s her last one before the teenage years and it also officially marks the start of a new era…she has now lived longer with Rudy IN her life than not. For half of her life, Olivia has journeyed with Rudy by her side and I can only imagine the ways her life has been impacted as a result.  I pray each day that the impact has been and will continue to be a positive one for all the big sibs.  It’s hard to believe that Olivia was just 6 when Rudy was born…WWWWHAT?!?!?!?!  She was so small…since “Rudy years” are a lot like dog years, it feels like a lifetime ago.  🙂

We’re grateful for the thoughtful and compassionate young lady Olivia is growing up to be…there is much fun on the horizon for her as she settles into the big world of junior high and we celebrate all the joy and growth of the past 12 years while anticipating all the fun to come!!  Happy Birthday Big Girl!!

September 9, 2002

September 9, 2002

September 9, 2014

September 9, 2014

September 9, 2014

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In preparation for the upcoming Heart Walk, we had the opportunity to visit the Westmont baseball team on Monday and share Rudy’s story.    The Warriors form a team of their own every year and have become a special part of our Heart Walk experience!  Go Warriors!!!

Westmont Baseball Team 2014-15

Westmont Baseball Team 2014-15

Rudy has been working hard on his walking…Oma caught the Wonder Boy on video during her visit last month…at the rate he’s going, he’ll have no problem walking on his own at the start of the Heart Walk!  Go, Rudy, Go!!!

Rudy has also been working hard in therapy…motivated to try new things in PT like “mountain climbing” and is super proud of his “snack time” during OT…

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Rudy was quick to climb up the mountain to retrieve a "cool" hot wheels car!

Rudy was quick to climb up the mountain to retrieve a “cool” hot wheels car!

Rudy is lovin' him some sour cream and Doritos!

Rudy is lovin’ him some sour cream and Doritos!

Picture Day at school!  Stay tuned for the first official school picture!!!!  Ha Ha

Picture Day at school! Stay tuned for the first official school picture!!!! Ha Ha

Here are a couple more recent highlights…

Some fun with Max captured by Greg Lawler@

Some fun with Max captured by Greg Lawler

Wilson was invited to help a friend with her Girl Scout Gold Award project…she planned a "Senior Prom" at a local assisted living community!  Such a cute idea and Wison's dance card was full all night! :)

Wilson was invited to help a friend with her Girl Scout Gold Award project…she planned a “Senior Prom” at a local assisted living community! Such a cute idea and Wison’s dance card was full all night! 🙂

No matter what today holds for you, I pray there is something to savor and celebrate!  Bless you friends!!!

It’s That Time Again!!!

September 5, 2014

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We’re dusting off our walking shoes again and gearing up for this year’s Santa Barbara Heart Walk benefiting the American Heart Association on Saturday September 27th.  It’s coming up QUICK!!!  This will be our family’s 5th consecutive Heart Walk and we are excited to gather Team Rudy once again for this fun event to celebrate Rudy’s upcoming birthday and all that he has overcome these past SIX years!!!  (Can you believe he’s going to be 6?!?!)

This has become a very special tradition for our family and has grown to include many of you who have helped in our fundraising efforts and/or joined us at the event over the years.  We’re not ones to pay too much attention to numbers, normally, but were overwhelmed going into this year’s event realizing that we’re very close to reaching a cumulative fundraising total of $50,000.00 in the 5 walks we’ve done!!!  To date, we are just $4,000.00 away from reaching 50K!!!  WOW!

As in years past, the money Team Rudy raises will go to fund pediatric research and programs…particularly meaningful to us as Rudy’s future is dependent on new developments in pediatric cardiology. One of Rudy’s cardiologists at UCLA was recently appointed as director of research in the field of mechanical hearts in pediatrics (he has a much more sophisticated and official title than this but you get the idea). When I asked him back in June how long before a mechanical heart would be available for a kid like Rudy, he answered “20 years”. I sure would love to close that gap!  And research will do it!  🙂

After last years Heart Walk, Rudy’s cath lab cardiologist (Dr. Dan) asked me about the Heart Walk and how it went. I told him how Team Rudy raised over $12,000 for the American Heart Assosciation in 2013 alone to which he responded “Oh yeah? I’ve gotten AHA grants in the past.”!!! What a wonderfully personal connection to make…so motivating in our efforts to raise awareness and funds that we pray will benefit Rudy.

Our hearts are truly grateful and we’re so excited…if you are compelled to do so, we invite you to join us by making a donation to “Team Rudy” and/or help us spread the word.  We have set a goal to raise $10,000 by September 27th which would put us a little over a grand total of $50,000 raised by Team Rudy since 2010. Wow! AMAZING!! You can click on the link HERE to donate (fast and easy) today or to learn more about the American Heart Association.  

As faithful Rudy’s Beat readers know,  Rudy continues to be in limbo regarding treatment to his heart but he has made amazing progress developmentally this year. He loves his new school, adores his big sibs and is rarely seen without a BIG smile. We count ourselves truly blessed and continue to navigate this journey one day at a time. Thank you for your investment and support along the way…we are forever grateful and we love you right back!!

Come join us for cupcakes on the 27th if you can…look for the “Team Rudy” tent on Cabrillo right across the street from the Fess Parker resort rotunda (at the crosswalk)…you can’t miss it!  🙂  

Truly grateful for another blessing-filled year with this goof ball!

Truly grateful for another blessing-filled year with this goof ball!

A beautiful day in Santa Barbara last year...Heart Walk 2013!

A beautiful day in Santa Barbara last year…Heart Walk 2013!

Rudy walking the first block on his own!!!

Rudy walking the first block on his own!!!  Heart Walk 2013

Yay Rudy!!!!

Yay Rudy!!!!  Heart Walk 2013