Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Our Weekend With Lance - Part 1

Sorry I'm late with this travelogue ... but trust me ... it's been crazy .

Before we get into the trip to Austin ... I need to mention that I didn't get to stay for the book signing with Nora Roberts and meet Dennis Lehane on 10-7 because Reggie got very sick. Autumn and I went down on Friday after work and stayed at Jeannie's ... had a late dinner at Asaro's (Nora's son's pizza place) ... then watched CLICK the movie. Hit the sack and then got up very early to hit the porch to wait in line for the book signing.

Even though we were only a block away from TTP (Turn The Page bookstore)
the line was very long when we go there ... Got to see everyone standing ... waiting ... greetings & hugs ... then the tickets were handed out. Jeannie, Autumn and I headed for breakfast at Crawford’s ... Hooked up with some friends and chowed down.

My phone rang and Jimmy was desperately distraught. Reggie was sick as ... well ... a dog ... and not getting better. Our vet was out of town and the vet covering for him does not do surgery. From the description of his symptoms ... I knew he had another bowel obstruction and needed surgery. Autumn and I packed up the car and headed home right away ... Got home just as Jimmy was getting the x-ray results from a vet he found in Dover PA that could see him right away. Yup ... He needed surgery.

Reggie still hadn't gained a lot of weight from his months on the streets before we adopted him 1-8-06 and his subsequent 1st surgery 2 weeks later. The vet was very cautious that Reggie might not pull through. Well ... he did ... YEAH!!! The vet had to cut him open in 6 places in his intestines to get all the string and sock that was wrapped around inside his intestines. OMG! We picked him up on Tuesday and he started his road to recovery ... On Friday we were in Austin ... so the kids (Autumn - Matt Strock (ffsil favorite future son-in-law) and Matt (ds) were at home taking care of him for us.

Now on to Austin ... As you may know, Jimmy and his BFF Jeff Lau, have been riding their bicycles and raising money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation
for the past 3 years. They have ridden their cycles from Niagara Falls to York twice, as well as holding luncheons at our local Outback Restaurant. Together Jimmy and Jeff have raised over $20,000.

Participants who raised more than $15,000 were invited to participate in the Ride for the Roses, Oct. 13-15, 2006, in Austin, Texas where only 130 of the top fund raisers were invited to spend the weekend with Lance. Jeff was unable to go due to family obligations, so I tagged along to keep Jimmy company.

So join me while I tell you a tale of our 3-day tour, which lasted 8 days --- if you click on the links you can follow along on our trip ... also ... if you double-click on the smaller pictures, you'll see a larger, clearer picture.

It all began when we flew down to Austin on the 13th of October for this special weekend. Of course we had to get a special bike case for Jimmy's bike, which was checked with our luggage. We flew out of BWI into FW/Dallas, changed planes and flew into the Austin airport. After collecting our luggage and Jimmy's bike, we followed the yellow balloons to the check-in desk at the airport. We were escorted to the shuttle bus and taken to the Hyatt in downtown Austin.
LAF put us up at the Hyatt, which was an absolutely beautiful hotel.

After checking into the hotel, we went to our room, dropped off the luggage and went down to the bar and relaxed, enjoying a couple of Corona's and salsa & chips. After mingling with other fund raisers, we boarded the bus taking us to dinner at the Salt Lick for a special BBQ with Lance. There was a silent auction with lots of great stuff autographed by Lance, but I didn't win anything After the cocktail hour & silent auction, we were herded to the buffet and got our BBQ -- AWESOME food ... they sure know how to do BBQ in Texas!

After dinner, Bob Roll (commentator for the Tour de France & long-time friend of Lance) was emcee of the evening. He had humorous stories of his friendship with Lance over the years and then he introduced Lance. Lance got up and gave his story of 10-2-96 (the day he learned of his cancer), his battle to beat cancer, his recovery and his unbelievable comeback to win 7 Tours. Very Inspiring ... you just want to hop on a bike and start riding.

Bob then introduced John "College" Korioth, Lance's long-time friend. If you ever saw the OVERHAULIN show where Lance had his GTO "stolen" and overhauled, College was the instigator College explained how LAF was formed over tacos and beer one night shortly after Lance was diagnosed. Since College didn't have anything to do, he volunteered to organize the first Ride for the Roses for LAF, and thus became the first employee at LAF. College has been there from the get-go and not only working tirelessly for LAF, but also keeping everything positive and fun. He's a great guy, you can just tell by hearing him speak, and I know from what Lance has said about College, Lance counts on him not just for working on LAF, but also for his friendship. Lance's story about the fist time College was asked for an autograph is a hoot. It's a shame this program wasn't videotaped, it was quite entertaining.

Bob then introduced Lance's mother, Linda Armstrong Kelly She also was very inspiring. Ya gotta hand it to a lady who when she was only 17 and on her own, raised the boy who would become Lance Armstrong.

Around 10:30 pm we were herded back on the buses and headed back to the hotel. Jimmy had an early wake-up call for 6:00 am to go ride with the guys from the Discovery Team, and I got to sleep in.

Next up -- Saturday 10-14-06