Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Looking For(ward to) the Magic

Posted by: Jenn Latino
An update on Team Ashley

I have to start this blog with an update from last week. I had 3 responses from folks regarding the mysterious “Team Ashley” bumper stickers that I have seen.

1. Dana was the first to chime in guessing that it was either a nod to a professional male soccer player named Ashley OR a young woman in Columbia who died a few years ago from a terminal illness. The “Team Ashley” stickers were her friend’s effort to rally support for Ashley and to memorialize her.

2. My friend Julie (who lives in Miami but has mad Google skills) got it exactly right and shared a link to a social media page for Ashley Dent.

3. Julie’s story was backed up by local gal, Viki Fecas, who not only confirmed that Ashley was a young woman from Columbia but also that she died from a battle with cancer. Here is the link to her obituary honoring a life too short:

Thanks for all of the work uncovering Ashley’s story. I had no idea when I inquired about the stickers that yet another story of a life lost too soon because of cancer would be the story that was uncovered. Another reminder that the work we are doing is important.

Looking For(ward to) the Magic
Claire Gonyo, my first donor for the 2010 fundraising season, made another donation this week. That contribution brought me to an even $2447.00! Apparently the guilt of a dishonest $29 birthday contribution was more than she could handle. Thanks, Claire! (But, you don’t get a 2nd ‘Thank You’ card for self-inflicted guilt.)

September is here! This is cause for celebration! Any time someone who has a career in higher education sees the calendar turn from August to September, it is evidence of survival! When I count my finest moments in my professional career, none of them occur in the month of August. Sometimes you just have to tie a knot and hang on, confident that in just 31 days, the page on the calendar will turn and life will return to normal. Beginning on August 1st, I look forward to September.

Looking forward to things is one of my personal favorite emotions in life. The anxiety of knowing that something exciting is coming up brings butterflies to my stomach like a roller coaster car climbing a hill…click, click, click. I try to always have a few “happenings” in the near future that I can look toward, get excited about, and, let’s be honest, that I can put my energy into planning for. Packing lists. Itineraries. Daily weather reports of some far off city. These are the things in life that bring me the most joy. Now that we have less than 2 months till the Atlanta 3-Day, I thought I would share a few of the things currently on my “What I’m looking forward to” list.

Most immediately, I am looking forward to an exciting Labor Day weekend in Knoxville, TN. I’ll be headed west, and north, to spend the holiday celebrating with Mandie and Patrick. New engagement, new house, new puppy….they have a lot going on and nearly a dozen of us are invading their beautiful new home, sleepover style! New Kids teammate, Michelle (yes, she is still alive and walking-and once September gets underway, I’m sure you will hear from here again) will be there and we have plans to do some serious walking. I’m looking forward to our reduced mileage, thanks to the holiday, and to some long overdue catching up on all of life’s happenings. You should all be looking forward to our blogs next week. I’m sure there will be plenty of stories to tell.

Once Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, I can start to look ahead to my big fall adventure. The 3-Day is getting really close!! We only have 50 more days to get ready-that includes completing the training, gathering our gear, packing/compacting our gear, and making the journey to Atlanta. I am looking forward to many aspects of “the walk.” Most of all, I’m looking forward to getting Team New Kids on the Walk in one place! It’s going to be a huge reunion for the Carolina crew (me, Katie, & Michelle); a hug fest with 2 of my 3 BFFs (Shawn & Kim-and, if Valerie decides to come cheer us on, all 3 in one place-I may not be able to manage that level of excitement); I’ll get to see Team Perlman, and then ditch Ben but steal Meredith for 3 days; It’s been way too long since I have seen tentmate Katie B. and I’m excited to get caught up on the details of her engagement and upcoming wedding; It’s back to the scene of the crime for the 1 year reunion of my meeting Jenn D.; and the beginning of new friendships with the newest New Kids (Priscilla & Karen). Even Team Mom will be back together again (My mom, Kim’s mom, and Jenn D’s mom enjoyed a little “mom fest” at the 2009 event)! And to think, all of that will happen before we even take the first step! Whoa!

As much as I am looking forward to the walk, I am also counting the days until the post-walk celebration. I always take my annual vacation the 3rd week of October. I hate to belabor this point but, we are kind of busy in the summer so it’s hard to get away from campus. I reserve my time away for the fall semester. Summer vacations are overrated anyway! My October adventures have taken me many fun places including Vegas, Cape Cod, Vegas, and last year, Savannah. This year, I decided it was time to return to the homelands and I knew exactly who to take. LINDA! “Jenn Latino, you just walked 60 miles! What are you going to do now?” I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!!! After the walk, me and Mom will be packing our bags and trading in our sneakers for Mouse ears for the “Magical Reunion Tour”. Our last pilgrimage was 3 too long ago years when I graduated from FSU. There may even be a few New Kids in tow. We may have to rent a couple wheelchairs for our blistered feet, but I feel certain we can rally enough energy to make it in time for the 3:00 parade! We already have our dinner reservations at Liberty Tree Tavern and I am looking forward to some pot roast, mashed potatoes, and mac n cheese with Chip, Dale, Minnie, and the rest of the Colonial crew. Yum Yum!

Let’s recap-because I have given you quite a line up.
• September
• Fun Labor Day weekend with girlfriends
• 2010 Komen 3-Day for the Cure
• Walt Disney World

And there’s more! The finale of the year will begin on December 18th when I, along with 16 friends and family, will load the Carnival Cruiseline Dream and set sail for 5 glamorous days in celebration of Teri Carpenter kicking Breast Cancer in the @ss! It’s going to be a major party! The participants range in age from 8-68 and we are all going to raise a glass (or a juice box in the case of the kids) to Teri for her amazing battle and victory against this nasty disease. (As if the cruise itself weren’t enough, we are sneaking in 1 day at Disney before we depart-2 Disney visits in 3 months-If I were any more excited I’d burst!)

It’s important to have things to look forward to. It helps me get out of bed every day, maintains a healthy level of anxiety in my gut, gives my OCD something to focus on, and keeps me moving forward. I have a pretty spectacular line up of events to wrap up the year and they all, in some way, involve the fight to find a cure for breast cancer. From training walks with fellow teammates as we celebrate some of life’s greatest events, to celebrating the life of an amazing woman who inspires my every step, the fight to find a cure for breast cancer will keep me looking forward-until we don’t have to walk any more!


  1. I am so excited for this weekend! Robyn will likely join us for a few miles, and you'll love this - she is a Disney character! Well, several of them actually. Pongo and Ollie can't wait to see Aunt Jenny & Aunt Michelle!

  2. Jenn, something that sucks about the Liberty Tree Tavern- no more character dining :( It was my favorite restaurant to work because it reminded me of Virginia (and Minnie's costume was gorgeous, though heavy).