It’s so hard to believe. Had my first child survived cancer, she’d be going on 21 years old this year. It rattles my brain how quickly, and sometimes slowly, the time has passed.
I was able to love Parker for nearly a full year before a rare and merciless cancer ate through her body. She died just days from her first birthday. And although it’s been nearly 20 years, I remember every moment of that horror. It stills shakes me. I miss her so very much and am still angry she had to suffer.
But over the years, my memories have grown warmer. More often than not, thinking of my little, blue-eyed, happy, and brave child comforts me. This may not make sense, but that girl still brings me joy, such incredible joy.
At that time located in a cramped, overrun building off Colfax, Children’s Hospital Colorado was where Parker’s fate was discovered. Their courageous staff did their best and treated her with dignity, as if she was their own.
Then Children’s came rushing back into my life when my son Chance was born with Down syndrome. At the new Children’s on the fabulous Anschutz Medical Campus, my son’s life was saved. Open heart surgery at three weeks old and then some 13 more surgeries big and small have kept my man, now 17 years old, alive, thriving, and naughty!
Not to bring you down, but I doubt I could’ve survived losing another child. Without Children’s, I would have lost Chance, the frat brother I never had. And selfishly, I want to keep him alive for a long, long time.
That brings us to the reason for my letter—asking for your help in supporting Children’s Colorado, which remains a non-profit, donor-supported hospital.
11 years ago, to honor Parker and to support Children’s, Tracy Smith, Independence’s graphic design goddess, created Team Parker, a bicycle team that rides in the Courage Classic every year—an over-the-Rockies bike event and fundraiser for Children’s Colorado. Thanks to your generous donations over the years, Team Parker has raised over $142,000 for Children’s, helping countless families in need.
Before Parker’s cancer, I was comfortably in the “this won’t happen to my family” crowd. But it did and it can happen to any family. So I’m asking you once more to help the people who need Children’s, like I did then, by financially supporting Team Parker HERE. Each team member needs to meet the $500 minimum in order to ride, so if you see a team member struggling to make the cut, please direct your contribution to him/her specifically. Otherwise, donations to the collective team are always appreciated.
I thank you. All those who love Chance thank you. And all those who remember Parker thank you.
Think Freedom (for kids),
P.S. Last year something horrific and terrible happened to Team Parker—something I vowed would never happen—I actually put on the Spandex and “rode” a bicycle myself.
Yep. An overweight, bald 55-year-old who hadn’t done anything resembling exercise for years (except maybe running to the frig between commercial breaks), pedaled for Children’s. Why? Because I put out a challenge that if Team Parker could raise $20,000, I’d ride the following year. And one very mean and cruel donor, who shall remain nameless (Kay McDivitt, who should remember that payback’s a bitch), loves Children’s so much she wanted to see me die of a coronary. (Thank you, Kay, you’re awesome).
Since I NEVER want to be stuck in Spandex on a bike on a mountain ever again, I’ll throw down a new (hopefully unreachable) challenge—if Team Parker raises $25,000 for this year’s Courage Classic, I will once again don the Spandex like a washed-up Batman and ride next year. I’ll need an oxygen tank and enough stimulants for a real-life Breaking Bad, but I’ll do it.
Please don’t wait or overthink it. Help the kids at Children’s right now by giving to Team Parker and Children’s Colorado HERE.