Monday, July 22, 2013

Good Wine...Good Cause...Great Thanks!

Thanks to everyone who attended the Wine Tasting and Concert to benefit MRF while honoring the memory of Amanda Wall and Corey Hadden.  And some apologies as well for posting photo after photo of the event…I hope I didn’t overwhelm your Facebook on Saturday night.  J  There were so many highlights to the evening that I’m not sure I can cover them all here.  The photos at the end will address most of them (yep, these are some of what I posted on Facebook!). 

The turn-out was phenomenal.  We hoped for 300 or so people and I suspect we reached that goal.  I don’t have the money figures, but I know we sold about $500+ worth of raffle tickets and another $500 or so 50/50 raffle tickets (where winner gets half the pot and MRF gets the other half).  Add in some of the proceeds from food sales and wine-tasting tickets and I’d say we made a decent chunk of money.  So again, thank you!

I want to personally thank those BITNP readers and supporters that answered my call for contributions.  A HUGE shout-out goes out to Heather Olson of Coolibar, Anthony Guerra of Brelli, and Susan Aceti of 31 Bags.  If I do say so myself, your items were the hit of the raffle!   
31 Bag and Brelli share a chair at the raffle!

Coolibar Gift Basket!
I had a handful of highlights of a more personal nature.  First of all, I always love meeting new people who have read my blog or Facebook page.  Most readers have been touched somehow by melanoma and this was true of both Celene and Summer with whom I had the privilege of meeting in person!  Each lovely lady shared their individual stories with me…each quite different but equally heartfelt, touching and inspiring.  Living so close to me, I hope I can cross paths with each again soon!

Celene and her husband Kevin
Summer with yours truly

The second personal highlight was meeting local morning news anchor Kelcey Carlson.  My family wakes up to her broadcast on WRAL every morning and I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed her presence.  To my great joy, she was as engaging and nice in person as she is on TV.  Her family had been touched by melanoma in the past and she was kind enough to stop by to be interviewed for a video to promote the 2014 Amanda Wall – Corey Hadden Memorial Walk.  I was a bit star struck…but also very happy to meet her and hear her story.  Thank you Kelcey!


Thirdly, not only was Kelcey interviewed, so was I!  I’ve stated here before that I’m not much of a speaker, but Don Jones (Amanda’s Dad) asked me to appear in the video and I couldn’t say no.  I was mic’ed up and then asked a few questions about melanoma awareness, my “relationship” with the disease, and a little bit about BITNP.  The interviewer did a great job and I hope I was able to contribute in a positive way.

Ready for my close up!

The evening went a long way toward raising funds and melanoma awareness, but we have a long way to go.  There were several women in attendance wearing bare-shouldered tops that revealed very distinct tan lines.  Also, there was one line in a performed song that stated, “My tan is fading, I need a beach!” (A Jimmy Buffett song I think).  No fault of the performer at all (he was great!)…just a reminder of how far we have to go to truly raise awareness….REAL awareness!

Now…on with the photos!

Big Mike's BBQ supplied the food!  (The Redneck Nachos were to die for...Fritos, Pulled Pork, Baked Beans, Blue Cheese Slaw and BBQ Sauce..yum!)
The Niche Wine Lounge hosted the event...thank you Niche!

Evening entertainment by Bud Moffett and the Reef-ettes!

Early evening band was Long Time Gone!

Serving cool brews in the shade!

We're talking a REAL wine tasting!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Top 5 Reasons to Attend the Amanda Wall Corey Hadden Event on July 20

The Top 5 Reasons to Attend the Concert and Wine-Tasting for the Amanda Wall - Corey Hadden Memorial on July 20:
5. Prizes!

We'll be holding a raffle for various prizes throughout the night!  There will also be a 50/50 Raffle where you take home half the money contributed and the other half goes to the fundraiser.  The more you enter, the bigger the pot gets!

4. Food!
Big Mike's BBQ will be available with their delicious food.  (I enjoyed their BBQ during the recent Apex Pig Feast and was quite impressed).  A percentage of proceeds will go to the evening's fundraising (Thanks Mike!)

3. Two Concerts!
“Long Time Gone” will kick off the music at 5:00 and Bud Moffett will start at 8:30.  If you like CSNY and Jimmy Buffett, you're in for a treat!

2. Aldo and the Niche Wine Lounge!
The Niche Wine Lounge is a unique and relaxing environment to gather with friends and enjoy a fine wine or brew.  (Although I think the atmosphere will be more "party" than "relaxing" for much of this night).  They've just completed an incredible renovation!  Aldo is the Niche Wine Lounge's resident wine connoisseur.  And ladies, he's easy on the eyes.  (Heck, even I think so!) 

1. Raising money for the Melanoma Research Foundation and the Amanda Wall Corey Hadden Memorial.
The Amanda-Corey folks are great and they've been doing great things to raise money for the MRF.  Your contributions through raffle purchases, wine tastings, BBQ consumption, and any spontaneous donations will do so much to help with melanoma research!
No matter the reason, it’s going to be a great time!  I’ll see you there!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

3,000 and Growing

Life has been pretty hectic lately, so I was extremely surprised to read what the Rev. Carol Taylor (of the Melanoma Prayer Center) posted on my Facebook page:

“Congratulations for breaking 3000!  Keep up the great work.  I'm sure Jeff is beaming with pride.  Blessings, Al!”

As my son would say, “Wait…whut?” 

Wow!  3,000 “Likes!”  Honestly, when I first started, I never thought I’d reach 100.

Back in August of 2012, less than a year ago, I reached the 1,500 mark.  How I doubled my “Like count” in such a short time baffles me.  To all readers…thank you!

As I’ve mentioned before, I keep a list of folks that “Like” my page.  Not for stalking purposes mind you, but just to get a feel to where my words are spreading (and to satisfy my little touch of OCD).  I’m happy to say that all 50 states have visited my page with North Carolinians visiting more than others.  Texas, Ohio, California, and Florida round out the Top 5.

My international presence has spread to 44 countries or territories now.  Citizens of Australia have visited my BITNP page more than others while Canada, England, and Italy have followed close behind. 

While the numbers are impressive, they are also somewhat discouraging.  Chances are that nearly all readers have been touched by melanoma in some way and were led to my page (and others) as they searched for answers.  On one hand, I’m so glad they’ve liked my page and hopefully have reached out to other readers for those answers.  On the other hand, I wish there was no need for answers…I wish that melanoma touched no one.

I’ve noticed periodic spikes in increased readership over the years.  Not long ago, there were about 15 straight new “Likes” from Indiana.  Again, thrilled to have new readers but saddened for the reason.  I knew that someone these people loved was most likely directly touched by melanoma.  What’s inspiring about such a spike however is that this person seems to have a strong group of supporters and loved ones.  The person affected is obviously surrounded by great people.

Despite the fact that most readers are already aware of melanoma, I’d like to think that each new “Like” means someone learned something new from a link or thought shared on my page.  I’d prefer not to concentrate on the number of readers, but the number of increased awareness.  For that reason, I’ll continue to spend late nights searching Google and Bing for news and stories related to the fight against melanoma.

While the 3,000+ people who have “Liked” my page have all been touched by melanoma, let’s take a moment to consider how melanoma could statistically affect 3,000 average people.  Current stats show that 1 out of 5 folks will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.  That means out of a random 3,000 people, 600 will eventually have skin cancer!  For melanoma, the statistical odds are 1 in 50.  That means 60 people will be diagnosed with melanoma!  That’s 60 too many!

When I first started my Facebook page, I launched it as a promotional page for my blog.  I had no real plans to use it as the primary tool to spread the word about melanoma awareness.  As it turned out, the page became far more effective as I have been able to link stories and articles almost daily.  It has also been the main conduit to meet and associate myself with some really incredible people.  I doubt I would ever have formed such a strong bond with Carol, Rich, Chelsea, Timna, Katie, and so many others through my blog alone and without my Facebook page. 

Thank you again for “Liking” my Facebook page, and for reading this blog.  I do this in memory of my brother Jeff, in honor of my growing children, and in awe of the amazing people who have come into my life!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

UV Awareness Month...Protect Your Peepers!

Did you know that July is UV Awareness Month?  The American Academy of Ophthalmology has deemed July as the month we should spread awareness about UV safety, especially as it applies to eye safety.

Interestingly, the AAO states the usual sun protection facts that we all SHOULD know by now:
  • Wear sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher (I recommend 30 or higher)
  • Wear long sleeves and hats
  • Avoid being in the sun during the peak hours of 10AM to 2PM.
  • Wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days.
  • Keep an eye on changes to your skin.
  • Wear UV Protective sunglasses.
“Prevent Blindness America” (which actually declared May as UV Awareness Month) shared some additional tips and facts regarding sun safety for the eyes:
  • Always wear sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.  Sunglasses without UV protection may shade the eyes, but actually cause the pupils to dilate, thus allowing more harmful rays.  (In other words, merely shading the eyes could cause more damage if you don’t add the UV protection!)
  • Wear a brimmed hat along with the proper sunglasses for additional protection.
  • Choose wrap-around sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around the eyes.  (Many people apply sunscreen very lightly near the eyes (it burns!), so sunglasses are equally important to protect the skin around the eyes as they are to protect the eyes.)
  • Be aware that while some contact lenses may offer UV protection, they cannot protect the entire eye and the skin around it.
  • Choose sunglasses made of unbreakable polycarbonate, especially for children and those that lead active lifestyles.
  • Ask your doctor is any medication you’re taking may cause increased sensitivity to light.
According to the “Vision Council,” the following medical issues are associated with UV explosure:
  • Skin Cancer
  • Cataracts
  • Macular Degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in the country!)
  • Photokeratitis
  • Pterygium
In short, your eyes are very sensitive organs that need to be protected from UV exposure as much as (or even more than) the skin.  In fact, this is one thing the tanning industry got right.  Even they provide those goofy eye protectors to wear during tanning sessions.  You KNOW it’s important if even those guys offer protection!

The next time you lather on the sunscreen, don’t forget your UV protective sunglasses.  Protect your peepers!