Monday, November 22, 2010

Voting as a deaf blind person

Yeah, it's been a little longer than I promised, however I do have a good excuse. ;) Unfortunately the sickies went through our house and ugh, I don't think I've been that sick in a LOOOOONG time! Too gross to talk about, so we'll just leave it at it was BAD.

I've been thinking a lot lately about having Rei and being a person that is deaf blind and some of the things that I used to take for granted, that these days are starting to become a challenge for me. This all kind of started as a note was posted on my GDF list with an inquiry of how DB people vote and such, as a situation occurred in NY where a person asked for a braille ballot and the election board of that precinct falter and simply replied saying- well, no one has ever asked that before.

As it turns out, it was explained by someone from the NFB that in NY they have a law in effect that states their ballots must be a "full-face" ballot, which means ALL of the candidates and categories to vote for, must all be on one page/screen. Thus this combined with the law in printing regulations for paper size, there is just no physical way for the ballot to be printed in braille and meet all of the legal regulations. So in my advocacy experiences, I suggested that the person start with their legislative representative and that some work was needed there to see about getting the law changed in order to make braille ballots an option.

So then after the correspondences and the election that was quickly coming up, I began to wonder what my options are here in IN for voting as I continue to lose my vision. So I began to read the Indiana Code- which you can look up on the IN gov website and I contacted a fellow Partners grad who is very involved in working for accessible voting as well. We worked together last year with an email campaign and asking for people to voice and support that all satellite voting locations need to be accessible as well as during early voting and not just on election day itself.

I posed the question to him asking if braille ballots were even available here in IN. He responded that in Marion County that they were available but had to be requested in advance. He offered to contact my county election board and work on getting the process started for my county. I then began to wonder what I will indeed do as reading the voting screen becomes more difficult.

In the primaries, I had a hard time reading the screen not so much for the size, but because the background of the screen was a light grey and the text was a dark grey- not providing much contrast at all. So I began to research what the voting machines were for my county and found that our county has the Microvote Infinity machine in which has a screen that can be taken off and set onto the lap of a person in a wheelchair and has the ability to have a separate box plugged in to provide an audio reading of the ballot for the person, where a headphone jack is used to plug in a set of headphones. So my thought was since I'm using a set of Phonak Naida's with an ICOM, that I could possibly plug in to this- as I can do with any sort of device that accepts a headphone plug and be able to listen to the audio version.

So I'm thinking I've done my homework and I should be good to go. Election day comes and AC and I walk/ride about 3/4's of a mile to our polling place and we walk in. We were greeted as I have been each time very warmly and courteously and I sign in on the sheet and one of the judges comes up and asks, will you need assistance with voting, we can read the ballot to you and press the buttons for you if you need it. Now this is where it gets a little sticky. Indiana law states that the person with disabilities may designate someone to assist them in voting by doing this. However, the HAVA law that took effect a few years ago states that polling places must be accessible and where people can vote privately and independently if they choose to.

Since I had tried to be prepared I asked if they had an accessible machine. One of the registration ladies piped up "YES, we do!", but the other judge looked at her and was like well I don't think what we have will be able to help her. The accessible machine we have is for a person in a wheelchair. I then asked if they had a machine that would either enlarge the font or have audio capability. Then everyone began to stutter and scramble- several talking at once trying to determine if they did, the first judge that had offered to help me went to the back of the room and started digging through a Rubbermaid tub. Quickly he comes back and hands me an 8"x10" scratched up plastic magnifying sheet and says here's what we have, will this work for you? I looked at it and replied that I'd give it a try and see.

So I was fortunately able to still read most of the screen however I did have some difficulty, but I was able to make my way through it and cast my vote. I thanked them for their help and came on home a little frustrated and disappointed at what had taken place. I gave my friend a call and he and I both agree that it's more a training issue, that the polling place volunteers didn't know how to use the equipment that they had.

So that brings me to where do I go from here? I placed a call to my state representative and he quickly called me back and promised to look into it as well as ask about the braille ballot for me. He contacted the election board and called me back saying that they thought they had covered this in the volunteer training, however apparently some of the people didn't completely understand it. They would be sure to cover it more thoroughly in the next training and thank you for making them aware of this. As for the braille ballot- the person was on a committee where they were working with other counties on how to handle this and getting ballots printed ahead of time, however they weren't sure how that was going to work out. My rep called back and also suggested going to early voting at the county courthouse where the employees would definitely know the accessibility features of the machines, however that is 20 minutes away in order to get there. However he did say that he agreed that all of the polling places should be accessible though and that they'd work on it for the next election.

While it was an answer, I hope it was an earnest one. I find myself wondering how much longer will I be able to go and cast a vote on my own. While I know there is the absentee ballot process, there is something to be said for being able to independently go and vote. I really liked the comparison that my friend gave me when I mentioned some disagreement I had encountered from a sighted person about pursuing this. He said- tell the sighted person to give you their car keys. That he was sure the person had friends that would be more than willing to take them to the all the places they needed to go and that they'd be able to get there and the job be done, and then see what they had to say and if they were willing to hand over the car keys. It's about being able to be independent and even self dignity of holding on to the things in life that are slowly being taken away with the loss of vision.

I try hard to focus on the things I can still do and trust me, we have a jam packed and busy life with three kids and all of the activities we are involved in. I just find myself retreating at times and asking myself- how much longer will I be able to do this? Is this the last time I'll be able to do xyz? I read of others like myself who have lost pretty much most of the use of their central vision due to blurriness and cataracts - which I was told at my last appt that I do indeed have the very starts of them, and I find myself trying from time to time to do things by feel instead. I have a hard time with being still and I pray that I am able to find some sort of activities that I will enjoy as much as I enjoy in sewing and scrap booking.

For now, I have been very, very blessed that my family has rallied around me and are learning ASL with me. Mike and I are finding that we are using it more and more in our day to day interactions as I am just not picking things up verbally much anymore and unable to pick up the visual cues to understand the sounds as well with the loss of peripheral field. The signing is much simpler and it has helped with understanding each other and providing relief in my struggle to catch what is going on. It has helped me in the frustration of being able to communicate with my family and the kids are also picking it up as well and using it too when they can.

My goal is to eventually take up learning braille as well, so this is where I do wish to pursue the availability of at least being able to request a braille ballot in the future. We'll see what comes of it and so forth.

So yeah- for the time being I'll still vote at the polls, however I reluctantly realize that my time is drawing near, much sooner than I care to admit, where I am probably going to have to retreat to the ranks of others who vote via absentee ballot in order to perform my duty as a citizen to vote.

All I can say for the Deaf Blind out there that keep moving along- keep at it, one day at a time, one situation at at a time. To the sighted- be understanding and ready to hand over those car keys for to walk a mile in different shoes. ;) Night and hugs to you all!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New goals...

Our bible study small group is trying to take on life in a new level, setting SMART goals and we paired off to be accountability partners with another group member.

As I got to thinking about my goals and what I wanted to achieve out of this, several things came to mind:

1. Personal growth in learning the bible and prayer journal ling at least 3 times a week and try to read from the bible every day.

2. Blog here at least 3 times a week. Even if it's just a short note.

3. Kick start the journey that Rei and I are beginning to our 2nd Mini Marathon with walking 2-3 miles 3 times a week and cross training on the wii fit on the off days.

4. I have several financial goals as well- including getting ourselves debt free except the mortgage payment within the next year. We are close- just have to keep at it!

5. Some other little things I wrote down for relationships with my family that I wanted to do as well.

So feel free to give me a shout out if you see I'm slacking on my messages here!

Rei and I are doing well. We've been busy here with kids, school, parent teacher conferences, the birth of a good friend's new baby boy, and a surprise birthday party for another good friend.

The girls have amazed us this year in their growth at school. KT is now reading at a collegiate level and is the top in her High Ability class for reading, at a Lexile of 1357. While it's a good problem, it's a little scary in trying to find materials she's able to read and still be appropriate content wise and still challenge her. Much to my surprise, her teacher says she's a powerhouse all around and is above average even in her class on the math and language skills too. She definitely didn't get that from me. LOL! Her teacher tells us that it's very rare to have a student of her abilities, where she's strong in both the Math and the Languages. Usually the boys get the math, the girls get the language stuff, but she's doing very well in all areas.

MD also had an awesome conference in that she is above average in her class and grade peers in her math scores and has excelled/mastered all of her skills she's to master at this point in the school year. We were surprised when she came home a couple of weeks ago and saying that she's jumped from a Guided Reading level of H to level L. Her teacher explained that the end of the year goal for first grade is to be at level I, so she's doing well there too.

We shared with her teacher too that we were amazed in the changes we've seen in MD's work ethics and abilities, as she's really taken off and is beginning to strive to achieve better, instead of laying low and only doing what she has to in order to get by, which is what seems to be what she's always done in the past. We can see her becoming confident in her ability to do well and striving to reach for more and this really makes us HAPPY! :)

AC on the other hand is downright scaring us in day to day activities. This kid has essentially taught himself how to read and is picking up from both of his sisters every day and trying to keep up with them on all levels. He's jumping on the computer and practicing all the math problems and spelling homework he can get to that MD has worked on and understands and loves it. He finds himself bored if I don't work to challenge him on various things. We are also working on ASL letters and basic signs that we can remember in our day to day activities. We shall see if he goes to school with his sisters or not next fall. If he continues as we foresee, we see him being in the High Ability class starting K next fall- which in turn would mean he'd be at a different school for K & 1st grade. Only time will tell...

Well, it's late and here's to a Blessed weekend to all of you readers! More to come soon!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Helloooooo out there,

Wow, It's been all summer without saying much. Haven't really kept up with much of my online stuff since our schedules have been pretty much on the go and life with three kids is busier than ever.

We found ourselves doing a balancing act through the summer and now on into the fall as well. Soon after this weekend we'll get a a bit of a repreive as one sport season ends.

Through the summer we had KT in recreational gymnastics on Mondays. Tuesdays was the family night of taking American Sign Sign Language class, taken with Dad, Sue, Sue's parents, my Aunt, Katie's teacher from last year, and our good friend Karen. Wednesday and Fridays, MD was at gymnastics and Thursdays, Mike volunteered at church with the IT dept. Saturday evenings is church and then we have our small group bible study on Sunday evenings.

So this summer ended up in two trips to Chicago for our family, as Rei and I went up in June, KT spent the week at Camp Allendale and had a blast in spite of a serious viral bug going through and taking out 30% of the campers and staff there. Then in July, Rei and I were thoroughly blessed to serve on the Indy West Great Banquet Womens Weekend #18 team as a speaker. The Lord worked in such amazing ways that weekend and at the end of the weekend there were 5 ladies that were baptized and 13 all together that either came to Christ or re-dedicated themselves to him. :)

August saw Mike making a trip up to Ms. Pearl's, as he was roped in by Yours Truly to set up and fix a lot of computer issues for her. She was working on two VERY old systems and through generous donations, we were able to set her up with an updated system and get her in really good working shape, both for her and the moms that she serves. He spent the entire weekend working on puter stuff while there. So it was good. :)

August was also busy with school starting up- MD starting 1st grade and going school all week. KT moved into Mrs. Chadd's 4/5 High Ability class. Another project over the summer and ongoing is we have been working with Mrs. Chadd and the Laney project. See below for more details on that! AC started up with Flag football, which he turned out to be quite a fast runner for his team. He's good at it- he does it all the time! LOL! MD is also doing her gymnastics on the pre-team. When she moves up the next level- she'll then start competing. KT has started with travel basketball, which she's improving by leaps and bounds, though we are committed every other Sunday afternoon pretty much solely to basketball.

The Laney Project:
Last year- the Pup Putt Project was a HUGE success and you can read more here:

WTHR Pup Putt Article

Laney came out of the Pup Putt project in hopes to train her as a therapy dog for the school. So this summer, we started meeting on a weekly basis, holding training sessios for both Laney and Pippa, her littermate whom the Wassens purchased to train as service dog for them. So we were busy working with the dogs and have been working on a continual basis in different things to train Laney to be the dog she's expected to be.

There has been a couple of articles and a story about Laney, which are here:

Indy Star News article

Laney came into our lives through Mrs. Chadd this summer as we met each week to begin training Laney as a Therapy dog for the school. We've worked with both Laney and Pippa, Laney's littermate that the Wassens brought home to be a service dog for Mr. Wassen. There has been an article and a news story about the amazing impact that Laney has made so far.

Indy star article:

Fox 50 News story:

Since school has started we've Rei and I have visited KT's class to help with Laney, MD has continued on in her gymnastics, and KT in Basketball. AC is having his last football game this weekend. I've been involved in a moving bible study by Kay Warren called Dangerous Surrender. Mike and I have been taking the second level of ASL class with family too, as we continue to try to learn together.

The kids are excited as we embark onto October and fall and the decorations we do for Halloween.

Time to call it a night, as it took me a couple of hours to type this post as we watched the movie, Road to Perdition and was pretty good. :)

Hugs to all and will try not to be such a stranger in the near future.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Dog Chat from Rei- Mission Trip to Chicago South side

Mom started packing and putting stuff together, getting my food and stuffing all this stuff into a bag so I knew we were about to head somewhere. She said something about going to the south side of Chicago to a very rough neighborhood to help out Ms. Pearl, of the the Roseland "Good News" Daycare. She said that Ms. Pearl is an amazing woman that provides free childcare for teen moms in the poverty stricken area to finish school and try to make something better of themselves. Mom and I had went up to Ms. Pearl's back in December, but it was just a day trip and we stayed there in the daycare all day and helped with stuff inside, but mom said this time we'd be staying overnight for a couple of days and get to make some new friends, help with the daycare, do some chores for Ms. Pearl, and help feed the homeless throughout the weekend.

So we got up early Friday morning and Mr. Ed, our trip leader came by and picked us up in the church mini-bus and we met up with the other people going on the trip with us. We all loaded up tons of bags and boxes of clothes that Mom said were going up to be given to the homeless in the area. So once the stuff was loaded up, everyone split up between the mini bus and the 15 passenger van that the group was going in. Mom and I rode in the bus so I could lay in the aisle and have a little more room to spread out since all the seats were taken with all the stuff in the back seats. We took off and made our way up north from Indianapolis to the Merrilville area and made a pit stop to eat some lunch and stretch our legs and more importantly so I could go break!

Everyone loaded up again and it was about another hour before we pulled into the neighborhood and got out. Ms. Pearl was loading up her daycare kids with another church group that had been there for the week and doing VBS for them, to head to the park. We were standing and waiting as everyone unloaded and hear the sirens of police cars and shouting as we were greeted by the norm of this area, and it was explained to Mom that someone had jumped in someone Else's car and taken off with it.

Everyone took their bags and bedding to their sleeping areas and Ms. Pearl warned us that no one was to be in the building besides us and to be mindful and not to hesitate to tell someone to get out. She was going to the park to take the daycare kids as on the third Friday of the summer months and with the end of VBS week, they always go to the park and cook hot dogs and have chips to feed the homeless. We all then worked on getting all the clothing out and set in the yard and then we put up the tent in the yard for the "street fair" we'd be having on Saturday morning.

Mom tied me down with some water in the shade as it was doggone hot out there and the guys that stayed behind started working on the deadbolt lock for Ms. Pearl's garage, since people keep breaking in and stealing things. The gals that that stayed behind and Mom started going through all the clothes and sorting them by sizes. After they spent a couple of hours sorting, Mr. Ed came and rounded up the group and we all loaded up in the van and went to the park too. We were to go walk around and play with the kids and give testimony to the people there. Ms. Pearl told everyone that the homeless all congregate in the park during the day with their children since it's shaded, there is the water pad to cool people off, and the kids can play and be near by.

Mom and I got out and we went and walked over to the area where the other group was passing out hot dogs and chips to the homeless and people that came up and we kind of kept our distance as Mom was worried for some reason about people being afraid of me. Ms Pearl had told Mom that in that area, that all dogs are mean fighting dogs and that the people are afraid of big dogs like me. So we walked up to some of our friends we came with and there were several little girls with them and talking. Mom asked if I could come up and sit down with them and the little girl said yes, but she was very afraid. Mom put me on the other side of her from the little girl and the girl asked what my name was. She asked Mom if she was going to tell me to bite her over and over again. Mom was patient and told her no, that I was a good girl and began to rub my belly. I rolled over on my side and the little girl started to try to pet me. Mom kept telling her that I was a good girl and wouldn't bite. After about 20 minutes,the little girl was petting me and had become comfortable with me and wasn't so afraid anymore.

The other people watched Mom and I very closely and kept their distance from us, so Mom and I went over and sat down on a bench with one of the other church group ladies who was holding a daycare baby that had fallen asleep. Then when the groups began to gather up and the food was all gone, Mom and I went over and stood with the rest of the group. JD, who is Ms. Pearl's grandson, he came running over and asked if he could visit with me as soon as he saw us since he loves me from when Mom and I visited before. Mom told him that he could pet me and then the other kids saw this and became curious about me. They came over and after some re-assurance that I wouldn't bite and seeing that JD was loving all over me and I wasn't being mean, the other kids began to pet me too, which I was all over it, rolling over on my back so they could rub my belly! Mom's friends laughed and Ms. Janice commented that I can make a friend anywhere I go!

Before long it was time to leave and head back to the daycare so we all loaded back up in the van and went back to Ms. Pearl's place. After we got back, Mom checked to see if there was anything she could help with and since everything was pretty much done and ready for Saturday, everyone was pretty much taking it easy and sitting around the yard. JD had come back with us and asked if he and I could play, so Mom went and got out my Kong and took off my harness. OH BOY! Was I a happy pup! JD and I played for nearly 2 hours as Mom watched us. He'd throw my Kong and I'd run and get it and come running back and lay down in the shade in front of Mom. If she hadn't have told him the command to "drop it" I'd have had it made! I knew though that since Mom was sitting there, I had to be a good girl, so I'd drop the Kong so JD could grab it and throw it again. He even went inside and got my bowl and filled it up with fresh water for me too. Boy we had so much fun playing together!

Ms. Pearl soon fried up a bunch of fish for everyone and goodness, no one shared any with me! Too bad us guide dogs have to be such good dogs and leave the people food alone. Mom was sitting in a circle of people and everyone had such yummy smelling food, and yeah I was watching for someone to drop something, but no one did. Boo! After dinner, it had cooled off and the weather was really nice, so Mom and everyone else went outside and sat and talked about various things until the mosquito's came out and started to bite. So then everyone went inside and started to get settled in for bed. Mom and I slept on a double air mattress with all the other ladies in the downstairs room to the daycare.

Everyone got up early on Saturday morning and began to set up all the stuff for the street fair. Ms Pearl had probably 10 large boxes of clothing and Mom's group had brought up a bunch of clothing in bags and boxes along with some baby gear to give to the homeless. Mom and all the people set up 8 big tables of clothing and stuff to give to the homeless and there was a ton of toys too. It was amazing, as many of the people we saw at the park came and so did many in the neighborhood, who were unemployed and the ladies of the women's shelter came by and Mom and the others were happy to see the smiles on their faces as they left with nice clothes to wear for them and their children. Was was even more amazing is that in 2 hours nearly everything was gone.

Everything had been set up outside the fenced yard to keep most of the people from coming into the daycare itself and to minimize the possibility of things being stolen. Mom stayed inside the fence so people wouldn't be afraid of me and helped with sorting out the clothes held back for reserve by size as did Mr. Ed and several of the other guys who were re-roofing the back porch that had lost all it's shingles in the latest storm. The street fair lasted from 9am to 1pm and then everyone helped with cleaning up the remains of things and then worked about the daycare with several repairs that were needed. They cleaned the gutters of the 3 story building and trimmed tree limbs that were overhanging the neighbor's house. Mr. Ed finished the roof and they put a dead-bolt lock on Ms. Pearl's garage since people kept breaking in and taking things. Mom and I actually went and laid down for a bit because Mom had a headache from the heat that day. When she woke up, Ms. Pearl had suggested the group eat dinner and then go to downtown Chicago to Navy Pier and walk around.

Mom let me snooze on the air mattress while she got a quick shower and then we went upstairs and oh man, Ms. Pearl had made some finger licking good ribs. Mom and everyone else was eating like uncivilized dogs, using their hand and chowing down on them ribs and they call us dogs messy. Several people asked Mom if I could have the bones, but noooooo, Mom wouldn't let me have just one. I gave the people all around Mom the saddest puppy dog eyes I could muster, but they still didn't give me any.

After dinner, everyone loaded up in the van and Ms. Pearl drove us to Navy Pier and we hung out for a couple of hours and Mom and I walked up and down the Pier. There were lots of people and things to do. There were all kinds of boat rides, food to eat and shops. Mom said there were some amusement rides up on the upper level, but we didn't go up there. Mom was looking for some gelato, but she couldn't find what she was looking for, so she and Ms. Sherry got a waffle cone from the Ben & Jerry's stand. Mom took some pictures too of the Chicago skyline, the light house, and one of me with some flowers too. The group met back up and walked through the indoor corridor and through the stain glass exhibit which Mom said was just beautiful. We all loaded back up in the van and headed back to Ms. Pearl's place for our last night in south Chicago.

It was an interesting ride home, as Ms. Pearl drove along Michigan Avenue and we got to see the parks along the lake front and the Taste of Chicago was in town. There was also a Dance Summer event happening with a lot of people and loud music too. I just hunkered down between mom's legs though so I wouldn't be stepped on as people were all tight together in the van. Then as we got close to Ms. Pearl's place, we had to turn around and go down a different street since all the power lines had come down for some reason and was laying across the road. Then we saw another strange sight since there was this big fire because some people had set fire to a log or something, right on the sidewalk! Mom couldn't believe it because it wasn't even 10 feet away from the house, but they were burning something right on the sidewalk and the fire was shooting up 2-3 feet in the air too. Crazy humans!

After we got back to the daycare, everyone started getting ready for bed right away since we had to leave the daycare to head to Ms. Pearl's church at 5:30 to fix breakfast for the homeless. Mom decided to put some more air in our air mattress since she was hitting the floor the first night. So she pulled out the 10+ year old air pump to do this. You'd think that Mom would have realized something was wrong when she got a bit of a zap when she took a hold of the handle and pressed the on button to make sure it was plugged in. She continued on though and hooked it up to her air mattress and hit the button again. Holy Smokes, I don't think Mom has ever moved that fast! Sparks went flying into the air and Mom kept hitting the floor where they'd landed. Ms. Emily that was right beside Mom let out a yelp too and I didn't know what was going on! All I know is that Mom told Ms. Emily to unplug that sparking contraption and went and threw it in the trash saying something about the wire was broke and she nearly caught Ms. Pearl's daycare on fire with it and that her heart was beating faster than anything! Of course I had to get my nose in to make sure Mom was OK and sniffed her fingers and hands all over and gave her quite a scolding look for all this!

Sunday morning, Ms. Emily's alarm clock didn't go off on her cell phone, so Mom and Ms. Emily woke up late. They had both laid their clothes and stuff out the night before, so they both were able to get ready in amazing time. Mr. Ed offered to take me out to break and since I had drank so much water the day before in the heat, I was more than ready to do my business quickly even though it wasn't Mom on the end of the leash telling me to get busy.

So everyone as all gussied up and pretty and we all loaded up again and headed the several blocks to Ms. Pearl's church. Everyone pitched in to carry stuff inside and I guided Mom down the stairs and into the church ever so carefully since there were all these uneven spots on the floor. Most of the ladies immediately went to work in the kitchen to start preparing the pancakes, sausage patties, and stuff to feed nearly 90 homeless people and our group too. Mom and I went into the dining hall area with the others and Mom put me at a down-stay in front of a podium. Since it was well lit, she was helping set up the tables and chairs and before long, she realized that the podium had been moved and she couldn't find me. Mom started calling for me in a frantic voice, which I don't know why as I was right behind her. Mr. Ed started laughing at Mom and told her to turn around. She did and saw that I'd been right behind her as she'd been walking around looking for me. I don't know why she didn't think I'd stay with her!

Once the room was all set up, Mom and a few other people sat down at a table in the corner. I took the opportunity to snooze at Mom's feet and the homeless began to come in and sit down at the tables. Mom said she was going to stay put so she wouldn't cause an alarm amongst the people and I had an itch and so I stood up and shook. Mom just looked to see what the reaction would be and of course everyone in the room heard my harness rattle. One gentleman came running over and sat down next to us and he asked if he could visit with me. He missed his dog terribly, as he was now homeless, but was working hard to stay sober and to be an example to the others. He talked with Mom and Mr. Ed for a good while, while rubbing my ears and you could just tell as he became more relaxed and a big smile spread across his face.

Before long, it was time to head up to the worship service, that would precede breakfast, so everyone moved upstairs to the sanctuary. Thankfully it was much cooler up there. Most of Mom's group tried to spread out through the sanctuary to try to intermingle with the people that came in. I laid at Mom's feet, just as I do when we go to our church and pretty much everyone didn't even know I was there. Unfortunately for Mom though, this was a smaller church and she didn't have any assitive listening devices, so she was able to make out very little of the sermon. The Chicago accent along with the deep guttural voice of the pastor was very hard for her to understand, but I was proud of Mom as she stayed awake through the sermon even though her eyes were getting quite droopy! Right before the end of the service, Mr. Johnathan tapped Mom on the shoulder and told her we had to head downstairs to finish with set up for breakfast. Mom stood up and I did my usual shake out the willies, and you could have heard a pin drop in that room. EVERYONE turned and looked at Mom and the looks of surprise and stares at Mom and I was very intense. Everyone knew I was there then!

Mom and I went on downstairs and we manned the juice station. I laid quietly at Mom's feet and she handed out cups of juice to the people coming through the line. After everyone had been through line, Mom and I want through line too and she got some breakfast for her. We tried to sit down with some people but the silence was thick and Mom kept trying to come up with something to start a conversation. She couldn't refer to the sermon since she didn't hear it and being that these were homeless people, she couldn't ask what they did for a living, where they lived, or about their kids. Before we knew it, the people around us had cleared out and we were soon sitting on our own. So when Mom was done eating, we got up and started to pick things up and clean up since the men of the church had their Sunday school in the same room. Mom and I started getting the folding chairs and carrying them over to the rack to hang up.

Mom went to get some chairs from the table along the wall and there was an older man sitting at the end of the table, just all dressed in black. Since Mom still has central vision, she could see and nearly feel his piercing eyes following us about the room, so when she needed to approach and go around him to get to the chairs she wanted, she asked him if she could go around him. The man jumped up out of his chair and grabbed the chair and practically ran across the room. Mom just shook her head and we continued on our way and could feel the searing stares as the people watched us moving about the room. We quickly ran out of time and it was time for Sunday school to start. The homeless had all left and it was church members still around helping with things. The ladies all went down the hall to join the women's Sunday school and the men stayed there and joined in on the men's Sunday school class. It was a good lesson in I Thessalonians and we were warmly received there.

As we were in Sunday school, a very strong storm came through and as one lady was giving her testimony, she talked of how she felt that God was telling her, "Be Still! Be Still!", we heard a loud crack of thunder and the power in the whole building went out and stayed out. Everyone just gasped in awe and one lady said, OK Lord, we hear you!. LOL! Once through our lesson there, we went back to the entry way and it turns out the men were longer winded than the ladies, so the ladies helped bring some food in for a dinner later on in the day. We also went on out to get to the van and found nearly the entire parking lot under water as it had rained so hard in such a short period of time. A couple of Mom's friends just took their shoes off and waded through the water. The water felt so good to me since the blacktop was hot from the sun. If Mom had let me, I'd have rolled and played in the huge puddle, but since I was working I had to be a good girl.

Mom and I hopped into the van and the men soon came out and got in to go too. We all went back to the daycare and unfortunately had to miss the main service since we had to leave to head back to Indiana. Everyone finished packing all of their things and got everything loaded up in the vans. We all gathered up at the front steps of Ms. Pearl's place and got the neighbor to take a group picture of everyone. So we all loaded up and headed back to Indiana and boy was Mom and I ever glad to be back home in our own beds and some good working AC! We had a lot of fun though and Dad will be going back to see Ms. Pearl in August, since he is going to help her set up a new computer.

Mom and KT and I will be going back in December too. When we go back, we'll be helping Ms. Pearl fill gift bags with baby goodies for Ms. Pearl to take to the 5 area hospitals to give to all the moms that are in the Labor & Delivery or Maternity wards on Christmas eve. Ms. Pearl and her friends will share the good news about Jesus and give care packages to these moms so they have some nice things for thier new babies.or to pray with them if they've experienced loss.

Mom says that she and Ms. Char have plenty of blankets, but they are still needing baby bottles, small bottles of baby shampoo, baby powder, baby lotions, onesies, and sleepers for the babies. If you have any or come across some that Mom can take to Ms. Pearl, please give Mom a buzz! So I'm really looking forward to going back and seeing Ms. Pearl and JD again!

High paws and puppy kisses,

P.S. Mom says she'll post pictures tomorrow probably, after she gets some of the pictures from a couple of other people.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Spoon Theory- written by Christine Miserandino

I received an email from my stepmom with this link, and it is truly the best way I have seen to explain it... Sooo true and well written. I hope you enjoy and learn:

Here is the link which the following article is at. Check it out.

The Spoon Theory

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Advanced RP'rs

Living with Advanced RP (Retinitus Pigmentosa) These things are soooo true!

**I'm one of those "advanced RPers" who didn't jump in to the
discussion about the later stages of RP when it first came up. I
think this is because I am more focused on the emotional aspects
than the physical characteristics, and I wasn't sure I wanted to
post about how I'm feeling. The heavy grieving that comes with the
near-total and total vision losses of the later stages of RP is the
other side of RP that we don't talk about much. **

** **

**I'm down to less than one degree of a foggy tunnel, and
transitioning from low vision to no vision. I can't see Andy's
facial features across the dinner table anymore, my photophobia is
so severe I often find myself doing my chores and gardening with
both eyes shut tight against the glare, and when I call my guide dog
Trace to saddle up and go out, I don't even bother looking to see
whether it's Trace or my retired guide April there ready to go. I
just feel the difference in their fur.**

** **

**I'm learning Braille, honing the one cochlear-implanted ear of
hearing I have, learning how to access my computer with a screen
reader, improving my mobility skills, and learning other strategies
for functioning without vision. Indeed, I've been cleverly figuring
out how to function with little or no vision in my kitchen and the
rest of my house for years. **

** **

**A cure would be glorious, but I'm not sitting around waiting for
one. Life goes on and I'm going with it. One way or another I will
land on the other side of sight still connected to my world, still
functioning, still surrounded by people I want to be with, still
having a Life (and a good one at that). And yet, even with all this
determined resolve and resilience, I'm awash in an ocean of grief. **

** **

**We RPers and Usher folks have no corner on the disability and
grief markets, but there's no getting around the fact that loss and
grief are a big part of our territory. One grieves and mourns just
as deeply for loss of a life function as one does for the loss of a
loved one. Grieving is one of those universal Life lessons that
every human must learn, and for whatever cosmic reason, our lesson
comes in the RP format. **

** **

**It is not just the loss of the physical sight, but the loss of the
livelihoods and life routines that go with sight. Quitting driving
and losing independent private mobility... losing the ability to
keep up with the hearing sighted workplace... getting rid of all the
print books in our bookshelves.... Right now my signature is an
issue for me. I used to be a lawyer, and lawyers cultivate their
handwriting and especially their signatures, along with their
mastery of the language, for clarity of both expression and
personality. As my vision goes, the clarity of my signature goes,
too. It's a heartache every time I take pen to paper. **

** **

**Years ago, when the losses and the grieving were nowhere near as
hard and painful as they are right now, I talked about all this with
my cousin shortly after she had buried her husband after a long bout
with cancer. "It will get worse," she told me, "and it won't get
easier until it's over." I knew exactly what she meant. Just as she
had to walk through the unbearable grief of watching her husband
die, and could not start to put herself back together and move on
until AFTER he died, nor can I escape my own losses and grieving
pain. I just have to walk through it, and it is not going to get
easier until it's over.**

** **

**And you know what? That's okay. It's damn hard, and it's the way
Life goes. It's part of the process. My resolve is to walk through
this as fully and completely as possible, so that I can move on as
soon as possible, as whole in spirit as possible. I'm learning that
going blind now is harder than being blind is going to be, and even
as my spirit aches with the losses, I reach for a peace in resolute
resilience and most of all, hope and faith in myself and the love
and support I am so fortunate to have in my life. **

** **

**Thinking about the "being blind" part is still hard, but getting
easier. I know and admire so many who have no sight, some who have
never had sight at all, and when I watch them I am reassured that
Life is not only going to be do-able, but just fine. I recall a
recent conversation with a friend who has been blind from birth
about perceiving the world with and without sight. I told him about
a blind person I know of who just can't get the concept of
transparency, and is mystified how anyone can see through a pane of
hard, solid glass.**

** **

**"Oh, I don't have a problem with that," my friend said. "My
problem is pictures."**

** **


** **

**"Yeah, pictures. How do you put a three-dimensional world onto a
flat sheet of paper? That just blows me away."**

** **

**That blew ME away. It dawned on me that my friend experiences the
world in a much deeper way than I ever have with my sight. He has a
physical, kinesthetic and "up close" sense of his world that is not
possible to achieve when you rely on sight to perceive a
three-dimensional world that can be put onto a two-dimensional piece
of paper. **

** **

**He has helped me realize that my world without sight will not
necessarily be diminished. It will be different, and probably more
difficult, but not diminished. To know this does not make it any
less painful to lose the sight, any more than the fact that my
cousin was able to move on and love again after her husband died
makes it any less painful that she had to lose him in the first
place. **

** **

**But somehow, it does make it easier to know that on the other side
of sight, the other side of RP, the livelihoods and life routines
can still be good even if they are different. **

** ** ** **

**Mary Dignan**

Sunday, May 9, 2010

We DID it!!!! - continued

We made our way quickly down Main street in Speedway, which had the most spectators thus far and rounded the turn onto 16th street and very quickly made the turn to head down the hill and back up into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway grounds. We went up the hill and there were a group of cheerleaders waiting for us and cheering people on, which we soon found there were cheerleaders nearly all the way around the track cheering for all the participants.

Here at the track we had our second hitch of the day as Steve needed to make a pit stop and he got in line for the port-o-lets and I kept on going, as he said he'd catch up to me. So we kept right on moving and had just merged onto the track itself when a young girl was doing something silly up higher on the track, to my right and she spun around and came down in front of us. She wound up between Rei and I, so I dropped the harness handle to keep from getting my arm yanked off and she was somewhat tangled in the leash. She apologized profusely and I said no problem and as soon as she was clear, picked up the handle and we kept on going. Steve came up behind us pretty quickly after that, a little out of breath as he was jogging it to catch up with us. LOL!

So we worked our way around the track and it was pretty fun, as the cheerleader groups got really loud and were a lot of fun as they noticed Rei and were specifically cheering us on. It was on the track that I started to feel the blisters form. I think it was from the angle of the track, but I was determined to walk through them and we did! We got around to the straight away and Steve let me know that they took pictures as you cross the bricks, so I took my wrap-around sunglasses off and put them on my hat and turned the hat around too so I didn't look quite like a Dude in the pics. The sun actually made a peek from behind the clouds about this time too, which was nice and the within the track it was really nice to be protected from the winds that had been blowing so hard all morning. So we made our way on around and I was feeling pretty good at this point and we were just past Mile 7 and then we went out onto an access road and down around the end of the Grandstands along 16th street. We did a sharp turn off of this road and around the corner out onto 16th street and a guy came running over to the curb, peering to read my bib- as the bibs have your number, your first name, and the corral you started in. He immediately yells back to a woman, I assume his wife, "IT'S KACIE!!!!!" and runs to her and as we round the corner there is a dark hard lady with a camera snapping all kinds of pictures and screaming at the top of her lungs "GO KACIE & REI!!!!"

I later learned from Mike that our good friends Julie and Suzette had arrived at the finish line/Military Park about this time and as they were walking around that they heard my voice and looked up on the large screens and the interview was being aired at that time. So while I don't think it was someone I knew - though it very well could have been since I was trying to focus on Steve in front of me and the terrain we were going over at the time, but it could have been too the person had just seen the story on the big screen that Mike said was there at the end of the grandstands too and then we came around the corner. But that was kind of a surprise as it happened and Steve and I got a little bit of a chuckle out of it.

We then quickly turned onto Olin Ave and there were several turns to negotiate here and it was obvious that people were starting to get tired and slowing down, as we seemed to start passing more and more people at this point. We then passed the 15K marker which is 9.1 miles and I was telling myself OK, 3 more miles! and was feeling pretty good. We turned left onto 10th street and the 10 mile marker, people were really starting to slow down, so we walked a good ways down the middle of the street where it was more open and not as many people to fight to get around. As we approached the 11 mile marker, Rei then started pulling hard to the left side, as that meant one of two things. She was really starting to get tired or she was needing bathroom stop. She wasn't indicating the latter so we moved to the left and she really began to slow down. I told Steve to slow the pace a bit as we'd been moving along at about a 15 minute mile pace most of the way after mile 4ish and I was trying to watch for her cues and such.

I had arranged with our small group friends, Joe and Julia to be just past mile marker 11 across from the water station, however they had water stations on both sides and we missed them. Which since Rei was really sagging at this point I was looking hard for them as they had a banana and a bowl of water for her, but alas it wasn't meant to meet up. They were looking for us too and missed us as well since we were on the other side of the road from them. Steve and I did grab water from the water station and stopped and gave her water as she was panting pretty good. We were soon rounding the corner to head back onto White River Parkway - along the river and Rei pulled real hard to the left and to the grass indicating that she did need a bathroom break, which upon taking the harness off, she really had to pee. She seemed good so we harnessed up and she took off at full speed again so I thought we were going to make it to the end without another stop, but just before the 12 mile marker, she pulled over again needing to finish the job. So once done with that, she was ready to move again and was feeling much better.

Mile Marker 12 was right before the left hand turn onto New York Street- the last stretch to the finish line! We rounded the corner and went over the bridge and she started pulling to pass people again, which the break in the stops she needed to make did us both good to rest even for those short periods of time. So we head over the bridge and walk down the middle of the street again as people could see the finish line so they were pushing hard and then very soon running out of gas as they had just over a mile left to go. We maintained a steady pace and had 3/4's of a mile left and Rei started to slow down as Steve was walking on my right side and she was becoming lax in where she was headed. I asked Steve to move to Rei's left side just at her head and she immediately picked up pace as she now was following him with a sense of direction on where she was to head. So we plugged on full speed ahead at back to the mile eating 15 min mile pace again. Soon we were down to 1/4 mile left and there were people on both sides and Mike was to our right yelling out to us that we were almost there and he followed us along. People were yelling and cheering as we approached the finish line and I honestly couldn't believe we'd did it!

Julie and Suzette had come down- to have stuff for Rei once we finished and she got some pictures as well as Steve's wife of us approaching the finish line. Here we are nearly there:

Here are are about to cross the timing devise that crossed over the street that was the finish line and Steve is on my right in the white coat with his hand raised for the photo finish. I raised my hand once, but not sure if my timing was right, we'll see what the picture winds up being. LOL!
Steve and I then received our Medals and he insisted on one for Rei too, which we put on her as well. We then went through the lines and got our goodies to eat and went over to the finish line pictures and each of us had individual pictures taken and then one of the two of us too.
Then his wife, Marta, took some pictures of us together as we were kneeling down with Rei between us all with our medals on- I just have the biggest grin on my face! I wasn't so sure I was gonna be able to get up though after kneeling down!
Here is Rei and I together with our medals. A picture definitely worth framing!
Then after we came through the exit from the participants area, Mike, Julie, and Suzette were waiting for us and Julie snapped several pictures of us here. Here is Rei and I- I'm standing and Rei is like DUDES! WHERE are my bananas! LOL! She knew they were coming!
Mike, Rei and I together
Here is Marta, Steve, Me, Rei, and Mike all together.
A really good close up of Rei with her medal AFTER she got several bananas and some water. She was a happy camper then.
We then went over to the official time tent and picked up my official time which I was very pleased with! We did the entire 13.1 miles in 3 hours 22 minutes and 25 seconds!
Here are my official results out of 30994 Finishers - 14420 Males / 16574 Females :
Gender: F
Distance HALF MAR
Clock Finish Time 3:46:21
Chip Finish Time 3:22:25
Gender Place 13498th place of 16574 female participants
Division Place 2379 / 2767
Age Grade 32.8%
Overall place 26929 of 30994 finishers
Ctz US
5Mile time 1:14:23
10Mile time 2:30:10
Division FEMALES 30-34
Divt 2767
Sext 16574

So after we got my official results, we went on back to the Connection Pointe Christian Church tent and met up with the Mini Training Group people and there were LOTS of hugs and congrats of all the people there who we have become friends with over the last few months as we walked/ran together each week. I need to say a HUGE Thank you to Christie from CPCC for taking such good care of all of us there and all during the training program. She is such a sweetie and has been supportive and behind Rei and I even before we signed up for the program, as we started looking into trying lose weight and get into shape. So as usual, she had all kinds of drinks, snacks, cake, and all kinds of good stuff to get into all of us after the race.
Soon Dad and Aunt Nancy came to the tent too, to meet up with us and they got some goodies to eat too. We got a picture of the four of us and it was such a good day and was sooo happy that we all did well!
We took some pictures too with some of our other friends:
Here is a picture of Deborah, a good friend from the disabilities ministry. She rode with Mike and I to and from the race and we've done a lot of things together. Too bad Rei and I walk a little faster than her!
And this is my new found friend Melissa, which turned out she wasn't entirely a "new" friend! Turns out we knew of each other back in the college days, where we both worked for the Purdue Residence Hall Food service in the residence all I lived in! However we are both dog lovers and she trains dogs in agility as well as she's been an awesome friend in giving me rides home each week from the training group and we've gotten to know each other well and she and Rei are good buddies! I was sooooo proud of her that she finished the race! WAY TO GO MELISSA!!!!
So after we'd pigged out and drank our fill at the CPCC tent and the adrenaline rush started to wind down, the blisters started to hurt and the stiffness started to set in. The cold also started to become apparent and I was glad to have the sweatshirt we'd packed for after. We gathered up our stuff and made the trek to the car about 3 blocks away and headed for home.
Mike then went and picked up the kids from all of our friends homes that they'd been staying and I stayed up for a bit knowing that the kids would want to talk to me once getting home plus I was putting out the messages that we'd finished the race and had a great time. I peeled my shoes off and turned around to find Rei curled up and snoring on the couch, so grabbed the camera and here she is- the checkered bandanna with her name inside the grey heart and spun around to her back and she was out!
Once Mike and the kids got home, AC had been running a bit of a low grade fever, so I stayed home with him and we laid down in my bed- Rei joined us of course and we took a much needed 3 hour nap! Mike showered and he and the girls went to church and grabbed dinner from Subway to bring home. After dinner, I got a shower and found Mike with his feet elevated on pillows and Rei sacked out and curled up next to him on our bed together. Boy she's a spoiled doggie! LOL!
I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone that has wished us well, supported us and been there for us through this whole process from getting to be in the Mini to actually completing it! I especially need to thank my family and most of all Mike for standing behind me all the way and kicking my butt in gear when I wanted to quit. I couldn't have done it without them! It has been absolutely amazing and we have been sooooooo blessed by God to have such good family, friends, and for the ability to do this!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

We DID it!!!!

Today was the big day~ Months of negotiations, correspondences, tears, fears, and then miles and MILES of walking to train have come to a culmination today! :)

We left home bright and early this morning, shortly after 5am to head to downtown Indy. We were fortunate enough to get there early enough that we were able to obtain street parking since the lot we'd planned to park in was designated as 500 Festival employees only. After parking, we made our way in the dark over to Military Park, where the Connection Pointe Christian Church tent was and where all the CPCC Mini Training Group were meeting up. We made a bathroom break for Rei and myself to make sure we were good and about 6:30, we headed over toward the start line on Washington Street.

The route itself runs over and through Speedway main street, then around the Indy 500 Motor Speedway track and then back to Downtown Indianapolis, ending up in Military Park. Here's a map of the route:

It was bitter cold as the 18-20mph winds whipped through the downtown buildings and the temps were in the low to mid 40's. Overall though with all the bodies packed in we were pretty good. First we headed to the Marriott hotel as a group for one last bathroom break and to hang out in the hallways in the warmth and stretch out and do last minute planning/strategies for the race. It was almost awkward as we walked through the hallways lined with other runners and feeling all the eyes watching the two of us walk through. I heard a lot of comments of "there's the dog on the news!" in reference to the interview that aired on Thursday night about 5:50pm Indiana time. For whatever reason, this has not shown up as a link online yet, so I used the camera to record and share this with you all- this is courtesy of Wish TV 8 news:

****** NOTE: If you want to play the video, you will need to go down and hit pause on the playlist down to the lower right side of this page- or you won't be able to hear the words of the video.

If you are receiving this post in an email- you'll need to go to the web page to view the video, as the videos are not posted in the emails*******

So we had about 10 minutes to make our way down to our corral, which was letter Z since we had to start at the very back. We had to really work to get through the super crowded sidewalks and Steve, who walked with min in the 15K lead off. Unfortunately, David that was our lead walker and pace setter was ill and unable to attend today, so prayers are with him for a speedy recovery!

Steve and I picked our way through the heavy crowds and suddenly found ourselves face to face with another large yellow lab that immediately went up on its rear legs lunging towards Rei and growling. So in defense, Rei responded in a similar manner and both of us immediately corrected our dogs and the spectator pulled his dog over to the side and out of our path, which I immediately got Rei to re-focus and back to work and we quickly put distance between us and the dog to get moving on toward our corral.

The race start line was located just west of West Street and as David had told us from his experience, we were just under the overhanging building of the Circle Center Arts Garden. We placed ourselves at the back and along the back rope of corral Z, but it still seemed that there were a LOT of people behind us, especially once we started working forward.

The start took a good while to get us to the start line, which you can see from this photo of the start- you see the start line at the front- I was right under that big glass semi circle way back at the back!

So once we finally made our start- we took off and it was quite a challenge those first 3 miles. People were rather indignant and lacking in understanding the running etiquette of moving over when calling out that we were passing on the left/right. Also since there were quite a few "runners" in the back corrals, people kept cutting between Steve and Rei & I, making things a little confusing for Rei, however we just hugged the left curb as much as we could and Steve did an awesome job of keeping track of where we were behind him so that he could call out as we began to pass.
We made our way along Washington street past the zoo and over the bridge for White River. We rounded the turn onto White River parkway and I was amazed at the huge line for the port-o-lets after that first turn before we'd even made it to mile 2! We plugged away and continued on and made our way along the divider median and things started loosening up and people started spreading out as we worked our way to Michigan Street and made the left hand turn there.

I have to say that since this week has been off in training, I started out kind of slow and really feeling it in my ankles and it took the first three miles to get myself loosened up and that started to happen as we were headed down Michigan street and about to pass mile marker 4. So far we were seeing all kinds of mom and pop bands along the road as well as spectators standing out there to cheer us on despite the cold!

We then rounded the turn to take Main street through Speedway and made good work of that and came to Steve's daughter. Lorrie and her hubby, who had came and set up up a sign for us all and took some pictures of us coming in. I had my hat on backwards as the winds were strong enough I lost my hat once and it seemed every time I'd turn it around the right way, the wind would start and flip it right off my head.

Lorrie took some good pictures here:

The signs she made saying: 1. Guide dogs should Lead the Pack! 2. Go David, Steve, Casey, and a paw print. Then the last one was to her dad, Steve- Go Steve, we LOVE you. :)

Then these two shots are of Steve and I coming down Main Street in Speedway,
and Rei was on the move! :)
****To be Continued*****

Monday, April 19, 2010

Miles for Madison

Baby Madison with 2 yr old big brother Jackson

Miles for Madison

When Mike and I started our Mini training back at the end of January, our goal was to simply complete our training and complete the Marathon in the smaller goals we'd set for ourselves. On January 30th, our lives were changed upon hearing the news that friends of ours, both employees of our church, had lost their 5wk old baby girl, little Madison. Their blessing that was born on Christmas morning, had suddenly returned home to the Lord in only a short 5 weeks. It was unexpected, it was heart wrenching, and painful for all as we were there at the Memorial service for this sweet baby girl.

Mike and I ached in feeling that we were helpless to do anything but as Mike and Janese, Madison's parents showed unfaltering faith and strength in the Lord, we both felt compelled and called to give in return to them for the unwavering service and faith that they gave to us, our church, and their lives in general to the Lord. So Mike and I decided to form a Facebook group and we are logging our mileage ran/walked and are seeking sponsorship for the miles we've logged in memory of little Madison, to be given to the this family in assistance for the medical bills and unexpected financial burden that this young family was facing.

This cause has driven us harder and farther than we would have gone and it's kept us motivated even on those cold nights and days we are struggling to get out there and do it, as it isn't for or about us anymore. It's for the love of this family and the loss they've endured.

We hope you'll consider sponsoring and supporting us financially for this and if so, please join the Facebook page or contact me directly and we can go from there. *** Please know that you may sponsor at whatever rate you desire, as any amount as big or little as it is, will be greatly appreciated.*** Even if you are unable to support us financially, we sincerely appreciate your support in prayers and notes of encouragement as we are nearing the goal of completing the 2010 One America Indy 500 Mini Marathon

Here is the mileage we have logged thus far:

For the four weeks that contained February, from 1/31 through 2/27:

Mike: 64 miles
Kacie: 49 miles

For the four weeks that contained March, from 2/28 through 3/27 :

Mike: 54.75 miles
Kacie: 62.60 miles

So far for April- from 3/28 to tonight:
Mike: 43.75 miles
Kacie: 41.90 miles

Sponsorship info:
We received word from Pastor Steve that Connection Pointe Christian Church has agreed to support this cause! Thus all funds will be made out to CPCC and then directed to the their family from there. This thereby makes all pledges donated tax deductible.

The payments will be need to be marked with a memo of "Miles for Madison" and sent to the church itself- address to be provided if you contact me with interest in sponsoring and I'll get the necessary info to you.

We did ask though and since the E-payments option via CPCC's website does not have the ability to put a Memo on the payment, so this method of payment is not an option.

Bless you all and thank you in advance for your support and sponsorships!

Spring Break 2010

We set up a busy week for this week, from the end of March through April 2nd.

Monday- Walked to the park and flew/attempted to fly kites/MD loses a tooth!
Tuesday- Worked on meal planning/MD's gymnastics
Wednesday- Worked on meals/KT's first soccer practice
Thursday- Attempted to go to the zoo- went to the Children's Museum
Friday- Went to the Indy Zoo with Julie G and her girls, Miss S and Miss E. :)

Monday- walked to the park. We put MD and AC in the bike trailer, after converting it to stroller mode and KT pushed the two of them as Rei and I took off in the lead. We walked the 2 miles there and afterwards walked the 2 miles home.

We made our way there and spent the day at the park- starting off with flying one kite and trying to fly the second one. The second one was very flimsy and it ripped pretty quickly.

Here I am trying to get the flimsy one in the air- KT is holding Rei for me.

Once we gave up on that one, the kids were happy to share the one we did get up in the air and here is KT showing AC how to old it and keep it up there by tugging on the line and then she handed it over to him.

Before long, the kids were getting hungry, so we ate our picnic lunch and then headed over to Blast off Playground for them to play for a while.

Here's KT and MD on the tire swing calling for AC to come push the two of them:

AC looking over an overhang and grinning from ear to ear for the camera and showing off his shiny blue shades:

A profile shot of Miss Rei watching the kids off in the distance playing, the sun shining on her shiny black face:

MD with her head poking through the peep hole:

We head on home and everyone is just exhausted and tired after a long day of fun. :) Later that after noon, MD bites into an apple and begins to scream. I figured she's knocked the tooth that was starting to turn colors and shifting sideways to make a big gap on the top, but to my surprise, she had knocked out a lower tooth.

Here she is- with the gap from the missing tooth and the gap nearly right above it:

Tuesday I worked on meal planning for our family. We've taken to purchasing bulk quantities of meats and stuff and I prepare 3 months worth of dinner dishes, with nothing repeating on a 4 week rotation. After preparing all the foods, they go in the freezer and this has helped IMMENSELY with our "grab & go" bad habits when we dont have this in place. We were able to spend about $1100 for 3 months of meals for a family of five! :)

Wednesday- We played with gerbils and I worked some more on the meal planning stuff. KT and MIke had their first practices for this spring season. I can't believe it's already that time of the year already!

Thursday- Grandma took a day off work to spend with the kids and our original plan was to go the Kohl's and buy the shoes needed for each of the kids and then head to the Indy Zoo for the day. However when made our way downtown and saw the two lines of cars nearly a 1/4 of a mile back from the zoo entrance, we quickly made a change of plans and headed to the Indy Children's Museum instead.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Ortho Indy Mini Training Series 15K Race- WE DID IT!!! :)

Since we had finally reached an agreement and was all set for the Mini, that then meant we should have the go ahead to participate. I had really hoped to get into at least one race before the Mini itself so that we could experience what the start and what the course atmosphere was like to some degree before we actually did the Mini itself.

So when I got the offer from Melissa- who is training with me in our church Mini training program, for a ride to and from the One America 15K Training Series race, I was really excited. It was probably going to be my only opportunity to get to do a race before the Mini itself- however it did mean that I needed to set up someone to watch MD and AC while Hubby and KT were at their first soccer game. So I was able to get that all set up (THANK YOU Grandma and Grandpa for watching them!) and we were good on the childcare front.

So then I looked into registering for the race. I was no longer able to register ahead of time and would have to do on site registration the morning of. So then I began to worry- what if I had issues with the staff while there- so I called Mr. Powers- the VP of Operations that I'd been negotiating with for the Mini stuff and told him of my interest in participating in the race. He was all for it and said simply that all the same rules for the Mini would apply and that I just had to make sure I maintained an 18 minute pace. I asked that he make sure that his staff was aware that we intended to come, so that I wouldn't have any issues with registration the morning of the race and he said he'd be happy to do so.

So Rei and I got up bright and early on Saturday morning at 5am. I fed her, gave her the rimidyl that the vet had recommended after she came up a little sore after the last long walk we'd did and took her out and breaked her. I got myself dressed and ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich with a Gatorade to get me going for the morning. Melissa and her hubby showed up at 6am and we made our way downtown as the sun was coming up.

The start and registration was in the Eiteljorg Museum and we parked, very close to the doors as we were one of the first ones there, and went inside on the lower level. We all somehow missed the sign that said registration off to the right, so as we headed on back, I headed to the help desk and I didn't even have to say a word to anyone. A lady came flying out from behind the table and said "OK, which one of you is Kacie?" and she was very polite, very helpful as was all of the staff there and they got me registered and we were all set!

Here is the course map of the route we followed- 15K or 9.3 miles:

After we registered and Melissa and her hubby picked up their packets, we settled on a bench for a bit as we watched people come in. We got our numbers put on, which had our timing devices and I decided to ditch the jacket I'd worn- which I was glad I'd done later on. I was wearing an under armour shirt with a T shirt over that. We hung out for a bit more and we started to see members of our church Mini training group come in. It was a blessing to see familiar faces and even more of a blessing that David- our head walk trainer and the wonderful gentleman that has worked with Rei and I each week in this training program, he was there and was really glad to see us there. Rei immediately perked up and hopped up to say Hi to him as well. :)

The Race started at 8am and about 7:30, I took Rei out back of the building by the canal to break one last time before the race itself and we walked up and down the section of the canal for about 8 tenths of a mile for a short warm up before the race. Then we headed in and I got in the LONG line for the restroom. Just as I came out, it was time to head out to the starting line up and the group of us from our church training program somehow wound up pretty much together, so we walked out together and stood waiting for the start to take place. Rei and I hung to the back since we were required to start at the back of the field and David and Steve, another wonderful gentleman, who is one of the trainers for the church program decided they were going to stay back and to the walk with Rei and I.

Then David saw Dick Wolfsie of Channel 8 News walking about and he grabbed him and told him about our story and that we are the first guide dog team to do these races. Mr. Wolfsie was ALL over it and was trying to do an interview quickly and the start took place. His camera man had to film the take off of the race and then Mr. Wolfsie pulled him back to try to interview us. The Mini people seemed a little frustrated and within a few minutes stepped in and told us we had to move on because they needed to open up the street. The pacers- a group of mini people that walk the 18 minute required pace said we needed to go and David told them to go on, that we'd catch up with them. So Mr. Wolfsie was trying to figure out how to get this interview in and the Mini official said they had my contact info, that they'd give it to him and he could get in touch with me. So then we were OFF!!!

We were definitely the last ones to take off from the starting line and boy we took off at a fast pace. Rei was almost trying to lope as she scared me a bit that she was limping, but she settled down very quickly into her normal trotting pace. We very quickly overtook the first stragglers as we rounded the first curve of the course. Not long after that we caught up with the pacers walking the 18 minute pace and then Melissa and her hubby was soon after that.

We hit the one mile marker and we were pushing along nicely at nearly a 14:27 pace. We zipped along at this point hitting the back of the field and David dis an awesome job of leading in front of us and calling out: Passing on the Left/Right, Guide dog coming up behind you! People quickly moved over to let us through and I quickly lost track of how many people we had passed. Steve pretty much stayed to our right to let me know of any changes in pavement and and did a wonderful job of encouraging us on throughout the race.

We kept up the mile eating pace and to my shock, we maintained under a 15 minute mile for every mile of the race. As we came to the first water/Gatorade station- I took a quick short drink and Rei did awesome drinking out of the cups and showed renewed energy after her drink. We gave her water in at the next station and then we skipped the next one and watered her at the last one before finish line.

We did very well through the entire race and as we went along I'll admit, I think I hit a wall between mile 8 and 9, where I was just ready to be done with it. I was tired and ready to quit, but I mentally got myself through it by looking at Rei and her dedication to me and what she was doing. I kept telling myself that is Rei could keep going, I could too and that got me through that last mile and a half of the race. :)

We rounded the last corner and saw the finish line and Rei immediately picked up pace knowing we were nearly done and we breezed across the finish line and one of the guys from our training program was there to see us in and congratulate us on finishing the race! It was such an exhilarating feeling crossing the line and knowing that we had DONE IT!!! I immediately bent over and was trying to catch my breath and gave Rei a back scratch and rub all over telling her what a good girl she was and then we headed on down the path to all the goodies they had for us- bananas, water, cookies, apples, chips/pretzels and so forth. Rei got a treat of 2 bananas for the hard work she put in and we headed inside and got our official time. We had done it!

It turns out our official time for the 9.3 miles was 2 hours 13 minutes 45 seconds and upon looking up our results here is what we had:

bib number: 7871
gender: F
division place: 155
gender place: 771
time: 2:13:45
pace: 14:21
guntime: 2:19:17

And here is the print out of my offical race time:

and here is the bib that I wore:

Unfortunately, as all of us were trying to travel as light as we could, none of us had brought a camera. :( So I'm anxiously awaiting for the Training Series photo gallery to add the 15K pictures to see if there are any of Rei and I.

Here's the link:

We'll see if they add any.

So we are gearing up for May 8th, when we do the 13.1 miles and follow this race course:

Please pray for us as we continue to train!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rei and the Mini Marathon

The last 5 months have been an interesting in learning to stand up and fight for the rights of using my guide dog. Last November, Hubby had decided to sign up for the OneAmerica Indy 500 Mini Marathon and I had toyed with the idea in the past but never thought I could get myself into shape to be able to do it. Plus I didn't know if I'd want to commit to that as well.

So Mike and I had done various things to try to lose weight, get in shape and so forth, but nothing had panned out or held our attention to continue the committment to sticking with it. So we both knew that it was going to take some financial committment to something, so we decided to take the step off the edge and do the Mini Marathon.

So with the increasing determination to do this, before signing up for the marathon I began to read through the rules and regulations of the the course in which it explicitly states NO animals allowed. Thus I sent an email to the 500 Festival group requesting their cooperation to be able to use Rei during the race. I did not receive any answer back for a week and then went ahead and signed up before the early registration ended. The response I received back was rather surprising.

2009-11-16- Response from the 500 Festival Group:
Hello Kacie!
Thank you for contacting the 500 Festival and for your interest in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini- Marathon. We would definitely welcome your participation in the event if you are able to supply a visual guide. Unfortunately, we do not allow any animals, including service animals, on the course not only for the safety of all of the participants, but also for the safety of the animal.

If you are interested in having a visual guide for the event, please let us know and we can provide you with the name and contact info for a company that may have guides available. Also, please note that both you and the guide must register for the event.

Thank you again for your interest!
Have a great day,

At this point, I contacted the Partners in Policymaking network and initiated some support and assistance in standing up to this. Mr. Greg Meyer, a fellow Partners grad and adovcate worked on this and was able to get us to the point of talking with the VP of Operations for the 500 Festival group.

The VP of Operations came back with a proposal that was unacceptable in many ways to me.

Proposal received in the attachment to the above listed email:

Dear Kacie Weldy;

Thank you for your interest in participating in the One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.

The 500 Festival encourages visually-impaired individuals to participate in the event and we look forward to your participation.

As you know, our policy prohibits animals of any kind from participating in the Mini. This policy is designed and intended for the safety and security of all participants and is not intended, in any way, to discourage the participation of visually impaired athletes. Indeed, our policy is consistent with policies throughout the country.

Our goal is to encourage safe participation. Therefore, we are pleased to provide you with two options for participation.

The first, and our recommended option, is that you participate with the aid of a human guide. This has proven to be a very constructive method of allowing full participation and we have had several participants in years past who have participated in this fashion. We believe this would best serve your desire to participate as well as the interests of the rest of the field in maintaining safety.

Should you desire to use a “service animal,” we can accommodate you under certain conditions. You will be required to:

- provide us with validated registration for the participating service animal;
- agree to muzzle the service animal while it is in or around the race route;
- provide us with your plan for how you intend to clean up any animal defecation on or around the race route in order to reduce potential danger to other participants;
- agree to start at the back of the participant field to avoid trip hazards for other participants, as much as possible;
- sign a liability and indemnification agreement (which will be provided by the 500 Festival), as authorized by Indiana law, for any and all damage that may be done or may be caused by the service animal; and
- provide the above items to the 500 Festival on or before April 1, 2010.

We can and are willing to provide your participation through either of these aforementioned accommodations. Thank you for your inquiry and please let me know if you would like to discuss this further.

We look forward to your participation in the 2010 One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.

Vice President Operations

At this point we began negotiations back and forth in which I requested a copy of the legal agreement that was referred to in the above proposal.

Liability and Indemnification Agreement received in an attachment of the prior email:



500 Festival, Inc., under the terms and conditions contained in this document, shall permit the undersigned ("Participant") to participate in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini- Marathon ("the Mini") with the use of a service animal.

I agree that my participation is subject to and conditioned on my signing this document ("Agreement") and agreeing to be legally bound by the terms of this Agreement.

I acknowledge and agree that:
(i) Any "service animal," as defined by Indiana Code 16-32-3, et seq., I use in connection with my participation in the Mini is:
a. Properly immunized under Indiana Code 35-46-3, et seq.; and
b. Is properly licensed, if required, pursuant to any state or local law or ordinance; and
c. Is especially trained for purposes of being used as a guide animal pursuant to Indiana Code 16-32-3, et seq.; and
d. Will remain muzzled at all times while on or around the race course and when within 100 feet of any other participant.

(ii) My use of a service animal is completely voluntary, for my own personal benefit, and is not being required by 500 Festival, Inc. I have been offered to opportunity to use a human guide for the Mini and I have declined that offer.

(iii) I hereby release 500 Festival, Inc., together with its sponsors, employees, agents, members of its Board of Directors, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and any other person or organization associated with 500 Festival, Inc. ("Released Parties") from any and all claims or liability of any type whatsoever, including, but not limited to, property damage, physical injury, mental or emotional injury, defamation, and invasion of privacy, which I may suffer arising out of, based upon, resulting from, or in any way connected with my participation in the Mini.

(iv) I will not sue any of the Released Parties for any claim arising out of, based upon, resulting from, or in any way connected with my participation in the Mini.

(v) Pursuant to Indiana Code 16-32-3, et seq., I will be responsible for and will defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Released Parties from and against all claims, damages and expenses including, but not limited to, attorneys' fees and legal costs of defense, arising out of, based upon, resulting from, or in any way connected with or alleged to arise, be based upon, result from, or be in any way connected with my actions or the actions of my service animal while participating in the Mini.

I hereby represent that I am of legal age, legally competent to execute this document, and accept full responsibility therefor.

Dated this ___ day of __________________, 20___.

PARTICIPANT ____________________________________________


This proposal and liability form posed several issues which I was not willing to sign off and agree to. First and foremost, was the requirement of having to muzzle Rei. Other items that I had real issues with was starting at the back of the entry field and moreso the lability form which stated that I was leagally liable for any legal recourse that the 500 Festival group may incure for whatever reason because of the presence of Rei as my Service dog being in the race with me.

The next several months were spent corresponding back and forth and eventually contactint Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services (IPAS) to more forward in negotiations between their legal staff and the legal staff for the 500 Festival. In mid March, the 500 Festival agreed to drop the requirement of having to use a muzzle on Rei, however they stated they were not willing to forego the liablity requirements. We reached the point of filing a complaint with the Dept. of Justice, and with many thanks to IPAS and their awesome staff, the 500 Festival has agreed to allow Rei and I to be in the race, to do so without a muzzle, and that I am only required to provide the same liability and waiver form that all the other participants are required to sign. Rei and I will be starting at the back of the entry field and I have provided the other items requested. Thus we will be in the Race!

We have been training for a good while now and are seriously logging some miles in preparation for this.

Thursday - November 12, 2009
Starting Day!

We walked four 1/10ths of a mile laps around the CPCC gym in 10 minutes.

Mike and I signed up for the Mini tonight and have our confirmations and Bib Numbers!
My goal: To finish before being caught by the bus!

How I feel: I’m nervous and scared of going into this through the winter. I am trying to have confidence that I can do this and finish the race.

Friday - November 13, 2009

We went to the zoo with the girls for four hours. Walked the entire zoo and some circles too, slow and leisurely, but with Rei strongly pulling. Easily did 2-3 miles of walking

Saturday - November 14, 200.
Minutes: 25 Walked 1.75 miles, Weather: 65 and sunny

Monday - November 16, 2009
Minutes: 25 Walked 1.75 miles, Weather: 51 while cloudy and damp.

Tuesday - November 17, 2009
Minutes: 22 Walked 1.75 miles, Weather: 45 while cloudy and damp.

Wednesday - November 18, 2009
Minutes: 33 Walked Approx. 2 miles, Weather: 45 while cloudy and damp.

Sunday - November 22, 2009
Minutes: 38 Walked Approx. 2 miles, Weather: Low 50’s while sunny.

Wednesday - November 25, 2009
Minutes: 42 Walked Approx. 2 miles, Weather: Low 40’s, wet and misting rain.

Friday - November 27, 2009
Minutes: 30 mins 32 secs Walked. 2 miles, Weather: Low 50’s, sunny.

Sunday - November 27, 2009
Minutes: 45 mins 22 secs Walked. 3 miles, Weather: Upper 40’s, cloudy.

Friday – December 4, 2009
Minutes: 31 mins Walked 2.3 miles, Weather: Mid 20’s, sunny.

Saturday – December 5, 2009
Minutes: 45 mins Walked 3 miles,

Then we started the Mini Marathon training at church.
Week 1
1/24- 2 miles, 26 mins
1/25- 2 miles, 26 mins
1/26- 3 miles- 52 mins
1/27- Rest Day
1/28 - 2.4 miles, 32? mins
1/29 - 3 miles ?
1/30 - Rest Day

Week 2
1/31 - 3.5 miles, 65 mins
2/1- 4 miles, 1 hr 5 mins
2/2- 2.5 miles, 37 mins
2/3- Rest Day
2/4- 2.4 miles, 32 mins
2/5- 40 mins cross training/shovelling snow
2/6- Rest Day

Week 3: Total of 17.8 miles
2/7-4 miles- 61 mins
2/8- 3 miles- 50 mins
2/9- 60 mins cross train
2/10- Rest Day
2/11- 2.4 miles- 32 mins... See More
2/12- 3 miles- 50 mins
2/13- 5.4 miles- 95 mins

Week 4: Total of 7.5 miles
2/14-Rest day
2/15- Rest day- bad weather
2/16- Rest day- bad weather/sore
2/17- 2 miles- 35 mins sore/quit early due to pain
2/18- 2.4 miles 32 mins with training group
2/19- 3.1 miles- 65 mins
2/20- Rest Day

Week 5: Total of 14.8 miles
2/22- 3 miles- 55 mins
2/23- 3 miles- 50 mins
2/24- Rest Day
2/25- 2.4 miles 35 mins with training group
2/26- Rest Day
2/27- Rest Day

Week 6: Total of 16 miles
2/28- 7.6 miles 132 mins
3/1- Rest Day
3/2- 3 miles 52 mins
3/3- Rest
3/4- 3.4 miles 42 mins
3/5- 2 miles
3/6- Rest

Week 7: Total of 12.9 miles
3/7- 4.8 miles
3/8- 4.5 miles
3/9- Rest Day
3/10- 3.6 miles
3/11- Rest (Indy West Great Banquet activities through Sun)
3/12- Rest
3/13- Rest

Week 8: Total of 23.10 miles
3/14- 7.6 miles 128 mins
3/15- Rest Day
3/16- 4 miles 72 mins
3/17- Rest day
3/18- 2.4 32 mins
3/19- 9.1 miles 155 mins (oops, did a mile extra...)
3/20- Rest

Week 9: Total of 10.5 miles
3/21 Rest Day
3/22 Rest Day
3/23 3.0 miles Rei came up sore and unwilling to walk
3/24 Rest Day
3/25 1.5 miles
3/26 6.0 miles
3/27 Rest Day

So now we are calling all supporters, all service dog handlers, trainers, raisers, walkers, and friends to come out and show thier support along the Race course on May 8th!

Since Rei and I will indeed be in the OneAmerica Indianapolis 500 Mini Marathon race, I would like to put out the word to all service dog handlers and puppy raisers/walkers to please show your support (and let others know too) by coming out and being along the course of the race to cheer us on and make a presence that people will notice!

The race is downtown Indianapolis on May 8th (mother's day weekend) and will start at 7:30am and be over no later than noon. We have 13.1 miles to walk, so I hope to see you there to cheer us on and let people know what service animals do for us!

I thank you in advance for all your help on this! Please email me directly with any questions!

Please share the word!