Madison's Run

Not many teens get up on a hot Saturday morning and run 12 miles in preparation for a  race to benefit orphans.  My friend, Signe, has a wonderful daughter who is running a half marathon to raise money for HIV+ children in Ethiopia.  Specifically, she is hoping to provide a refrigerator for Lola orphanage and  fund a grant for the adoption of an older HIV+ child.

You can donate to her cause with a few clicks through Network for Good.  I finally made my donation this morning — with only one week to go until her race, don’t delay if you feel prompted to encourage her and support her cause.  Let’s make sure Madison has great success as she chooses to love others more than herself.

This is what Madie had to say on August 2nd (I stole it from her mom’s blog):

“Hey everyone, it’s Madie. I am half way through my training, which means race day is only a month from now. I have raised $220, and I am very grateful to the people who donated and are supporting me in this run. Thank you!

I am running this race because I want to help kids in Ethiopia who don’t have lots of the things they need to live. I have not been to Ethiopia, but I have two adopted siblings that I love very much, and it makes me sad to know that there are many sweet children just like them who don’t have homes or family to love them.  While doing my 10 mile run the other day I kept telling myself the goal is to finish without stopping. And then I realized that we often set goals for ourselves, and we think about our future. But these kids don’t really worry about what college they are going to or what they want to be when they grow up, they think of how they are going to get through this day.  Someday I hope to go to Ethiopia and actually give some of my time to these kids and help them in their schooling, so that they can set goals for themselves and become doctors or therapists or what ever they choose. My goal for this race is to raise money to help these kids so that they can have a brighter future. ~ Thanks, Madie”

If you would like to donate to Madie’s run you can send a check to From HIV to Home, PO Box 19212, Denver, CO 80219, or give online through the Network for Good page. Let them know it is for Madison’s run.

You can read more about her run on this update and be sure to follow Signe’s blog as race day approaches.


Before I Knew She Was Mine

This photo of Dimples was taken the day we met her.  You see her surrounded by other children as they play with balloons we carried on our long journey to Ethiopia.

We knew Dimples was ours, but we had no idea that the little girl on the left, now lovingly nicknamed Honeybee, would become our daughter.  Honestly, it amazes me to witness the hand of God in our lives.  He knew — He really knew that this child who happened to be in front of my camera would be my daughter.  I am in awe of this.

Five for Five: Loving the Children of AHOPE

You all know how near and dear to my heart AHOPE is. By the grace of God, AHOPE saved my daughters’ lives. I’m not saying that to be dramatic; it is simply true.

AHOPE is From HIV to Home’s featured partner for our World AIDS Day 5 for 5 campaign.

Welcome to Day 2 of our Five for Five campaign for World AIDS Day – a chance to give $5 a day for 5 days – each day funding a different project serving orphans living with HIV!

Today’s project is “AHOPE for Children” in Ethiopia. AHOPE Ethiopia provides two children’s homes exclusively for the care of children infected with HIV, with a capacity of about 100 children total. The Child Development Center is a community outreach program that provides services essential to enable a destitute extended family to keep its orphaned children at home. The first Child Development Center was opened in September of 2007 in an impoverished neighborhood of Addis Ababa. It has the capacity to assist 100 children and their guardians and is designed as a model that is suitable for replication in other needy areas as funding allows.
All “5 for 5” donations received today (December 2) will be designated toward AHOPE’s Child Development Center – enabling extended families and communities to keep their orphaned children at home.
To give:

click here to be directed to our donor page at Network for Good and type “5 for 5” in the designation box.

To share:

share the link to wherever you can today – Facebook, Twitter, emails, blogs!
Come back tomorrow for a new project!

Our Tuesday’s Answers will be up in just a bit….I’m working on it while packing to leave for Seattle. This is probably not the best example of multi-tasking.


Great News for Families Adopting HIV+ Children


Something important happened in the world today, President Obama announced the end of a 22 year ban on travel for HIV+ people wanting to enter the United States. This ban has prohibited adoptive families from easily getting their new children’s visas and bringing them home.

I can only write intelligently (or somewhat) about how the ban affected HIV+ children being adopted from Ethiopia. HIV+ children go through the same adoption process as all other children. With the ban in effect, after the child passed court, the family was issued an appointment at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa. The family then traveled to Ethiopia (unless they chose to have their child escorted), attended the appointment and was told that their child’s application for a US Visa was denied based on his HIV status. At that point the family would submit a waiver along with multiple supporting documents, and pay an extra $545.00.

A few years ago, there was no way of knowing how long a family would wait for the waiver to be processed and the visa approved. Often the waivers sat for a long time on a particular desk in the USCIS office in Nairobi; according to one agency representative, this resulted in an average processing time of five months for the waiver. Due to the efforts of Project Hopeful and EACH, the waiver time was successfully shortened to ten business days, which was a dramatic improvement. However that still lengthened a family’s stay in Ethiopia and prevented children who had been adopted by US citizens from coming home to their families as quickly as possible.

Today this ban was lifted, which benefits all families adopting HIV+ children internationally. As President Obama stated, the ban was “rooted in fear rather than fact”. I should note that it was President Bush who signed this into law in July of 2008 as part of approving legislation for reauthorizing funding for PEPFAR. President Obama states he is now “finishing the job.”

You can read more about it in this Washington Post article.

We are particularly happy for our special friends who are bringing home a sweet little girl we adore!


Bloomsday 2009 – We Did It!

Here we are post-race getting ready to eat a big lunch!
More of Team AHOPE before the race.

I experienced my first Bloomsday race on Sunday and I both loved and hated it. The loving happened before the race, the first mile, the last half mile, and the rest of the day. The hating started right in the middle of the first hill and lasted until about mile four or so, then I felt good, until I caught my first glimpse of Doomsday Hill. Wow – it is one long hill.

I even found it mentioned in an article titled Famous Hills in U.S. Races at

4. Doomsday Hill Where: Lilac Bloomsday Run (12-K), Spokane, Wash., May 3, 2009 When It Hits: After you cross the T. J. Meenach Bridge, at about 4.75 miles How Long, How Hard: .72 miles, rising 145 feet, 3.8 percent average grade; a 6.5 percent grade after a steep downhill How to Conquer It: “I used to run a five-mile uphill climb at 5,000-feet altitude once a week,” says seven-time Bloomsday champ Anne Audain. “After those runs, Doomsday Hill was a breeze.”

My true confession is that I knew if I ran up that hill, especially at the pace I was going, I just might vomit at the top. I knew for certain that I would be in serious pain and that I would not be happy. So I made a decision to be free of the “never walk” mindset, and walk that hill. I walked fast, and I passed many runners as I walked. As soon as I got near the crest of the hill I began to run again and although I felt tired at times, the last few miles were okay.

Prior to Sunday, my entire history of running races consisted of five, two in Seattle when I was 18, one in Yellowstone Park when I was 19, and one ten years ago when I lived in Colorado. I have actually never cared about running fast, or being competitive. I’ve always been content to just cover the distance and do my best to have a reasonable level of fitness.

I would not have run Bloomsday on my own, but a group of friends decided to train and run it together, so I decided to give it a try. At mile two I decided I would never run it again, but then I slowed my pace and settled into something I could maintain for the duration of 7.5 miles. I hope to run it again next year, and improve my time, even if I’m not sure that my time matters!

One thing I learned is that it helps to know the course. As I was running, I could not believe how far apart the mile signs were! Surely they must have been joking when the sign said I had only run three miles and I had over four miles left to go. Near the end, I could not figure out for the life of me where the course was going or how much farther I had to go. People on the sidewalks were yelling, “Way to go – you’re almost there”, but as far as I could see, the end was nowhere is sight.

Then the course took a right turn and there it was – the finish line! I kept plodding along until I realized that the crowd was surging forward. I saw the big clock and it finally occurred to me that I might just care a tiny bit about my time. I picked up my pace and ran as fast as my wobbly legs could carry me for the last block.

I didn’t realize that my stats would be available for all the world to see…I didn’t even know that I would see them. But here they are in all of their internet glory:

Finish Time: 1:16:59

Overall Place: 9,485 out of 44,490

Ran with a pace of 10:19 per mile

The average pace for 45-year-olds was 14:50

Placed 164th among 784 people the same age

Placed 1st among 1 people with the same last name
( I thought this was funny – but I was also surprised that among nearly 45,000 people, there wasn’t one other person with my last name. True, we’re the only family with our name in the local phone book, but still….45,000?)

Placed 3,596th among 26,349 females

Placed 50th out of 447 among 45-year-old females
(This is my favorite stat of all. Next year I would like to place in the top 10% for women my age…we’ll see!)

Other things I learned:

1. My running partner was much more competitive and faster than I was – not to mention fifteen years younger. Once I told her to take off without me, I was happier, and she was too. She finished in 1:12:54 – good job Kelly. It was perfectly fine running alone in a crowd of 45,000.

2. I should have had more to drink before the race and a little more to eat. Somewhere around mile three I grabbed an Otterpop from the sidelines and that made me feel much better.

3. I should have tied my shoes once more before the race. Somehow my left shoe felt loose and floppy and I finally had to stop and tie it.

4. I felt reasonably recovered five minutes after the race, which might be a sign that I should have run a little faster.

5. Nothing can prepare me for running hills more than, well…running hills. I often run on my treadmill and never use the little arrow button that increases the incline. I can also run miles around my hilly town without ever running a big hill – I can detect even the slightest incline and avoid it. As I ran Bloomsday, I had serious regrets about all of the hills I neglected to run while training.

One of the best moments of my day happened Sunday night when I called Signe to see how their group had done (the other half of Team AHOPE). She said that as they ran by one of the bands, the musician called out, “There are more AHOPE runners. They are our favorites!”