Giving the Shirt Off My Back (Well You Can Buy It)

You know the NYC JDRF Walk is coming up (September 29th) and you also may know this is the 12th Year for Alecia’s Stem Cells (NYC) Friends and Family Team.  I’ve walked a lot of walks and I certainly keep talking a lot of talks.  If you’ve done the Walk, you know it gets maybe, just maybe, a we bit redundant over the years.  I am always trying to put a new spin on it. Boston team and NYC team in ONE weekend?  Check.  Design your own Alecia’s Stem Cells iron-on shirt party?  Been there, done that too (it took FOR-EV-ER).  Pirate shirts with me in a pirate beard (Keeping the ARRRR in JDRF?) and pirate sword fights over the Brooklyn Bridge?  Yep and arrrrr.


So how do we spin it this year?  Ah my friends, this is the Until-A-Cure is found question.  I have been considering challenging my buddy Ben from Team Hoffmanderson to a Break-Off.  A Break-Off you say?  Oh yes indeed, I do say.  I would do my best breakdancing moves (I have 1 move, well sort-of 1) with Ben over the Brooklyn Bridge to raise money.  Does anyone want to even see that? Nah probably not.  Bikers would be yelling at us, kids would be tripping over us, we would give diabetes a bad name (Ha!  Like diabetes has a “good name”.  Funny stuff there).  So while I agonize over gimmicks, let me tell you a fundraising plan that IS happening… RIGHT NOW!


Over the years, we’ve had some awesome and diverse Alecia’s Stem Cells shirts.  I’ve had a slew of friends take a stab at this (no needles were actually involved).  It’s been fun/crazy/ totally stressful getting designs ready, finding printers and making the Walk deadline.  I buy the registered team member’s shirts, but it gets tricky having a set number of walkers so far in advance.  This year, our shirts were a collaborative effort (Thanks so very much Deb) and then I had the same idea I seem to have every year … oh wouldn’t it be great if we could sell some shirts?  I saw a tweet from Tina over at Stick With It Sugar where she was selling her Walk Team’s shirts through a crowd sourcing printer.  It’s a long story, like a really long story, but I had such a great call with Tina, realized we needed to use a different printer if this was even going to be an option, looked up a Forbes article where the founder of the company Tina used named his competition (to all business owners, never acknowledge the competition in an article).  I called the competition the day before a holiday weekend, had a totally surreal conversation with the Principle.  He knows my work and is a fan of my former boss.  He also understood my Do Good, Feel Good philosophy AND they could do the job AND they wanted to help!!!


So here’s the skinny.  I LOVE NY.  I HATE diabetes (See what I did there diabetes, I didn’t even give you capital letters, di-a-betes).  The back of our shirts have a tag line thought-up while looking over notes I took at a JDRF Walk Kick-Off/Research Update:

New Technologies, New Treatments, New York.


So, we are in the shirt selling business folks, But ONLY until 9/12 (SOON people, so very soon).  The shirts are great quality (Canvas and Belle who supply T shirts for Nordstrom which I wouldn’t know since we don’t have a Nordstrom in my city…. yet) and come in Mens, Ladies and even Youth sizes (this is a first for us).  Not only are the shirts cool, rad, awesome, fly, tight, sick ( <- that one annoys me), BUT the proceeds are going to JDRF!  Yep, our team fundraising efforts have a NEW spin… Team shirt sales!!!

So check ’em out and most importantly, PLEASE forward the shirt link to anyone you think might like one (or two) too!  Thanks y’all.


We Walked Some More…

Dodger StadiumI’m a bit late on this post but it’s been one hell of a Diabetes Awareness Month for this lady!  This post is the follow-up from my JDRF New York City Walk for a Cure post.  Our team, Alecia’s Stem Cells, expanded again this year.  On November 11th, I walked with our first EVER Alecia’s Stem Cells Los Angeles team at Dodgers Stadium (and the crowd goes wild….. Rrrraaahhhh).  It was wonderful to have a 2nd team again this year filled with friends and family. I was amazed by the team spirit exemplified by my cousin, his wife (my wonderful friend), her sister, and her sister’s boyfriend.  They sent walk donation letters out as a group.  When I received one, of course, I cried.  Their letter talked about me and used parts of my own NYC letter, but then it included a story about the beloved uncle of my cousin-in-law and her sister, who had died of complications of diabetes.

Our little newbie team managed to beat our LA team goal and raised $2,210.  I was, and remain, amazed.  Our NYC team had just raised $21,631.62 and I was 100% sure I had asked anyone and everyone to donate already by the time the LA Walk was on the horizon. If you doubt the power of social media, I offer you this, friends posted a zillion NYC walk team photos on Facebook right away.  It was an incredibly exciting day for me and I think that comes across in the photos posted.  As the LA Walk approached, I posted something about how great Walking in NYC was and if anyone felt they missed out, there was still time to help out our LA walk team.  Within minutes, two Facebook friends I barely know donated!  Right before I left for LA, I posted that we were $50 away from our team goal.  3 people who had already donated to the NYC walk all donated AGAIN to help us reach our goal.  I’m teary just typing this!  AMAZING (not the teary part, since I’m a crier, but how many people cheered us on and supported our team’s efforts).

LA Walk Day was incredible.  Gorgeous weather, a new venue and fun stories.  The walk route circles Dodger Stadium twice (but different paths both times) and THEN, the last lap is around the infield!  There were tons of diabetes vendors to visit and lots of swag.  I got samples of LEVEL Glucose Gel (the mandarin was super duper sweet tasting but very effective as I learned on the last lap when Dexcom beeped bg 87 and an arrow down) and Quick Sticks (which are freaking awesome – said me, the girl who’s never had a pixie stick ever).  I also got chatty with an Animas rep and begged for the Vibe (oh I know, I know, it hasn’t been submitted to the FDA yet, but a girl can dream and ask the same question over and over, and yes, over).

About 8 years ago, I went to some sort of JDRF NY luncheon.  It may have been a walk kick-off lunch but I’m really not sure.  I sat next to the only other person who seemed my age at the table, and she was a fellow T1D.  We became friends and she walked many moons ago with Alecia’s Stem Cells NYC.  At least 6+ years ago she moved back to Los Angeles, got married and had two kids.  All these years we’ve stayed in touch via Facebook and right before the LA walked she signed up for our team along with her family.  It was so great to reconnect with an old D friend and meet her adorable family.

The Set-Up & Reconnecting with an old friend

I also tweeted asking if anyone in the DOC was going to the LA Walk.  Although our team did the Big Blue Test, I never managed to meet-up with Mike Lawson (boo hoo) BUT, Diane from Type 1 Trip said they had a team and described their Team Julia shirts.  I found them in the infield.  I’m fairly certain I may have come across as a stalker, but I asked a ton of people in pink shirts who Diane was and although we were both busy with our teams, we had a few minutes to chat and I believe that was the first time I introduced myself as “Alecia, ummm Surfacefine on twitter”.  We had a big hug moment and my team was off and running (well walking).

Fighting Diabetes

As I’ve posted before and will say here again, Walk Day is like a weird holiday for me.  Its a day full of hope, promise and an incredible amount of love!  It is a day near and dear to me. I can’t thank my friends, family and fellow walkers enough for their amazing generosity and supporting the ongoing efforts of JDRF.



You walked where?

This is late but life is busy.  I already told you about my trip to the ER.  So now it’s time to flip the switch.  Sunday arrived (9/30), I told my stomach to knock it off, and we all arrived at the walk bright and early.  Here is the email I sent to my fellow teammates and supporters AFTER The Walk (with an updated total and some added photos):

What a day for a JDRF Walk! 

As many of you know, this year was our BIGGEST Alecia’s Stem Cells WALK TEAM EVER!  I could not have been more excited as Sunday approached.  (My friend ) D and I had our WALKS With FRIENDS themed shirts (hats & tote bags too) ready to go, we had a lot of newbie walkers, and for the first time ever, we had a whole bunch of my fellow T1Ds all walking with us too!  

As my fellow walkers know, Friday afternoon turned kind of crazy when I ended up in the ER, stayed there through early Saturday morning, had to cancel my interview on our local CBS Saturday morning show (to speak about JDRF, the Walk, and our AMAZING Alecia’s Stem Cells team 11th anniversary).  If I wasn’t so dehydrated, I probably would have cried a river BUT I did make it to Walk Day!  I think JDRF felt sorry for me and as a cheer-up, they had the President/CEO of JDRF, Jeffery Brewer, come talk to me at our Alecia’s Stem Cells table, which was pretty awesome! 
I have some other incredible moments to report to you, my fellow walkers, and supporters of our fundraising mission…as of today, we have raised a whopping $21,381.62.  Incredible! WOW!
Next up….D’s incredibly cool, customizable shirts WON for BEST FRIENDS & FAMILY TEAM SHIRTS! YAY D (that’s the pic from the moment we heard the shirts won)!

The weather miraculously held-up (after some dicey weather forecasts), WE BEAT OUR GOAL, and my parents and siblings were all with us (except my nephew and sister-in-law Alysson who cheered us on and sent pics of my week and half old nephew in his Alecia’s Stem Cells gear).  We had walkers travel from California, Chicago, Philadelphia, New Jersey and a 7 hour bus ride from Penn State!  Friends I’ve known for 20+ years walked, new friends-of-friends I just met that day walked, and my office mates and their families walked!  We had 46 team members make it to walk day and I could not be prouder!
Walk Day is like a weird holiday for me.  Its a day full of hope, promise and an incredible amount of love!  It is a day near and dear to me.  I can’t thank you all for your amazing generosity and supporting the ongoing efforts of JDRF. 

And just remember, if they don’t cure diabetes by next year, we would LOVE to have you join us in our NYC bridge crossing!

Are you free?

Below is the email I finally finished (I usually have this letter ready to go in June so I am terribly behind this year) to get my friends and family to sign-up for the 2 walks I will be participating in on behalf of JDRF.  I’ve organized/led Alecia’s Stem Cells since 2001.  We have walked every year, rain or shine, since then in NYC, across the magnificent Brooklyn Bridge. In order to keep people involved and interested, I have made it my mission to constantly change things up.

I did 2 walks in two cities in 24 hours 2 years ago (Boston & NYC). I’ve hosted give-aways, walk kick-off parties and post walk parties.  I’ve worn pirate props along with 30 of my friends while walking 3 miles.  I’ve made videos.  I’ve sat in the dark at Battery Park waiting to do TV interviews at 5:30am about why I walk.  If you haven’t guessed it, this is an event near and dear to my heart and this year I will have the largest turn-out of my immediate family we have ever had.  My parents, both brothers and their wives, my sister and hopefully my new niece or nephew are all registered to walk with me.

I’m posting this note to invite you, the DOC, to come join me.  Its a great day for a great cause and I would be thrilled to have us walk together!

As you may know (OK seriously, who doesn’t know?), I have lived with type 1 diabetes (T1D) since I was 6 years old. I have managed to stay alive thanks to insulin but insulin is far from a cure. I am committed to JDRF, the leading global organization focused on T1D research.  JDRF raises funds that power the global movement to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes (T1D).  The goal of JDRF is to improve the lives of every person affected by T1D by accelerating progress on the most promising opportunities for curing, better treating and preventing T1D.

In the past year, I’ve embraced some new technologies and have become further involved in diabetes advocacy.  I suspected I was having inconsistent low blood sugars in my sleep. I was not experiencing the symptoms of low blood sugar until I was already in the “danger zone” (hypoglycemic unawareness) which terrified me since there are too many of stories of people who hit that “danger level” and simply never wake up.  I now wear another device along with my insulin pump.  It’s called a Dexcom sensor and is inserted into my tummy or my arm (I prefer the arm since my insulin pump is on my stomach).  The Dexcom sensor gives continuous blood glucose readings to a receiver which is always with me and helps me make smaller and faster changes on my insulin pump.  The cool part about the Dexcom is that it gives me trends with my glucose levels although I still have to check my blood with fingersticks throughout the day.  Most importantly though, an alarm sounds if my blood gets too low (and I feel so MUCH safer at night).

Inline image 4

I also completed training to become a JDRF mentor.  The experience was eye-opening especially about issues currently facing many diabetics and their families.  Listening to stories of bullying and depression that often walk hand-in-hand with any chronic and degenerative disease was heartbreaking.  After a truly horrific experience involving an insulin pump emergency on an airplane, I realized that MY story and experiences with managing this disease could help other people, especially parents of diabetic children. Through a series of coincidences or simply fate, I started writing and advocating in the process of trying to give back.  I realized I was getting something out of this too… encouragement not only from my fellow diabetics but from other people who heard and read my story.  I had no idea how much that encouragement would relieve my own sense of stress (and that I’d learn some new diabetes tips in the process).

Amazing advancements are happening all around us and to keep this momentum alive, I am asking you to walk with me!

This year’s Walk takes place in New York City on September 30, 2012, AND we will also be walking in Los Angeles on November 11, 2012.  I’m writing to ask for your support. Now more than ever, you can make a real difference in my life and the lives of all people with type 1 diabetes. Please either join my team, Alecia’s Stem Cells, as a walker, fundraiser or support me with a donation. It’s simple, fast and fun AND we will of course go out and watch football afterward!  Please visit my personal page to get started.



Thank you for your support!

xo Alecia