Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Everyone Deserves Access To Healthy Food

As you may recall, my friend Dr. Dan, in addition to his more-than-full-time job as a professor at the U of G, also runs a non-profit organization called Farm 2 Fork (F2F), in which they

“develop tools to help address food insecurity in the City of Guelph, and beyond. In 2012 and 2013 the students developed Farm To Fork – a website that links people who can donate food to the real-time needs of food banks and food pantries, to improve the quality and quantity of food donated. In 2014 the students worked with the Guelph Community Health Centre to develop programs for the Garden Fresh Box program – a program that brings fresh local fruits and veggies to people who need it. This year the students worked with the national charitable organization Meal Exchange to develop tools for their Trick Or Eat campaign. This campaign – which runs in Canada and the US – sees thousands of university students collecting food for the food banks during Halloween.” (Source: D. Gillis, personal communication that I was too lazy to paraphrase and besides, he said it so eloquently in that email!)

Well, F2F is currently running a fundraiser to support those students. While F2F started as a class project, students really have gone above and beyond – they’ve volunteered hundreds of hours of their time, sometimes even volunteering over the summer instead of taking on full-time jobs to, you know, pay for tuition and living and suchlike. If you donate, the money will go to support these students with things like computer equipment, stipends, and travel to go present about/meeting about/etc. the project. If you donate by the end of December the Dean of the College of Physical & Engineering Science at the University of Guelph will match donations, dollar for dollar, up to $5,000.

So while you are thinking about your end-of-year donations, why not consider donating to F2F?

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Cool the Kitties!

VOKRA, the non-profit organization from which I adopted my kitties, has put out a plea for help. Vancouver has been experiencing an unusually long, hot summer and they are having difficulty keeping their operations centre – where the most vulnerable kitties (sick kitties, new moms and their kittens, and kitties waiting for a foster home) are – cool enough to keep the kitties safe and healthy. Someone donated an industrial air conditioner to them, but they need to raise $10,000 to have it installed.

At the time of writing, they’ve raised just over 1/3 of the money they need. And right now, if you donate, a generous donor will match that donation, up to $5,000. If you are interested in donating, click here!

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National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week

Did you know?

  • In Canada, you are 5-6 times more likely to need a donated organ than be eligible to donate one.
  • An organ donor can save up to 8 lives!
  • 230 Canadians die while waiting for an organ donation every year.
  • Although 91% of Canadians say they support organ donation, but only 44% have signed up to be a donor.

It is National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, so I urge you to consider signing up to be an organ donor. When you die, you can’t take your organs with you, but you can prevent up to 8 people from joining you in death by the simple act of registering your intent to be an organ donor.

If I or one of my loved ones ever finds myself in need an organ transplant, I’ll be hoping that other people have made their desire to be an organ donor known. So it only seemed fair that I sign up to be an organ donor myself, in case I end up in the situation where I’m eligible to donate and my organs could save someone’s life.

I have two reasons why I feel personally compelled to spread the word about organ donation. First, when I played in the Longest Game of Hockey for CF, I learned a lot about cystic fibrosis, a disease that often results in the need for organ donation. And I met people who were only alive because someone had donated a set of lungs and I met people who knew that, at some point, they too would need an organ donation to keep them alive. These were all amazing individuals who deserve a chance to live their lives.

The second reason I feel compelled to promote organ donation was because of the comfort it gave to my family when we were able to donate my dad’s eyes after his death. Though my father died in the type of circumstance where he would have been eligible to donate organs (in hospital as a result of Neurological Determination of Death)1 and he had made his desire to be an organ donor know, he was unable to donate any organ other than his eyes because he had metastatic cancer and the risk was too great that the cancer could have spread to his organs.)). But he was eligible to donate his eyes and when we received the phone call from the Trillium Gift of Life Network asking for the donation, it brought us great comfort in a very sad time to know that my dad’s generosity would give three people the ability to see who would otherwise be blind.

In addition to the need for organ donors, there’s a need for blood donors. This is something that I struggle with because while I’m healthy and eligible to give blood, I’m a big baby when it comes to someone putting a needle into my arm and taking my blood. It’s not that I’m afraid of it hurting – I know that it doesn’t actually hurt that much at all. It’s just that as soon as the needle comes near me and I start to think about blood pumping through my veins I get seriously queasy. Like ready-to-vomit, curl-and-in-a-ball queasiness. And I get that even for a routine blood test where they are going to take just a tiny vial. The idea of sitting for an extended period of time while my blood pumps out of me long enough to fill up a giant bag… it really freaks me out. But on the other hand, people need blood! Donating blood is actually on my list of 101 things do do and Daniel has offered to go with me and donate too. National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week has reminded me that I really should get on that!

Sources of data cited in this posting:

  1. Apparently, only 1% of people actually die in the circumstances required to be able to donate. []

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Jumpstart

I’ve been watching a lot of the World Juniors Hockey Championship Tournament this year, since for the first time in eleventy billion years I have cable TV1. The games go by pretty fast compared to NHL games, as there are a lot fewer TV timeouts, but when there are commercials, they’ve played a lot of commercials from the Canadian Tire Jumpstart charity ((As per usual, I have no affiliation with this organization – I just think what they are doing is awesome and wanted to share it here on ye old blog)) , which have been totally tugging at my heartstrings. I can’t find any of the current ads online, but here’s one from 2007 that will give you a sense of what they are like:

Obviously, I’m a big fan of sports and I was lucky enough that my family was able to afford to put me into sports when I was a kid – softball, skiing, and swimming were my main ones, but I also played some extracurricular sports at school: volleyball, track & field, and cross country skiing2. And I got a lot of benefit from this – keeping fit (and setting me up for a lifetime of physical activity), mastering skills, and learning about teamwork, for example. So these commercials about how many families can’t afford to put their kids in sports make me sad! I can’t even imagine what it must be like for a kid to want to take swimming lessons or play baseball or join a hockey team and not to be able to because their family can’t afford it. As I said on Twitter, well played Jumpstart! Those commercials definitely convinced me that some of my 2014 charitable donations should go to this organization. And I also wanted to spread the word about them here, in case others are looking for a good organization to donate to.

Also, watching World Juniors makes me think of my dad, as he loved watching that tournament. And my dad was not a big fan of charity as a whole, because he was concerned about how much of the money went to administrators as opposed to the cause you thought you were donating to3. So I was pleasantly surprised when I checked out the Canadian Tire Jumpstart website that 100% of donations go directly to families in need to pay for their kids’ registration fees, equipment, and transportation to their sport, as the Canadian Tire Corporation itself funds the administrative costs of running of the program. So I feel like supporting this charity is a nice way of honouring my dad.

  1. But only because Shaw offered me 6 months of free cable. I’m sure they assume they’ll get me hooked on cable so that I’ll want to keep it after the 6 months are up, but I think they are underestimating my cheapness. []
  2. Ones I was never any good at included badminton (I just could *not* get the serve right), jumping rope (for some strange reason), and, unsurprisingly, basketball. []
  3. My dad was more of a direct action kind of guy – he’d prefer to give his gloves to a person out on the street in the cold who didn’t have any rather than giving money to a charity where he didn’t know what the money would be used for. []

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A Familiar Face

Hey, remember that time I played hockey for 10 days to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis? Well, yesterday when I picked up a copy of the Royal City Record (my local paper), I saw a familiar face from that game: Bill Markvoort. Mr. Markvoort was a great supporter of our game. His daughter, Eva, was an amazing young woman who died four years ago from Cystic Fibrosis, but her legacy lives on through her work to raise awareness of Cystic Fibrosis and organ donation, and through the ongoing work of her family to carry on her legacy. The family generously allowed us to use Eva’s striking image for promotional material for our hockey game:

IMGP3212

According to the article, Mr. Markvoort turns 65 this year and he’s taking part in the GearUp4CF 1,200 km bike ride from Vancouver to Banff, with a goal of raising $65,000 for Cystic Fibrosis! I don’t know Mr. Markvoort, aside from having met him at the hockey game, but I feel like I have a sense of what he’s putting himself through – a nine-day bike ride sounds comparable in its level of gruelingness to 10 straight days of playing hockey! And I know that it really helped me out to be supported in my efforts, by both friends and strangers alike, so I figured I should pay forward all the support I got by contributing to his fundraiser.

Won’t you join me in supporting this worthy cause?  You can donate at his blog: http://65for65roses.blogspot.ca/

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Only Two Days Left for You to Help! #FarmToFork

Remember that time I told you about Farm To Fork? Would you believe that they are down to the last 2 days of their crowd sourcing fundraising campaign? And so far, they’ve managed to raise – at the time of writing this blog posting – $10,990 of the $15,000 that they need to do the great work that they are proposing to do.

In case you haven’t read my previous posting, what they are proposing to do is, simply put, to connect people who have healthy foods to donate with the food banks that need those healthy foods to provide to the 1 in 40 Canadians who don’t have enough food to eat. Yes, you read that right – 1 in 40 Canadians use food banks every month.

Raising $10,990 is a pretty amazing feat – but they need $15,000 and they need it now! So check out the Farm to Fork project and consider making a donation – whatever amount you can spare – today!

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Farm to Fork Needs Your Help

So the fine people over at Farm to Fork are in need of your help. Farm to Fork, for the uninitiated:

… began with a simple question: in a culture that wastes nearly 40% of all food produced, how do we connect the people who have fresh food to give to those who need it most?

The Farm To Fork website is part of the solution. Designed to facilitate communication between donors and emergency food service providers, the website aims to increase the quality and quantity of fresh food donated to local food banks and food pantries.

The project involved a bunch of students at the University of Guelph – one of my alma maters – along with my friend, Dr. Dan, and his friend Danny – building prototypes and other such computer-y things to make this project a reality. Now they need your help to take this thing to the next level. They are crowdsourcing funding for beta testing by undergrad students over the summer, some necessary hardware, and to send the undergrad developers to the Community University Expo to spread the word and share their knowledge. Supporting this project means providing quality summer employment for undergraduate students, helping get a really beneficial product to its launch (which will ultimately mean getting more nutritious food to people who need it), and a warm feeling in the cockles of your heart. True story.

So check out the Farm to Fork project and consider making a donation! Do it for your heart cockles.

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Donate To It!

This is Dan rappelling in a cave. Wouldn’t you like to see him do this off the side of a 13 storey building?

My friend Dr. Dan wants to throw himself off the side of a building, but he needs your help.

More specifically, Dan is raising funds for Easter Seals, a charity that helps children with disabilities, and if he raises $1,500, he gets to rappel down the side of a large building. Rappelling, for the uninitiated, is where you hang from a rope and use it to descend down a long distance – usually a cave or a cliff. In this case, Dan will be rappelling down form the top of a 13 storey building! But only, as I mentioned, if he can raise the required sum of money for Easter Seals. And that’s where you come in. Will you consider making a donation to this fundraising effort?

Easter Seals (from their website):

Easter Seals is dedicated to fully enhancing the quality of life, self-esteem and self-determination of Canadians with disabilities.
As Canada’s largest local provider of programs, services, issues-leadership and development for the disability community, Easter Seals is dedicated to helping more than 100,000 Canadians with disabilities participate fully in society.

They do things like camps for kids with disabilities, as well as “year-round active living opportunities, as well as the provision of specialized mobility and access equipment such as mobility aids, assistive technology, adaptive computers, augmentative communication devices and adaptations to homes and vehicles for wheelchair accessibility.”

That sounds like a worthy cause, right?

Donate!!

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Hike It!

As you may recall, my friend Rick won the Big Mountain Challenge where he and Dan got a trip to Banff and Lake Louise to do some amazing hikes, got pampered at swanky Banff and Lake Louise spas, AND raised $26,762 for the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

Well, he and Dan completed all the necessary hikes (and then some) and, on the very last hike, were greeted at the top of the mountain by the press, the mayor of Banff, a bunch of other dignitaries, and an oversized novelty cheque for the Kidney Foundation of Canada! Here’s the video:

I am so jealous that I’ve never received an oversized novelty cheque1! But even more, I’m so proud of Rick and Dan, for all their hard work to win this contest and then do all the crazy mountain climbing. Way to go guys!

  1. Perhaps that needs to go on my next 101 list! []

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I Saved The Lives of 2 Pugs While Out on a Run Today and All I Got Was This Lousy Blister

OK, “saved the lives” might be a bit of an exaggeration, but when I was out for a run today, two little black pugs did appear out of nowhere and ran into traffic in a busy street. Thankfully, the driver of the truck they ran in front of saw them and was able to stop safely, and then he started honking, which caused one pug to run back to the sidewalk, but the other pug just sat their starting stupidly up at the truck. So I called the little guy over and after some consideration, he decided he would come over to me on the sidewalk.

Minnie

Not the actual pug. But this was pretty much the look the pug was giving the truck that was honking at it. Consider this a re-enactment. Except that I got this photo from Flickr and it was taken before today’s pug incident. Consider this a pre-enactment.

So then I had two little pugs looking up at me expectantly and I had no idea what to do! They didn’t have leashes on them and I couldn’t see anyone who appeared to be their owners. And then one of the pugs ran back into traffic! It must have been those pugs’ lucky day, because the driver of the car the pug ran in front of also saw the pug in time to stop and I called the pug back again, and it came back over to me and I was all “Who owns you, pugs??”

Then I heard a man calling from across the street. He’d pulled his car over and was yelling something I couldn’t make out and pointing up the street. I looked to where he was pointing and didn’t see anything at first, but then I saw two little girls running out of their yard and as soon as the pugs saw them, they ran along the sidewalk to the girls, so I figured my pug-responsibility had been fully discharged and I turned back to my run. The little girls screamed “thank you!!!” to me and I was all “You’re welcome” and everyone was happy as a clam.

Well, everyone except my right foot. Apparently despite the fact that I cooked my insoles as per the cooking instructions, the right one is still rubbing  along the bottom of my foot and gave me this wicked blister:

Blister

The actual blister. This is not a re-enactment

In related news, getting back into running after so much not running – and while carrying around extra weight – has been challenging. My pace is so much slower than I want it to be, but I keep reminding myself that the only way to make it not so challenging and to make my pace better is to keep at it1. I’ve completed the first 5 weeks of my 17-week half marathon training and have managed to complete all of the Sunday long runs, and a few of the weekly short runs. I’ve also done some bike rides instead of some of the weekday runs because I freaking love my bike. Next week Alicia and I are planning to do the long run – 10 km to be exact – together. Because runs that are 1 hr+ are so much more fun to do with friends! With any luck, we won’t have to rescue any pugs on that run.

Image Credit: Pug pic posted by moncho71 on Flickr.

  1. Plus, I need to remember to bring Sharkies next time. My legs were starting to feel like lead at the end of my long run today and I cursed my forgetting to bring Sharkies and my limited glycogen stores! []