(Iron Mountain - December 31, 2017) - The following article was
submitted for publication by Vikki Baumler. Dickinson County News has not
independently verified any of the information contained in the article.
2018 marks 10 years since I joined an amazing organization to ride in
honor of my talented and funny dad, Bruce Baumler - a Vietnam Veteran with the
Shadow Warriors of the 405th Det 2, 3rd RRU and a 1963 graduate of Kingsford
High School. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society trains athletes and non-athletes
to ride, run, hike and swim to raise funds for leukemia and lymphoma research
and patient support.
In 2008, I received a post card about Team in
Training (TNT)—a division of the Leukemia and Lymphoma (LLS) society. I signed
up immediately – running my first half marathon in 2008 in honor of my dad, who
was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2003 due to Agent Orange Exposure.
Fast-forward 10 years and I am now raising funds for my 7th and 8th events with
LLS—a 100-mile ride around Lake Tahoe on June 3, 2018 and a 150-mile 2-day
Mequon-to-Sturgeon Bay-ride July 2018, both in my dad’s memory. My goal is to
raise $5,000 by July 1.
Obviously, to raise $5,000 by July 1, 2018, I
need to employ several fundraising initiatives (aka mini goals). So - I'm
getting the word out as much as possible to everyone who may have known or loved
my dad. To know him - was to love him, indeed.
Please submit your tax
deductible donation at www.miles4dad.com
(LLS is a 501c3 nonprofit and you will
receive a letter for this tax deduction.)
In this season of giving and
New Year’s resolutions, I’m reminded of my 2008 resolution—one that would change
my life and get me over my damn self.
Following a divorce in late 2006, I
spent a considerable amount of time having a pity party for one. Don’t get me
wrong – divorce was incredibly hard and I definitely needed to take the time to
get to know myself, learn and grow so I could avoid the same mistakes. But – I
certainly felt like my pity party was dragging on a bit too long. Who wants to
be the lingering guest at a party? It was time to kick myself out.
January 2008: I received a post card from the #LeukemiaandLymphomaSociety (LLS)
for a group called #TeaminTraining (TNT). Immediately intrigued – I jumped
online to learn more about one event – the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon & Half Marathon
in San Diego, CA. Years earlier, my dad was diagnosed with Leukemia due to Agent
Orange exposure during Vietnam. I thought – I can do this for HIM.
I was not a runner, I had visions of myself striding like a gazelle through
beautiful San Diego. I signed up for my first event, invited my parents to the
inspiration dinner and race, and set my sights on learning to be a runner – and
meeting the $3,900 fundraising commitment.
After months of training runs,
fundraising events, garage sales, brat barns and tons of support from friends
and family, I flew out to San Diego and became part of a huge, motivated and
dedicated family of cancer fighters. The inspiration dinner moved me beyond
words – I was hooked. I knew before I even “ran” the race, I would sign up again
and again. Stories of children, adults and veterans like my dad facing fear,
treatment and financial concerns were undeniably emotional. My dad always said
how fortunate he was to have full medical coverage from the VA but wondered
aloud how people could afford the expensive treatment. (Yeap – he was over
himself a long time ago.)
As it turned out, I ran more like an injured
gazelle stuck in mud. Tendinitis and over training made my run pretty comical at
times--as I pulled over to adjust my foot wraps every few miles. But – I was so
moved. 13.1 miles of runners and walkers – most complete strangers to each other
- cheering each other on.
Miles upon miles of spectators shouting
encouragement and gratitude and oftentimes, making us laugh to forget about our
feet and legs.
I’ll never forget what I saw at mile 11. I was 2.1 miles
from the finish and I was dragging. Then I saw a man with a sign that read,
“THIS CANCER SURVIVOR THANKS YOU. 11 YEARS CANCER FREE.” He looked each runner
right in the eye and said, “Thank you.” I started bawling. Here I was trying to
get out of my own head but I was thinking about my painful feet. I received a
timely reminder that this was not about me. This was about cancer survivors and
heroes. This was about my dad – who was at the finish line waiting for me. A
renewed pep in my step, I wiped away the tears, and focused on my dad.
and LLS raises millions of dollars every year for blood cancer research and
patient support. Over the years, I’ve heard moving stories of how LLS helped
patients and their families pay bills, cover insurance premiums and buy
In 2018, I will celebrate my 10th year with TNT/LLS.
I’ve raised more than $15,000 for LLS. And I’m not done. With my dreams of being
a marathoner gazelle dashed by uncooperative feet, I am now a cyclist. On June
3, 2018 I will do my 5th long distance cycling event -- 100 miles around Lake
Tahoe in my dad’s memory and for the millions of people who face blood cancer
today. (In July, I’ll ride 150 miles throughout Wisconsin.)
reminds me time and again that there’s a bigger mission in life: Riding (or
running, hiking, walking, swimming--or limping) for patient support and the end
of blood cancer.
Want to learn more about TNT or LLS – message me. I welcome
any questions. Want to help me fight cancer?
Donate online at www.miles4dad.com.
Thanks for reading!