Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Support The Fresh Air Fund!

I was contacted by a representative of The Fresh Air Fund the other day after she came across my posts about running this weekend's Equinox Marathon as a charity and my volunteering for Fairbanks Counseling & Adoption's Street Outreach & Advocacy Program.  The first is related to my love of running marathons while the other is related to my volunteer year of service to the at-risk youth homeless population within Fairbanks, Alaska.  I want to take a moment to challenge you to take a deeper look into non-profit organizations like The Fresh Air Fund and leave it up to you to make a difference in disadvantaged communities in your local area or elsewhere.

The organization's "About Us" page sums up what they do perfectly: 
Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences in the country to more than 1.7 million New York City children from disadvantaged communities. Each year, thousands of children visit volunteer host families in 13 states and Canada through the Friendly Town Program or attend Fresh Air Fund camps.

How could I not help spread the word in a great cause.  This fall, The Fresh Air Fund has teamed up with the 2010 ING NYC Marathon, which is being run on November 7th.  They are currently looking for participants and volunteers to be a part of one of the greatest races in the world.  Consider helping them expand on their huge success from earlier this year in March's 2010 NYC Half Marathon where they raised $100,000.  Over the past four years, they've raised over $400,000.  Amazing work is being done by amazing people.  You can be amazing and help, too.  Just e-mail or call 212-897-8890 to learn more.

VISTA Update!

It's fall in Fairbanks!  Included, are a few pictures I've taken over the past couple weeks of Alaska's changing colors.  The rest can be found on my Facebook profile.  To go along with these, here’s a quick update with what I have going on here within my VISTA role as well as outside of work:

1) I had a blast attending the RHYTTAC Conference with my colleagues in Anchorage last week where we came up with some steps to start a statewide network of agencies improving the at-risk youth population.  During my visit, I was able to hang with Hannah Torkelson and Hannah Albazari, two other VISTAs in Anchorage.

2) I’m in the final stages of starting up an exclusive art club for my homeless youth drop-in center with a local business called Chartreuse that will feature creative arts in sculpture, painting, sketching, and construction.  The first project our client participants will work on is a rather large, public Haunted House to be featured at the end of October in Chartreuse’s basement.  This will get our clients involved in their community, help them expand their creative skills, and learn new skills pertaining to future jobs they might encounter.

3) I’m in the final stages of starting up an exclusive radio show for my homeless youth drop-in center with UAF’s radio station KSUA called The SOAP Opera.  (SOAP stands for Street Outreach & Advocacy Program.)  We’ll be on the air Wednesdays from 2-4pm and can be heard on 91.5FM in the Fairbanks area or online worldwide at  This will help our clients explore their creative side, provide publicity for SOAP and awareness of their population, and expand their job skills training.

4) I’m running the Equinox Marathon this Saturday morning - yes, all 26.2 grueling miles of it.  It starts at UAF, runs along miles and miles of ski trails, some local roads, then 4000 feet of total elevation change up/down Ester Dome before heading back to UAF for the finish.  I’m doing the race in memory of my cousin Joe Vogel, who passed away to cancer a little over a month ago and has been a huge inspiration in my life and others.  You can read my cause and story here:  Donations are gladly accepted, as well.  This will be my sixth marathon since 2006.  I’m looking for a top-10 and sub-3 hour, 30 minute finish, too.  :)

I’m loving living in Fairbanks and Alaska in general. It’s far from Minneapolis, but there’s enough similarities in nature and personality here that it feels like my home away from home.  As much as I’m not really looking forward to the -40 degree temperatures and winter darkness, I’m thinking the amazing northern lights and endless xc ski trails will completely make up for it.  Maybe check back with me in January and ask me that question again, haha.

I hope everyone else is doing well!  Until next time, peace out.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Crazy Fast Minnesota Adventure

Last Wednesday, I took a red-eye flight overnight back to the great city of Minneapolis to see a couple of my best friends get married.  This wasn't your normal, late-summer wedding that took place.  The groom is the guitarist in my band Paragraphs, a best friend, and pop culture extraordinaire.  The bride is a crafty, animated, law school graduate friend of mine, as well.  Together, they knew how to throw one of the best weddings anyone's ever experienced.

Free pop, popcorn, and noisemakers, The Heights Theater, a close friend officiating the wedding, Jax Cafe, staged performances by Humor, Paragraphs, and Until The Tape Runs Out, free milkshakes and movie-sayings buttons, and props to dance with.  These are all critical ingredients to pull off the wedding of a century.  Also, a big shout out to Sean Horkheimer and Mark Phillips in creating some great short videos for the couple at the ceremony!

After sifting through all my pictures from the crazy day, I'll leave you with this one of my friend Chad, getting his groove on the dance floor with a horse prop.  Thanks for putting on such an amazing event, Chris and Jess, and I'm so glad I made it back home to witness the beginning of your lives together.

Ride it, Chad!  Ride it!

Aside from the weekend's main event, I was happy to be greeted and hosted for the weekend by Ms. Brittany Burris at the airport on Thursday morning.  Paragraphs practice was at noon, then we did some driving around Minneapolis before meeting Chris and friends at Chatterbox in St. Paul.  Friday morning consisted of a long-awaited reunion with my Auggie distance runners and a decent 10k run down on Pike Island.  Brittany and I picked up some things needed for a killer fruit pizza for the couple's wedding BBQ that evening.  The aforementioned wedding events all happened on Saturday, and I was happy to see about 20 of my family members on Sunday afternoon at the new Uptown Cafeteria restaurant on the rooftop for a nice brunch on their rooftop patio.  (Highly suggest the shrimp pita there for sure!)  Sunday evening consisted of Brittany and I meeting up with quite a few friends at Town Hall Brewery, including a few I haven't seen for a long time even before I left for Alaska in April.  Oh, speaking of, thanks Chris for the bells (gift for being the wedding guest who came from the furthest away), haha.  So thanks to everyone who came out to Town Hall.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend with nonstop action.  I think I literally had less than two or three hours of downtime each day, of which I chose by staring into blank space, trying to watch Overboard with Brittany, and hilarious people watching out of her Uptown, street-corner, studio apartment.  To cap it off, we stopped by Lake Calhoun quickly on our way to drop me off the airport on Monday afternoon.  I'll leave you with a pic from there.  Until my next adventure or thought-provoking post, be well.

Nice shades, B.  : )

Equinox Marathon: 16 Days Away

Although I won’t be literally scaling a mountain by running on September 18th, the Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks will be my first version of long distance mountain running.  Below is the course for this year’s World Mountain Running Championships in Slovenia.  My friend Chris Lundstrom has been selected as one of several on the USA team.  Congrats and good luck to Chris!  Go Team USA!

I would also like to take the time to remind you that I'm running this marathon as a fundraiser and memorial to my cousin Joe Vogel, who passed away to cancer about a month ago.  He was a brilliant young man who's undying spirit will live in us forever.  His family would be eternally grateful if you could dedicate your thoughts, prayers, and any amount of financial means you feel comfortable offering.  His family and I have set up a web page for easier access to his story and my "paying it forward" in a way I know best.

My training for this race has been pretty shady at best this entire summer due to traveling as much of this amazing state as possible since getting here in April.  However, I got back on a more regular running schedule about two months ago and have ramped my mileage up to a certain extent, which has included some hefty, long hill runs.  My longest run to date is 18.5 miles.  We'll see if I can crack that 20-mile mark this week.  If not, I'll save it for race day.  I have a feeling I'll need the energy then, haha.  Thanks again for following my adventures, everyone!