Sunday, September 27, 2009

Amazing Weekend

And so it goes, that every time we have a Friday off it is just never meant to be. I called in to the clinic on Friday morning to hear Ally's blood counts. They started by telling me her ANC was 1160. The highest I have seen in, well, forever. This meant that her white blood cells were still high and she could also go to indoor places because she had some immunity built up. Woo Hoo. But at the same time her hemoglobin number was low (7.7). So with the weekend coming up, they did not want her to turn symptomatic. Thus, a visit to the clinic to get blood was how we spent our Friday afternoon. She was at school and had no idea. Our good friend, Nicki Winger, was going to school anyway so after a crash medical course on putting on Emla creme she handled getting it on Ally. Then, Jerad picked her up from school at 12:30 and off they went to get the blood. She did fine and it usually perks her right up.

The good news for Ally was the ANC number was high and she has been really wanting to see that movie "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" I swear she has been talking about it all summer, but it really just came out last week. We took her friends Madison and Joshua (even though they had already seen it, she really wanted her buddies there). Ally and I were home alone this weekend as Jerad took the other two kids to Junction City to see his family and go to the '80's dance fundraiser on Saturday night. (he will post on that coming up) I really enjoyed having 24 hours with just Ally and I. I spend time with the other two kids individually, but the time I normally spend with Ally by herself is in the hospital. Not much fun. I learned that she is really getting to be a grown up girl. In two weeks she will be 8. She has always been mature for her age....don't know why, but she has. Well now she seems like she is about 14, but not in a dramatic teenager giving-me-attitude sort of way, but in a nice wholesome grown up way. The poor girl has been forced to grow up very fast and is always dealing with things that she doesn't want to do! I do feel like we are friends now. Yesterday, we saw the movie, went to a birthday party for my nephew Mason, watched a nature show and cuddled in her bed together. Today we got up and had breakfast together (she even cooked her eggs herself!), got ready for church, went to church (another first), went to The Cheesecake Factory for lunch, and then spent a couple hours shopping together. We haven't shopped or done anything like that in a very long time. As we were walking around, she kept grabbing my hand and holding it. It was so cute. I know it seems like we did a lot, and we did! We just have to cram it all in because I never even know when her ANC will be that high again. As a result, I am tired, my house became a mess, things didn't get done that were supposed to, and I will be starting off my week "behind" in everything. I do hate that, but I will just live on the memories that we made this weekend together and not worry about the fact that I have to climb into an unmade bed tonight. Wah wah.
Checking out the movie in 3-D!
That is it from my front, but Jerad has an amazing story about a devoted group of small town friends who came together Saturday night on behalf of Ally. Man, I keep thinking about how this whole past few months should be made into one of those feel-good movies about how good humanity is and how communities of people love and support each other. Or how we could be one of those stories on Extreme Home Makeover, well minus the house of course, but how hundreds of people just dropped everything to help a local family in need. Sometimes I have to wake myself up and say...yea, that's my family. And everyone is willing to help us...and how great is our God that he is providing this amazing support system of Ally's Army that is carrying my family through this. Well, anyway, I will get off my soapbox now and's Jerad.

"There are things about growing up in a small town that you can't necessarily quantify."

That pretty much sums up the 80's themed fundraiser that several of my high school friends put together this weekend. I truly can't quantify or put into words how amazing it was. One word kept coming to mind, and that was overwhelming. But I also kept thinking all night long about my small town, Junction City. I've always loved telling people that I grew up in a town with no stop light, where I was related to half the town, where my Grandpa Harry and now Uncle Lou own the grocery store, my Great Aunt Margie ran the post office, and my Great Uncle Fred and now Cousin Tim own the hardware store. And last night reminded me of why I loved it. Familiar faces everywhere, even though it may have been 10 or 20 years it never feels that way. Everyone was sharing stories with me, remembering how I used to bag their groceries (paper only back then, the good 'ol days), how they used to babysit me (I think I had at least 3 former sitters there last night!), how we use to hang out after elementary school, how we use to dress in junior high (parachute pants, more on that later) and where we used to hangout in high school (yes there were cornfields and oil wells involved). It's that slice of Americana that you take for granted when you live in it every day, but when you are away from it you can't help but appreciate it.

Now for the details of the bash...let's start with the funds raised...(insert drumroll as always)...$6,206!! I don't know what the expectation was, but I have to think that we knocked whatever it was out of the park! I am still in disbelief as I type that number, especially since it is the second time in less than a week as we raised almost the identical amount at our poker fundraiser. Much like the poker event, not only did we raise A LOT of money that will go towards our Walk and ultimately to help research and fight Leukemia, but we had an absolute blast doing it.

And speaking of blast, the event was entitled "Blast from the Past to Help Change the Future". For a little background for those that don't know, this whole event was the brainchild of several of my high school friends who wanted to do something for Ally. And as much as I love these girls and wish I had stayed in touch better, I really haven't. But they heard about Ally, have been loyally following on the blog, and just wanted to do something for our little girl. I sound like a broken record, but it is touching to see people take so much time out of their lives to help Ally and to help fight Leukemia. So thank you to Sheri, Jen, Tammy, Jane, Nikki, Billy, Cindy, Craig, and Todd and anyone else whose efforts went into throwing a great party and raising a ton of money. I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you did for me and for my family.

Of course, not only did my classmates donate their time and money to do a great job with the planning and decorations and the like, but many others took it upon themselves to donate auction items for a silent and live auction, food for everyone to eat, music for everyone to remember the 80's - free thanks to old friends Travis and Sonja Saffell, and a free facility thanks to the kindness of the American Legion who not only let us use it for free but also donated $500 to our cause! The auction items just amazed me. As people found out about the event, they volunteered to donate item after item. I can't name them all, but a thousand thank you's to those that donated items because the auctions raised a large portion of the funds. Special thanks to my cousin Gary Poling who donated 2 large items that raked in $1,000 in the live auction, and to his brother Larry for spending $500 on one of them! We also had my cousin Jon Clark donate back the 50/50 winnings which had to be another $400-$500. And we even had support from the New Lex Class of 1964 who was celebrating their 45th reunion. My Uncle Bill and Aunt Joyce had to attend their reunion first, but then came later and presented an envelope with $430 that was raised at their dinner. I'm sure most of those folks didn't even know who Ally was, but they still felt compelled (or pressured if you know my Uncle Bill!) to give to our cause. One final thank you to my brother-in-law Bunk for bravely watching Evan & Carly and 4 other kids so that we could all go to the party. Everywhere I turned around, someone was giving their time, their prayers and their dollars to help Ally win the fight against Leukemia.
All in all it was a fantastic event and kickoff to the week of our Light the Night Walk. I can't wait for Thursday night and get chills thinking about our army of 350 walking to support our Ally and her fight. I have to believe we'll get close to $30,000 after having an initial goal of $10,000, and I can't think of anything else to say other than...THANK YOU!!!
And now for those costumes, I know everyone is dying to see the ultra-tight parachute pants. For those that had the over/under on whether they would split open or not, they survived! I just had to walk like a penguin all night. The outfits were great and I'm glad to see more than just a few of us got into it...
The WINNERS (best man, woman, man's hair, woman's hair and couple)
My lovely Class of '90 gals who put all this together
My brother Brad (aka Maverick or Goose) and my sisters Jessica and Tara. Always there even when they have to be in Columbus at 6:30 a.m. for a Sprint Triathlon or Relay for Life Walk!
Another Class of '90 group picture
All of the auction prizes donated
My Uncle Bill presenting the Class of 1964 Donation and the American Legion check
My parents, always proud no matter what I'm wearing


  1. The word that comes to mind for me when thinking about the dance this weekend is, Magical! I'm so glad you and your family were able to be there to see how much your community and friends love you and want to be there to support Ally and your whole family through this journey you are on. It was so inspiring seeing the number of people who wanted to be involved. While we were decorating the Legion that day, people just kept stopping by with more and more items to donate to the auction and with checks and cash to drop in the donation box. The amount that was raised completely surpassed my expectations! I knew that our community would come out to be supportive and knew they were generous, but Wow! I was not prepared for that amount!! It was so great to see everyone having such a great time! Let me tell you, the Barnett family can bust a move on the dance floor! Not only that, but the love that comes from them emanates to everyone in the room. You can tell that Jared and his siblings have two of the best parents anyone could ask for. What was also inspiring was the response from friends while planning the event. When we called people, most of them we hadn't seen in at least 10 years, and said, "Jerad needs our help!", their response was always the same, "What can I do, how can I help?" Your quote about growing up in a small town is exactly right. We will always be here to support you and your family, and I think I can speak for everyone at the dance in saying that we felt privileged to be able to help and to be able to stand with you, Ally, Janel, and your entire family as you go through this experience. Don't ever forget that you are not alone! We love you all!

  2. What an amazing party. You have a lot of really caring people who love you. I'd like to think that all of this IS a movie, and soon we'll see the happy ending. LOVE the family photo, decked out in 80s attire. I'm sure your parents are proud, even in your tight parachute pants...

  3. The single biggest thing that separates big city from small town are the people around you. Caring is deeper, thoughtfulness is everywhere, and freindships never fade. I'm so proud of my hometown...always have been, but even more so now. Great job to everyone who made the weekend a success!

    I read the entire blog this morning trying to hold back tears at my desk. If I get emotional over the enormous amount of support, I can't imagine what Jerad and Janel feel like on a daily basis. Can't wait for Thursday!

  4. this was incredible to read even as a bystander! What a great event, and Jerad, I think you have a new look!

  5. Your families and friends are fantastic!!! I'm wiping away tears now because of the great weekend. So glad that Janel spent some good mom time with Ally outside of the hospital, and Jared, can i be from Junction City too? I hope you all realize that if you weren't great people, no one would care as much as the do. Here's to a great week and continued good counts for Ally.

  6. Wow, what a special place filled with special people. Like I said before , I have always wanted to visit Junction more than ever! :-)
    So glad everyone in the Barnett family had a great weekend, special memories all around.

  7. Wow - what an awesome town and an incredible family/friends you have. What a BLESSING! I am in amazement that so much was raised - YET AGAIN. Unbelievable. Ally and all of you are such warriors, with an incredible army behind you. I'm proud to be a part of it. LOVE TO ALL!

  8. I second Jenny's comments. The love that filled that room Saturday night was pulsating. It was incredible to see generations of people all together in one room for one reason - we stand behind you and you family every step of the way.

    I loved the quote about the small town - it couldn't be more true. There was a gentleman who's generosity will stick with me forever - he was not part of our group, he was not there to attend the benefit, - he was there to be at the bar - and while we were decorating, he walked up and handed us $20 after learning what we were doing. He came back a little while later as we were setting up the raffle and gave us $20 more - it was heart-warming - he donated $40 and had no idea what we were doing - that is small town living.

    It was unbelievable to me how much money was raised. I truly was hoping for $1000 at best. We didn't charge anyone for anything - everyone gave what they wanted to give. Like Jenny said, auction items came in ALL day long from people who wanted to help and do something. I had goosebumps all night long from the enormous amount of support in the room.

    We all talked about how we wished there was more we could do on a daily basis to help you in this fight - and while we are not there on a daily basis, please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers EVERY day. It was great to see Ally and Janel at the movies together - small victories that leave incredible footprints on your hearts.

    Can't wait for Thursday. I feel so priviledged to be a part of Ally's Army.
    Sheri Cobler

  9. I wish that Gary and I could do more! The minute that we found out about the benefit we wanted to donate something that we thought would bring in some bucks! We had a blast and I kept looking around and thinking about all the love that filled that room. Also, I could not believe that I used to dress like that! Jared nice pants and necklace. I don't think I saw you sit down all night for fear that maybe you would bust a seam! I wish that we would of knew about the walk or we would be there (we just found out). We think and pray for you daily.

    O.K. now about the movie. We went and saw it with our boys and loved it! Tell Ally that we loved Steve the monkey and the ice cream ball fight!

    Margie told me right before Gary and I got married (years ago HA! HA!) to live, laugh and love. This family really does that! Lots of Love Tracy Poling