Do It For Christina!

Christina

Those who know me know I’m not one to get emotional or to ask for money (okay, well at least not often, Mom and Dad), but I’m going to do a little of both here.

Before I ask you to donate, though, let me first ask if you recall your response when people ask you about your role models growing up. Our first response is typically a parent or adult relative or sometimes a sports star or other celebrity.

But how often was one of your greatest role models another peer? This was the case for me with my cousin Christina (pictured above – weren’t we precious?), who has long suffered from cystic fibrosis. I have vivid memories of her having to cart around an oxygen tank in middle school and of her experiencing serious shortness of breath during our trips to the mall.

I think back to the hospital visits, and to the night in college when I learned that a match was found and Christina would soon be undergoing a double lung transplant. I remember my mom calling the match a Christmas miracle, which of course it was. Nevertheless, I was used to miracles bringing joy and not precipitating apprehension. Thankfully Christina made it through the surgery and ensuing several months of recovery – almost literally living in a bubble cut off from most family members and friends – as well as anyone could have hoped.

Through it all, Christina has been both a trooper and a fighter. I’ve never met someone who’s been through so much yet remained so implacably positive; more so than anyone else I’ve ever known. She’s always appeared undaunted by her condition; unfazed by her outward differences. I mean, she was a cheerleader and basketball player growing up – to hell with the oxygen tank!

Christina embodies every bit of what a role model should be. And I’m proud to say she continues to impact the lives of others and to live her own life to the fullest as a pharmacist, wife and proud wiener dog owner. Oh, and as one helluva cousin and friend.

I’ve learned many lessons from her, including courage, perseverance, living each and every day to the fullest and always doing your best not to complain because you can always have it worse. Another equally important lesson I’ve learned is the need to fight for those people who have so greatly impacted our lives.

This is why I’m writing this post and why I’ll again be volunteering at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Great Strides Walk next Saturday, May 18. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a fan of asking for money, but I’m going to do so here.

Please support Team Do It For Christina! with whatever amount you’re willing and able to give. Seriously, every extra dollar helps to find a cure.

If I meet my goal of $300, which I set in honor of Christina turning 30 this past year, I plan to finally take the plunge and sign up for a half marathon – the Patrick Henry Half Marathon here outside of Richmond in August. Meeting my goal, then, would not only help me cross another item off my bucket list, but to raise money to help give kids with CF more years to complete their own bucket lists as well.

You can find my team page here and learn more about CF here. Thank you in advance if you choose to donate. Thanks also for taking the time to read today’s post.

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When Sports Transcend the Playing Field

Dooling Collins

Working in sports for several years now, I’ve increasingly come to realize how truly sports transcend what takes place on the field, court, etc. I’ve been following a couple of stories recently that I believe exemplify this and wanted to share them here.

The first has undoubtedly been one of the biggest news stories of the year – Jason Collins coming out as the first openly gay active athlete in a major professional team sport (the media has learned to be very precise in its phrasing here). I credit both Collins for his courage and Sports Illustrated for giving him license to self-author his story in its magazine.

While most of us are aware that Collins has come out, I’d encourage you to read his article and some of the ensuing coverage (some found via the link above). His story is a huge step for sports, and I think the overwhelmingly positive reaction to his revelation, particularly from the sports community, speaks volumes for where we as a society are headed. I’d say a personal call from President Obama is pretty substantial as well.

Another story that I came across shortly before the Collins news broke was that of fellow NBA player Keyon Dooling in the Boston Globe. Dooling, who I’ve followed for years now given his Mizzou roots, has publicly disclosed that he was sexually abused as a pre-teen. A concerning incident last summer soon landed him in a debilitating mental health care situation until the likes of Celtics head coach Doc Rivers stepped in to intervene.

After undergoing the necessary care and the likely lifelong healing process, Dooling has now not only gone public with his news, but he has also begun speaking out as an advocate for sexual abuse victims.

As Collins notes in his article, it often takes a major event – in his case the Boston Marathon tragedy – to put things in perspective. I applaud him and Dooling for publicly sharing their stories, thereby allowing us to join them for the ride.

There’s a great deal we can learn from athletes like Collins and Dooling. The lessons are many and come in the form of self-discovery, courage and acceptance, to name a few. We all experience joys and challenges in our everyday lives – some more momentous than others – and perhaps their stories go to show we should let others in a little more often.

Moreover, I always enjoy seeing athletes and others largely in the public eye using their platforms to break down stereotypes and to advance the greater good. I’m confident that others will now follow Collins’ and Dooling’s lead, and we as a society will without a doubt be better off because it.

The Best of the Harlem Shake

In the matter of a few short weeks, Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” has shaken up the online universe like few viral sensations have in history. The 30-second flash mob trend whose titular song is currently No. 1 on the iTunes chart has caught fire across the world, taking workplaces, college campuses and sporting venues by storm. Heck, the trend has even gone underwater and taken to the friendly skies.

Since I’ve watched my fair share of Harlem Shake vids these last several weeks (counting the hours would be pointless), I thought I’d share some of my favorites from the thousands that exist and the more than 4,000 now uploaded each day.

While I’m gladly riding the wave of the phenomenon, I think we’re quickly approaching the point where this is no longer a new trend and the videos are becoming old news. This seems to be the growing sentiment I’ve found in my long hours of recent informal research.

Nevertheless, the trend isn’t over yet, which is why my workplace is planning to create our own Harlem Shake video on Monday. With viral videos like these serving as essentially free, proven methods of gaining instant viewership, there’s no reason not to jump on the bandwagon, especially when there’s a means of publicity behind it.

If you’re interested in learning the dance (like I’m attempting to do), then wait no longer. And I came across the Daily Beast’s interview with the man behind the Harlem Shake, Baauer, whose take on all of this is definitely worth the read.

The video that supposedly began it all

Georgia Swim & Dive goes underwater…

A group takes the shake to the sky…

Maryland may have set the bar for college campuses. They do a range of dances, but the Harlem Shake begins at 1:30 mark…

Jon Stewart’s twist on the trend has been a definite success…

Even Lucy and Linus are into this thing…

The Coast Guard is one of many military schools to create a video, but theirs is the only one featuring a guy who falls off the stairs (guy in brown jacket to left at :20 mark)…

And I can’t leave out my alma maters…

Eight Years Later (i.e. Old Balls)

SWinco DC Reunion

I met up with two of my fellow SWincos (’05 Summer Welcome Leaders), Lacey and Marian, in D.C. this past weekend. Our former boss just Facebooked all of us Summer Welcome Alumni with the newest group of leaders this week, which reminded me to post this pic… and that I’m old as balls.

It’s hard to believe it’s been eight years since that fateful summer that undoubtedly became one of the highlights of my undergrad years. I met some of my favorite people in life that summer, including my best friend.

Now we’re all (mostly) grown up with real jobs and scattered across the country, so when I travel it’s always nice to have the opportunity to see a familiar face and reminisce about the good ol’ times, many of which I can only laugh about at this point.

And as this past weekend proved, regardless of how long it’s been since reuniting with old friends, it’s always as if no time has passed by.

To Be a Coed Again


The third generation of Burri (fourth if you count my cousin Christina) at Mizzou officially began this week when my parents moved my youngest sister, Mary, to campus. It seems like just yesterday the fam was moving my overly-anxious ass to Columbia. 10 years later (damn!), I recently found myself talking with Mare for a good while; her exuding such excitement about all the opportunities soon to come her way. I mean, I’m pretty impressed that one of her initial goals is to get involved with the Women’s Center.

During our convo, I found myself using such clichés as “Be yourself.” and “College is the best four years of your life”, the latter ringing so true that I extended my academic experience to eight years. Moreover, both not only aptly describe one’s college years,  but also go so veritably hand in hand when it comes to the overall college experience. I’m glad my middle (i.e. white) sister, Elizabeth, and I can look back on our own experiences and offer such sage advice to Mare.

Oh, to be a coed again. My best friend, Jules, and I were discussing this the other day and we both decided that we’d relive–as opposed to redo–the college experience again in a heartbeat. I’ll most definitely be living through Mare’s next four-plus (I mean, she is a Burrus, after all) years at what I, as a self-professed colleges geek, can definitively say is one of the most amazing schools in the country.

I also can’t go without sharing the priceless sign below that Mare came across during her first day on campus. Welcome to Mizzou, right?!? For clarification’s sake, it doesn’t have anything to do with race but instead refers to the architecture of Mizzou’s two sides of campus: White Campus and Red Campus.

I’m not sure who gave this sign the go-ahead, but perhaps a little more prudence could have been exercised here. Nevertheless, it was definitely good for a laugh!