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What started out as a site to update on our daughter's cancer has thankfully grown into a site to update on our beautiful family of four. Enjoy our journey...

Monday, June 30, 2008

thank you

I received this in an email tonight, and it meant so much to me, I wanted to share it.

Looking back on the events leading up to Friday night and most importantly on the Relay itself I feel a sense of great accomplishment and gratitude for family and friends. So often an event in our lives brings people together or tears them apart. Charli Ann in her short life of 1 year, 11 months, 2 days and counting with us has changed the lives of those around her. I will forever remember her running and jumping into Amanda's arms at the finish line of the survivor lap. Her story has been told over and over since Friday night. One of the girls here was at a Softball game Friday night. A friend of hers was at the Relay and heard you talk. After leaving the relay she went to the softball field and told your story to everyone that was sitting within earshot. She was doing just as you talked about " The Power of 10". Countless people have talked to me today about your talk and how it affected them.

Your talk was just amazing Brenda and Charli was so cute. Thanks for sharing your story as painful as it is for you and Chad. You are an inspiration to us and to those who are fighting cancer.

I replied back to this person and said that I realized that up until now I have been so focused on the wrong things. Friday night as we made our last corner around the track and could see our great family gathered there to meet and greet I realized that we had our entire family there with us! Granted Jennifer, Justin, Conner, Randy, Kara, and Cohen were there is spirit..but everyone else we needed was there!! Those are the people who have been there, those are the people who have sacrificed, and those are the people who will forever have those sites and sounds etched in their minds. No longer do I long to have those "certain" people there who only disappoint by never delivering when we truly need them. At that exact moment I felt a downpour of peace that went to the tips of my toes. I have everything and everyone I need in my life. And I am the luckiest person ever to be in the center of such amazing people.

Thank you for loving my daughter and my husband the way that I do - thank you for giving us the true feeling of family and for proving that not only can love move mountains - but it can and will cure cancer, and it will happen in our lifetime.

PS - thank you to the Charli's Angel team for sending me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and sweets today!! I will post a picture later this week! It made my day for sure!! It was extremely thoughtful and proves once again how awesome YOU are :-) LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, June 29, 2008 it is!

It's been here, and it gone - the 2008 Platte County Relay for Life is officially over. What a bummer!! Now, off to tell about...

When thinking about what I would write I thought it would just roll out of my brain, but I am finding it hard to even put it into words.

At 1:00 Chad and I met Janelle, Janice, and Alex at the track to set up! Shortly after Ivan came too!! We had to canopy tents set up with one large sleeping tent behind! It was great!!! Chuck and Janice surprised us with about 15 large 8x10 pictures they printed off of Charli to hang in the tent, it was an GREAT touch!! We had our decorations out and most of our things organized pretty well...and the rain game. OH NO!!! The wind blew, the rain came down, and my spirits came down :-(. After the rain stopped I looked up at the word CURE that stood so proud thirty minutes before...and it was knocked down - all the bags were drenched, soggy, and weak. I WAS SO SAD. I tearfully went up and tried to stand the bags back up, but had no luck. Minutes later the sun came up and baked the bags dry...and we were back in business!! Although the ink ran, Charli's face stood tall and served her purpose!!

So - during the rain we took as many decorations down to save them from the weather! We put them back up as more family started to arrive!! Denise made buttons out of Charli's picture for many of us to wear...that was a great idea!!

Our tent had a bake sale, sold bracelets, glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets. We also gave away CURE CHILDHOOD CANCER pens we had made to give to all the survivors, as well as gold childhood ribbons for all, balloons, and face painting. Jody painted all afternoon, evening, and night...into the wee hours of morning. Someone said she was still painting at 4am - I didn't look at the clock to see when she finally turned her light off, but I know she did a lot of faces!! I know the kids loved it too!!

Chad and Amanda went to pick Charli up around 5:00 and she returned around 6:00 looking as cute as ever! Amanda did her hair and had her so pretty!! She of course was wearing her purple survivor shirt, white shorts, and her hair so cute!! Amanda put two piggy-tails in, curled the back of her hair and even her bangs I think!!! She was adorable :-)

Opening ceremonies started at 7:00pm. For this they asked that all of our family sit in the front with us. Generally they don't do this, but because we had such a great support system there this year, they wanted to show that off I guess!! And truly, we did! I counted over 25+ there from our family to support us. I can not even count the number of times I heard "I had no idea the Relay was like this". Like I have said before, you don't know until you come for yourself. And, you get out what you put into it...and so many from our family put so much into this event. I was so proud of everyone. While I was giving my talk Charli walked around and did her thing. All of a sudden a plane few over...and she ran around, pointing at the plane yelling "airplane, airplane!!" It was a great for everyone to get to see her doing so well - she knows how to entertain. Right at the very end she wanted me to hold her and she grabbed the microphone and said "hi" and the crowd loved it!

Charli received her survivor gift and we soon began the BIG lap. Charli walked the first lap all on her own, 1/4 mile!!! She did a great job letting both Chad and I hold her hand the entire time around the track. We were so proud and humbled to walk with her - she is my hero. When we made our last bend around the curve they crowd was clapping for all their friends/family survivors and that got Charli pretty excited!! All I had to say was 1-2-3 GO and she took off running about 50 yards to her Grandpa Preister and Aunt Amanda. It was an amazing site to see (video posted early today). It is a memory and sensation I will never for get. It felt like everyone was clapping for her and was so excited to see her doing what she life! Aunt Amanda caught her and swept her up as I wiped the tears from my eyes I realized how lucky we are. Having our family there to walk that lap with us was amazing!! Sadly my brother and his family were not able to make it up from Arkansas - neither was Chad's sister and family from Colorado. Seeing all those red Charli's angels shirts following us and waiting for us at the finish line was is a memory I will never forget and neither will anyone who was there!! I wish everyone could have been there to see that for themselves!!

After the survivor lap we had the family/caregivers lap that we got to share with our team. When we made our way around we had many other friends find us to walk with us!! Thank you to all of those who found us - that meant so-s0-s0 much to us!! You will never know what you love and support means to us, that feeling of knowing that you are there to support us because you love us and care about us is the best feeling. After that - the night seemed to pass so quickly!

Charli didn't go home until 11:30 - wow!!! At 10:00 they had the night ceremony where the bags were officially lit up and we walked the track with a candle in hand. Charli had over 400 bags that spelt the word CURE in the stands. It was awesome to see her name serve as a beacon for the entire event that like - CURE, that is what we are all working for.

At midnight the awards ceremony took place and Charli's Angels rocked the house!! We received the Platinum Team award (second team ever!!) which meant we raised over $10,000!! We also received the largest family/friends team (money raised). I was also recognized for selling the most luminary bags for the event. It is amazing when we can do when it is for our own children, isn't it?!

I am proud and humble to say that by the time all final donations were turned in we raised $13,500! WOW!!!!! Can you believe that!! Which, I believe, takes our total of money raised in Charli's honor up to over $20,000...and on our way to reaching $25,000 by the end of 2008 I hope!! I am so blown away!

There were many fun events that went on through the night!!

I can't believe the people who stayed up all night for our team!! I had great friends Courtney and Heather who stayed very late with me too!! Charli's Great-Grandma Preister stayed up ALL NIGHT and walked a lot!!! Grandma and Grandpa Preister stayed up all night as well as Grandpa and Grandma Borg, Great-Aunt Janice, Janelle, and Denise! Aunt Rachelle was up all night too!! Aunt Amanda and Uncle Brad were there with us all night too - as well as her 2nd cousin Angela! All of Charli's Great Aunts/Uncles from the Preister side came, with the exception of one who was in California!!

I have to give major props to the Preister's tonight! Everyone came together and worked and made the night great!! I also have to thank my Aunt and Uncle who came up from Kansas!!

The closing ceremonies started a little before 7:00 where they announced our final total. The goal was $165,000 - and as you will see below - that was blown out of the water! WAY TO GO PLATTE COUNTY!!

I know I have said so much, and I could probably say more. The night/evening/event was just amazing. We were emotional all night, and didn't make it one lap around in the daylight without people stopping us to either thank us for sharing Charli's story, or talk about their story. I shed many tears that night as I realized just how lucky we are. God has blessed us, and although I am not sure what I have done to deserve it...I will spend the rest of my life trying to deserve what I have already been given.

Thank you to those who were able to attend - and those who were there in spirit. You have forever changed our lives and we thank you for it.


the grand total!

leading the over 200 survivors, Charli walked the lap with her own two feet!

our family waiting for the opening ceremonies to start

the front of our booth!

he loves her so much!

look at these awesome bags!

her special spot in the daylight...over 460 bags in this picture!

for raising over $10,000!!

after being named first out of all the survivors!! She was an honored guest that night!

what a site to see!

I' #1!!

before spotting the airplane!!

Charli and Daddy during my speech!

receiving her survivors sash (which she wouldn't wear!!)

sneak peak

Here is another sneak peak from Friday night!! Charli, Chad, and I lead the first survivors lap. When we came around the last curve everyone was clapping, and it was amazing to be in the center of it, leading the over 200 survivors. The family thought Charli might be scared by all the noise so Grandpa Bob and Aunt Amanda got down to eye level with Charli so she would feel comfortable! Well, with some encouragement and the reward of running to her Aunt Amanda she just took off...and well, the rest is a memory we will never forget. What a memory indeed!

It was AMAZING!!

Hey everyone!! I will post pictures and a story later tonight!!

In the meantime if you click HERE you can read the article from the Columbus Telegram about the event. There is also a video from the night! Starting around the 8-minute mark my speech starts. Charli was so cute...I wish all of you could have experienced it! But - I think after watching the video and seeing Charli's personality you will get a small piece of how special the entire evening was for all of us! She was GREAT!!!

Come back soon for lots of pictures and an amazing tale of memories!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Relay is NEAR...the Relay is HERE!!

I am literally like a little kid who is excited about their birthday & Christmas combined with the last day of school!!! I can not wait for the Relay! I don't know what it is, but I am just a little kid about it!

The entire concept means a lot to us, I think the culmination of everyone's hard work, fun, and good cause make it exciting! Plus, I am just excited to be a part of such an uplifting experience this year. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of emotion that goes into an event that orbits around cancer...but sleeping just outside of my room is a 29 pound success story that makes my life worth living!!!

If you are within driving distance of Columbus I strongly urge you to come to the Relay! Today someone called it a cancer "carnival" and it kind of is!! There is food, games, prizes...and just a lot of fun to be had!!

Here is a brief run down of what will take place!!!
6:00 - Columbus dancers
6:00 - supper available
7:00 - Opening Ceremonies
8:00 - walk starts
10:00 - lighting of luminaries (roll call of luminaries)
midnight - the start of all the night time fun to keep people up all night!!
If you are able to make it until morning there will be a breakfast and closing ceremony to let us know what was raised!! The goal for Platte County was $165,000...let's hope they can make it!!

If you do come down, please be sure to come find us! We would love to see all of you there - friends, family, neighbors, and anyone in between! Be sure to wear your Charli shirts if you have them and bring chairs so you can stick around!!

I just can't wait!! Look for pictures and stories to come after the weekend!!

PS. We have family and friends coming from all around Columbus, western Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa!! We are so excited about the people who are able to come take part in this with our family!! Your dedication to this cause blows my mind. And although there are always people who we wish would come and never do - the appreciation we have to those of you who do come - far outweigh our feelings when some choose not to! THANK YOU!!!

*this poem was sent to me today by someone on the Relay for Life planning committee!!*

'Twas the night before Relay and all through the house,
Every one was stirring, including the mouse.

With the set up, lifting, bending and more
Our feet and backs are sure to be sore.

But we won't feel them, not one little bit
'Cause this Relay is a definite hit.

The Committee and Teams, with hearts so pure
Have worked so hard to help find a cure.

So enjoy your evening and please don't mope,
for tomorrow we gather and celebrate HOPE!

Get some sleep tonight; before you know it…it will be Relay night!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


If you haven't read the article about Charli yet you can follow this link!!

a good day = a good trip

We got good news on Friday, as most of you have probably guessed since I haven't posted yet, sorry!!! Charli had her blood drawn like a champ and did great while waiting for Dr. Thompson. Everyone was so pleased to see how much she has grown. It was such an uneasy feeling to be back up in the clinic. It has been several visits since we had been back up there, the past few times the Dr. has come to us on a different floor. I didn't like it. I didn't like how it felt like an old "home", I didn't like how I remembered where the fruit juice was, I didn't like that they they knew our name, and I didn't like that "look" that other moms and dads in the room give you when you walk, your child has cancer too, I am sorry. I felt guilty to be honest, as dumb as I know that as.

I DID like how pleased Dr. Thompson was with her progress! I DID like hearing that after 2 more CT scans they will start doing ultrasounds which is safer and easier on Charli's little body. I did like how we got the "seal of approval" on her health. I DID like the feeling of leaving and knowing we won't be back for three more months. I DID like the reminder that Charli is a cancer SURVIVOR.

Since the morning went so well we wanted to do something to celebrate and make the day fun for Charli since she did have it kind of rough earlier in the day. So...we went to the zoo!! Well, as great of a time as we had - going on College World Series Friday...not a great idea! But, once we got in the parking lot and into the zoo it wasn't crowed and we had a nice time!! Charli was ready to go home by the time we left. She either got too much sun/heat or was allergic to something towards the end of our visit. Her eyes got red and swollen...and she was in a weird state of mind...almost fell asleep while changing her diaper in a weird position in the back of Chad's truck. We were a little worried...but she snapped out of it after a 45 minute nap. We wish we knew what caused it, but as long as it doesn't come back I am okay with it!! Before we left the zoo we took Charli on the train ride and she was GREAT!!!

Enjoy all the pictures, they are out of order I know...but you will get the point! Sorry there are so many - it is hard to pick!!

what a big girl, she is learning to put her shoes on - the right feet!

hmm, guess who DRANK their yogurt today?!!

since when did she start sitting on TOP of the chair?!

Charli got to help daddy change the tire - who taught who do you think?!!!

don't worry dad, I will bring you the tire!

no, this is how you do it!

okay dad, I will let you do it this ONE time!

and then you tighten the lug nuts!

WOW...look at the butterflies!

Did you know...

so proud of my new hat and MONKEY!!! (you can see my face starting to swell!)

but I love my monkey so much...I don't mind yet!!

showing off my stickers from the doctors office!! The one I got after giving my blood says "LAB TESTED"...cute!!

she loved running around the zoo :-)

ewww, bees!

I liked the thinks I am allergic!

this monkey came nose to nose with me!!

AIRPLANE!! She can spot those from mile away!!

relaxing on a warm summer day!

kiss the John Deere boy!

ahh, pretty bird daddy!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Charli's an internet STAR!!

Hey ya'll check out to see Charli's debut as the 2008 Honorary Co-Chair for the 2008 Relay for Life!!! They ran an article about her that even included her picture!! The article ran on the front page with continuation on the second!! I am so proud of her!! I am not sure how long it will be online so go take a look! The title is "2-year-old to be 2008 Relay's honorary head of event"!!

Also - we are heading to Omaha tomorrow...can you believe it has been 3-months since we last went. GREAT NEWS though, her scans have officially been spread out to 6 months!!! So we will be going for blood checks and an overall check-up. It is a great feeling to know that they are confident enough to spread the tests out, unnerving that we will have to wait 6 months before we get reconfirmation that she is still doing great! Something we will just have to get used to. It is what we wanted to happen...but we have more security with 3 month scans!!

We turned in all money for the Relay tonight! I am so proud of our team - we did amazing!! To find out just how amazing, you will have to come to the Relay I guess!!! The county has a goal of $165, let's keep our fingers crossed that we can make it!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

quick update

Sorry for the lapse in posting - seems like we have other things occupying our time as summer is going on!! Charli likes to spend every waking second outside, and we have been busy doing things for the Relay...which is coming up NEXT Friday!!! ( to see you there!!)

I think Chad had a good father's day, he took the family on a short 4-wheeler ride and I got to take her on a ride in the skid-loader :)

Watch for upcoming details about the Relay!! TIP: THE RELAY IS NOT JUST FOR CANCER SURVIVORS!! We want all friends, family, supporters, strangers, and soon to be friends there to see all the amazing people!! There is no cost to come, so you are out nothing but your time, and I PROMISE you won't regret the time you spend there, you will leave inspired...and who couldn't use some inspiration :-)

Charli & Chad on Father's Day

Daddy loved to see mommy and Charli in the CAT with tracks :-)

mom picked out the dress and Charli picked out the hat...she matched it perfectly!!

she STILL loves to show off her survivors wrap from last weekend!

mom, just the picture:-)

Look...DORA gloves from Grandma Preister

i love my books!

I have FUN with my cousin Colton!