Cancer affects so many of us both directly and indirectly. It leaves us with feelings of helplessness, fear, and frustration. Do we trust the initial diagnosis, or do we search out a second opinion? Should we choose the recommended treatment, or do we search for alternatives?
Ryan Sternagel and Teddy Guss Sternagel, both graduates from Woodinville High School in 2003, were faced with these questions and so many more. You see, five years ago, they welcomed a son, Ryder, into the world. Just before his first birthday, they discovered he had cancer. He was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma-a childhood cancer of the nervous system. Ryder had a tumor larger than his kidney growing inside and out of his spinal canal as well as two secondary tumors, all of which had metastasized into his bones. In an instant, their lives were changed. The doctors told the Sternagels that Ryder would have to undergo chemotherapy immediately.
Chemotherapy treatment began on Ryder here in Washington while his parents continued to research other options for a cure and his wellbeing. Ryan and Teddy consulted with naturopathic doctors, cancer coaches, and health experts all over the world to employ an integrative approach that minimized the amount of conventional treatment Ryder received through a mix of super nutrition, targeted supplementation, energy medicine and healthy lifestyle practices. This included providing Ryder with supplements that they gave him through an NG feeding tube as well as bringing a juicer into his hospital room and providing food for Ryder.
Miraculously and very fortunately, Ryder’s tumor shrunk faster than anyone expected. Ryan states, “We were able to avoid virtually all other conventional medicines and procedures that usually come with chemotherapy, and his overall appearance and energy levels were much more vibrant than the other kids in the oncology ward.”
The next MRI revealed even more progress and after four rounds of chemotherapy and four months since his diagnosis, the Sternagels made the decision to stop chemotherapy halfway through the conventional protocol. This decision was not taken lightly nor easily made.
This also prompted a move to Utah. Why Utah? Ryan explained, “We were not seeing eye to eye with hospital, and the hospital wasn’t open to hearing input from us.” They knew they had to make a change and researched many options. “The facility in Utah seemed to be the best option for us. It was more laid back. They [Doctors] were much more open to making decisions together.” Ultimately, they agreed to a wait and see approach verses continued chemotherapy.
It should be noted that Ryder continues to be under the care of an oncologist and closely monitored with MRI’s and labs.
Rather than congratulating themselves on escaping a tragedy and then returning to their pre-diagnosis life, they decided to begin sharing their journey and provide information to others who have a child with cancer.
Ryan and Teddy knew how hard it had been for them find paths to alternative options since most available literature focused on adult cancer. Their Facebook/YouTube/ Instagram/Website/ Twitter accounts (first mykidhascancer.com, then, mykidcurescancer.com, and now, thesternmethod.com) all are directed to help caregivers determine the steps that need to be taken when a cancer diagnosis is given.
They have produced a weekly podcast (over 50 to date) where a specialist is interviewed to discuss cancer treatments and healthy living in general as it applies to childhood cancer.
They recently offered a free online event called the “Toxic Home Transformation Summit” addressing how to make your living environment healthier.
Ryan commented, “People are taking notice.” 100,008 watched the event. It is the biggest thing they have done to date and he said, “We received tons of great feedback and opened many people’s eyes.”
He added, “We are now fully immersed in the online health world.”
Ultimately, it started because they “didn’t want to sit back and not do whatever they could to help make sense of it [Ryder’s cancer].” The Sternagels saw other parents going through the same struggles and wanted to share their findings and help.
What is the message and/or advice that Ryan would offer to other parents?
“You are the CEO of your kids health. A CEO isn’t necessarily the financial or marketing expert, but they have a hand in it. They bring people in to do the job as they see fit. At the end of the day, they look to the CEO to run a good company and your child is the company in this case. In this day and age there are so many experts available. Don’t pin your child’s health on just one person [i.e. Doctor].”
Ryan ended with, “We have always wanted to do something that made a difference. We are trying to make the world a better place.”
I would say they are right on track and Ryder and his little sister, Channing, are lucky kids to have them as parents.
Visit thesternmethod.com for more information.
If you’ve had lunch at Shake ’N Go, a brew at Triplehorn, or a glass of wine at Elevation Cellars off of 144th Ave NE you probably haven’t had a reason to venture much further down the road. But, if you did, you’d find the 42,000 sq. ft. production facility and offices for Garden Fresh Foods.
Jim Dugdale and Steve McFarland founded Garden Fresh Foods in 1987. When Jim Dugdale retired in 2000, his son Mark Dugdale and his wife Christina bought out his interest. Then in 2017 when McFarland retired, they became sole owners. Mark and Christina Dugdale grew up on the Eastside and live in Bothell.
Garden Fresh Foods packages fresh cut vegetables that are sold to wholesale accounts. Most of the product stays in the Pacific Northwest due to the freshness factor and winds up at schools, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. Think Whole Foods, Ivars, and Northshore School District.
The company also provides potatoes to the national conglomerate C-Fresh, a division of the Campbell Soup Company among others. The preparation method that they use for their potato products are proprietary. The product is also in demand, especially with companies that are concerned about quality. Mark and Christina work predominantly with farmers in Eastern Washington, Skagit Valley, and California and accept only the highest quality produce for their products.
From the time Mark Dugdale was first able to work at 14 years old, he’s been involved in Garden Fresh Foods. He said, “I did every job at the plant. I started out washing trucks, then into production, and eventually driving.” He graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree then joined the company full time. Christina and Mark married in 1997 and after spending time at home with their three children, she joined the company full time in 2009. She said, “We do everything together.”
They recently received their “Organic Certification” and passed an internationally recognized Safe Quality Food (SQF) Level 2 audit with a 97 out of 100; each of which was quite an effort but worth it. They are also sticklers for food safety for the end user. Mark said, “I want to sleep well at night.”
Currently 80 employees work at the facility and Mark noted that they are looking to hire up to 16 more people in the coming weeks.
According to Christina, the employees at Garden Fresh Foods are so very important. Many of the positions are for unskilled labor but they are definitely filling a niche in the marketplace. “We employ people that don’t need a huge skill set but are important to our community. It is rewarding to provide jobs to people,” she said.
They find their workers through Better Teams, Indeed, an in-house referral program, and Hopelink to name a few.
They spend time with new employees to train and educate them on procedures and their company core values. “We are right there with the employees and very ‘hands on’ owners,” said Mark. Every employee must be committed to these values that include forward thinking, [being] positive, reliable, diligent, resourceful, and ethical.
It has paid off as well with wonderful long-term employees that Mark and Christina consider part of the family. Mark referred to one of their employees who started with them 25 years ago after she arrived to the U.S. from the Ukraine and another that worked alongside him in the warehouse when he was a teen. “People may not know us because we haven’t invested in local causes but we are definitely striving to invest in local people.”
Visit gardenfreshfoods.com for more information.
My daughter always encourages me to “practice yoga” – “it’s good for you mom.” And yes, she’s right. Every time I take a class, I feel better – more relaxed and definitely more flexible.
So when I recently read about a “Laughter Yoga” class at Studio Beju in Duvall, I knew I had to check it out. My motivating thought was that I typically laugh at myself as I am attempting certain stretches so I am already doing it to an extent.
LaughterGlow Yoga class in progress. (Courtesy photo)I called Randee Young, owner, with LaughterGlow to find out more.
Her classes in Duvall were on summer hiatus so as an alternative she invited me to a class she was teaching at Fairwinds Retirement Community in Redmond.
Not knowing what to expect, I showed up in my yoga gear, with my yoga mat, and water bottle. I walked into the classroom and realized immediately that I was overdressed so to speak. Regular street clothes would have sufficed and since chairs were arranged in a half circle it was unlikely I’d need my mat. But it was a good opportunity for me to immediately laugh at myself so I knew I was starting the class off right. (Please note that the senior classes are typically taught in chairs whereas other classes with younger clientele involve moving around more.)
There were five lovely ladies, who were residents of Fairwinds, in the class with me. Randee welcomed everyone, and let the ladies know that I was participating to learn more about Laughter Yoga for a story that I was writing.
As with all yoga classes (or at least the ones I have attended), we started with breathing exercises. Then along with the breathing, we added stretches, and you guessed it laughing, giggling, and smiling. More fun and humor followed with us making silly faces and laughing at each other in our small group. I may have started out faking my laughs, but soon I was truly laughing. Maybe in part because I was wondering what anyone who walked by might have thought of our antics.
As a class leader, Randee has an aura about her that makes you instantly feel good. She is relaxed and helps you relax as well. Her smile is genuine, and she really seemed to enjoy laughing with us.
As Randee explained Laughter Yoga is good for us on many levels. Laughter releases endorphins that give us the “feel good factor.” It promotes positive thinking, improves respiration and circulation, and reduces stress and tension.
Laughter Yoga is really a thing too – throughout the world – no joke. Dr. Madan Kataria developed it over 25 years ago. Randee learned about it from a guest speaker at Fairwinds. She enjoyed the class so much she became leader certified and now has her teacher certification, which allows her to train others.
The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits. Clinical research has proved that laughter lowers the level of stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol, etc.) in the blood.
Randee Young (left) with fellow classmate at Laughter Yoga training class. (Courtesy photo)Following 30 minutes of fun, Randee ended the class with a total relaxation segment that left me refreshed and clear-headed.
As I was driving home, a driver who was driving very erratically cut me off. Admittedly, I had a flash of anger that I was able to turn off I know due to the class that I had just taken. I thought about that driver, and many others who could benefit from yoga and a dose of laughter in their lives. When I later mentioned this to Randee she agreed and said that Laughter Yoga has helped her deal with traffic by letting out a “Ha, Ha, Ho” instead of letting getting angry.
Randee has spent most of her life in Washington state and has lived the last 10 years in Duvall. In addition to her LaughterGlow business, she is the Guest Services Manager at Fairwinds.
I asked her what she enjoys most about Duvall. She said she loves the small town feel of Duvall and the access to the outdoors. Randee along with her husband and dog spend many afternoons on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.
Classes at Studio Beju will start again in the fall according to Randee, but in the meantime, she’s available for private and group sessions that promote team building and support. Randee is looking “for more opportunities to spread the joy of laughter.”
To learn more about Laughter Yoga, see upcoming class schedules or contact Randee for a private session, email Randee at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.maylaughterglow.com.
Mia Harris is making a difference with soup, socks and compassion towards fellow humans. She will be a sophomore at UW Bothell this fall and is studying media and communications along with economics and public policy. She is also the Director of Communication and Lead Peace Committee Chair for UW Bothell (UWB) Rotaract.
Rotaract is the college version of Rotary. The UWB Club is an offshoot of the Woodinville Rotary Club. Currently about 15-20 students participate on campus. Harris participated in Rotary through her high school in Bremerton so when she saw the table at college orientation last year, she decided to sign up. She said, “Rotaract is a very inclusive club and we welcome everyone.” They meet monthly with a guest speaker presentation.
July 14 BBQ group shot with Mia and the UW Bothell Rotaract, Woodinville Rotary, Northshore Fire Department, and Woodinville Fire Department. (Photo by Carol Lee)UWB Rotaract has embraced the mission as a Rotary PeaceBuilders Club and is aiming to create and spread awareness of homelessness, the difference between working poor and being homeless, and the need in our community and globally. Harris has long been an advocate for homelessness so she is very active in helping to organize events and build awareness. UWB Rotaract has partnered with Camp Unity Eastside (CUE) for their Peace Project.
CUE is a tent village with residents that aren’t who you might normally expect. They’re a mix of families and individuals, some employed and others unemployed. Many leave in the morning to go to their jobs or to find affordable housing, and come back assured they have a place to call their own. It is a safe and secure place to rest at night. Folks from all walks of life live at CUE, and all of them have a unified goal: To pick up the pieces of a life that is familiar and to move into a more prosperous and sustainable future. Whether it’s finding work, a new place to live, or just a fresh start at life, camp residents are supported by the community at-large.
Camp supervisors and board members are professionals who guide and help camp residents throughout their stay. Anyone experiencing homelessness is encouraged to visit Camp Unity Eastside. CUE is an 18+ adult camp village. Drugs or alcohol are not allowed.
One way, UWB Rotaract is working with CUE is by organizing events. They hosted two Sock and Soup events this winter/spring and just hosted a Sock and BBQ event last month. For that event the Woodinville and Northshore Fire Departments stepped up as sponsors by donating and cooking all of the food. Harris said that Bombas socks has been very supportive and donates socks to the residents at CUE for these events.
During the event, members of Rotaract spent time getting to know members at CUE. “It was nice to share a sunny day, share a meal, and share stories,” Harris said. Oftentimes, homeless people do not get the opportunity to socialize so this event is a step in the right direction of helping them feel included. Harris added, “The goal is to build peace through every event.”
For someone so young, Harris has learned the importance of giving and you can hear the compassion in her voice.
About being involved in the Peace Project she said, “It makes me feel grateful for what I have and wants me to help more. It makes me happy and makes me feel like I’m making a difference.”
The next Rotaract PeaceBuilder event is the Steve Dolan Picnic for Peace Builders on August 14th from 5-8 p.m. at Nardo Land (22128 Paradise Lake Rd, Snohomish, WA 98296). The event promises fun, games, prizes, activities, and a free picnic dinner. All activity ticket proceeds will go to the Dolan Haiti Mission. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/2147952808776294/
To learn more about the UW Bothell Rotaract Club and upcoming events, visit https://www.facebook.com/UWBRAC/,
To learn more about Camp Unity Eastside, visit https://campunityeastside.com/.
Ten-year-old Tyler Carach, The Donut Boy, began his mission to thank every police officer in America in August of 2016.
As his mom, Sheena (who was traveling with Tyler on this trip) explained, Tyler is passionate about thanking officers for the sacrifices they make on a daily basis for total strangers.
Tyler (aka The Donut Boy) posing with two of Everett's finest Aaron Snell and Yulia Wold last week. (Photo by Kristen Hamilton)Fast forward to July 30, 2018 where he was visiting his 35th state in the U.S. with his visit here in Washington. Up to this point, Tyler has passed out 65,000 donuts to his heroes in blue.
I met up with Tyler and his mom at Galls Store on Aurora Avenue in Seattle. Galls has supported “The Donut Boy” since the inception of the program. The Carachs would be heading to the Eastside later in the day to visit Snohomish Sheriff’s Department and officers throughout our readership area.
Tyler was wearing his signature cape with the motto “I donut need a reason to thank a cop” sewn into the back. He readily admitted he had already eaten four donuts as he buzzed around the store on a stool on wheels. Sheena commented that she was a little concerned about the sugar crash that might happen later in the day.
He welcomed officers from Redmond, Seattle, and Everett with a big smile and asked what type of donut they would like. Everyone sincerely thanked Tyler for his recognition and happily posed for photos with The Donut Boy.
This trip involves visiting five states to bring Tyler’s total to 39 by the time he returns home to Florida mid month just in time to start 5th grade.
From here they are heading to Alaska then stops in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. What a great kid – keep up the good work Tyler!
Larry Bridges, Voice and Performance Coach for over 40 years, thinks you can and he’ll help you along the way.
Throughout the years, Bridges has taught students as young as 7 years old up to 84 years old. As he thinks back on his career, he says, “Many of my friends are former students.” He even married one of his students, Dorothy, over 32 years ago!
Bridges graduated with a B.M.E. in Music Education (vocal specialty) and a M.A. in Vocal Performance. His teaching career started at the University of Denver (Colorado) where he taught voice for the theatre department. While there he performed at the Country Dinner Playhouse in Denver to sold out crowds nightly.
From there it was off to Los Angeles where Bridges formed his own band. The band did well for many years and opened for Barry Manilow, among others. He continued to teach while in LA. Here he would work with many professionals that are still in the business and quite successful.
Not one to toot his own horn, I asked him to share a few of his stories.
Bridges said, “About 20 years ago, I had a phone call from a former student. He told me I had been responsible for encouraging him to keep going in the film and music industry. I taught him for a few years at the beginning of his career. His name is Mykelti Williamson (Bubba in ‘Forrest Gump’). He has been in over 100 movies, and held major roles in shows like ‘24’ and ‘Nashville.’ We keep in touch.”
Four years ago he helped a local fourth grader get ready for the Fifth Avenue Theatre auditions for “Oliver.” He made it and is now realizing his dream as a regular on the Amazon series “The Dangerous Book for Boys.”
A high school student dreamed of being in the musical “Hairspray.” Bridges worked with her and she ended up being cast in the world premier of the student edition at the International Thespian Festival.
In 1989, Bridges and his wife along with his two sons, Jordan and Austin, moved to Woodinville.
Here he opened shop with Bridges Voice Instruction and has been going strong ever since.
Bridges is a songwriter with two albums. He shared a beautiful song he wrote for his son, Jordan, to celebrate his birth called “Dreaming of Your Eyes.”
He also helps students write songs. He says, “I try to help people find their voice in the world and not just by singing.”
Bridges told me about a shy 3rd grader that he met last year. Her mom told him that she liked to make up songs, so he turned on the recorder and asked her to make up a song for him. He played piano chords to her melody and she created an “extremely creative” song. He said, “Her mom submitted it to the PTA’s ‘Reflections’ competition and she was a finalist in the state for 3rd to 5th graders.”
While meeting with Bridges in his studio in the lower level of his home, you can feel his infectious energy for teaching and passion for music. I’m certain I only touched the surface of his success stories!
His website is www.anyonecansing.com and he believes it. A humorous instructional book is in the works to help timid beginners who’ve been told they should only mouth the words.
Although his students can be any age, his typical student is still in school. He said, “I love helping them achieve their dream [of singing and acting].”
As a long time resident of the area, I asked Bridges what his favorite thing was about Woodinville. He said, “Besides the friendly people, July and August.”
What does he feel is one of the best things about the area? “The wineries and the destination business they have brought to the area.” And, the worse? “The traffic.”
Bridges is hopeful that new artists, musicians, and poets will emerge. He believes they are the key for making people more loving and tolerant.
Bridges ended by saying, “Music and art can help save the world.” I hope he’s right.
Chase Warren may only be a recent high school graduate but he definitely knows what he wants and is doing everything he can to make his dream of becoming a Genetic Engineer a reality.
I met Chase and his biggest cheerleader, his mom Jennifer Warren, recently to chat about his recent trip to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders event in Boston, Massachusetts.
“It was an awesome experience,” Chase said of the event. The Congress touts itself as the largest and most impactful gathering of future medical leaders. Attendance is by academic nomination only and all students must have a minimum of 3.5 GPA to attend. During the Congress students are able to view an actual surgery, learn about state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, and be mentored by some of the greatest minds in medicine. Speakers included Nobel Prize Laureates, top medical school deans, and leaders in medical research and private industry.
Chase shared that he was able to meet his idol George M. Church, Ph.D. who is the Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Church and his team invented CRISPR for human stem cell genome editing and other synthetic biology technologies and applications. This includes new ways to create organs for transplantation, gene therapies for aging reversal, and gene drives to eliminate Lyme disease and malaria. CRISPR is of great interest to Chase.
He wants to get into research and hopes to help find cures for cancer and other diseases. He developed an interest in the field after his Grandpa Reed was diagnosed with cancer and Chase wanted to help. He even visited the doctor’s office at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center with his grandfather and shared his thoughts of possible treatment options with the doctor. Sadly his grandfather has since passed away but Chase’s desire to help has only gotten stronger. “In the next 20 years, we should have cures for all types of cancer,” said Chase.
He has chosen to attend Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman for the 2018/2019 school year. Chase admitted that a big part of that decision was that “[he will be] able to get into the lab at WSU after only seven weeks of starting school.” He said that at some schools students must wait a year or two before being able to access the lab but he was accepted to the Students Targeted toward Advanced Research Studies (STARS) program at WSU and that has opened up the door to access the lab much earlier. He said he has so many ideas relating to genetics and CRISPR that he wants to get started right away.
Chase has spent his entire life in Woodinville. He attended East Ridge Elementary then when he was in 6th grade the family transferred Chase and his brother Spencer to King’s Schools in Shoreline. The move to this private school was important to the Warren’s (Jennifer and her husband Randy) to help their kids have every available advantage. The new school entailed a long daily commute for both boys but the family made it work.
Chase took every science class he could at King’s and Biology – Anatomy and Physiology were his favorite classes. He recently graduated and he feels very fortunate to have had the opportunity that King’s provided. Chase said of the opportunity, “I have great parents.”
Throughout the years, Chase has always stayed involved with his church and the local community and has spent many afternoons volunteering at the Duvall Food Bank.
I asked Chase if he had any advice to pass along to other students with an interest in medicine. “There is a ton of great information on the internet. Amazing sources like John Green [Scientific Revolution], SciShow, Vsauce, and CrashCourse.” He also added that it is important to remember, “Failure is part of success.”
Needless to say this Gen Z (aka Centennial) student has a lot of energy and I’m confident that he’ll do some pretty amazing things in the future.
When Justin Thompson was just 16 years old, he was almost killed by a drunk driver. That event triggered something in his psyche that became his passion, and ultimately, a business venture to promote preventative solutions for a problem faced by virtually every community in America—driving under the influence (DUI).
The business, named appropriately “Think Twice,” that Thompson co-founded with Forrest McKai.
Thompson met with me recently to speak about Think Twice and its’ mission to lessen the damage caused by drunk driving. He explained that every 51 minutes someone is killed in a DUI related accident in the United States. Think Twice was created to provide customers with an easy way to monitor their risk of a DUI charge, avoid a trip to jail, and most importantly, to perhaps save a life.
“It is a practical, easy, discreet and affordable way to prevent the needless loss of life caused by drunk driving,” said Thompson.
Their primary product at this time is a medical grade single-use breathalyzer simply labeled “Think Twice.” It only takes 15 minutes to take the test, see whether you are below or above the 0.08% BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) legal limit, and make an informed decision regarding getting behind the wheel. Each individual unit is hermetically sealed and should not be exposed to extreme temperatures. The test also includes a discount promo code to use UBER instead of driving.
Thompson and McKai worked tirelessly for the past two years developing Think Twice along with a full program to work with restaurants, bars and any other establishment or event that serves alcohol. It isn’t just about the test. Businesses are encouraged to sell the test (most often for less than what a typical drink might cost) or to simply offer it as an amenity to alcohol consuming customers. Additionally they will work with the business on training, support materials for staff, and promotional materials that remind patrons to think twice. These items include coasters, postcards, car fresheners, bottle opener key chains, table tents, pens, and “DUI’s SUCK” t-shirts.
Businesses are really embracing Think Twice especially considering that more than half the states in the U.S. have statutory provisions that allow restaurants, bars, and liquor stores to be held liable for serving alcohol to individuals who cause injuries or death as a result of their intoxication. Penalties for such cases can range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and for this reason, liquor liability insurance coverage is required. Rates are determined, in part, by the number of DUI charges attributed to a business, which is then reported to the Liquor Control Board.
Think Twice offers a certification process for alcohol serving establishments to present to their insurance agent to qualify for discounts on their insurance policy. Insurance companies are supporting the Think Twice risk mitigation strategy, empowering their customers to take a proactive approach to helping people get home safe.
In this region, there are many alcohol related special events including concerts, brewfests, wine walks, sporting events, and festivals that could benefit from having Think Twice DUI Testers available. Personally, I even thought of having them available for family events and weddings. This would certainly be a wise move to protect your friends and family.
Think Twice products currently are sold in the western US including Alaska, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The company as a whole is growing exponentially with plans to be throughout the U.S. and Canada before long saving lives.
I checked out the reviews for Think Twice on their Facebook page and out of 101 reviews all received five stars (out of five) rating! Here’s one review that I felt said it best…
We have all gone out to a game or to the bar and had a little too much to drink, and we all have questionable judgment when under the influence. Think Twice a brilliant solution to an all to common problem. You can make a conscious decision to keep yourself and others out of danger by staying off the road if you’ve had too much to drink. So happy to see this product spreading like wild fire throughout our communities! Party on people!!
To learn more about Think Twice, visit https://duiprevention.org/.
The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games were held last week in the Puget Sound region and will undoubtedly be considered one of the most significant sporting events in our area’s history.
The event showcased the awe-inspiring abilities of approximately 3,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities competing in 14 sports in venues across Puget Sound including Kenmore Lanes in our readership area. An estimated 10,000 volunteers and over 80,000 family members and spectators enjoyed the games. The regional economic impact of the 2018 USA Games is projected at over $75 million.
I had the opportunity to chat with Samuel (Sam) Quezada, one of the athletes, along with his grandparents, Will and Kathleen Netelenbos, right before the games as he was packing for his six night stay at the USA Games village at the University of Washington campus. Will said that this would be the longest period of time that Sam will be away from their home since he and his brother Josh moved in with their grandparents following the death of their mother four years ago.
Sam is 23 years old and a 2013 graduate of Inglemoor High School. He is autistic and following graduation he completed the ATP (Adult Transition Program) at Bothell High School. He currently works at Microsoft Café 86 by taking two buses every workday to get to the Redmond Campus.
Sam is relatively new to the world of competition sports. He joined the Northshore Wranglers Inclusion Program (see sidebar story) in the early spring of 2017. There he participated in the track and field program with a very supportive and inspiring coach, Cole Caplan. Sam says, “I learned a lot from him.”
Sam participated in the Washington Special Olympics last year and has continued to train to qualify to compete in the USA Games this year. His events are the 100M, 200M, 4x100M Relay, and the Long Jump. His favorite event is the 100M Dash. He assured me that he is very fast!
Sam trains at Ingelmoor High School by running the track and by playing soccer. His grandparents said that Sam does this most every day on his own. He not only takes his physical training seriously, but he told me he’s eating right too with a lot of fruits and vegetables.
He admitted that he is a little nervous to compete as he wants to do well. From Sam’s bio he attests, “knowing that you are not there just by yourself and are motivated by the support from other competing athletes like yourself, coaches, friends and family. The opportunity to prove that no matter what, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.”
His advice to other kids that may want to get involved in competition in the future, “just do it.” He said, “It is a lot of fun. It makes me feel good and gives me more confidence.”
Locally, Andrew Bryant from Woodinville and Jeremy Wall from Bothell also participated in multiple track and field events at the recent 2018 Special Olympics. Congratulations to all of the amazing athletes!
A military cargo plane (C-53) flying over Greenland during WWII crashes with five crewmembers aboard. All five survive the crash and a rescue mission is launched with second plane (a B-17) carrying nine crewmembers. That plane also crashes on the ice cap. Again, all men survive the initial crash.
With winter approaching fast on the frozen wasteland, and confirmed contact with the survivors from the B-17, extraordinary efforts must be made to save these men. The U.S. Coast Guard positions the Cutter Northland, in a bay as close as possible to the crash site to contemplate options with Greenland’s uncooperative weather.
The determined path is to send a 3rd plane (the Grumman Duck) from the Northland piloted by Lieutenant John Pritchard with Radioman Benjamin Bottoms. They had initial success landing on the glacier and rescuing two crewmen and made a second trip to recover more survivors. Instead due to yet another tragedy on the ground, they hurriedly picked up Corporal Loren Howarth (another survivor of the initial B-17 crash turned rescuer) and planned to head back to the Northland immediately to get additional personal and equipment.
The unthinkable happened when that plane also crashed on its return to the Northland. It was determined after eyewitness accounts of the crash site that there were no survivors of the Duck.
Does this sound like a best selling book? Well – it actually is. “Frozen in Time” by Mitchell Zuckoff, tells the full true story of all three crashes and the final outcome on the frozen tundra that is Greenland in the winter of 1942-43. It also outlines the attempts that have been made since then to recover the Duck and the heroes onboard the craft to bring them home to their final resting place.
But that is not where this story ends...it’s where it begins. Long-time Woodinville resident, Christie Fisher, was on vacation in nearby (to Greenland) Iceland when she met some of the people that were traveling to an expedition.
Fisher was so intrigued with the story they shared that she decided to get involved.
That was two years ago, and now she’s getting ready to head to the massive island with this team situated between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans in hopes of recovering the Duck and its crew. Even if they don’t find the prize, she is focused on the journey and the educational aspect of the adventure.
Fisher graduated from Woodinville High School then the University of Arizona with a BA in Music. She continued her education receiving her MBA from the University of Baltimore. She works as the Director of Business Management for Microsoft, and volunteers her time as a mentor and enjoys working with students and veterans in particular. She is also now very involved with the small non-profit that she helped to create Global Exploration and Recovery – GEaR.
GEaR is team of passionate individuals that volunteer their time, money, and skills to come together oversees to deliver on the promise made to our Servicepersons - that they will not be left behind. They also maintain contact with the next of kin. In this case, it includes John Pritchard’s sister Nancy, who is 94, and who continues to hope that her brother’s body will be located and returned to his native soil.
GEaR is the entity heading to Greenland again this month. All of the members of the team (except Fisher) were part of the original expedition outlined in “Frozen in Time.” Fisher is the Board Secretary and a Director of GEaR.
For three weeks, Fisher will be based at small Inuit village with about 250 residents where her role will be community and educational engagement. She will be in contact with the exploration team on the ice cap and communicate with classrooms and followers to their expedition.
In addition to the obvious logistical planning for a trip of this magnitude, Fisher has been preparing physically as well. She’s been hiking with packs, trained in wilderness first aid, ventured to Alaska on a dog sledding trip, and cooking backpacking recipes that might come in handy. She shared that she is a vegetarian and knows that fresh fruits and vegetables are not a likely staple so she’ll need to improvise.
Meet the other active members of GEaR:
John Bradley is the Founder and President of GEaR, and he lives in Colorado. Bradley has been a mountain guide in and out of North America and has completed several missions in Greenland. He is trained in medical mountain rescue.
Francis Marley is the Vice President of GEaR and he lives in Alaska. Marley is a Captain in the Alaska Army National Guard (served in Afghanistan), and is active in the Alaska Mountain Rescue and Dive Rescue communities. He is trained in Wilderness First Response.
Jaana Gustafsson is the Geophysicist for the team. She lives in Stockholm, and is a land surveyor who leads ground-penetrating radar surveys in both urban and remote wilderness locations. She has been on several Greenland missions.
Nicholas Bratton is the Vice President of GEaR and lives in Seattle. Bratton is an experienced mountaineering guide and a former National Outdoor Leadership School instructor. He has served on two missions to Greenland. Although he will not be on the trip this summer, he is helping with planning logistics.
To learn more about GEaR and help this nonprofit’s mission by donating, visit www.globalexploration andrecovery.com. They also have a Facebook page Global Exploration and Recovery.
Editor’s Note: I was so intrigued with this story that I not only read the book “Frozen in Time” but I have asked Christie Fisher to provide the Woodinville Weekly with updates about her trip. As long as technology cooperates, we are planning on three submissions for each week she is onsite in Greenland from July 16-30. Please stay tuned!
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