Category Archives: IV- Pics

UCP Life Without Limits 5K / April Race & open call for support

My scheduled race for April is where I really want to focus on here. The UCP Life Without Limits 5K. I blogged about this one last year as well, but due to a nightmarish night immediately prior to the race that involved taking my 11 month old daughter to the ER and being there all night I ended up missing the actual race. Everything turned out to be ok with her by the way; but that was one night I will not forget for a long time. But that was then, and I am looking to talk about the now.
So my take on the story is this:  If you follow my blog or running facebook page you have no doubt heard me go on about my Uncle Mario who has served as a running mentor and sounding board to me over the past year and a half. What you may not know is how big a part in my life he and his family (my Aunt Andrea and cousins Madison and Ashley) really play. Tessa spends one day with Aunt “Drea”, as she calls her, every week, as well as Uncle Mario and their amazing daughter Madison. (And Ash when she’s home from college)

You’ll see in the message below, but long story short, my cousin Madison has Cerebral Palsy, and as such, their family has long been associated with United Cerebral Palsy of Philadelphia (or UCP for short). UCP stepped in and provided assistance on multiple levels, impacting them for the positive right from the start. They explain it much more eloquently than I ever could below. What I can say though is that the benefits of this association have been incredible. Its one thing to know that an organization is out there doing good for others, it’s entirely another to see first hand the “others” that they are helping and know that it’s your own family. So needless to say, this is a cause I will be supporting every year.

Every year UCP puts together a fundraiser 5K and starting last year, my family decided to put together a team. It was such a huge success that not only are they doing it again this year, but UCP has made my Aunt Andrea and Madison the official ambassadors for the 2013 race!

I’ll actually let Madison’s Mom’s (my Aunt Andrea) words speak for themselves here: *taken directly from the webpage I am about to refer you to* (

Madison, is a beautiful 14 year old girl. Due to complications at birth, Madison suffered brain damage and as a result, has cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, and limited verbal communication skills. She received early intervention services at UCP and when she turned five, although old enough to enter kindergarten, I decided to keep her at UCP for an additional year, an option available to children with special needs. Madison is a proud graduate of UCP Best Friends early childhood program.

I cannot adequately put into words what UCP means to our family. UCP has helped us time and time again with various issues that have developed with Madison. UCP’s Community Social Services department has helped us obtain the vital services that Madison needs. We also received assistance early on with Madison’s feeding issues and how to go about obtaining durable medical equipment.

Prior to Madison attending elementary school, UCP helped us advocate for there to be a “one-on-one” aid in the classroom with Madison, which helps her focus on learning. This support has had a big impact on her success at school. As a family, we have participated in UCPs 5K for years.

Because UCP is such a valued resource to our family, last year, we decided to put together a team, Miles for Maddie. We were 55 members strong! Our family and friends were thrilled to participate because they know how much UCP means to us. We were also very successful in our fundraising efforts. It gave us an opportunity to give back to this wonderful organization that does so much for individuals with disabilities. It also gave us a chance to honor Madison who has taught us so much about life. She is constantly reminds us that love and happiness are most important.

I invite you to join us at this year’s 5K. It will be held on Thursday, April 25. Madison will be in her stroller wearing a big smile as she participates in this fun event. You will be so glad you did!

As you can see, this is much more than just another 5K to me. While I am not in the habit of blindly asking for donations or ramming every cause that comes along down your throats, the concept of giving back to the charities that really appeal to me is becoming more and more attractive, and there will never be a charity that can move me to action like the UCP. So please, if can, take a moment, click on the link ( and consider donating something to help this incredibly important charity. I can personally vouch for the benefits that you will be helping to achieve, and they are pretty awesome and incredibly helpful to both my family and countless other families experiencing the same challenges in caring for their loved ones who are dealing with the challenges that Cerebral Palsy presents. Thank you very much.

In addition to all that, consider this as open call to all my friends and family (just like last year) to come out and join us and our team “Miles For Maddie”. It’s a 5K on a late April night, right in front of the Art Museum and this time I promise I will actually show up. (barring any late night ER visits, of course) Last year our family and friends made some serious waves with a 55+ member team, and we are looking to match that showing and improve upon it this time around. And I have put my hand up to design the logo that will go on our team t-shirts so you will have an “Andy Original” T to go along with the one you get from the race. It’s going to be a great time, so get your asses out there and join us.

On a side note, since I have discussed time goals for all my other races to date, my goal for this one is simply to go and have fun. Like I’ve said, our team is made up of friends and family, so I will be more concerned with going out and having a great time than breaking any personal records. If I have to set a goal, I’ll set it for the same as I had last year: I’ll push for a Sub-30 min 5K. If any team member wants to challenge me and/or partner up to hit another goal I’m game, but otherwise this one is all about having a great time.

I’ll have a dedicated post just for The Broad Street Run coming up soon.

But I think there has been more than enough huge news coming out of this blog over the past 24 hours.

Thanks again for reading, and as always, until next time take it easy.
Andy (and Madison!)

Madison @ UCP 5K 2011

Chilly Cheeks Review II (and pictures)

As promised, this is Recap #2 for the Chilly Cheeks.
Like I said before, the response was completely awesome, and there were so many stories to choose from, so I just took a small sampling of emails, a variety of different stories to highlight. I tried to summarize things for each of these, but in the end, it seems best to me to let their stories speak for themselves. So a quick intro to each and then the stories, in their own words… followed by a collection of pictures of Chilly Cheeks Runners!

You are all awesome. Thanks again for participating.

So without any further rambling, some of our badass runners:

How fantastic is this? Sarah up in Canada (The race is called the Chilly Cheeks, of COURSE we have some Canadians running with us) turned this into a Family Event! Such a fantastic story about getting active and setting the stage to get kids active too! I am a huge supporter of getting kids active and more healthy, because quite frankly, the only thing better -fitness wise- than losing 125 pounds and getting healthier as an adult is not having to lose 125 pounds in the first place. Rock on Sarah (and Henry and Tommy and Mia), you are awesome. Seriously.

Hi Andy!
We had a really great run as a family here in Calgary, Canada. The sun was shining and it was very warm for this time of year. We took the dog, too. I had to bribe the older boys with dinner at Five Guys to get them going, but once we were all out together, they had a great time. The three kids who ran were Henry, 13, Tommy, 12, and Mia, 9. They all finished together, and the time was 45:23. We did use charity miles, and ran for the Wounded Warrior Project. I am including a picture from our wonderful run. This is everyone in the home stretch. Thanks again for organizing this fun event. It’s hard to believe something that benefits others and is so healthy for us could also be such a fun family event that we will be talking about for years to come!!!
Sarah in Calgary

Ok, how do you not love this story? Yes, I’m a sucker for dogs, but just based on the first paragraph of this email you can’t tell me that Jackie does not sound like someone who you wouldn’t want to sit down and share a beer/coffee (whatever your thing is…) with. Just funny and good natured and happy. When you take that and couple it with the good that she is trying to put back out into the world through her new blog and twitter account, I had to share this and try to help her out to get as much exposure as I can muster. Awesome Idea and even better mantra (per her website): “We can’t change the world individually, but we can each make our own dent. Even the smallest effort will make a difference and lead to a better world”. Freaking Fantastic.

Hey Andy!
Milo and I had a great time doing the 5k! I used the CharityMiles app to also donate to the ASPCA. In addition to using the app to track my distance and time, I used my GPS watch. According to the GPS watch we did 3.12 in 1:14:14, including stopping time for doggy business, meeting new friends when we passed the dog park and a short confrontation with a wooden bear statue. This whole thing was more about walking a 5k for a good cause than getting a good time.
I also attached a few pics of Milo in his bib, and the two of us pre-walk.
This event was kinda the kick off point for a blog/twitter that’s been in the works for awhile called “Make Your Dent”; a philanthropy and community service based blog and twitter. Although the blog is still under finishing construction and nothing is posted yet (THE SITE NOW HAS CONTENT, FYI), I plan on launching the blog and making a post about the 5k this weekend. Feel free to check it out! @makeyourdent or
Thank you again for organizing this event! I think it’s a really cool and different idea, and it was a lot of fun to participate in!

Thanks, Jaclyn and Milo in KY

Jackie & Milo BastardiMILO

And you want to talk about inspiration and dedication? Look no further. When this email came in I read it on my phone, and it literally stopped me in my tracks. Its stories like this that keep me grounded and keep things in perspective. Admittedly, when you lose the weight and change your body like I did I do get a lot of people commenting on it and complimenting me, but then I read something like this and I realize that what I have gone through is literally nothing at all compared to what people like Stephanie have had to overcome. We are talking the very recent past here. December. As in, 2 months ago December. I know a lot of tough people, but even they would be hard pressed to pull this off. This is the real story of determination and self improvement. And stories like this are what inspire me, tell me to keep pushing because there is always something more that can be done. (…and proof positive that a little stubbornness CAN be a good thing!)

Hi Andy!
I did my 5k this morning! My official time was 38:45. Was my 1st virtual race and actually my first 5k ever! Not the best time ever, but Ill give ya a quick background as to why today was such a huge deal for me 🙂
Running helped me lose 66 lbs after my third baby was born. I learned to LOVE it! It became a way of life for me. Well my life changed very much recently, when on December 6th at 31 years old I had a stroke. No doctor knows why. I am very healthy otherwise. I was in the hospital for 4 days, and could not walk at all right after it happened. Left the hospital with a cane & just finished up 7 weeks of physical and occupational therapy. And now things are basically back to normal. Lots of determination (and I’m maybe a little stubborn too) 😉 But anyway, today’s ‘race’ was the 1st of many for me!
Stephanie in ND

Don’t call it a comeback. All that AND this was her first 5K on top of it all!

…and continuing along the lines of a First 5K…
In addition to Stephanie, there were a bunch more people who decided to make the Chilly Cheeks their first 5K!
A few of those are:
· My good friend Shawna in PA (SO proud of you! You rocked it!)
· Krystin in NJ
· Tiffani in WA

Not to mention there were numerous PRs and so many more fantastic stories, I just had to pick a small sampling to share, otherwise this post would go on forever.

Also below, please see my collection of all the pictures submitted by the awesome runners of the Chilly Cheeks!
Runner Photo Grid

Photo Update: December 2012 Edition- The Year Over Year Photo Update

So here we are, Monthly Update # 13, the one year annual update.

I have been saying for past few updates that things are closing in on a year, but now it’s finally here and I am able to say: What a difference a year makes.

December 9, 2011 vs. December 9, 2012

I look back at that “before” picture and it’s a little bit shocking to me. It looks fake or something now. I never felt that big, I was just living life.

I look at that guy and I was happy in some aspects of my life: most actually, but not so much in others and just starting to take steps to fix it. At the time I took that picture, I had just lost my first 10 pounds and I knew I was starting out on something big, but damn I had no idea what I was in for. I’ve been down the road of reflecting back on the past year multiple times now so I won’t rehash it, but suffice to say that it has been one hell of a ride, and the effects of the changes that have occurred during the past year (both physically and mentally) will be felt long into my future.

It’s pretty cool to see the difference, and I have a little month by month picture update in the works to watch the progression as it unfolded over the past year, and as soon as I get a chance to sit down at the computer I’ll do it up right.

So with the exception of that month by month recap of sorts this will be the last photo update, the major changes are done, but I wanted to see it through and get the real year over year comparison.

So really I just want to take this opportunity to say thanks again for coming along with me; I get stats on what pages are viewed on any given day and the photo updates are always one of the most consistently viewed offerings I put out there.

So before I get all flowery and weepy here I will digress and get back to business…

For the final time:

Photo Update: December 2012 Edition- The Year Over Year Update . 12/9/2012: 205 Pounds