Author: Merlin Anderson

ABC Run#127, 3-18-17

ABC Run #127 was Saturday, 3/19/17 at Robyn Walter’s home. Great event with a total of $825 donated by 42 runners that attended plus two runners that mailed a check. Thanks so much for supporting the McLean County Child Protection Network! If you are a State Farmer and you donated $25 or more, please submit your donation to State Farms matching program.

It was a good day to run – 37 degrees, cloudy, breezy. Runners chose between a 3-mile and a 6-mile route. Those that ran the six mile route got a refreshment stop (sports drink, water) at 3 miles. Kevin Fahling and Erin Furimsky turned this event into a 15 miler by clocking 9 miles before our official start, then were kind enough to slow down and let me run with them.  Back at the house, Robyn Walter and Gregg Chadwick were great hosts, organizing the food buffet and mixing mimosas. Once again, this was one of the most fantastic post-run food fests! Thanks much to the following runners for the great food:

Robyn Walter – spiced buckwheat pancakes, chocolate pumpkin muffins, mimosas
Gregg Chadwick – bubble & squeak (you’ll have to google this)
Meg Anderson – coffee cake, sausage/egg/hash brown casserole
Stacy Sheridan – egg/veggie casserole Dennis Roesch – bananas
Bruce Sutter – bagels & cream cheese
Katy MacMann – hulk muffins
Tammy Knippenberg – almond chocolate milk
Judy Bauman – fruit
Lisa Sparks – Watergate cake Kevin Fahling – chocolate chip cookies

Great event! Where else can you get such a great brunch with a great bunch of people and know that 100% of your donations go to a great cause?  We have now completed ten runs for the McLean County Child Protection Network (six of them hosted by Robyn & Gregg) with total donations of $7,918. The total for all 127 ABC Runs is $112,564. Thanks again for the food, donations, and friendship.

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ABC#126, 2-5-17, for Scott Early Learning Center

Another awesome day! This year, 54 participants gathered at Children’s Home + Aid to run and generously support children in our community with donations that totaled $900. Children’s Home + Aid will benefit even more when some of the State Farm employees/retirees apply under State Farm’s matching grant program. If you contributed by check (of $25 or more), please be sure to apply. This might make a couple hundred dollars difference!
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Laurel Schumacher whistled to get our attention so I could explain the course and then turn the duties over to our gracious host, Lisa Sparks, who thanked us, explained the Super Bowl quiz, recognized Kristen Dixon for her upcoming birthday, and introduced Laura Cordero, Development Assistant at Children’s Home + Aid. Laura thanked us and let us know how important our contributions are, especially this year when they are opening up more classroom space. Our contributions go directly to Scott Early Learning Center which provides affordable child care where traditional daycare may not be within reach.
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We gathered back at the Learning Center for post-run treats including birthday cake for Kristen.  There were many contributions but I was so busy taking photos that I don’t know who brought what except for the coffee cake and birthday cake from Meg Anderson, sausage/egg casserole from Stacy Sheridan, oatmeal-almond cookies from Laurel Schumacher, fruit from Lisa Sparks, and chocolate chip cookies from Kevin Fahling. Thanks so much to everyone! The final order of business for the day was the awarding of the “Super Bowl Party Pack” to Kristen Dixon and her dad, Scott Dixon, the winner of the Super Bowl trivia contest. Thanks to Meg Anderson for putting the party pack together.
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This is the ninth year we have conducted an ABC run for the Scott Early Learning Center.  This year’s $900 brings the nine-year total to $6,427.  The total for all 126 ABC runs is $111,739.  Thanks so much to everyone who has provided financial support, food, and encouragement.

ABC Run #127, for McLean County Child Protection Network, will be held Saturday, March 18 at the home of Robyn Walter and Greg Chadwick.

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ABC#125, 1-17-17, for Sugar Grove Nature Center

Another fun and successful ABC Run! A total of $838 was donated to Sugar Grove Nature Center, including $200 donated by the SHTRs (Shady Hollow Trail Runners), and donations from three other runners who could not make it to the ABC run after the date and location was changed from Sunday the 15th at Sugar Grove to Tuesday night at the Anderson home. The change was made because the driveway and parking lot at Sugar Grove Nature Center was a sheet of ice. In spite of the change, 37 participants showed up Tuesday night. Good turnout!

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The donations will be used toward the purchase of a new microscope camera with upgraded features such as a build-in-measuring element and a wireless connection.  Through a grant several years ago, Sugar Grove Nature Center purchased a camera that connects to a microscope, and then projects the image onto a television screen.  It has been enormously popular, and a program has even been built around its use. Everyone in class is able to see the subject without having to take turns at a microscope, and younger kids that don’t yet have the ability to use a microscope can still examine creatures, plants, and more up close. The moment they realize they are not watching a television show or movie, but an actual object or animal in real time is magical. During a winter class, we placed snow under the microscope and just watched it melt. It was mesmerizing for both kids and adults. Unfortunately, its age is showing.  While it does still project images, we are no longer able to take photographs or videos through the camera, and the power port has become loose, creating an unreliable connection.

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The evening’s running adventure was our neighborhood 4-mile course. I hope everyone was able to join with one of the regular Tuesday night runners to stay on course as we twisted and turned our way through the neighborhood streets.
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After the run, we were treated to a culinary adventure! Thanks to Meg Anderson for all her preparation, including the vegetable soup and the veggie tray. Thanks also to Randy Barnett (and Noodles & Company) for the chicken noodle soup, Sharri Pelarske for the chili, Robyn Walter for the spicy tomato basil soup, Bill Hahm for the apple crisp & ice cream, Laurel Schumacher for the chocolate chip cranberry cake, Jill Usiak for the fruit salad, Angela Funk for the Gatorade and the great variety of snack items, and Bryan Van Hook for the special root beer. Thanks so much to everyone that attended, contributed, brought food, and made it such a fun event!

The next ABC run (#126) will be Sunday, February 5 at/for Scott Early Learning Center.

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50-State Tandem Bike Challenge

For this, the 12th year of bets, I proposed getting a rider from each of twelve countries but Bob Brandt vetoed the idea because he thought that might be too easy. Instead, the challenge was to get a rider from each of the 50 states. To represent a state, riders had to (a) have been born in that state, (b) have lived there 12 years, or (c) currently live there. This had to be the toughest challenge yet! To find riders, I turned to the magic of social media and the concept of “six degrees of separation”.
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To make a long story short, Facebook friends got the job done, and I don’t think we even had to use all “six degrees of separation” (maybe just three degrees, a friend of a friend of a friend). We got all 50 states and even added Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic for extra credit. We celebrated with a party where Meg made pulled pork, Bob brought a couple of six-packs, and Gregg Chadwick (Mr. Mass.) gave me a 50-state quarter collection to commemorate the achievement.

What a year: 106 rides (49 rides with Meg), 60 different riders (35 new riders), 1,235 tandem miles (545 with Meg). Four riders rode more than once (Meg, Rebecca Payne, Kelly Bowers, LeAnn Poor). Five states had two riders (Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Wyoming). The farthest I had to travel was to Wyoming to ride with Donna Creditor (Ms. Delaware), Tanya Connors (Ms. New Hampshire), and Joseph Connors (Mr. Wyoming). The farthest anyone came here to ride was from China (Robin Schmidt teaches in China and was in the area visiting Anne Schmidt and other family). It was a wonderful odyssey. Thanks so much to everyone for all the great rides, the referrals, and great memories! Here are the riders, listed by state.

Alabama: Tom Lauritson
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laska: Tyler Lotz
Arizona: Dianna Yoder Doblosky
Arkansas: Jenna Ramey
California: Kelly Bowers
Colorado: Daniel Mestas
Connecticut: Chris Allison
Delaware: Donna Creditor
Florida: Gene Harding, Tanya Gianotti
Georgia: James Auten
Hawaii: Rualani Simpson
Idaho: Tina Techmanski
Illinois: Stacy Sheridan, Emily Gomalchak, Cojo Aforiwa
Indiana: Kevin McCarthy
Iowa: Keith Bowers, Missi Adams
Kansas: Christiana Reader
Kentucky: Mike Eckhoff
Louisiana: Carl Blomquist
Maine: Brigette Van Hook
Maryland: Deb McNamara
Massachusetts: Gregg Chadwick
Michigan: Paul Betts
Minnesota: Meg Anderson
Mississippi: Sarah Anne Cary Welsh
Missouri: Darla Schwertfeger
Montana: John Quindry
Nebraska: Aimee Dzieken
Nevada: Rob McNamara
New Hampshire: Tanya Connors
New Jersey: Erin Furimsky
New Mexico: Nicole Thornton
New York: Nancy Falk
North Carolina: Joy Williams
North Dakota: Chris Hamilton
Ohio: Deb Schumann, Becky Roesner
Oklahoma: Cheryl Dwyer
Oregon: Larry Schumacher
Pennsylvania: Susan DeGennaro
Rhode Island: Michelle White
South Carolina: Robin Schmidt
South Dakota: Diane Risius
Tennessee: Tony Brewster
Texas: Adriane Powell
Utah: LeAnn Poor
Vermont: Bridget McLeese Frerichs
Virginia: Rob Junkins
Washington: Rebecca Payne
West Virginia: Gisette Brewster
Wisconsin: Seanan Alyasiri
Wyoming: Joseph Connors, Tanya Anderson
Washington D.C.: Meta Mickens-Baker
Puerto Rico: Maura Toro-Morn
Dominican Republic: Melin de la Cruz

The 2017 challenge is the “International Triskaidekaphobia Tandem Challenge”. Triskaidekaphobia means “fear of the number 13”. This is the 13th annual bet and Bob has made it so difficult that I’m afraid of failure. Keeping with the “13” theme, I have to get a rider from 26 countries (13 times 2). Bob wouldn’t agree to 13 countries, so we doubled it. A rider can represent a country if (a) born in that country, (b) lived there for 13 years, or (c) currently lives there. Each ride has to be at least 13 kilometers. This is going to be great!

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ABC#124, for Adopt-A-Family

Epic day! Thanks so much to all 71 participants that came to the Adopt-A-Family Center on December 3 to support the Adopt-A-Family program with donations totaling $1,310. This will provide a great Christmas for our assigned family and provide funding toward one or two other families still on the waiting list.

At 8:30, Lisa Sparks thanked everyone and told us a little something about the family we are helping. Then Stacy Killian, a 29 year volunteer at Adopt-A-Family thanked us and told us more about the program and how it operates. It was a great experience to see the gifts and learn how they manage to provide for so many families in need. For more information on the Adopt-A-Family program, go to: http://www.childrenshomeandaid.org/holidaygiftdrive-central

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After a group picture, we all headed out for the 5-mile adventure, which Pat Sheridan informed me later that we actually ran down a moraine. It turns out the Adopt-A-Family Center is right at a high elevation point between two watersheds (Sugar Creek and Kickapoo Creek). We headed North, down the moraine toward Sugar Creek, took a loop around the Tipton Park trails, and came back up the moraine. Now, doesn’t that sound like an adventure?

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Back at the Adopt-A-Family Center, we were treated to a great breakfast highlighted by blueberry pancakes prepared by Jay Sparks and special blueberry assistant, Larry Schumacher. Rounding out the fare was coffee cake from Meg Anderson, breakfast casserole from Stacy Sheridan, muffins from Robyn Walter, yogurt/granola/fruit from Lisa Sparks, chocolate chip cookies from Kevin Fahling, rice pudding from Cathie Haab, and so much more (coffee, chocolate milk, bananas)! I didn’t get the names of all the food providers but it all so good!

During the breakfast, we were honored to welcome a group of about a dozen BRRC runners. What are BRRC runners? Let’s just say they are a secret running society that held their own 5K race and then joined us to support the Adopt-A-Family program. That was great!

We have completed twelve years of ABC runs and had another really great year.  Total contributions for the ten ABC runs in 2016 totaled $15,376.  The total for all 124 ABC runs is $110,001.   We have supported 28 different charities.  Here are the top 10 charities:
$16,367 – St. Jude (14 runs)
$14,553 – The Baby Fold (13 runs)
$10,347 – Timber Pointe Easter Seal Camp (7 runs)
$9,045 – The Seedling Theatre (7 runs)
$7,634 – Sugar Grove Nature Center (11 runs)
$7,093 – McLean County Child Protection Network (9 runs)
$6,239 – Heartland Head Start (9 runs)
$6,020 – Adopt-A-Family (7 runs)
$5,527 – Scott Early Learning Center (8 runs)
$5,223 – Boys & Girls Club (9 runs)

Thanks so much for all your support!

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ABC#123, for Boys & Girls Club

ABC #123 on November 12 generated an amazing $876 in donations for the Boys & Girls Club. Thanks so much to all 48 participants for your support and for all the great food and fun. The $876 donated this year is easily the most of any of the nine ABC runs for the Boys & Girls Club. The grand total for all nine runs is now $5,223.

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It was a great new venue, thanks to Stacie and Pat Sheridan for doing such a wonderful job of hosting!  The choice of running courses added a sense of adventure. To make sure runners knew where to go, Pat printed maps, marked the course with red and yellow ribbons, and personally led one of the three running choices. The choices were: 5-miles on pavement, 2.5 miles on pavement, and 5 miles on grass.

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ABC#123 also included door prizes, an auction, and a water bottle flipping contest.
The door prizes were awarded to Annette Lobdell (a pin-on compass) and Dave Ploense (an ABC shirt).
The auction was a cool ceramic art piece donated by Erin Furimsky. Lisa Sparks was the high bidder. Thanks, Erin and Lisa for giving the total donations a nice boost.
The top two in the water bottle flipping contest were Carrie Mack and Kevin Fahling.

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ABC Run #124 to benefit the Adopt-A-Family program will be held on Saturday, December 3 at the home of Lisa and Jay Sparks.  We hope to see you then.

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ABC Run #122, for Heartland Head Start

Super event at Sugar Grove Nature Center: 71 participants donated an awesome total of $1,590 to Heartland Head Start which will be used to upgrade their playgrounds! In our ninth run for Heartland, we easily topped the 2006 record of $698. Thanks so much to everyone for your support and a special thanks to Shady Hollow Trail Runners for the $500 donated in return for volunteering at their Evergreen Lake Ultra trail race. Several ABC runners and friends of Heartland Head Start spent a fun 5 hours volunteering. Volunteers included Deb Schumann, Brett Leifheit, Sharon Cochran, David & Darlene Weber, Meg & Merlin Anderson.

Thanks so much to our hosts: Angela Funk (Director, Sugar Grove Nature Center), Whitney Chesher  (Outreach & Communications Specialist at Heartland Head Start), Sharon Cochran (member of Friends of Heartland Head Start), and David & Darlene Weber (members of Friends of Heartland Head Start).

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We had a great mix of ABC run veterans and newbies. Among the newbies was a group from the Be Strong gym. Thanks, Drew Witted, for encouraging your group to join us. It was an inspiration to see Matt DeMatteo power his conventional wheelchair to a PR distance of 4 miles.

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The menu was awesome as usual with casseroles, coffee cake, bagels & cream cheese, fruit, cookies, snack items, coffee, orange juice, apple juice and so much more. With so many food contributions, I was unable to keep track of who brought what. Thanks to DoubleTree hotels for adding the batch of cookies.

The funds raised by all nine runs for Heartland add up to a heartwarming total of $6,239.   Thanks so much to every participant for your fellowship, sharing food, and generous financial support.  Your support helps Heartland Head Start achieve their mission to “enhance the lives of children and families by providing a comprehensive child and family development program for 3-5 year old children and their families who meet the federal guidelines in McLean and Livingston counties in Central Illinois.” For more on Heartland Head Start, visit http://heartlandheadstart.org/

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ABC Run#121, for Seedling Theatre

ABC Run #121 on August 13 was a great success. An amazing $1,035 was donated to Seedling Theatre thanks to the generosity of everyone involved. Thanks much to: (a) Laurel & Larry Schumacher for being awesome hosts. (b) 51 attendees (and 5 other contributors) that donated a total of $1,035. (c) Often Running, for donating several cool items for our drawing. (d) Connor Byrd, for donating four dozen free range eggs for our drawing. (e) Seedling Theatre for donating tickets for an upcoming performance to our drawing. (h) everyone who brought the delicious food! Too many to recall but Jeff Crumrine won the harvest basket that Laurel Schumacher gave at random to one of the food contributors.

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Seedling Theatre is a wonderful theatrical program for children & young adults & adults with disabilities, as well as their able bodied peers. Each year Donna Anhalt, the Seedling Theatre director, sends a heart-felt note in appreciation for all our support. This one says it best: “I don’t know quite how to say thank you in the most appropriate manner, so please just know from the bottom of my heart how grateful the entire Seedling Families are for what you are doing for their children. I listen to their stories quite frequently about how Seedling has affected their lives.  It is always heartwarming, occasionally teary-eyed and sometimes even funny. Believe me, these families are overwhelmed by the generosity of the donors for Seedling Theatre and sincerely appreciate your efforts.  So, from the depths of my heart…..thank you”.

ABC runs just keep rolling along. After 121 ABC runs, all of us who support ABC runs have collectively raised $106,225 to help 27 different local children’s charities. Seven of these ABC runs have generated a total of $9,045 for Seedling Theatre. Thanks a million to everyone who has supported these extremely worthwhile causes.

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ABC#120, for St. Jude on 7-17-16

ABC Run/Walk #120 was hosted by Meryl & Mike Brown on July 17. An awesome $2,000 was donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital thanks to the generosity of 29 attendees plus 14 runners that could not make it but donated anyway.  The donations will help members of the “We got the runs” team meet or exceed their fund-raising goals.  More importantly, the donations help kids by helping St. Jude provide free lifesaving care and also helping St. Jude continue its groundbreaking research.

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The venue was great: nice location, home, backyard, and pool. The weather was good for running but a storm blew in to end my plans to hop in the pool after eating and socializing.

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The course was a relatively ordinary adventure heading West on the Constitution Trail to the Audubon Gardens (2.5 miles from Meryl’s home). The menu was really great. Sorry I was so busy eating that I didn’t catch the names of all the food providers. Thanks to Meryl & Mike Brown for hosting and all who provided additional food.

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There were two special events at this run. One was the awarding of the traveling “ABC Top Dog” trophy to Melinda Cheek for her great support for ABC runs throughout the years. The second was having the opportunity to wish Kelly & Keith Bowers well as they move to Memphis. We will miss them greatly but look forward to seeing them now and then either here or in Memphis. You know, that Memphis Marathon/Half-Marathon/5K is a nice event.

We’ve held a total of fourteen ABC runs for St. Jude and the total of those runs is $16,367.  Thanks so much to everyone for all of your support!

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ABC#119/Multi-Sport Day, 5-21-16

Overwhelmed is the word for the day: 106 participants; 20 others donated for shirts even though they could not be there; $3,080 grand total donated to Easter Seals Timber Pointe Outdoor Center! This makes ABC#119/Multi-Sport Day at Timber Pointe on May 21 a huge success! Thanks so much to everyone who attended, donated, organized, brought food, and enhanced the day with your enthusiasm and friendship.
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The perfect weather made a great occasion for two special events: (1) wishing Jenny Keen well in her move to Colorado next month, and (2) celebrating passing the $100K mark in total donations over the course of the first 118 ABC runs. This $3,080 gives us a great start on the next $100K. I’m at a bit of a loss for words to describe my appreciation for this outpouring of support you all give for children in this area. With regard to this event, perhaps Kevin McCarthy stated it best in his Facebook message which I will repeat here (with updated numbers in parenthesis).

“Thank You! Today I am overwhelmed. Over 100 people came out to the Multi-Sport Training Day to enjoy friendship and community and to support children with developmental needs. Friends from different clubs, with different affiliations were all in one place to enjoy being together and supporting our community. A truly great day!

Through the wonderful generosity of those that joined us, we raised over $2,800 ($3,080) for Timber Pointe Outdoor Center and Easter Seals. And since we started this fun idea, Multi-Sport Day & ABC Runs have generated over $10,000 dollars for Timber Pointe and Easter Seals.

There are many to thank. The principal organizers are Merlin & Meg Anderson (ABC runs & Lake Run Club – 11 years of ABC!), John Pratt (Masters Swimming & Lake Run Club), Colleen Klein (Tri-mom events, Tri-Shark Triathlon), and yours truly Kevin McCarthy (Tri-Shark Triathlon Club and Lake Run Club). But this is truly a team event with many helping to setup the swim course, set out beverages on the run course, lead bike routes, lead trail runs, man the grill, shop for food, order and deliver supplies, line up lifeguards, supply swim caps, ensure participant safety, etc.

And a special thank you to Often Running and Mike’s Collision Center for sponsoring the ABC Run t-shirts that celebrate and commemorate over $100,000 of donations to local children charities. ABC Runs, the invention of Merlin Anderson, has been operating for 11 years. Each run aims to raise funds for a specific, local, children’s charity. We are thrilled to have Adventures Benefiting Children (ABC) be part of the Multi-Sport Training Day again this year. Thank You!”

ABC Run #120 to benefit St. Jude will be on Sunday, July 24 at 7:30 AM (doors open at 7:00) at Meryl Brown’s home.

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