289 days: Hey, (St.) Jude

Quick recap: I have a plan to raise $10,000 for some awesome organizations by Sept. 22, 2013 – the day I run in Ironman Lake Tahoe. Over two months in and so far we are on track. Raised so far: $1,740!

The holiday season is a time for giving. A time for family. Sharing special moments with those you love.

Before I tell the story, I’ll spoil it with the punchline so it doesn’t get lost. This post is all about raising money for the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital – and the inspiration why it has been added to the Tri-ing for a Challenge (TFAC) cause. Please consider making a donation to this effort here.

Now, the story.

Two of the biggest supporters and inspirations of this entire Tri-ing for a Challenge effort are my dad and stepmom – Papa Jeff and Suzanne.

Papa Jeff and Suzanne made the trip to Napa - just to watch me race in my first half Ironman distance event.

Papa Jeff and Suzanne made the trip last May to Napa – just to watch me race and support me in my first half Ironman distance event. And then in the 2012 Lake Stevens 70.3… and they’ll be at Lake Tahoe… and everywhere else.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to spend this holiday season with PJ and Suzanne. Then again, we did a great job celebrating the holidays with them last year, as demonstrated in this picture:

We spent last Christmas with PJ and Suzanne in Hawaii. Here we are on Christmas morning after a lovely holiday lunch buffet (and before I sliced my hand open during the last snorkel trip before catching our plane home... with a visit to the hospital for stitches!)

We spent last Christmas with PJ and Suzanne in Hawaii. Here we are on Christmas morning after a lovely holiday brunch (a few hours before I sliced my hand open during the last snorkel session mere hours before catching our plane home… with a visit to the hospital for stitches!)

Over the past dozen years PJ and Suzanne started and built a successful company with, literally, an exhaustive amount of blood, sweat, and tears. And more than a few torn muscles and popped tendons. (Yeah, Papa Jeff has an issue with understanding his physical limits sometimes… a trait unique to just him in the Oram bloodline, right?). There were a ridiculous number of hurdles and immensely tough times that they had to fight through in order to build a stable and profitable company.

For the past several years I’ve made a pilgrimage home in the month of July to visit and, of course, squeeze in a few races. It has become a tradition that I hold very dear and look forward to every year. While there I normally set up camp in one of the rooms at their office and work from there – the miracles of modern technology allow me to function via video and audio conferences – many of my colleagues don’t even know that I am working from Washington and am not in my own house in beachland California.

Their company has grown over the past few years. They started really small… and are still pretty small. But boy do they do some amazing things. And through it all, I have been ridiculously impressed by their team. I’ve come to really enjoy my summer workdays spent at my “remote office”. Every single person at Oramac is like family. Office doors are always open. I am always greeted with a warm handshake and hugs, even when I walk through the door completely ensconced head to toe in Lycra and covered in road grime and sweat while in the middle of a long bike ride (if you’ve never ridden your bike in the Pacific Northwest, particularly in the Portland metropolitan area, you are missing out on something truly special).

Even more amazing to me, in this period of harsh debate about fiscal cliffs, employee healthcare coverage, and corporate belt tightening, they have taken care of their employees from day one. They pay a fair wage. They provide ridiculously generous benefits and retirement packages. The wealth is shared – particularly in the early years when things were tight, they always made sure that everybody was taken care of… often at their own expense and loss.

Every year they throw an epic and legendary Christmas party for their employees and their families. They do it right! This time it is dinner, party, and overnight stay at one of the McMenamins… Yeah, super fun! Traditionally at the annual Christmas fiesta the food and beverages flow freely, and gifts exchange hands. Lovely gifts that are truly appreciated. But this year Papa Jeff and Suzanne have asked for something a little different.

This year, instead of gifts, they have instead asked that donations be made to an organization they support, the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. And, as I’ve said before (and will iterate many times over the next 289 days and beyond) they are two of my biggest supporters – be it in this TFAC effort or anything else in life – and also want to help support our cause.

So, we’ve set up a page on Crowdrise to collect these donations for St. Jude’s. Now, I know that many of you reading this post aren’t employees at their company. But many of you know Papa Jeff and Suzanne, and how truly awesome they are… and how much they mean to me… so I am posting this just in case you wanted to pass along a Christmas “hello” or “thanks” or “good wishes” to two of the people that mean the very most in my world. Please consider making a donation to St. Jude’s noble effort here.

As additional enticement…

Such a great song. That sure put me in the giving spirit! But, oops, that’s the wrong Jude! Let’s try this again.

The aims of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are truly noble:

The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.

I am more than glad to add this to the list of organizations supported by our TFAC effort.

Tri-ing for a Challenge is on Facebook! Like us! We like you…

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