Archive for December, 2007

Go With the Flow

The Pediatric Children’s Cancer Foundation sent an email last week to some local families about tickets for Brad Richards suite for 2 different hockey games. I sent the response 12 hours later expecting all the seats to be gone, but low and behold, we scored 5. It turns out the tickets for the Saturday game were for the following week (today) and that the game was a 1pm game. 1 pm game = perfection. After enjoying a game in Brad’s suite with his wonderful assistant Kasey Dowd, Brad invites the families to come down outside the locker room to himself and other players. Most games start at 7 pm at the earliest ending around 10pm finishing the meet and greet around 11pm. This means the kids are worn out before the game is even over and grouchiness ensues.


A 1pm game eliminates the late hour, with the game ending around 4 pm. Having just been to the Lightning Foundation party with Brad as our Santa Claus, we had lots of pictures for him to sign of him with us. The boys even received some hockey cards from Santa and Brad was one of the cards along with Vinny LeCavalier. My boss is a huge hockey fan and has season tickets to the Lightning. At the start of the 3rd period, I went down and brought John, Jeannie and their son Dominic up to the suite so they could come down to the locker room with us after the game.

The game was a rough physical game against the hated Philadelphia Flyers. Why is it that all fans of every sport in Philadelphia are complete moron jerks? Anywho, all the calls went against the Lightning, (Marty got called for cross checking while he was lying on his face in front of our goal. Uhhhh. What? The ref forgot his glasses I guess.) I though we (like I am part of the team now) outplayed the Flyers, the Lightning did out shoot them, but the score board at the end of the game read 4-2 bad guys win.

Kasey herded all of us down the freight elevator, there were so many families today it took 3 trips. The locker room area was a circus. Afternoon game = lots of people outside the locker room + the reason for the afternoon game was a college hockey tournament being held at the forum today and Sunday. We were moved to a room called Studio 54 far away from the locker room. It is the lounge area for the Lightning Energy Team ( a group of beautiful, fit 20 somethings, that run around on the ice between periods doing all the fun stuff). We got to see the Flyers walk by on the way out the door in their custom fit suits. Kasey then informed us that there was a players only meeting after the game.


Oh well, at least we are in a room with a few leather couches and 2 big screen tv’s. Waiting waiting waiting. Ooooh. Looking through the windo in the door down the hallway, I see Andre Roy and his family walking out. I bolted past the security guard assigned to keep us from getting into trouble and out the door. I stop Andre and his wife and 2 year old daughter and have him sign the picture of he and Bowen. He laughed at the picture and his wife asked were did we get that picture? I politely reminded her that we were at the Christmas Party with them on the 16th and she laughed too.

Partial mission accomplished! A few minutes later I see one of the goalies walking past Johan “Homer” Holmqvist (yes, it is supposed to be qvist). I shot past the guard again with my cat like speed out the door and shouted “Hey Homer!” He turned and I asked if he could come in and meet the other families. At this point a rather short older security guiard hustled over to me and told me I couldn’t bother the players. He looked to be an old retired Marine Drill instructor that would my rear if I pushed it any further. I shouted, “Homer it s for Cancer Kids.” But since I think he only speaks Swedish he kept on walking. I get into trouble where ever I go.

“Where is My Brad?” When Brad walked in the room Adelaine walked right up top him and asked, “Do you think you could get me some chicken fingers.” He did take the boys to get their food at the foundation party 2 weeks earlier, so I guess she decided it was her turn.

One of the Lightning announcers came into the room a few minutes later and let us know that the first team meeting had ended, but some of the guys were having another meeting. With Brad being one of the team leaders, of course he needs to be in all the meetings. So we waited. The first college hockey game started Notre Dame vs UMass. The room we were in was next to the zamboni parking which is next to the ice. The kids and parents kept peaking out until the announcer finally invited us to go stand at the glass and watch the game while we waited.


Meanwhile my bosses 3 year old son Dominic, befriended the announcer to the point that the announcer decided that Dominic was going to help him start the tricycle race at the end of the 2nd period of the first college game. “Ready, Set, GO!”

Did you get that time frame? End of the second period of the next game, with an hour break between the 2 games. Half the families had dropped out of the “Survivor: Get to Talk to Brad Richards” saga. We did experience a hockey game from ice level and from behind the scenes for an unbelievable unforgettably fun day!

Low and behold less than 5 minutes later, In comes Kasey and Brad! Brad looked a little down, I can’t see why, only 3 hours of meetings after a tough physical loss against a team that you outplayed, but still lost to. As soon as he saw me though, Brad’s eyes lit up. He then shoved me down and went and gave Angela a big hug. Wait, that’s what Angela wished he had done. He asked me with a big grin how Christmas had gone and if we had gotten a Wii. He then went into the room and Angela did give him a big hug. We stood and talked to him for several minutes while all the other families just stood there waiting there turn. Hey, Brad is like Uncle Brad at this point. We got more pictures with Brad and then stepped out of the way so everyone else could have a turn.

Try keeping your clothes on honey.

When we were walking out @ 6:51pm, Jeannie realized that Kasey used to be the Season Ticket holder account representative that they used to talk to before she started working for Brad. Kasey’s cousin is 14 year old golf phenom, Dakoda Dowd Dakoda lost her mom Kelly Jo to a breast cancer relapse earlier this year. Kelly Jo did get to see Dakoda in her first LPGA event where she birdied the first hole!

Kasey did let us know that she and Brad both went to the toy store to get the mountain of gifts that the kids received and that he loves doing that. She did have to try a few additional times to get the Hot Wheels game for the Smart Cycle.


Adelaine had a treatment Thursday and started the latest round of steroids. She also got antibiotics for some “yucky ears”. Mason has thrown up 4 times tonight and we had planned on going to Give Kids the World for Sunday & Monday. Pray that he feels better and that it was nothing contagious, as we were with several kids with compromised immune systems today. Bowen is feeling good. He has really made a big transformation the past couple months into maturity. I think it is the fact that he gets to hang out with Mason and his buddies while waiting for Mom to pick them up. Twins, Max and Myles along with Mason & Bowen have a lot of fun at the car circle and at soccer, as the twins are on Mason’s team. Angela is lookin great as skinny as ever, she finally is getting over a nagging cough that sh has had since Thanksgiving. Well, I have started the exercise regimen rather slowly. I have cutout the late night snacks and plan on getting much more aggressive after the 1st. Its no fun to start now. We still have leftovers from the bacon wrapped turkey I made for Christmas dinner. Oh yeah, it tasted even better than it sounds.


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Sounds like Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Angela and I saved money up for months for a big splurge for Christmas. I was able to find this gift until wii had the money put together. I went to ToysRUs, Target, Circuit City, Best Buy & K-Mart as soon as they opened on Sunday Dec 16th as this was the first Sunday we had the entire nut saved up. I found out that not only does everyone else want this gift, but most people that are getting one actually camped out overnight in order to be first in line. If you remember Saturday night Dec 15th there was a huge storm that came through and it must have been horrible sitting in lawn chairs through that storm that night. I did see a family from Southside Soccer/Bay Point that had a voucher @ ToysRUs. They were one of the lucky ones (if you consider spending the night on the sidewalk in a tropical storm lucky).

My office is next door to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart puts this gift out as soon as it is received. I had tracked the receiving times and dates and determined that Tuesdays between noon & 2 pm was the time that this gift was usually received. Well Tuesday Dec 18th, I decided to run some errands at lunch about 5 miles from the office. I received an emergency phone call from one of my co-workers that he had seen someone walking back to the office with the same gift I was searching for. I hit speed dial #1 on the cell phone and went straight to Wal-Mart’s electronic dept. They received 6 and had 4 left and they are not allowed to hold any, even for 15 minutes. I hit the gas on the car and dialed my beautiful bride. When she answered the phone, I could tell that I had awoken her from a nap with Adelaine. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Let a sleeping mama bear lie”? Well, I yelled that she was closer and that this was our last chance to score this gift before Christmas! She woke up our sick kid and sped to Walmart. I arrived not knowing if she had made it yet and sprint through the parking lot through the store to the electronics dept. I actually received an injury on the turn from seasonal to the toy dept. I clipped a shelf full speed with my shoulder. I spun off it like Barry Sanders, but I knew that would smart later. I ran to the desk in electronics satnding behind a lady shopper that was debating the price on some chotsky with the clerk. I waited and waited and waited. An eternity of what had to be at least 2 minutes before I rudely interrupted with, “Do you have any Wii’s left?” The clerk looked at me and said, “No, the last one went less than 5 minutes ago.” I walked away dejected. I was considering goin to the parking lot and hijacking the dude that got the last one. Then Angela called my cell phone and told me that she didn’t score one either.

I went back to the office dejected. I had the cash in my pocket, the gift had been within 1000 feet of me on the day I knew it would have been there. Uuuuggghhhhhh…

Angela called me 10 minutes later telling me that she called the Tyrone store they had 6 and that I needed to get my butt there now. I actually thought she was pranking me in order to get back at me for waking her from her nap. I went anyway of course. I parked outside of the garden dept did the whole sprint thing (no injuries this time) went straight to the desk and rudely interrupted without even waiting. The clerk smiled, the most beautiful smile I have ever seen on a balding overweight 60 plus year old man and said, “yes, but…” Oh, here comes the but, I thought… “, but you can only buy one.” ONLY?!?!? That’s all I want is one. He reached down inside a plain brown box and pulled out the Holy Grail of Christmas 2007, a Ninendo Wii purchased retail without sleeping in a lawn chair overnight in a parking lot. He rang it up, I paid cash, and I actually asked him, in a Joe Namath – Susy Colbert way “Can I kiss you?” He looked at me in a – this is my first day in prison and I just had my first request for a kiss look. He then pointed at his female manager and, “She is much prettier than I am. You should kiss her.”

WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO!!! The heavens had parted the Angels were rejoicing I was dancing down the aisles like Fred Astaire. I called Angela to inform her that I had beat her there and that I scored one. She came in anyway to hopefully buy a second and in the spirit of a capitalistic Christmas purchase a second Wii to resell on Ebay for more than double the retail price. It turns out the got the 5th Wii and the lady right behind me at the checkout had purchased the sixth. Oh well. No need to be greedy. We reached the summit of Christmas.

Summit of Christmas?!?! What’s wrong with me. Jesus is the summit. The Wii is simply a wonderful present for my kids that have gone through so much.

Yes, Angela and I did test the Wii Tuesday night. I played the boxing game that comes with the Wii for 2 hours. Angela enjoyed the tennis game for a while. My arms were so sore the next day, it hurt to reach up and wash my hair! Working out while playing a video game, Brilliant!

We had up to this point hinted that Santa might not be able to get a Wii for Christmas because he could only make so many and all the boys and girls wanted one. Yeah we twisted the screws on that one up to the bedtime Christmas Eve.

The Wii is awesome. I videoed the first boxing match the boys played and it is hilarious. I will figure out how to post it on youtube and let you know when we do.

When you can get your hands on one, I recommend doing so. That first night I tried it, I felt like the first time I played my first Nintendo that my brother and I received Christmas 1984 @ the age of 10. Yes, Mario is still the coolest Nintendo character. Now, you can surf the internet, check the weather, build a Mii (a character that you design to use as your player for many of the games, that can look like you if you desire), play video games while getting in shape and all kinds of other cool things we haven’t figured out yet. Wii will post more about our wonderful Christmas, but I have been holding this one in for a week now.



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From Kate’s Blog

From Kate’s blog:

December 24, 2007 at 07:39 AM EST
Yesterday Kate was released from PICU and move to the neuro-ward at Miami Children’s Hospital. When I arrived back at the hospital yesterday afternoon, Kate was walking around the third floor with her sister, Belen, her cousins, Juliana and Crystal. I couldn’t believe it. I stopped Kate in the hallway and took a look at her. She didn’t have any swelling of the eyes or face, she was walking fine, her bubbly personality was back and she was on her way to eat a hot dog for dinner.

Clearly, this is our Miracle on 62nd Avenue (that’s where the hospital is located).

To top it off, Kate will be home for Christmas. She’ll be released tomorrow!

Kate will have an MRI today and I’ll be spending tonight at the hospital. Basi and Belen will probably spend the night at her sister’s house. And once Kate is released, we’ll all meet up for Christmas day. Basi has many more details about the last 36 hours, but so far, our prayers have been heard, and Kate appears to be doing absolutely fantastic.

Although our stay in PICU was short, we managed to find ourselves praying for the other kids (in much worse condition than Kate) and for their families.

Basi will provide a more detailed update later. Thanks again for the prayers and continued support.

Praise God!

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Here is Angela’s annual Christmas Newsletter:


Acai berry-Has the highest levels of antioxidants, we take it everyday!
Broken toe- Doug broke his big toe and had to wear an entire leg brace!
CCC-Children’s Cancer Center of Tampa, they have been a rock for us!
Daisy-The Puppy Boutique donated a poodle to Adelaine. She’s our new baby girl and oh yes, she has her nails painted! We got her just before Thanksgiving.
Everyone has hair! -Last year Adelaine was bald, now she has luscious blond curls! Friends-You have done so much for us, God used each of you, thank you!
GPS-Mason announces how many minutes & seconds we have to arrive before we’re late & points out each turn. He also memorizes everything on the grocery list. He’s like having a living, breathing Palm Pilot/GPS! We’d be lost w/out him!
Hydrogen Peroxide-We use it to clean the kitchen and bath, whiten our whites and brighten our teeth, wash our fruits and veggies, clean the windows and even bathe Daisy! It is trusted by hospitals as a safe, strong, non-toxic disinfectant!
Inspired- Bowen wants to work at PetSmart in the doggy dept. after college!
JESUS- We are here because of You. Happy birthday, we love You!
Kite-This year’s photo was taken at the Children’s Cancer Center garden, their motto… “because kids should fly kites, not fight cancer”!
Learning- Both boys are blessed with wonderful teachers and enjoy Bay Point!
Motto-Twice a day, we take MonaVie. Our family motto, “MonaVie changed me!”
New Hobby-Bowen has developed a love for drawing & he’s really good at it!
Over the River and Through the Woods-Only 9 more months of treatment!
Pet Therapy Dog- Daisy is in training so she can bring joy to sick kids.
Question-“Mom, why don’t you watch Okra and Dr. Pepper on TV any more?”… (Those were the days! In 2007 there was never enough time, but that’s ok)!
Raw Organic Veggies and Fruit-Antioxidants, part of the Powell’s daily diet.
Strong-Adelaine says, “Satan gave me cancer but I beat him. Jesus made me brave and strong.” She goes into the boys’ room when it’s dark and turns on the light for them! Thanks for ALL your prayers, she is just amazing!
Trip-Memorial Day weekend Angela took a vacation with Katherine from Atlanta!
Ugly-We recently gathered the scarves to give away. Seeing them made us sick!
Vacation-The Dream Fund sent us on a magical one to Disney, we really needed it!
Water-We refill Perrier water bottles instead of the plastic ones which can leak toxins. Mason says,” Mom, everyone thinks I’m drinking beer!”
X- on bad health! Adelaine,” I made healfy choices today, so can I a lollypop”?
Young Astronaut’s Club-Mason is learning so much, he points out constellations!
Z best cure is prevention! We pray everyday for the health of our family & yours!

Merry Christmas

Doug, Angela, Mason, Bowen, Adelaine & Daisy Powell

P.S. Remember to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. HE is the reason for this and every season

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Carter Gaddis from the Tampa Tribune interviewed Angela before the Lightning Foundation Christmas party last Saturday. Here is a link to the story and the actual story. I hope I don’t get in trouble for this, i give all the credit to Carter and … charities/

Pro Teams Have Big Impact On Charities

Published: December 23, 2007

TAMPA – When confronted with the choice of losing his job at a Winter Haven warehouse or spending as much time as possible at the hospital with his cancer-stricken daughter, Michael Gates never flinched.

“There was no decision, in my eyes, to make,” Gates said.

The hospital it was, even though it meant the family would have to move in with Gates’ mother in Lakeland while Christina Gates, now 14, underwent extensive, costly and time-consuming treatment for leukemia at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

“We kind of lost everything we had,” Gates said. “But those were material things.”

A bone-marrow transplant saved Christina’s life. The family began to pick up the pieces of a shattered existence.

And that’s when one of the less-publicized benefits of having three major professional sports franchises representing the region came to bear on the Gates family.

The Bucs, Lightning and Rays, and the players who wear their uniforms, generally are expected to provide inhabitants of the Tampa Bay area with entertainment and, occasionally, a championship to celebrate.

Then there are those whose everyday lives have become too trying for a touchdown, a game-winning goal or a home run – or even a Stanley Cup or Lombardi Trophy – to register as meaningful. These are the people, like Michael Gates, whose lives have been forever altered by the charitable endeavors of the area’s three pro teams.

The cynic sees a photograph of a famous athlete with his arm draped across the shoulders of a beaming but obviously ill child and thinks, “Wow, great publicity for that guy.”

And yes, in addition to the altruistic motives of the individuals who give their time and money, there is an element of marketing involved. What better way for a professional sports franchise to create an emotional bond with its fan base than by reaching out to the under-privileged or seriously ill?

All three teams have a full-time staff member devoted to coordinating and publicizing charitable efforts in the community. It’s as much a part of the business as scouting and player development.

Yet, even the most hardened cynic can’t ignore the results. Behind the smiles in those photographs lies a world of pain and uncertainty that can’t be understood unless it is experienced.

“In order to really appreciate the smiles on their faces and the joy they see, you have to turn back a chapter and look back at where they have been,” said Angela Powell, whose 3-year-old daughter, Adelaine, is undergoing leukemia treatments. “These children have been in the trenches of death, literally. Some days they’re not even able to lift their heads off their pillow because they’re so lethargic and nauseous and in intense pain.”

By sacrificing an hour or an afternoon, an athlete can create an island of happiness that’s as precious to the family as it is to the patient.

“What they’re doing, essentially, is improving their quality of life,” Powell said. “The children are going through a horrible time. None of us would have chosen this, but nonetheless, it’s here. If all they do is suffer, then what’s even the point of going through the battle?

“Every day Adelaine has a good day, it puts back what was taken from her all those days of her suffering and being so sick.”

The Powell family – Adelaine, Angela, dad Doug and brothers Mason and Bowen – experienced one of those days of joy last week, when Lightning center Brad Richards was their host for the team’s annual Children’s Cancer Center party at the St. Pete Times Forum.

It wasn’t the first time the family made Richards’ acquaintance; they’ve attended games in his Richie’s Rascals suite at the Forum and Richards played street hockey with the boys after the announcement of an expansion of his charitable foundation this fall.

“There are so many things you can do,” said Richards, who lost his cousin and best friend, Jamie Reynolds, to a brain tumor when both were children growing up in Prince Edward Island. “You pick some things close to your heart. I don’t know what it does for you. You see people in tough situations, things you wish you could help change. You wish you could do more. You wish you could cure everything.”

Organizations such as the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, the Children’s Cancer Center and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center also reap the benefits of being associated with the local sports franchises and players.

“Being able to attach your name to the sports teams gives you the audience that’s very hard to find,” said Lisa Orlando, director of communications and marketing with the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. “It opens the door to a wider variety of people that might not be looking for that in their giving. By attaching it to the Rays or the Buccaneers, they might say, ‘I’m interested in that.’”

“What would we do without them?” said Kathy Werner, director of marketing and special events at Moffitt. “I don’t know.”

On a personal level, the same could be said for Michael Gates, whose experience as the father of a cancer patient cost him his old job, but whose interaction with Lightning president Ron Campbell and his wife, Mary Jane Campbell, laid the foundation for a new career.

Last week, Gates celebrated the completion of a two-year program to become certified as an oncology nurse. His tuition and books were paid for by the Lightning Foundation, and he now works at the same hospital where his daughter spent so many agonizing days and nights battling cancer.

“He’s going to make a darn good nurse, too,” said Mary Jane Campbell, who along with her husband, came to know the Gateses well through the team’s adopt-a-family program that takes place every year during the holiday season.

“I always wanted to do something else, but I never knew what,” Gates said. “I never in a million years figured it would be the medical field, but it felt so natural.”

The 128-mile round-trip commute to St. Petersburg from Lakeland used to be an adventure in Gates’ old truck. But when the Campbells’ daughter went away to college, Mary Jane and Ron offered to sell Gates their daughter’s BMW for the price Gates could get for his truck.

“Words can’t really describe how much we appreciate it,” said Sherry Gates, Michael’s wife. “It’s been life-changing. It’s our family’s future, and they’ve helped make that possible.”


Making A Difference
A complete list of the volunteer work and charitable donations of the Bucs, Lightning and Rays and their players would fill an encyclopedia. Here is a small sample, by no means comprehensive, of some the programs and gestures that have made a difference in the Tampa Bay area over the years:

Brooks Bunch, Derrick Brooks (Bucs): The 2000 NFL Walter Payton co-Man of the Year (with Jim Flanigan) focuses his time and energy on helping kids with difficult socio-economic backgrounds learn life skills and prepare for college. He has taken dozens of kids on educational field trips around the world – most notably to Africa in 2000 – and helped found the Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School, a charter school in Tampa.

Homes For the Holidays, Warrick Dunn (Bucs): The 2004 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year began to help single mothers become first-time homeowners in 1997 in Tampa, while with the Bucs. Since then, Dunn has helped 69 single mothers and 181 children in Tampa, Baton Rouge, La., and Atlanta, including 29 mothers and 74 children in Tampa. He expanded the program this year to include Tallahassee.

Richie’s Rascals, Brad Richards (Lightning): Each season, Richards leases a specially renovated suite at the St. Pete Times Forum for pediatric cancer patients and their families to come to Lightning games in a secure, private, kid-friendly environment. The suite allows kids whose immune systems are depleted to enjoy a game without being exposed to a crowd.

Center for Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders, Vinny Lecavalier (Lightning): Lecavalier pledged this fall to donate $3 million to All Children’s Hospital to help fund construction of a new wing with private rooms and all the amenities needed to enable pediatric cancer patients cope as well as they can. The new wing will bear his name.

Thanksmas, Joe Maddon (Rays): Holiday meals are prepared for approximately 500 people in need from the St. Vincent de Paul Society in St. Petersburg, the Salvation Army in Bradenton and Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa. Maddon, the Rays manager, shops for all the groceries, helps prepare the food and delivers it to the diners with help from Rays front-office personnel.

Grand Slam Celebrity Fishing Tournament, Chuck LaMar (Rays): The former Rays general manager hosted the event for its first eight years, after which Hall of Famer and former Rays third baseman Wade Boggs stepped in. The tournament has raised more than $500,000 for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation to help fund cancer research.

Reporter Carter Gaddis can be reached at (813) 259-8291 or

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