The Samantha Years

Sam I am

Here is my new super sleek jersey for the Courage Classic

It has magic powers…..powers of perseverance, strength and fighting the odds.

Sam I am….

I am Sam….

Well really I’m not….I am Heather but many times I feel that Samantha is my left hip, my right shoulder, my heart and soul….so in a way, I am Sam.

This is Gram

Gram gave me the lovely jersey as a riding present…..well, Grandpa Jim did too but Gram rhythms better with Sam, and ham and WHAM! and blam and who I am.

I think they would both say “I am Sam” too….perhaps many people would 🙂 She’s an infectious Lil’ Miss
The Samantha Years

Courage Diaries 2009

Our ride is 9 days away! A year ago we were training from the hospital. Here is our ‘Courage Diary Part I’ from 2009

There is No ‘I’ in Team…..But I Did Find Me.

July 14:

We are in Children’s Hospital; our unsought home away from home. I’m watching over my daughter, Samantha as I wait for my husband to deliver my bike. Two weeks and counting until the Courage Classic. I need a training ride.

I put my bike shoes on while watching Samantha’s heart monitor….what was I thinking in signing up for this ride? We have waaaaayyyy to much going on.


I signed up for the Courage Classic; three days on my bike, 156 miles in the mountains. It’s huge fundraiser for Children’s Hospital . My bike was propped sadly against a wall in the garage; dusty with two flat tires. I had a lot of work to do but I figured I had time. July was a very long, long way away, right?


Two hospitalizations for Samantha and more procrastination from me.


I realized I only had two months to get my butt in gear. Samantha’s team started to form. As people started to fundraise, I realized this was much more than a ride through the mountains. This was a ride for many personal causes. This was a chance for people to do something for my daughter, a chance to ride in herhonor. Samantha’s Grandpa Jim wrote a heartfelt testimonial on his fundraisersite.

“I ride so that someday my granddaughter Samantha can ride.”

Well crap, now I guess I’m committed.

Once again, family and friends have come along for our bumpy ride, for our crazy life parade. I often wonder if I would be as philanthropic as my community if this were happening to another family. Would I sign up for a 156 mile bike ride to support a friend? Would I opt out? Biking Vail pass is hard. I try to avoid hard things.

Ironically, hard things still tend to find us.


Samantha is hospitalized with a staph infection. The infection was dectected in her ear and bladder meaning that it has colonized throughout her body. She ison I.V. antibiotics. We have ten different speciality teams on our case.

Our Courage Classic Team has raised $4,000 for Children’s Hospital. But I amdoubting my decision to take on this ride. I’m sad to think that I would have todrop out because she was not doing well. Alas, another event we would have tocancel; another testament to our variable, uncertain life.

Au contraire, mon frere.

The longer we are in the hospital, the more my team grows. At home, myhusband packs up the essentials: clean underwear, meals and then loads up mybike, helmet, gloves, water bottles and drives down to Children’s Hospital. Ourmedical team encourages me to get out and asks about my training. They allreassure me that they can handle Samantha’s medical needs, on their own, while I go out and ride.

“Are you sure you’ll be okay? I’ll be gone about two hours” I tell a nurse

“Heather, this is a hospital.”

I learn to release my mama controls just a little bit.

Perhaps I needed to release the controls just a little bit

Because being in the hospital stinks.

Being in the hospital 80+ days out of your three-year old daughter’s life reallystinks. Even if Children’s is a state-of-the-art, best-of-the-best hospital with reallycool X-Box machines in every room, my heart still breaks every time we areadmitted.

July 14:

My husband steps into the room, he eyes my attire and laughs….bike shorts and jerseys just aren’t typical at the hospital.

“You’re itchin’ to get out aren’t you?”

“Feeding is at two, meds have been given and our nurses’ name is Kelly. I have my cell phone.”

“You won’t need it…..go”

I ride…I turn my back from the hospital. Ironically, I found someone during these rides. I found a woman who is strong, who likes the sound of her heart beating when she is doing a hard climb. A woman who loves her daughter dearly but also loves the feeling of clearing her head as she leaves the hospital for a long ride; a woman who can briefly shed oxygen tanks, feeding tubes and I.V. meds for a little while because she has a very, very good team.

I slow down at a curve and brake a little too suddenly. It’s alright. You can let go of the controls….just a little bit.

The Samantha Years

Instead of a black suit, he wore love…..

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Our buddy Colton was just featured in the Johnstown paper for his essay on Martin Luther King. We think Colton and his family are pretty darn cool.

I think his essay is pretty darn cool too.

Here are a couple words to ponder about Colton’s thoughts on Dr. Marting Luther King…. “He was just like a ninja but instead of having a sword, he had words. Instead of a black suit, he wore love.”

Colton just finished second grade. I think I was still trying to figure out how my ‘baby-pees-a lot’ worked when I was in second grade.

I’m still trying to figure it out…..

Thanks Colton for your smart and poignant words. Tomorrow as I go out, I will proudly wear my suit of love.
The Samantha Years

I Never Thought….

Tonight Samantha is FOUR!!!

Four years old.
A big girl….
Kind of….
At four I question the life laid in front of us. Our neurologist once said “Well if she’s not walking at 4, there is a good chance that she won’t”
Samantha doesn’t walk…
or talk…
There is a good chance that she won’t
And I’m okay…..and I think she’s okay…
I always thought having a special needs child would be isolating….
No one wants to talk to the family with the child who can’t walk….

Or talk….
But tonight, I am surrounded by the people who love Samantha and who love us.
Who accept our girl for the beautiful four year old she is…
Who stroke her feet…
And her head….
Who keep her cool in the heat…
And who just love her…..
People who reinforce the blessing that she is.
Happy Birthday my sweet girl and thank you to our family and friends…
Thank you for just being there and loving our girl.
And Happy Birthday to the best thing that has ever happened to me.