Friday, June 11, 2010

Last day in DC

You will see our last day in DC in reverse because that's how the pictures loaded!

That's Rachel with David Archuleta... she did not know he was at the beginning of the day, but by the end of the day what a crush she has on him!! :-) He is such a soft-spoken, nice guy!
After the White House, we all headed to the Party Deck at the Nationals Ballpark. Screech, the mascot, came to the party and so did Micky Mouse! After the party, we headed down to enjoy the game. David Archuleta sang the national anthem and the Champion from Idaho threw the first pitch. For the Neeleys (parents, anyway), a major league baseball game was the perfect way to end an amazing trip.
The girls chanted "Go Big Red!" whenever they held up their foam fingers; it's the only way they know how to cheer at sporting events, apparently -- isn't that sweet? :-)

Leaving the White House -- it's only sprinkling, but the girls were excited for the opportunity to wear their Hello Kitty raincoats.

After leisurely touring the White House, we all went into the big yellow room to wait for President Obama. This picture is right when he entered the room. How exciting!! Every person we encountered that worked at the White House was so genuinely kind and personable.

The men in tuxedos brought us ice water on silver trays in the White House dining room. So, here is Rachel drinking White House water in a White House glass!

Oh, did I mention that the girls love to have their pictures taken with Miss America?? :-) Here they are in the White House.

Wednesday started out with a trip to the TV studio. Here is Rachel waiting in the green room. She and Miss America did a satellite interview with a Grand Island station. Her favorite part was watching the boys get their make-up put on before doing interviews with their home state stations (and making fun of them).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Miss America :-)

Here are the girls with Miss America at the Senator's luncheon.

Day 2 - Tuesday

Our internet connection was hit and miss in DC, but in out just-arrived-home exhaustion, we'll try to catch up a bit. I have to say that there is no degree of being waited on hand and foot and being spoiled that could be more than this trip. Back to Tuesday... The day started with a trip to the Capitol where the formal group and individual pictures occurred. This meant more time to just mingle with other families and Miss America. :-) Next, we went to the Dirksen (?) Senator office building for a Senator luncheon. The kids really enjoyed watching a big German shepherd smell all around our bus before we could drive onto the premises (OK, we enjoyed it, too). It made perfect sense to the girls that the dog got to decide if we got to go eat with the Senators or not. The luncheon was in one of the hearing rooms which was kind of surreal; all Jeff could think about was baseball and steroids, poor Jeffy. As soon as she was done eating, Rachel moved to one of the Senator chairs up at the front. Some of the kids (not ours, believe it or not) figured out that if you pushed the button labeled 'Talk', the microphone really worked! No one had any problems with that; it was a great time mingling with Senators and listening to random kid comments over the microphones. :-) Senator Nelson sent down a staff person to say that he had wanted to attend the luncheon but would we be able to come up to the Senator's office for a little visit. We had a great time visiting with him about family, Children's, and the Big 12/Big 10 scoop (we had to find out if he knew anything we didn't know!). What an honor to get fit into such a busy schedule.

The rest of the day was free time. After some swimming, we took the Metro to the Air & Space Museum. Unfortunately, it closed 15 minutes later. We took in half of the first floor then walked the mile back to the hotel in the National Mall. It was such a great time; Jeff & I were both thankful that the museum closed two hours earlier than we had expected. :-) We had the double stroller, but the girls walked/ran almost all of it. We bought big pretzels and lemonade for dinner and had a picnic. The weather was gorgeous.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

This is Rachel and Madison at the Jefferson memorial with their new friends from Massachusetts...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 1.5

I just now learned how to blog from my phone so after tonight I will be more up to date. I have to say that we all were tottally caught off guard by our welcome that we recieved from Delta at our connecting flight in Memphis. When we got off the plane we were greeted by a Delta rep holding a sign with our name and the champion from Iowa (which we found out that only the brother and the dad made the flight, the champion and the mom missed it and was on another flight!) Anyhow, we were swept away to a place where they had a small party set up for us with balloons all over the door and inside the room - it was there that they had a HUGE gift basket for us with candy, fruit, and a bunch of cool Delta stuff - when they presented it to us they had the Delta manager and his assistant come and give it to us!!! If that wasn't enough when we landed in DC they made the whole plane wait and let all of the Champion families off, and at the end of the tunnel they had a bunch of balloons, tv cameras, and made an annoucement to the whole wing of the airport (which there was an insane amount of people) and they responded with huge cheers...when Rachel got off she smiled and waved like this always happens to her...nice!
That evening, was about eating and getting checked in.

Today our day started at 8:30 am with about a 2 block walk to ESPN Zone (where once again we were greeted by a bunch of people cheering and giving us high 5's) for breakfast, games, and a welcome from the exectutives at Childrens. Oh yeah, this is where I should mention that Miss America, Mark Wills, the mascot from the Washington Senators pro baseball team (he brought tickets for all of us to go to a game on wednesday against the Pirates), and we also learned that David Archuleta from american idol would also be there.

So, my girls and I were getting a little bit more food and I was letting them lead the way back to the table - I had no idea what way Rachel was taking us back to the table, but when we rounded the corner there was Miss America smiling at my girls and she started talking to them like they knew eachother - Madison calls her Princess Aurora - anyhow, Miss America asked them if she could have her picture taken with heart was full. Shortly after that Miss America sung for everybody and then Mark Wills sang some songs too...if you don't know who he is he sang a song called 1970 something. We then played video games until we coulden't stand anymore. By the way, my girls are pretty good at air hockey!

After a short 30 minute rest it was time to take in the sights of DC via bus tour with 2 stops to see the Jefferson memorial, Lincoln memorial, and both the Korea and Vietnam walls. After those stops were free to do what we wanted - so we hit the museum of natural history - I have to tell you that wow can Rachel take pictures!!! In 2 days she has personally taken literally 400 pictures, 260 today alone!!! Some of them are quite good, I will post some soon. The highlight at the museum was all of the sweet rocks and not to mention dinosaur bones. I know I am forgetting some details, I will get them out as I remember, but wow, it has been awesome so far!

We have gotten some time so far to meet a large portion of the Champions and their families, everybody has been super sweet, there are some kids that mine are quite fond of - there is Michael and a set of twin girls from Massachsets that they have had a great time playing with. We have met a ton of the Childrens Miricle Network staff and an equal amount of Walmart staff, they all have been quite amaizing people who love children and somehow already know who they are and what state they are from. I know there is stuff I am forgetting, I will catch up more tomorow. By the way I have an interview with Miss America and I think a Fox News person tomorrom in the morning. Should be fun!


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Washington DC is here

I cant believe that the DC trip is already here! Both of the girls have been asking if we were leaving tomorrow for weeks now, what finally calmed them was putting it on their calendar and telling them to check their calendar when they asked, now instead of daily it is only when I have a day off...good change!
Unlike any trip we have been on Jen and I have had a really busy schedule and haven't been able to think much about DC until the last couple of days - now I have to admit I am in vacation mode and Jen didn't sleep last night. This morning Rachel woke up at 6 am and ran into our room with excitement in her voice repeating "I'm ready to leave now, I'm ready to leave now!" Our flight isn't until 11.
A few weeks ago we had our official kick off event at Walmart where representatives from Children's hospital in Omaha, an ambassador from Walmart transportation, that locations Management staff along with a portion of their crew, a surprise visit from Rachel's surgeon, and two local news stations to report on the event.
Everything about it was really awesome, it was truly a kickoff party with balloons and cupcakes for the entire day, Walmart gave our family a $500 gift card for our trips, a gift bag for our Disney World trip in November, and Children's gave us a fun gift basket which the highlight for Rachel was a glass frog that they wrapped up special for her...
At random friday Rachel recieved a large package in the mail, inside was a Build-a-Bear from Children's. There was a note that said Foresters was a Childrens Miracle Network supporter and that they were at the hospital giving Build-a-Bears to all of the children there and they made sure one was set aside for her. What a rock star life Rachel has now...balloons, cake, gifts, and misc packages in the mail!!!
I cant belive all of this, every family at Childrens deserves this type of treatment, thanks to everybody for how awesome they have been!
We will add pictures as soon as I figure out how!!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Well this is our first blogg and before Rachel has even been announced as the Nebraska Champion at the Walmart kick off, we have already had a chance to be on the radio for Childrens fund raiser and soon we are supposed to be contacted by a local news station who wants to do a story on Rachel! Sweet! I guess we are out of the gate quickly!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rachel's Story

Age 5
Bilateral Wilm’s Tumor

Children’s Hospital & Medical Center

When 3-year-old Rachel was diagnosed with cancer in October 2007, her biggest concern was that she had to wear a hospital gown.

After experiencing unexplainable fevers and stomach discomfort, Rachel was diagnosed with Bilateral Wilm’s tumor—a tumor in each of her kidneys. The tumor in Rachel’s right kidney consumed 75 percent of the organ. Ten weeks of chemotherapy caused the tumor in her right kidney to shrink enough to be surgically removed and as a result, both kidneys were saved. In April 2008, the talented medical team at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center were confident the cancer was gone entirely.

“Rachel conquered her cancer after her first week in the hospital. Since the beginning of her treatment, if it was not for losing her hair, you would not know that she was sick,” said her mom. “And she never wore a hospital gown!”

Today, this free-spirited 5-year-old loves tree frogs and wants to make a zoo in her backyard.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

About Walmart and Sam’s Club

Wal-Mart has supported Children’s Miracle Network since 1987. Since then, Children’s Miracle Network and Wal-Mart have worked tirelessly together to help children by raising money for children’s hospitals. Walmart and Sam’s Club associates, customers and members have raised more than $500 million for children’s hospitals during the 23 year relationship. This is the second year Walmart and Sam’s Club have sponsored the Champions program.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Champions presented by Walmart and Sam’s Club

Champions presented by Walmart and Sam’s Club is a Children's Miracle Network program that brings attention to the important work being done at children’s hospitals by honoring remarkable children who have faced severe medical challenges.

The Champions program designates a champion child in every state who has bravely battled a serious injury or illness. The champions represent the nearly 17 million children treated at Children’s Miracle Network hospitals every year. The 2010 champions have dealt with a wide variety of injuries and illnesses including genetic diseases, heart transplants and traumas, as well as life-threatening staph infections.

As part of Champions presented by Walmart and Sam’s Club, the champions travel for a week in June to Washington, D.C., where champions traditionally meet with their state senators on Capitol Hill, and the President of the United States during a visit to the White House. The family then travels to Orlando, Fla., for a second week in November. There, champions meet Children’s Miracle Network sponsor, hospital and media partners who all convene to celebrate a year of medical miracles during the Children’s Miracle Network Celebration event at Walt Disney World Resort.