While We Have Time, Let Us Do Good The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run in Columbia, SC

by Shannon Boatwright

image 1I had the honor of being a part of this most incredible event on September 20th, 2019.  My aunt Susan Vaughan McPherson, who is the Director of Public Policy & Military Affairs at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, works with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and helped to organize this event. She invited my family and me to participate last year, but due to a hurricane, they, unfortunately, had to cancel the event. So, this year, we really looked forward to being a part of this special event. And when I say special, goodness do I ever mean it! To understand the impact of this event, you really must be there in person.

A little info on the meaningful purpose behind this event…

The info below is taken from the Tunnel to Towers website.

image 4“Firefighter Stephen Gerard Siller was the youngest of seven children born to Mae and George Siller. At the age of eight, Stephen lost his father, and a year and a half later his mother passed away, leaving him an orphan to be raised by his older siblings. For a while, Stephen went through a period of struggle, but thanks to the love of his siblings, and the values instilled in him by his parents, he grew up to be an extraordinary individual and dedicated firefighter. More than most, he knew that time was precious and accomplished much in his 34 years.

On September 11, 2001, Stephen, who was assigned to Brooklyn’s Squad 1, had just finished his shift and was on his way to play golf with his brothers when he got word over his scanner of a plane hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Upon hearing the news, Stephen called his wife Sally and asked her to tell his brothers he would catch up with them later. He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear.

Stephen drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security purposes. Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped 60 lbs. of gear to his back and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he lost his life while saving others.

Stephen had everything to live for: a great wife, five wonderful children, a devoted extended family, and friends. Stephen’s parents were lay Franciscans and he grew up under the guiding philosophy of St. Francis of Assisi, whose encouraging and inspirational phrase, “while we have time, let us do good,” were words that Stephen lived by. Stephen’s life and heroic death serve as a reminder to us all to live life to the fullest and to spend our time here on earth doing good – this is his legacy.”

My daughter, Mina, who is on the cross-country team at her high school, ran the Tunnel to Towers for the first time this year. She ended up doing an amazing job, coming in 64th out of 1278 people total who ran and 11th out of all the women who ran, placing 2nd in her division. She had the priceless opportunity to run alongside our firemen and first responders. Words really cannot describe how inspiring and motivating it is to run for such a great cause and in memory of so many precious people.  To recognize and applaud the people who fight for our country and help to keep us safe, to run alongside and cheer on all the first responders, military and fellow supporters, well, to say it fills the heart is an understatement. Let’s just say, we plan to be a part of this truly special event every year and I encourage you all to do the same!

Stephen Livingston, Lexington Fire Department, Station 2, congratulating Mina, my daughter, on placing in her division.

 

Please do check out the website https://tunnel2towers.org/ and mark your calendars for next year’s run!

 

 

Delivering Happiness – A Second Time!

By Maddie Shumpert

I was blessed to welcome my second daughter, Riley, into the world earlier this summer. As a second-time parent, I felt a little more prepared, informed and ready to grow our family than perhaps I did the first time around – and that’s part of why I chose to deliver my baby at Lexington Medical Center.

My older daughter Parker was born at LMC four years ago and we had a wonderful experience. So, when we were getting ready to welcome our second child, I had fond memories of the first birth experience but wanted to make sure I considered all my options. I am actually a nurse at a different hospital so, in many ways, it made more sense for me to deliver there. But I knew that LMC had just opened their new tower with an entirely new Labor & Delivery area and Mother Baby nursery area and was interested in what that offered.

We opted to take a tour of the new North Tower and were completely blown away by the new facilities. The rooms seemed much larger and more accommodating for our family. But what was most impressive and was a real factor in our decision was how kind and welcoming the LMC staff was to us. From the moment we stepped in the door, we saw smiling faces who made us feel at home and welcomed. In addition, I’m lucky to have a few friends as LMC employees. They had been part of my first delivery, which was an awesome experience, so I was looking forward to having them be a part of this one too.

Delivery teamAs my scheduled delivery date drew closer, we had lots to prepare and a little bit of anticipation, because we had kept the gender a surprise. But I genuinely was excited to deliver my baby at LMC. I delivered Riley via a scheduled C-section with Dr. Garrick, who rearranged her schedule to accommodate the shifts of my friends, so they were able to join us again. The entire LMC team made my c-section delivery very special and as comfortable as possible. After delivery, the nursing staff was like a part of our family, helping to capture images of this incredible moment where my best friend was able to tell us that we had another daughter. That’s how we got this amazing photo, with this awesome clear drape, of me and my best friend just moments after Riley was born.

clear drapeOne of the other main differences in this second delivery was the skin-to-skin experience that I was able to have with Riley. Once she was born, she really never left my side, and the nursing team made that possible. We were able to bond immediately through that experience and I will always cherish that special time.

My experience at LMC was truly the best delivery I could have hoped for and was such a special beginning for our daughter’s life. I am so grateful for all the care and attention we received!

Teaching the Mean

By: Lara Winburn

I have a three-year-old little girl. She is chatty, funny, a little mischievous, and sassy. Sassy… I can handle, you know apple/tree, whatcha gonna do? But right now there is one thing she is not; she is not mean and hopefully never will be. Mean girls suck. Sorry Momma, I know you hate that word, but it is true.

Mean girlsI am sure that somewhere along the way I have been a mean girl, but hopefully not on a regular basis since I wore a cheerleading uniform, which was a while ago. I have outgrown that uniform (sadly) and that behavior (thankfully). There are plenty of unflattering ways to describe me- stubborn, sassy, scattered, loud and opinionated. I will take those, but I would hope mean girl is not on that list.

Growing up, I never enjoyed making declarations like “we are not friends with Suzy this week” or “YOU CAN come over to play and YOU CANNOT.” Plus, my mom was having none of that.

But as an adult and now a mother, I have noticed something.  Sometimes, I’m afraid we are teaching the mean.

I am not starting rumors about moms at the park, and you are probably not disinviting ladies to your slumber party. BUT, I am sure there has been the occasional eye roll or a catty cell phone comment made in front of my little girl. And there is three-year-old Sponge Babe Sassy Pants in the back seat listening to and absorbing EVERY WORD. She already reads expressions and tone. Am I teaching the mean? Maybe more mindful mommy talk is in order.

When I taught second grade, I witnessed mean girl behavior already developing in these seven and eight year old angels. The funny thing was after spending a little time with their moms, you could see the mean girl in them too. Not evil, bad people, not even bad moms – they were just spending a lot of time judging or ostracizing others or, worse yet, judging themselves. Inadvertently, teaching the mean.

My mommy style is FAR FROM PERFECT but I will tirelessly try not to teach the mean. Instead, I think I will try to teach a little more sweetness, being kinder to others and myself. Remember:

“Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter.” – Cady, Lindsay Lohan’s character in “Mean Girls”

PS Who thought Lindsay Lohan could offer such a nugget of wisdom?

PSS If anyone reading this thinks I’ve been a mean girl to them, my sincerest apologies.  (sometimes stubborn, sassy, scattered, loud and opinionated comes out a little mean).

My Priority Quilt

By: Katie Austin

When I think of my mom, I think of the many wonderful ways she has touched my life.  Moms are always there for their kids to patch them up when they get hurt, help them through the difficult childhood journey to adulthood, and take care of everything in between.  This poem by Joanna Fuchs sums it up perfectly!

Without You

Mom, without you, there would be no me.
Your love, your attention, your guidance,
have made me who I am.
Without you, I would be lost,
wandering aimlessly,
without direction or purpose.
You showed me the way
to serve, to accomplish, to persevere.
Without you, there would be an empty space
I could never fill, no matter how I tried.
Instead, because of you,
I have joy, contentment, satisfaction and peace.
Thank you, mom.
I have always loved you
and I always will.

Me & my mom at this year's Avon Walk

I can say without hesitation that I wouldn’t have made it through my breast cancer battle without her.   She was biggest supporter and was by my side for every medical appointment, doctor consult, infusion treatment, cancer sickness and my daily struggle to regain my strength.  I always knew my mom was special but it was during my breast cancer battle that I learned just how special she is.

During each infusion treatment she would talk about her latest project and would bring finished copies for me to see.  You see, my mom is a part of the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative where she created mini art quilts the size no larger than a flat rate priority mailer.  These small wonders are auctioned off to raise awareness and fund Alzheimer’s research.  She has created more than 75 so far and the initiative has raised more than $679,000 since 2006. Isn’t that wonderful?!?   I am including a few examples of the priority quilts she created so that you can get an idea of the artwork, detailed personal touches that are included in each project.  Each quilt has a theme and takes her many hours to create.  The pictures are small so if you would like to see a larger picture, you can go to her blog site.

August Flowers

My two absolute favorite quilts are shown below and I think you will love them too.   The detail in each quilt is amazing and I find myself looking over every inch to make sure that I don’t miss anything.   My favorite items are the pumpkins, bag of potatoes and the bird sitting just outside the bird feeder.   What do you see in the quilts that you like?

Farm Stand

Morning in the Garden

In my recent blog post Helping Hand, I said that the easiest way that we can get involved in our community is to lend a hand and my mom is doing just that through her quilt creations.  She is raising money for and awareness of Alzheimer’s one quilt at time.  I am so proud of what she has accomplished and to call her my mom.  What’s even more special is that I am adopted and feel that she picked me out of so many to be her daughter.  We have a special bond as she is more than a mother to me, she is my closest friend and I am so blessed to have her in my life.