Monday, June 11

We're Getting Close!!!! Yay!!!!

As we get ready for the grand finale of the Feel the Burn 2007 in San Jose we are very excited. I know this fundraiser is far from over but want to write some thoughts down for all of you before I am overcome with the daunting task of finding a full-time job to provide for my family. We have raised over $15,000 (thanks to many of you reading this right now) and donations are still coming in, I have visited 9 burn centers:

-Boston Shriner's Hospital
-Ohio State University Burn Center, Columbus OH
-Riley Burn Center, Indianapolis IN
-Memorial Medical Center, Springfield IL
-Burnett Burn Center at U of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City KS
-Via Christy Regional Medical Center, Wichita KS
-University of Colorado at Denver Burn Center, Denver CO
-Denver Children's Hospital, Denver CO
-The Arizona Burn Center, Phoenix AZ

and given out, with the help of 2 Germantown Fire Fighters, over 50 toys, crayons, books, and stuffed animals. I have received many calls from burn survivors I've never met before expressing their gratitude and kindness regarding what we ALL have accomplished. Many nurses and doctors expressed their thanks to the Phoenix Society and to all firefighters for what we do and how we always remember that there are burn patients and burn survivors. I have met many burn survivors who instantly became some of my closest friends and visited over 21 firehouses:

Branford, CT
Hartford, CT
Bloomingburg, NY
Dalton, PA
Canton, PA
Coudersport, PA
Germantown, OH
Martinsville, IN
Springfield FD, Springfield IL
Little Dixie Fire Protection District, Mexico, MO 573.581.6235 Chief Hoover c573-473-4001
Kansas City FD, Kansas City MO
Wichita FD, Wichita KS
Grant County FD, Ulysses, KS
Trinidad FD, Trinidad, CO 81082
Denver Fire Rescue, Denver CO
La Veta FD, La Veta, CO
Durango Fire and Rescue, Durango, CO
Phoenix Fire Rescue, Phoenix AZ
Las Vegas Fire Rescue, Las Vegas, NV
Sacramento FD, Sacramento, CA
San Jose FD, San Jose, CA

I have helped people look at the bright side of being in the closely knit burn community and they have helped me understand that helping others, and allowing others to help is priceless.

The Phoenix Society is an amazing organization. I knew it was when I started but feel it with much more conviction now. Every fire department and hospital I visited was touched at how the Phoenix Society fills a much needed void in burncare today. They all wished they could join me on this journey and that just shows the commitment and caring that is in the full circle of burncare; from first responder, to hospital, to therapy, to the Phoenix Society. There are so many people who have benefited from the Phoenix Society's matrix of support; burn survivors, their families and friends, healthcare workers, firefighters, and the hundreds of people who have donated to this fundraiser, especially Chief Anding whose Harley is such an inspirational symbol of the energy in all of us powering this ride forward. Giving is a beautiful thing isn't it - it helps the one who gives as well as the one who receives. Awesome.

I do not have any commitments this week so I am taking some time off from traveling right now, getting some much needed rest. I have made a change to the finale in San Jose. I am recently 100% healed from my cycling injury and want to finish on my bicycle, the one with so many signatures from burn survivors I've met along this great journey. I will be leaving Sacramento on June 19th to finish the final leg of the journey on my bicycle, arriving in San Jose on the 20th. This is how I want to finish this coast to coast journey of raising awareness of the Phoenix Society and those whom they help.

I will not be posting much this week as I gear up for San Jose and focus my thoughts on what good we ALL have accomplished. I will post all of the details of the San Jose reception party as they come in though. The world is definitely a better place because of this fundraiser, I truly believe that. From the bottom of my big warm heart, I want to thank all of you out there who have donated, supported, given me water, given me food, given me a place to sleep, washed my clothes, given me clothes, driven me places when my legs we so tired, let me use your internet connection, let me ride in your firetrucks on calls, given me hope, made me laugh, made me cry, bought me drinks, given me directions (good and bad), given me toys (thank you Target), and shared your burn survivor stories with me. I also want to send a big thank you to Jani Spede and the Clemson University marketing class who helped get the word out on this fundraiser and helped focus our efforts before my tires even hit the road.

There are some phrases in the English language that fall short from the meaning we are attaching to them. "Thank You" is one of these phrases that I want to use for three individuals who are/were such a big part of this fundraiser but feel it is inadequate. I would like to say "Mahalo" instead. Mahalo is Hawaiian for thanks and gratitude, and also thanks for all that is, I have said it only a handful of times in my life. My friend Big Will from Hawaii (the Big Island) explained to me that it is the deepest way of showing appreciation and love of someone with your spirit. You say it with your spirit and your voice simultaneously. I say Mahalo to four individuals right now: Amy Acton (Executive Director of the Phoenix Society), my good friend Jeff Derderian (the person behind the scenes of all of the media support we have received), and my lovely cousin Kathy Greenler (internet guru, positive influence, and the one who set up the blog), and Chief Scott Anding (new Daddy) who donated his motorcycle to this cause. These four people are very special to me and have transformed part of my spirit during this fundraiser, and for that I say Mahalo to you all.

See you in San Jose my friends, stay posted for event details.

Your friend,

Mike Manning

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