"I'm on chemo. If I can do it, you can do it." So I did. We did. All thanks to the Kelts.
Twelve years later, the Kelts are still organizing the fundraiser, and it's growing every year!
This year the weather was perfect - a little warm really. They had multiple baskets for the raffles, a 50/50 drawing and a Silent Auction.
The first and most important thing I want to say is THANK YOU to the Cincinnati Kelts, and
NETTI specifically. Paulie has always been the "Master of Ceremonies", but according to Paulie, NETTI was the organizer. Every year it gets better. THANK YOU so much Netti (and mom Karen!) for all the work you put into this.
And thank you too for introducing us to Tom Sweeney. This is the FIRST story. I'm pretty sure we've met Tom before. And I remember meeting his wife Mary Ann too. She always made sure to talk to us at the fundraisers. She loved Fort. When Melissa was first diagnosed, Mary Ann took the time to talk to her about HER battle with breast cancer. As we know now, it's good to talk to someone who truly understands. Someone who's walked the walk. Tom told us last night that there were many times when Melissa called Mary Ann when she was having a difficult day. Mary Ann would meet her and talk to her. I didn't know that. Melissa never wanted me to see her worry. It's comforting to know that she had someone to call that helped her. We were very close, but neither of us wanted to see the other cry. We had to be strong for each other. So she called Mary Ann.
Mary Ann's cancer came back a couple of years ago. She passed away July 23 of this year...just three months ago. And her husband Tom was there. I talked to him for awhile and he told me that before Mary Ann died, she had a list of things for him to do. She told him to go the fundraiser and "tell Fort's parents that I'm with her!" It wasn't easy for him to be there. But he came because it was on his list of things to do.
Paulie always gives a speech before the drawings. Last night it was about Mary Ann. And Tom.
Their connection to the Kelts was Haps Irish Pub. Haps is where the Kelts hold all of their socials after their matches. Tom & MaryAnn were always there. Paulie got to know them after a few of the socials when everyone left. He would sit at the bar and talk with them. They became part of the Kelts family too. Once a Kelt, Always a Kelt. They were at Melissa & John's reception too. Tom talked about that last night too.
The other thing Paulie said was Tom & Mary Ann were the most amazing people...their goal was to meet two new people every time they went to Haps...and he suggested that we all do that too. We met a LOT of new people last night. I really got to know Tom last night, and met a few of his friends too. Last night was in honor of Mary Ann. She would be honored I'm sure.
So Paulie's speech leads right to the second story of the night ... two of the new people we met.
Two girls walked into the bar (no, this is not the start of a joke)...saw our nephew Brandon - he was wearing his FORT'S YAYA'S FOR TATA'S shirt. They walked up to him and said "Do you know FORT??? How do you know Fort???" He told them he was (is) her cousin. Then he brought them over to me. They went to Ohio University with Melissa. Randomly walked into Haps for a beer, and into a fundraiser for FORT. SYNCHRONICITY. When they introduced themselves - Katie & Emily,
Katie said "I was roommates with Shannon Kerr. Do you know Shannon?" Shannon & her sister Julie were the ones Melissa & I did the 3 Day-60 Mile walk with in Atlanta! Katie is going to visit Shannon in Boston next week. Wow. Small world.
Without a doubt, the fundraiser is growing. Someone last night told me there were people there from all the rugby clubs in Cincinnati - the Kelts, Wolfhounds & Queen City. Plus a lot of other people! A lot of volunteers - I tried to talk to most of them (mostly to find out if they knew Fort), but also to introduce myself. I'm Fort's mom. She would LOVE this. I know she and John were there...I brought them...
FORT, J MAC & JP
The recipients of the Melissa Fortener McLaughlin Scholarship
(this is where 1/2 of the proceeds go from the Kelts fundraiser!)
Paulie & Nettie - THANK YOU NETTI for all of your hard work!!! We love you!!!
Nettie's hard work...getting donations for the raffles & Silent Auction and making some great signs!
Donny & Nettie with one of the items for the Silent Auction!
The People... (notice all the different FORT shirts...I love it!)
This is Nick (not MY Nick) I love his suit.
Randi, Mike, Brandon, Donny
Erin & Hooky
Brandon, Randi, Mike
Tom Sweeney is in the red shirt. This is where he and Mary Ann always sat. If you zoom in on the picture, you can see the orb to the right of him. Mary Ann? I think so.
Brandon, me, Katie & Emily, Melissa's friends from OU. My two NEW friends...
Donny, Crazy Legs, me
Mike and the outback crowd. Lots of orbs outside last night!!!
me, Carolyn, Donny & Randi (our Compassionate Friends from Piqua)
The food...walking taco, pigs in a blanket and lots of sweets!
Karen, Netti's mom. Her better half.
Carolyn, getting her tickets ready for the drawing...
The new FORT hoodies. They look great! (Oh...and the guy with all the tickets...I don't think he liked me....all those tickets and he didn't win anything. Sorry about that!
However HULA won two baskets...and the $500 and the $100. Donated $350 of that back to the fundraiser. LOVE these guys!
Not sure if you can tell, but it was a GREAT night. Thank you to Nettie, Paulie, Katie for ordering all the hoodies, and all the Kelts who volunteered...and to the Wolfhounds for your donation to the fundraiser! You are an amazing group of people & I know why my daughter loved you!
After getting home at 1 a.m. from the fundraiser, we got up at 8 a.m. to go to our grandsons football games in Springfield. Didn't look like it was going to be a very nice day - looking at the radar the rain and storms were on the way. No rain in Max's game - ended in a tie, 0-0. All defense.
Some of you know that Andrew has a fear of storms. A real phobia. He's been pretty good so far this year, but today was not good. He can look at the radar and even if the radar shows there's no storms close by, he looks at the sky. There were lots of ominous clouds today, and it WAS kind of a scary looking sky. He really wanted to be in the car, or under cover. Nick got permission to be on the sidelines with him (he just wanted his daddy close by) - Andrew played from the first play to the end of the game. In the fourth quarter, he played offense AND defense. He had one sack. But most importantly, he faced his fear. And for today, he conquered his fear.
They lost the game, but he won his "competition" with the weather. We were so proud of him.
Andrew with his other grandpa - Pops.
Andrew - #84
Busy weekend. Again. I'll be posting again this week. Thursday would be JP's 14th birthday.
It's been a tough couple of weeks. Thank goodness for the Kelts (who kept us busy this weekend), our grandsons (who keep us busy EVERY weekend) and antidepressants. I need them all the next few months.
Oh. And remember what Paulie said...(really what Tom & Mary Ann say) Meet two new people everywhere you go. You never know how they might change your life.