Thursday, October 29, 2009

Firebirds for Fort FUNdraiser

Just a preview of the pics from the fundraiser...I'll try to post a few more later, then pics from the 3 day walk in Atlanta.

AND THE WINNER OF THE QUILT IS...(drawn by Ruth, breast cancer survivor, neighbor and friend of Pam's)................

TRACY (good friend of Melissa's)

and THANKS to our FANTASTIC DJ Mark!

MM family

Thanks Heather for your contribution to the 3day walk from Solar Tan!!!

Franz Fam

Food (dessert) of course!

Angie selling raffle tickets....

Netti LOVES her FORT shirt!

Cary, Pam, Jen (Security!)

Karyn working the crowd

Monday, October 26, 2009

3 days...60 miles...WE DID IT!

Two years ago this month, Melissa called me TWO days before the 3 day breast cancer walk she was doing in Atlanta. I was driving her to Atlanta and staying in a hotel for the weekend while she walked with her friend from college, Shannon, and Shannon's sister Julie. She was very excited, and informed me that the rugby team raised enough money that I could do the walk with her...60 days.
I tried to talk my way out of it, but to no avail. If she could do it (on chemo)... I could do it. So I did. We did.
It was THE most incredible experience of my life. Something I NEVER thought I could do. But WE did. The ENTIRE 60 miles, we walked. We had fun. We laughed. I have three days of WONDERFUL memories.
And I did it again. This time FOR Melissa. Our team was FORT'S YAYAS for TATAS.
We shared Melissa's story, made a lot of new friends, and AGAIN I was amazed at the energy, the LOVE, the incredible people that volunteered their time for this fabulous event. I KNOW Melissa was with us - we all (Sharon, Karyn & Mandi & John) made it to the finish line at Turner Field...with just a few blisters (and a few stress fractures) - but we made it. And ALL smiling at the end.

To all of our new Atlanta friends - THANK YOU for your HUGS, your love, your compassion and for listening to my story. I can't talk about Melissa enough. And now you can meet her yourself. Thank you for reading her story.

I'll be posting pics of the 3day AND the fundraiser sometime later this week...
stay tuned.

Monday, October 19, 2009


To EVERYONE who contributed in ANY way- it was an event that Melissa would have LOVED. I'm thinking we were NOT QUITE at 500 (maybe 499????) - in any event the hall was PACKED. Thank you to those of you who contributed SILENT AUCTION items, Raffle items, door prizes, PRINTING, the HALL, the DJ, the tons and tons of delicious FOOD....and
very important to the success - those of you who attended! It was incredible.

We raised over $20,000 - with more to come. There are some NASCAR items on ebay, so if you are a NASCAR fan, check them out (nose cone of Danica Patrick's car for one)- and rugby friend "Jen" (no last names, I remember AGAIN fort) is running the Breast Cancer Marathon and will be contributing to the Scholarship fund also.

I wish we could thank each of you personally. You have NO IDEA what this means to our family - me, Donny, John, Nick, Mere, Drew Max AND Angie. It was a labor of love - and will benefit a LOT of Fairmont students in the years to come! She would LOVE that.
(will post pictures later).


"Well, Ill be honest. When I was growing up, I never imagined this was where I would spend my child's fifth birthday."

This was Melissa's quote from October 19, 2008. Today, October 19, 2009, Melissa is celebrating WITH JP for the first time. He would have been 6 today.
Happy Birthday JP - Grandma & Grandpa love you and miss you...we're getting together
with you dad, your uncle Nick aunt Mere & your cousins Drew & Max.
We love you and miss you both.

Monday, October 12, 2009 HER words

About a month ago I promised to post some of Melissa's quotes from when she
was in the hospital - all funny, of course. But I just found this - she wrote
it sometime last year (because she mentions being 30). This will be the
beginning of the book-whenever I get to it.
If you don't know Fort, or have only known her as an adult - (I guess you could
call her that - she was a kid at heart ALWAYS)....this gives you some insight into
her "formative" years, and I guess explains why she is what she is....(or was what
she was).


Im doing it again. Going back as far into my memory banks as I possibly can, to dissect every awful thing I have ever done, ever said. When horrible things happen to people, or at least when they happen to me, I sit back and try to figure exactly which moment did it. Where did we go wrong?

My earliest childhood memory of being an asshole, was in kindergarten. There was a boy in my class, and he was poor. Or at least he looked poor. And I decided that I didn’t like him. Im thirty years old and I still feel awful about it. Ive never had much of a spine when it comes to social or professional confrontation, and sometimes I wonder if its from the conditioning I got in the form of a verbal smack-down from Mrs. McVey when I decided to “go off” on this poor kid. By “going off”, I really have no idea what I said.

As an adult, I get so wound up and guilty about it, I start to imagine that I, as a five year old, stood up on my chair and read off a laundry list of the reasons why poor people would have such a hard time succeeding in this world. “Your mother is uneducated and doesn’t bathe you regularly, which will enevitably lead to your growing self-esteem issues, a future drug problems, professional struggles. Your abusive father is teaching you that love is dispersed by cigarette burns and slaps upside the head, which you will undoubtedly pass on to your own children.”

No joke. This is how I imagine it, and it makes me feel like shit. In reality, I was probably just being a brat. How much does a five year old know anyway? Maybe I just told him I wasn’t going to share my crayons. Or maybe I really did get nasty and say, “I don’t like you.” I have a hard time imagining a five-year old spouting off the hate my guilty conscience likes to try and convince me I was capable of, but for some reason, that event stays with me. Perhaps it was the memory of turning around and seeing Mrs. McVey looking down with a disappointed look. Ive been uncomfortable “going off” on anyone since.

I pretty much played it straight through elementary school if you don’t count the endless torment on my younger brother. But I don’t feel as guilty about that one. Once Nick hit puberty, his retaliation was swift and violent, and when what used to be a simple battle over a remote control landed my ass getting drug into the front yard by my hair, still clutching those remote controls, I realized my reign of terror was now over.

I then found new ways to torment my brother. He may have been strong, but he was (and still is) more emotional than most pre-menstrual women. A friend once

Road Trip

Its definitely one of the top five meanest things Ive ever done to somebody. And Im pretty sure I regret undoing it, because sometimes squeezing a bakery grade donut jelly filling into someone’s nasty work shoes can be the perfect justice.

I began my tenure at Stan the Donut Man at the tender age of fourteen. I had successfully opened up plenty of free time at the end of my 7th grade year by offering myself up to the social guillotine and cutting my own hair so super short that the “cute wedge” I was going for actually ended up sloping off my neck at a ninety degree angle where it met a wavy plateau of hair on top, much resembling a Tour de France helmet.

I specifically remember the one adult who “Oooh-ed” and “Ahhh-ed” over it. She was the girlfriend of one of my dads softball teammates, and looking back on it, Im pretty sure she was drunk. Everybody knew it looked awful, but I managed to keep a steady brood of friends around, and things weren’t so awful.

That was before my hairdo inspired one of the 8th grade football players in French class to christen it “The Millenium Falcon”, one of films greatest spaceships. To be truthful, I was actually relieved. “Millenium Falcon” sounded so much better than “Spaceship Head”, and as someone who always appreciated a good moniker, I secretly applauded the sharper of the two athletes who finally blurted it out after the other couldn’t get more creative than “Spaceship Head”. Even as the target of ridicule, I tried to embrace it. After all, it was my mistake, and crawling in a hole wasn’t going to make the situation any better.

By my freshman year, the nickname had evolved, as all nicknames do, to simply, “Falcon”, and when I made the freshman softball team and it was time to decide what would go on the back of my jersey, the decision was clear. Oh yeah, and I sucked at softball. Still do.

So there I was. Fourteen, with a severely pathetic social life and a weekend gig at the Donut shop down the road. I worked one weekend and quickly turned around and left Ohio with my family on a three-week cross-country road trip to California.

The Donut Man’s menu was daunting. Forty cents for yeast donuts…..Forty-five for filled….donut holes were ten cents…..a dozen donuts with no filled was two-seventy-five, but if you had a filled donut in the mix it was three-fifteen….specialty danishes (Apple Fritters, Davey Crocketts & Bow Ties) were fifty-five cents and so on. I sat at the counter and diligently wrote down all prices and took it with me on my vacation and would pull it study it. I wasn’t going to fuck this up. No way.

The three-week road trip with my parents and brother Nick, who was entering the 7th grade, took the counter-clockwise route northwest. Mt. Rushmore, The Badlands and Bear Country USA seemed to occur in the beginning.

Mt Rushmore was one of the first stops. We all think of that maintenance guy rapelling down the nose of George Washington and you think Mt. Rushmore is going to block out the sun when you arrive. But the observation deck is far from the actual side of the carved mountain, and it just seemed a bit smaller than I expected. Each night they light up the side of the mountain and play “America the Beautiful”….or maybe it’s the National Anthem. I cant even remember.

I do recall camping out while we were visiting Mt. Rushmore, and I also remember my mother coming down with some sort of stomach cramp so bad that dad had to take her to a hospital. Nick and I stayed at the campsite. While I don’t remember specifically, it’s a safe bet that Nick was playing GameBoy and I was making friendship bracelets. I don’t know why we didn’t go in support of our mother. The obvious answer is that while we were generally labeled as “Good Kids”, we were in junior high, and even “Good Kids” in junior high are usually selfish, insensitive assholes.

As a grown up insensitive asshole, I still can’t even recall what was wrong with her or how she got better in a day. My father had spent an entire year planning this three week trip, so perhaps it was the threat of being left in South Dakota.

Mom came back to the campsite after a trip to the local hospital that was manned by one nurse and a baby in the nursery. Had to call the doctor in.

The next day was Bear Country USA, one of the sleeper hits of the entire trip. We slowly rode through the park in our standard issue light blue Dodge Caravan, heads on swivels, enjoying nature the way God had intended, behind barbed wire. Of the fifty plus hours of footage from this trip, Bear Country USA steals the show.

Upon a large rock sat a huge bear who had a Jabba the Hut quality about him. Eyes closed, he batted flies from his face with his tounge, opening his mouth like a puppet. My brother wasted no time inserting words into the bears mouth, and we all giggled like school girls at my brothers complete comedic ingenuity. He spoke with the deep voice that king Jabba-bear would have. The video is priceless, or it was priceless. I don’t know how funny it would be today. My standards have improved considerably since then.

But make no bones about it, Nick’s remote ventriloquist act with a captive bear didn’t hold a candle to what lie around the corner.

Its best told from the Sony camcorders perspective. Footage is rolling, mom is at the helm ensuring the trips soundtrack is a constant rotation of Kenny G, Michael Bolton, and Luther Vandross.

Suddenly, from the back, you hear my discovery verbalized in a chorus of “OhmyGods”.

“OhhhhMiGod, Oh My God, Oh My God, Oh My God, Oh My God.”

If memory serves, you hear my mom let out a belly laugh before the camera quickly turns to the woods, and focuses in a big bear mounting a much smaller bear not to far off into the woods.

Interestingly, none of us wanted to stop watching. While I never remember having an actual “Sex Talk” with mom or dad, I like to think of this moment as our unintended family Sex Talk. While our parents didn’t go into specifics, they blurted out one-liners that I like to think was there way of teaching us the finer points of the birds and the bees.

Out of my fathers mouth, right out of the gate, “We could probably take this home and sell it to some sickos!”

LESSON LEARNED: Sex footage of any kind, even bear sex, can be used to make a profit.

Mom didn’t hold back either. “She’s probably sayin’, GET OFFA ME!”

LESSON LEARNED: Women don’t like sex. Or maybe, women don’t like “Doggy-Style” sex. (Is it even called “Doggy-Style” if bears are doing it? These lessons weren’t going well)

Dad then adds, “Beige, I think Ill paint the ceiling beige.”

LESSON LEARNED: Even as a soon to be 9th grader, I could imply this meant that women were bored with having sex with men.

My mother laughed, and I began to think that this was a quote from a movie I had never seen. Dare I ask? I probably wouldn’t get a straight answer anyway. My childhood was a fog of taping movies on television and watching them over and over and over again. Goonies, Flight of the Navigator, and Bachelor Party easily take the top three prizes for most overplayed movies in our household.

Of course our version of Bachelor Party was the vanilla cable version, soaped up, sex and curse-free. We were, however, lucky enough to watch some of the “adult situations” that left me scratching my head.

Even if you don’t know what a “Cleveland Steamer” or a “Dirty Sanchez” is, most people know not to ask a parental figure what they are. You just know its not something appropriate. But what if you don’t know a word is inappropriate? For me, that word was “porno”.

In a scene in the Bachelor Party, the wives and girlfriends of the men who are planning the bachelor party, sabotage the “pornos in Rick’s trunk” by taking them and splicing out all of the “good stuff”. I didn’t know what a porno was, so of course, I didn’t know what the “good stuff” they were cutting out of it.

It seemed innocent enough. I was a curious 4th grader. I approached my mother in hopes of solving this mystery.

“Mom? What’s a porno?”

Pam looked down at me, pensive. This was going to be good. She couldn’t deny me this information. After all, I was the pre-schooler who told announced to my class that my “Dad takes pictures of my mom with no clothes on”. She certainly would benefit by having a well-informed child.

She cocked her head and squinched her eye, confused.

“You know? I don’t really know.”

And I believed her. I was still pretty confused, because my mother was a smart lady, and it didn’t make sense to me that something talked about so casually on a blockbuster movie was so clearly a mystery to her, but I left it at that.

So there we were, bonding as a family, videotaping animal porn and learning some of life’s most important lessons.

Way to go DANNY!!!

Yep...the DANNY FORTENER that intercepted an Illini pass for a touchdown for Michigan State is Fort's cousin...found this article - I KNOW she would be posting this!

Danny Fortener returns to Spartans' starting lineup, takes interception back for touchdown
By Steve Grinczel
October 10, 2009, 8:30PM
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- There is no better living example of fortitude on the Michigan State football team than Danny Fortener.

Throughout his career, Fortener has been the defensive back who gets results more on savvy and guile than on talent and ability. He started nine of 13 games last season as a junior and the first two games of this season.

Then, sophomore Trenton Robinson moved ahead of Fortener in practice and won the starting free safety position against Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Fortener didn’t waiver, however, and when the game against the Wolverines went into overtime, he made the critical deflection of Tate Forcier’s pass into the end zone, which cornerback Chris L. Rucker intercepted. Three plays later, MSU freshman running back Larry Caper scored the game-winning touchdown.

Fortener was back in the starting lineup for Saturday’s 24-14 victory against Illinois in Memorial Stadium.

On the first possession in the second half, Fortener intercepted Eddie McGee’s pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown to secure 24-0 lead.

“They’ve been throwing that same route a lot and I made a good break on the ball,” Fortener said. “He kind of lofted it up to where I could just jump up and get it.

“I knew I was gone. I didn’t see anyone near me and wanted to get to the end zone as fast as I could to celebrate with my teammates.”

The interception was Fortener’s first of the season, third of his career and first for a touchdown.

“It was one of the big plays of the game,” MSU coach Mark Dantonio said.
Fortener wasn’t discouraged after his situation changed so dramatically earlier in the season.

“It’s been up and down, but you have to have a team mentality,” he said. “I’ve just got to keep my head up and when the other guy goes in, you just have to root him on because we’re still Michigan State.

“What I’ve been doing is just work extra hard to make my way back.”

Spartans forces sixth turnover
Fortener’s interception was MSU’s only takeaway of the game and only the sixth of the season. The Spartans started the game with the fewest takeaways in the Big Ten and were 10th in turnover margin at minus-0.8.

“Anytime you get an interception for a touchdown, it gets addicting because then somebody else wants one,” MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said. “It just comes down to making plays. (Fortener) is a good football player.”

Racking up the yards
Michigan State rushed for 193 yards against the Illini a week after gaining 197 against Michigan for its best back-to-back rushing performances since rushing for 238 against Eastern Michigan, 259 against Florida Atlantic, 203 against Notre Dame and 189 against Indiana in game Nos. 2-5 last season.

Tackle leaders
The Spartans’ six quarterback sacks gave them a two-game total of 10. Middle linebacker Greg Jones led MSU with 11 tackles, including one sack, and Fortener had 11 tackles.

Friday, October 9, 2009

FUNdraiser News!

Any NASCAR fans out there? If you're coming to the fundraiser - you'll love this!
There will be FOUR NASCAR hats, each signed by Mark Martin, Jimmy Johnson, Dale Earnhart Jr & Jeff Gordon - for the Silent Auction!
Also - Bengals fans - we have two sets of tickets - one set includes a Tailgate package. We also have UC Football tickets and basketball tickets.
Are you a Danica Patrick fan? We have a bumper(or fender...some part of one of her cars) with her name (I haven't seen it yet - don't know if it's an autograph or just her name) - might be nice for a Bar&Grill or Restaurant that features NASCAR/racing items if you know anyone that might be interested -let them know!

Thank you all for your support and contributions to this event. I KNOW Melissa would be thrilled and impressed with what's been accomplished so far. Won't be the same without her laughter, but I know she'll be there in spirit.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


(I was going to post the photos yesterday. When I got up, went to get a pair of socks, opened the drawer and it was full. I NEVER had socks. Fort always borrowed my socks,
so the last time I went to get a pair(last fall) I didn't have the color I needed. Now I do. Made me SO went my Monday - no post...sorry to those I promised to get them out yesterday).

Some day I will learn how to put a caption under a picture...(Fort would never let me "help" her with a post (I CAN DO IT MYSELF!), so I don't know how to do that yet!)

the photos...

Mr. & Mrs. KJ & WATTS (aka Mr. & Mrs. last names, I remembered, Fort...)

the "line out" for the bouquet...only at a RUGBY reception

Lola & Pam (check out the November 08 post - there's a photo of Fort with Lola!)

The scrapbookers (Stacy & Alyssa) with Pam

The bouquet - KJ had a string of beads on her bouquet - every other bead
was pink - made of rose petals from roses from Fort's funeral...)

More ruggers.....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fairmont Volley for the Cure Honors Fort!

What a great tribute to Melissa! The team made posters (WE LOVE FORT!), Angie gave an incredible speech about Melissa (I don't know how she made it through the whole thing!)
Thanks Ang!....and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TODAY too!
Thanks to all who attended in honor of Melissa - and to the Fairmont Volleyball parents and team (and of course Coach) - we can't thank you enough!
Photos include Melissa's bench (Ang & I decorated with pink ribbons)Ang and Coach, Sharon and Sue selling tickets, and some random shots at the event.
Melissa would have LOVED this...she would have loved the planning part - and she LOVED watching Fairmont volleyball (AND basketball!)...the only thing missing was HER.