30 Days

We are just 30 days away from the 2017 Walk to Cure Arthritis in Grand Rapids and we are getting excited for the event.  We would love to have a huge turn out for our team to support Mackenzie.  This has been a rough year for her with her relapse and the support means a lot even if she doesn’t always know how to show it or express it.

We are still over $2000 away from our fundraising goal  and coming up short of our participant goal and it’s hard.  (Losing out on our big fundraiser was heartbreaking for us)  We haven’t even managed to match last year.  I know we still have 30 days but I can’t help but feel we are coming up short and I know this money really does go to fund things that are important.  The Foundation has a history of advocating for and with patients at both the state and federal level.  They fund programs for those with arthritis including JA Power Packs for kids diagnosed with arthritis that include tools and information to help navigate a new diagnosis and a bear that can be warmed up to help comfort sore and achy joints.  They fund family and kids programs like the JA Conference where families all around the country can come together to learn and share with families all facing this terrible disease together and Camp Dakota and other JA Camps around the country…a special week of summer camp just for kids with active arthritis.  This camp allows kids with JA to experience summer camp and childhood in an environment where they won’t feel different or limited or excluded because of their JA.  And most importantly they fund critical research for relief of symptoms of the disease and ultimately the goal of a cure!  And we need a cure!

If you can spare a dollar or two now for a donation or an hour or two on May 6th to walk with us, please click on this link and join us.  Whether you believe it or not, even one dollar makes a huge impact and every person that walks with us May 6th makes an impression (especially in the eyes of a beautiful little girl).  http://www.walktocurearthritis.org/grandrapids/mackenziessidekicks

On a different note regarding the Walk, The Arthritis Foundation reached out to us and made us a new Face of Arthritis sign for the Walk.  It blows my mind to think that we are on year number five of fighting this horrible disease.  She sure has changed since her last sign was made three years ago:



A Challenging Year…

This year we’ve found ourselves being “challenged” to raise funds for the Walk to Cure Arthritis.  It’s hard to believe that this will be our fifth Walk.  Last year we were walking in celebration of Mackenzie’s health at the time and the thought that she was on her way to remission.  This year we walk with a renewed purpose to find a cure after Mackenzie relapsed last summer.

Our first year, 2013 we raised over $6000.  Our “big” fundraiser that year was a Gently Used Book Sale and Bake Sale but the majority of our donations came simply from our asking.  For many the cause was new (many didn’t know a two year old could have arthritis).  In 2014 we hosted our first ever Mom2Mom Sale in March of that year.  It was a huge success with all of our seller spaces filled and a line at the door on sale day with shoppers waiting to come in and shop.  It was truly amazing.  It was also the year the Arthritis Foundation asked Mackenzie to be the Youth Honoree.  Her face was everywhere including on television.  That year we raised over $4500.  2015 was our second largest fundraising year with just shy of $5000 in donations.  That year we hosted two large fundraisers, our 2nd Annual Mom2Mom Sale and we published a cookbook – Cooking for a Cure with Mackenzie’s Sidekicks.   In both 2014 and 2015 we also partnered with area restaurants for Give Back events in which the restaurant gave our team a donation based on a percentage of food/beverages purchased on a specific date.  Last year was our “small” year.  It was small in donation support and small in team size.  We raised just over $1600 and had a team of twelve walk with us on Walk day.

This year we are just 40 days away from the 2017 Walk and we have raised $920 of our $3000 goal and have 5 registered walkers of our 20 walker goal.  Our largest annual fundraiser was cancelled due to a lack of participation (we couldn’t get enough sellers to fill the sale) and so we find ourselves having to work harder to raise the funds that go to help support the Arthritis Foundation in their work of education, advocacy and research and development towards a cure.  We know there are numerous causes out there continuously asking you for a donation….Relay for Life (American Cancer Society), Parkinson’s, Diabetes, and many more.  We feel it too.  Even the school system has the kids fundraising for not only the school but also the American Heart Association with Jump Rope for Heart.  We know you feel the pressure of all of these organizations (and all very worthy organizations) asking you to give and give and give.

The difference for us is that we also feel the hurt, the loss, the frustration of arthritis as we watch our almost seven year old daughter battle this invisible disease for what is now her fifth year.  Some of these other causes are very near and dear to us as well, as they raise funds for cures for illnesses and diseases that also have had or currently have an affect on our family, but this….the Walk to Cure Arthritis, is our #1.  We will continue to put it at the top of our list until we can find a cure!  We will continue to raise awareness that arthritis isn’t just an old person’s disease.  We will continue to raise awareness that there aren’t enough pediatric rheumatologists in the country to treat all of the children currently diagnosed and those that will be diagnosed in the future.  We will continue to fundraise to fund more research and development of medications that will give those suffering a better quality of life until a cure can be found.  And most of all we will fundraise to find the CURE!

If you can spare a dollar, or two, or more we ask that you consider helping us reach our $3000 goal by donating to the 2017 Walk to Cure in support of Mackenzie and her team.  We ask that if you are willing to host a fundraiser for us that you reach out to us and let us know (a blue jean day at the office, a coin challenge in your classroom(s) or office, a raffle, and event, etc), we will be happy to partner with you.  Every dollar helps, there is no such thing as too little of a donation.  We would also love to have you join us on May 6th at the Walk at John Ball Park/Zoo.  The event is a very easy stroll around the perimeter of John Ball Park and for those that donate/raise $30 or more you receive free admission to the Zoo for the rest of the day.  It’s just a couple hours out of your Saturday, one day of the year to come out and support Mackenzie and show her that she is not alone in her battle against arthritis.

To donate or join our team or both, simply follow this link: http://www.walktocurearthritis.org/grandrapids/mackenziessidekicks

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and as always thank you so much for your love and support of Mackenzie.  Together we can find a cure!

Adding a little fun and humor to our Quarterly Check Up at Mott Children's Hospital.

Adding a little fun and humor to our Quarterly Check Up at Mott Children’s Hospital.

2015 Walk to Cure Arthritis Pictures

Better late then never, here are pictures from the 2015 Walk to Cure Arthritis in Grand Rapids.  Thank you again to one and all that walked with us, donated to the team, and are continuing to support Mackenzie in her fight to find a cure!

Just 19 Days until the 2015 Walk to Cure Arthritis

It’s hard to believe that the 2015 Walk to Cure Arthritis is almost here.  We have just 19 short days left to reach our goals of 20+ team members and raising $5000.  Even if we don’t reach our fundraising goal (it was a lofty one for us) we would really love to reach our team member goal.  If you are reading this, have you signed up to walk with us?  It’s really quite easy……

The 2015 Walk to Cure Arthritis is Saturday, May 2nd at John Ball Park.   Registration/Check-In begins at 8:30a and the program and walk begin at 9:40a.  There are two courses you can walk, a one mile course and a three mile course.  There is no fee to walk with us, however all walkers ages 3 years and over do need to be registered.  If a walker raises or donates $25 or more they will receive a wristband for complementary admission to the zoo for the remainder of the day.  Talk about a great family outing!

There will be all sorts of fun things to do before the walk during the Registration/Check In time.   There will be a terrific juggling act to watch from Just Josh Juggling.  I’ve heard a rumor that Griff from the Grand Rapids Griffins will be there.  And there will be exhibits from the event sponsors as well.

After the walk we will be hosting a picnic (weather permitting) for everyone that walks with us.  We will be grilling hamburgers and hot dogs and have chips and cookies for everyone before they head into the zoo or off to enjoy the remainder of their day just as our way to say Thank You to everyone that comes out to support Mackenzie.

Do you have questions or want more information?  Just click on the contact us tab and drop us line.  Or if you would like to walk with us on May 2nd, visit http://2015arthritiswalkgrandrapids.kintera.org/mackenziessidekicks and click on Join Team.  We hope to see you there!

Final Push!

Busy week this week!  Our cookbook is wrapping up and just about ready to head off to the publisher.  Just a friendly reminder that recipes are due by end of day on Friday, February 6.  As of this post, we  have received and entered 192 recipes.  They have been so much fun to read and enter in to our cookbook.  And I have to tell you they are so good that they keep me in a constant state of hunger.  We just can’t wait to share them all with you.

We are also still accepting pre-orders for the cookbook.  They are going to be $10 each and then an additional $3 shipping and handling each if you need the book direct shipped to you.  Be sure to pre-order yours today to guarantee your copy.  They also make great gifts.  Mother’s Day will be coming up soon (hint, hint).  For the pre-orders we have already received, invoices will be going out next week via e-mail whenever possible and the rest via mail.  We will begin shipping out and delivering the cookbooks as soon as we receive them back from the publisher.

In other non-cookbook related “news”, we had a great Walk to Cure Arthritis meeting last week Thursday.  It is always great to get together with other families that struggle through fighting this disease either themselves personally or with their child.  They truly understand your ups and downs and have more then likely experienced them too.  And getting together gives us a chance to not only share some of that burden but also to relax and smile together while talking about and planning for one of our favorite events, the Walk to Cure Arthritis.

The Walk will once again be the first Saturday in May (May 2nd) and we are going to be back at John Ball Zoo.  If you have not had the chance to join us in the past, please consider joining us this year.  This is the signature fundraising event for the Arthritis Foundation and for the participants, a great day of fun, laughter, sharing, learning, walking, talking, and of course a visit to the zoo!  We have set a team goal of raising $5000 this year and having a team of 20 walkers, but we would love to just blow those numbers right out of the water.  Please consider joining us in the effort by signing up to Walk with us or if you aren’t able to walk with us on May 2nd then by joining our team and fundraising for a Cure or making a donation.  Just click on this link http://2015arthritiswalkgrandrapids.kintera.org/mackenziessidekicks to join our team or make a donation.  Every dollar and every walker helps.

Finally, be sure to visit our Events page regularly as we have several Fundraising events coming up, with the first being our Brann’s give back event on February 17.  Brann’s on Harvey St. in Muskegon is generously donating 15% of sales to Mackenzie’s Sidekicks in support of our team in the 2015 Walk to Cure Arthritis on February 17.  Just go to our Events page and click on the flyer, print it out and take it with you to Brann’s on February 17.  When you give the flyer to your server, 15% of your bill will go to Mackenzie’s Sidekicks.  This is good on both dine in and carry out orders!  Please enjoy a meal or snack out and help support Mackenzie’s Sidekicks in our effort to find a cure!

Upcoming events after Brann’s include the release of our Cooking for a Cure with Mackenzie’s Sidekicks cookbook, the 2nd Annual Springtime Women’s Expo in Spring Lake (we will have a booth there with information and the cookbook), the 2nd Annual Mom2Mom Sale to support Mackenzie’s Sidekicks (this year to be held at the Holiday Inn in Spring Lake), and our newest fundraiser…..raising “Bones” to help find a cure for arthritis.  And for those of you that know us well, I’m sure the list will grow.  Just be sure to keep an eye on the Events page for more information on each of these events and to learn about any new events that come up.


2014 Jingle Bell Run/Walk

Thank you to all that ran on behalf of Mackenzie this past Saturday at the Jingle Bell Run/Walk.  The event was a quite successful for us as a first time team appearance (one that did not include Mackenzie due to a Rheumatologist appointment and family commitments).  We were able to raise $343 for the Arthritis Foundation to help further their goal of finding a cure for arthritis.

Team Mackenzie's Sidekicks at the 2014 Jingle Bell Run/Walk

Team Mackenzie’s Sidekicks at the 2014 Jingle Bell Run/Walk

And an extra special thank you to Kasey Spofford for recruiting runners for the team

And an extra special thank you to Kasey Spofford for recruiting runners for the team