My Smiling for Smiddy Challenge Ride Reflection – 12 months later, better late than never!!!

Posted in News

Time really does fly! It was exactly 12 months ago today that I was packing and preparing to take on a seemingly impossible challenge, joining 49 other cyclists to embark on a journey from Brisbane to Townsville to raise money for cancer research in the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge Ride.

Here’s some essentials I packed…..

Essentials

Townsville is 1600km’s from Brisbane! 1600km’s over 8 days on our bikes!! Sounds crazy right? Here’s where we travelled…..

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The team at Smiling for Smiddy is seasoned and polished when it comes to coordinating such an event. There’s nothing the support crew can’t do. Whether it’s a gentle smile to send you on your way, or an embracing hug when you don’t even realise you need it most, they are wholly committed to the team with an unconditional bond of friendship and love. Even 12 months on from my own participation in the Challenge ride, I still feel blessed to know such incredible people.

Support Crew

In just 8 days of cycling, it is impossible to describe the wave of emotions experienced during that time. For me personally, I have not even been able to (or taken the time to really) sit for a moment and reflect on what I experienced until now, the eve of the next wave of cyclists taking this incredible journey. As a previous Challenge rider, I’m wondering how to describe it, how to explain it, how to send my wishes to my friends going this year and to complete strangers who are about to leave themselves.

My kids described it best for me….

Inspirational Kids

In a single week of my life, I can honestly say that I never felt anything else like it.

  • Happiness and sadness
  • Connection and isolation
  • Accomplishment and self-doubt
  • Love and emotional pain
  • Body strength and severe indescribable pain (who can forget the mind-over-matter blog?)

The emotional and physical scars I have from the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge ride will be with me forever. This quote sums it up best for me…..

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Would I take it all back? Never!

Would I do it again? Who knows?

Would I recommend others to do it? Hell YES!!!!

The Smiling for Smiddy Challenge ride changed my life. I still can’t perfectly pin point what that really even means, but it changed my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. A special memory for me is that I got to spend 8 days solid with this amazing friend, Hannah Hogan, whose unconditional support helped me through some of my darkest moments. For those taking the journey this year, friendship will be your secret weapon through the tough times.

Hannah & Yas

I also spent hours upon hours looking at the photo in honour of Adam Smiddy stuck onto my bike. When it hurt, I looked at Adam and knew that my pain was nothing in comparison to him losing his life to cancer.   The memory of Adam and the presence of his parents David and Maria leading the support crew, ensured a level of mental strength you don’t even realise is possible. At the end of each of the 8 days, I thought about my emotions throughout the day, then I stuck a little emoticon sticker on my bike to help me through the next day. The photo of Adam and those stickers are all still on my bike 12 months later!!

Adam Smiddy

This year is made even more challenging with the absence of the beautiful Maria Smiddy. Maria is one of those people in life you just can’t find words worthy of describing her. Maria sadly lost her own battle with cancer earlier this year and it still breaks my heart to fathom what the incredible Smiddy family has endured. I simply have no words and can only honour Maria by smiling each time I think of her.  Every time I see this beautiful and treasured photo of us together with her husband David the night we finished riding in 2014, it warms my heart – it remains my Facebook profile picture to this very day.

Maria & David

I wasn’t really looking my best, as I had literally just shaved my long head of hair to raise just that little bit more money for cancer research.   I can thank this guy for that….

Zane

Zane is another one of those special people you meet along this journey. Zane is riding in the Challenge again this year and I have no doubt he will be one of the nucleus members of the group. He’s fit, he’s fast and he’s actually trained for the ride this year too, having come in as a late participant last year not long after losing his own father to cancer.

It just breaks my heart that so many of us have stories of cancer taking loved ones away from us prematurely. It’s one of the reasons it drives our little family to continue raising money for cancer research beyond events like the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge ride.  Our kids love wearing their own Smiddy gear around to show their support!

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In the past 2 months we have two beautiful friends each be diagnosed with breast cancer. One friend has just had her bilateral mastectomy and our other friend is scheduled to have her bilateral mastectomy in 2 weeks time – exactly 12 months after I had my own breast reconstruction.  Both women will then fight a battle with this disease and I know they’ll both win. Their stories make me even more motivated to continue volunteering my time and energy to raise money for cancer research via our World’s Biggest Garage Sale.  With support from our invaluable and incredible volunteers, we are proud to have raised a combined total of $75,000 in our 2013 and 2014 events and we are looking forward to a record breaking 2015 event.

I can’t help but think that the timing of our exciting news today about the 5000 sqm warehouse space being donated to host our 2015 World’s Biggest Garage Sale in 6 weeks time was absolutely perfect. It has happened exactly 12 months after I took my own Challenge journey and on the eve of the next wave of riders leaving for theirs. Stay tuned for more exciting news about this space!!

Yas

As the 2015 riders leave tomorrow, I know in my heart that they will each travel a unique journey in their lives, which will forever remain with them as one of the most significant and memorable eternally.  Every day spent on the road with new friends, strangely feels like a whole regular year of time.  8 days quickly feels like 8 years of a very unique bond.

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Hair grows back, sore butts subside and even the scars will eventually heal, but the look on the face of your family when you return from something magical like the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge ride, is truly priceless.

Girls

Smiddy, Smiddy, Smiddy

World’s Biggest Garage Sale

Posted in News

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It goes without saying that things have been busy!  I’m 4 months post surgery and life is pretty much back to normal, although I’m sure anyone who knows me personally would argue that I’m anything but ‘normal’.

My lack of blog updates on this page has been due to me working on an event I founded back in 2013, which we named the World’s Biggest Garage Sale.  I’ll be spending my time this week sharing some of the amazing experiences this event is bringing to my life.

In the mean time, take a look at our World’s Biggest Garage Sale Facebook page, which is packed full of updates and images about the World’s Biggest Garage Sale.

Don’t let the ‘garage sale’ name fool you though.  This event is coming together like a well oiled machine, which is being made possible thanks to the absolutely AMAZING volunteers who have each been working tirelessly to support this crazy idea I had 12 months ago.

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In 2013 we raised $15,000 and this year we’re aiming sky high, all the way to $100,000!  Will we do it?  Who knows.  Will we give it our best shot?  ABSOLUTELY!

Today I was lucky enough to be interviewed on River 94.9 by the fantastic and excited Danny P. Hoyland.  Let me tell you, I had an absolute ball doing it.  Yeah I might have sounded a little excited, but that’s just me!

I’d love you to take a listen to it.

River

Our Early Bird Event is going to be absolutely amazing!  We have an Antiques and Collectibles Auction starting at 6pm, and we will open the doors for our Early Bird Entries at the same time.  It’s going to be well worth the trip down.

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Take a look at our Facebook page for more details.

You can RSVP on Facebook to attend the official event being held on Saturday 12th July, commencing at 6AM.

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If nothing else, it’s going to be a fun weekend, so come on down!   What I can guarantee is a weekend of inspirational stories as we watch the team of 100+ volunteers support people in the community as they shop this amazing event.

We are busy preparing our new World’s Biggest Garage Sale website, so jump on over and register your email address today.

I hope you like the 94.9 River interview, I had so much fun doing it.

The Gift of Giving…..

Posted in News

It’s an exciting week for me!  On Friday I’m visiting my surgeon for an update. It’s time to find out officially from a medical professional how the foobs are travelling.

If you ask me, they’re fantastic!  No movement, no pain, no issues, no problems, it’s all been very low maintenance since the original meltdown when I thought I’d be stuck with the Holy Big Boobs Batman knockers…..

Other than the fact that they look very different to regular boobs most people see, I look very normal and I feel even better.  The foobs have just become a part of me and my daily life and to be honest, most days I forget completely that they’re any different to what I had prior to surgery.  This is my new normal…..

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I’m expecting everything to be perfect when I see the Dr, so until then, there’s not really much more to report.

I decided that I would dedicate my blog post this week to sharing with you what I did this weekend.  For me, it was a very special, so special that it deserves to be shared.

I spent my Saturday at a strangers house, a house I had visited for the first time just days prior where I met David and Christa, a couple who are retired and were in need of some help.  I learnt that David and Christa were in the process of sorting through the home David grew up in.

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David’s parents, Henry and Betty had recently passed away and David and Christa were overwhelmed by the task of preparing the home for sale.  This was the home Henry built, the home they lived in and the home they loved and cherished for more than 60 years.

David and Christa wanted to donate Henry and Betty’s belongings to charity and when we were offered the opportunity to help, naturally I jumped at the chance.  I am still not sure whether I was more excited at the gift of giving our time, or the by the fact that we were receiving some donations towards our World’s Biggest Garage Sale.

In July this year, we are holding our second World’s Biggest Garage Sale, an event created last year to help raise money for The Mater Foundation, in support of Smiling for Smiddy.  In 2013 we raised more than $15,000 for cancer research at our  World’s Biggest Garage Sale, so naturally we were always going to make it an annual event.

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This year I’ve set the target much much much higher, so I was naturally delighted to be offered the opportunity to assist David and Christa – every little donation helps.  On Saturday, exactly 7 weeks before our big event, there were 13 of us who spent the day sorting and packing Henry and Betty’s house.

This is a photo of Henry and Betty on their wedding day……..

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We laughed, we got teary and we remembered their lives, two strangers who most of us had never had the pleasure of meeting.  By the end of the day, I felt like I knew Henry and Betty.  It was easy to see their strong love for one another, they cared for their home beautifully, their gardens were immaculate, their home spotless clean.

The furniture, while old in age, was almost new in condition and their treasured belongings lined the shelves on display to anyone who visited.

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One of the highlights for me was turning on the radio, tuned perfectly to what must have been Henry’s favourite AM station.  We let the radio play all day, I’m sure that Henry was watching over us as we listened to his ‘wireless’.

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With an 8:30am start and a nearing 6:00pm finish, it was a very solid day with little downtime.  It’s difficult to find exactly the right words to describe what I felt on Saturday, but this quote definitely sums it up well for me.

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Isn’t it ironic that the shirts we wore on the weekend were adorned with a heart…..

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Smiling for Smiddy are incredibly supportive of the World’s Biggest Garage Sale event we now hold annually and I personally can’t wait to experience the amazing roller coaster ride of being involved in this again.

It was an honour to be offered the opportunity to help sort through and pack up Henry and Betty’s house.  I’m going to thoroughly enjoy watching their lifetime of treasures continue their own journey in the hands of other families when they snap themselves up a bargain at our event.

Our two girls couldn’t help but pick some little trinkets out for their own collection, so they both handed over their own pocket money to pay for their new treasures.  I know they will truly looked after and now we have our own little piece of Henry and Betty in our family home.

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I feel so fortunate to have the amazing support from the team of volunteers, my friends, who gave up their weekend time with their own families to help our World’s Biggest Garage Sale.  This quote sums it up perfectly….

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