Monday, November 24, 2008

Nash's Donor Tour Part II

It’s Nash, here again with another update on my awesome “Donors Rock” tour. I continued my travels meeting sisters both in Philadelphia area and neighboring New Jersey as well….

November 19 – I ventured across the bridge to visit our fabulous women at Zeta Pi, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Over a delicious pasta dinner, we shared some Phi Sig history and lots of good stories. Thank you for cooking for me and welcoming me on my first ever visit to this campus. It was really fun!

November 20 - I was delighted to have coffee with two very special alumnae at Starbucks on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. It was wonderful catching up with Heather Kelley, a Beta Psi alumna and current Foundation Secretary and Diane Spatz, a Nu alumna, who is a Foundation Director Emeritus and the long standing CKA at Xi Chapter, Temple University.

November 20 – Dodgeball, anyone? How fun it was to watch the sisters of Zeta Gamma chapter at West Chester University compete among themselves in their first annual Phi Sig Olympics. The chapter divided themselves into teams complete with names, t-shirts, and cheers while having a blast playing dodgeball, answering trivia questions, and other fun activities. Following the game, it was so nice to tour their house and chat with the sisters about how the university has changed since I was their CKA in the 1990s. Thank you for hosting me and allowing me to share your entertaining games!

November 23 – I was thrilled to have lunch with Beta Alpha alumna Bonnie Diamond Aaron, who served the Foundation as a former Philanthropy and Fundraising Chairman. Since it’s been years since we’ve seen each other, it was wonderful to touch base, get up to date, and share family photos with each other.

November 23 - I traveled to New Jersey again, this time to attend a meeting with the sisters of Theta Eta chapter at Rider University. We had a blast remembering our Phi Sig history. After the meeting, I toured the house which is very impressive. Thank you to the women at Theta Eta for allowing me to visit where I had such a good time!

November 24 – I was honored to have lunch with Past Grand Archon and Phi Sig icon, Veachey Rudolph Bloom. If you think I tell good stories, then you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing Veachey speak. I could listen to Veachey talk all day and all night about her Phi Sig experiences…she’s a Phi Sig treasure!

November 24 – For my final visit, I was honored to attend a very lovely ritual meeting at Gamma Xi chapter at Widener University. Following the meeting, we had a question and answer session, and then I toured the Manor, their beautiful home. Thanks to all my Gamma Xi sisters for a terrific evening!

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks, but an extremely exhilarating experience. Our chapters continue to aim high and I know our Founders would be so proud of them. Thanks to everyone for hosting me with such warmth and enthusiasm.

One thing is for sure, our DONORS ROCK!! Look out, Nash may be dropping by to see you soon!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Foundation Executive Director Nancy Hay, a.k.a. “Nash”, Is On the Road in Philly

Nash has hit the road and has been a blogging maniac! See below for her latest stories and news!

Greetings from Nash. I’m currently in Philadelphia where it has been my great pleasure to meet and visit with so many wonderful Phi Sig collegians and alumnae.

November 14 - I began my “Donors Rock” tour with a trip to Stevenson College in Owings Mills, MD to attend Zeta Chi Chapter’s Basket Bingo. I was honored to meet the sisters and their advisors, families and friends at this fantastic fundraiser. This event was not only fun, but it raised thousands of dollars for the Foundation. Congratulations to the chapter on a job well done and thank you for all your support.

November 16 - I was delighted to attend the Founders’ Day luncheon hosted by the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter. Check out all the details here.

November 17 – After having met all the local chapter reps at the Philly Founders’ Day celebration, I set out to visit each chapter on their own campus. My first stop was Beta Rho chapter, my alma mater Drexel University.

I was quite impressed with the growth of the university which has so many new buildings that I hardly recognized it. It was so nice to meet the chapter, tour their house, and chat with the sisters about how the university has changed since I was in school. Thank you Beta Rhos for hosting me and allowing me to share some of my most cherished memories!

November 18 - I traveled to Xi Chapter at Temple University, where I was thrilled to meet some of the sisters at the dining hall for lunch. While eating, we had a blast playing Phi Sig Jeopardy, and the sisters who answered the questions correctly were rewarded with prizes. After lunch, I toured the house which is very impressive. Thank you to the women at Xi for taking time out of your busy schedules to show me such a good time!

November 19 - I was so pleased to meet with Xi alumna Sue Bleznak Weisberg, an old friend and former Convention Chairman for the Fraternity. It was delightful to catch up with this Foundation donor and special sister!

Stay tuned for more of Nash’s travels!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wonderful Founders' Day Event

The Foundation received this wonderful report from Melanie Toner, Archon of the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter. Congratulations for a wonderful event!

Founders’ Day 2008 was a huge success for the Philadelphia alumnae chapter. With seven chapters in attendance, we hosted almost 400 women to celebrate our founders’ vision and strength. Special Events Chair, Mary Elizabeth Gantz, planned a fabulous event at Harrah's in Chester. For this Founders' Day, we debuted a new format, complete with a panel of successful alumnae, a Phi Sig marketplace featuring every chapter, and a new collegian award.

Our panel featured Foundation Executive Director Nancy “Nash” Hay (Beta Rho), Gina D’Amato-Kaufman (Gamma Xi), Jess Pomraning (Gamma Gamma) and was moderated by Foundation Secretary Heather Kelley (Beta Psi). Collegians were asked to provide us with questions of anything that might be on their mind. Among other things, they asked about networking opportunities, career strategy, and whether or not our panelists watch the TV show, Greek.

The day kicked off with the Phi Sig Marketplace – an hour long opportunity devoted to networking. Each chapter was provided with a table to display information about their events and to sell t-shirts or other fundraising items. Next, Mary Elizabeth welcomed everyone and the women from Zeta Omicron performed the SPHINX ceremony.

This year, we presented two awards, one of which was brand new. Each year, we honor an alumnae sister who excels in sorority and community service with the Helen Berkowitz award. Past recipients include Kim Hildred (Gamma Epsilon), Nancy Hay (Beta Rho), Diane Spatz (Nu) and many others. This year’s honored recipient was Jess Pomraning (Gamma Gamma). We also started a new tradition this year. We felt it was important to also honor outstanding collegians in our region and so we debuted a new award, the Outstanding Philadelphia Area Collegian Sister Award. We received outstanding nominations and Mary Elizabeth read each one aloud. We are so proud to have awarded this year’s plaque to Laura Ferro (Nu).

And of course, we also made sure to remember to uphold our founders’ ideals. Our community service project was a toiletry drive which benefited Family House in West Philadelphia. In addition, we raised $689 for the Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation between raffle tickets and pin sales. Unique Impressions will also graciously donate a portion of their proceeds to the Foundation. Finally, we debuted a new T-shirt as a chapter fundraiser and sold 31 shirts!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Founders' Day Campaign

First, the quiz...

Which Phi Sig Founder:

...graduated from high school at age 11?
...became a textile designer and an interior designer?
...worked as a hospital volunteer and was bilingual?
...was the first founder to pass away?
...aspired to be a dancer/actress?
...wrote most of the Fraternity's ritual?

Whether or not you remember all their names and achievements, I know you remember our Founders' collective vision...the advancement of womanhood. You embrace it every time you act with sisterhood in mind. Nothing can separate us!

So now, the question...

Will you continue the tradition you began last Founders' Day by joining our second annual Founders' Day Campaign? This important effort is raising gifts of $19.13 or more to directly benefit the Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation's ACHIEVE leadership initiative and educational grants. The contribution you made last year helped raise nearly $20,000 - an amount that far exceeded our highest expectations!

Our Zeta Tau Chapter Archon, Julie, tells what ACHIEVE meant for her this past year:

"This series of workshops definitely helped me focus on techniques to develop and implement chapter objectives. We worked on an action plan for our standards board to monitor chapter morale and oversee activities. We also established a "24-hour rule," meaning if there is disagreement or tension, sisters allow themselves 24 hours to think through their thoughts and ideas rather than instantly reacting..."

This Loyola University Chicago senior has helped double her chapter size in two years, with 90 sisters and tons of positive response from members, Headquarters and their host campus. And, Julie is just one of our collegiate chapter leaders who benefited from the program. Some 750 collegiate sisters participated in ACHIEVE last year alone. Wow!

Joining the 2008 Founders' Day Campaign by November 26th will put a tax-deductible gift to work immediately to fund the ACHIEVE leadership module and educational grants for deserving sisters. We need YOU if we hope to reach this year's goal to increase donors and dollars by 10%. It's easy to do right now... (1) find the answers to our Founders' Day quiz and (2) tell us your answer to our Founders' Day question!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lunch with the LA Alumnae Chapter!

The Adventure Continues!

Here's the latest installment from Kim and Judith!

It’s Sunday morning and our trip to west coast is coming to an end as we prepare to fly home to Virginia. Yesterday it was my honor to meet with the sisters from Theta Upsilon at the University of La Verne and the sisters from Epsilon Delta at Chapman University. Both chapters are very generous supporters and I was thrilled to talk to them about their hard work for the Foundation, how their gifts are used, and thank them for making what we do possible.

The Theta Upsilon’s got up early to meet with me before heading out to their Make a Difference

Day event; meeting with foster teens to talk about career planning. What a terrific activity!

Our Chapman sisters presented me with a many personalized cards wishing the athletes good luck at the Games for Phi Sigs to distribute in 2010. They have made these cards during philanthropic recruitment and we couldn’t be more grateful for their support.

Early in the afternoon, Judith and I had lunch with representatives from the LA alumnae chapter. It was wonderful to see these sisters talk about Foundation and share alumnae activity ideas.

We could not let this fabulous weekend come to an end without expressing our sincere and heartfelt thanks to Carol Schwartz (Zeta, UCLA) and her husband Lee for hosting Phyllis and our oral history interviewees at their home these past three days. Their home has served as “Phi Sig central” since Carol’s days as a sister at UCLA and over the years Carol and Lee have hosted many events for collegians, alumnae, and even members of the area alumnae panhellenic where Carol has long-served as a member. Carol and Lee could not have been more gracious and we cannot thank them enough.

Good Morning, this is Judith writing now. Our time here has been filled with fun, excitement for Phi Sigma Sigma, and tremendous enthusiasm. I spent time talking with Sandy Wesler Warner (Zeta ’66) who was a senior when I was a freshman. She brought her pledge class scrapbook, and I saw the faces of Sisters I had not seen since they left school to graduate! The warm feelings, friendships, and life experiences these Sisters have shared since their graduation in the mid 1960s is wonderful to discover, and to know that they were based on their Phi Sigma Sigma membership. I also spoke with Sandy’s mother, Marge, who is also a Zeta, class of 1939, who remembers her collegiate experiences with great fondness. How special for me to be able to hear her comments and to share these precious memories over the span of years!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Even Phyllis Has the Blogging Bug!

Phyllis Dreyfuss, Beta Alpha, shared this wonderful blog with us. As you will recall, Phyllis is our oral historian and has made the trip west with Kim and Judith.

Hi. I’m Phyllis Dreyfuss, an alumna from Beta Alpha, University of Maryland, and have been privileged to be the Fraternity’s oral historian since 2002. My responsibilities have taken me to many parts of the country to meet with sisters that included all from recent graduates to those who graduated as early as 1939.

Kim, Judith and I arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday, and thus began my first series of oral histories on the West Coast. The process requires some background research to determine the role the potential interviewee played within their chapter and perhaps, nationally, either as an active, an alum or both. Once identified as being able to provide information that may help us trace our history in a way that is more personal and anecdotal than that found in the written word, our Headquarters handles the necessary releases and makes appointments for me to speak in person with our selected sister. Judith, Kim and I review the basics of my interview guide and off I go…………off to meet and have a very private conversation that include, a sister I’ve never met before and a tape recorder.

Much of what I learn serves as new insights into what makes us a diverse group to be proud of….the stories of how we have learned to work together, live together and make a difference on our campus, in our community and for our fraternity….and serves as a window as much to our past as it is to our future. We shall keep you posted on how we can best use the information we have been gathering as part of our Centennial celebration. In addition, we will keep you posted on some of the very funny experiences we have had traveling together from the East Coast….ask any of us about Factor’s Deli and we can repeat.

Kim Visits Chapman University

Kim shared this wonderful picture of the Chapman University chapter! What a great group!

More from Kim and Judith's Excellent Adventure!

Here's more news from Kim and Judith!

Well, we have finished day number two in paradise. Our day began with dropping Phyllis off at the lovely home of Carol Schwartz (Zeta, UCLA) who is hosting Phyllis as she completes her oral histories. Carol is one of the interviewees as well!

Judith and I then headed out to see Wendy Lau and Tara Ervin, both Theta Upsilons, La Verne University. As generous donors we had lots to thank them for and received some terrific feedback from both as we explained some of the new ways Foundation is reaching out to alumnae to find both a cause and giving program that is customized for each individual donor.

We then headed to California State University at Dominguez Hills. There we spoke at a chapter meeting – can you believe these women have their meetings at 6:30pm each Friday? But what was so wonderful was that it was family night (such a cool idea) where the chapter hosts their families as they attend a meeting, make tee shirts for new members, make posters, and of course have dinner. It was such an honor for Judith and I to meet all our Iota Gamma sisters and their families. The chapter invited us to make a few remarks, which we did. Judith shared her experience as a parent of a Phi Sig and I spoke about Phi Sig’s founding, our core values, the important of inclusiveness, our new member programming, and what it means to be a part of our larger Phi Sig family. Of course I also talked about how the chapter’s generous gifts are put to work for fund scholarships and educational grants, leadership programming to develop sisters and strengthen chapters and to help those with kidney disease. Thank you Iota Gammas for hosting us and congratulations on a fabulous event!

More news Saturday!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Foundation Visits California!

Judith Distler and Kim Hildred took to the road to visit California this weekend. Here's a blog post straight from the two of them that they wrote in between meetings with our sisters!

We arrived in paradise yesterday, Los Angeles, CA. We are here to spread lots of Foundation love. Joining us is Phyllis Dreyfuss (Beta Alpha, University of Maryland), our oral historian.

Some of you may know that the Foundation has undertaken an oral history project where Phyllis is interviewing past Grand Archons, former Supreme Council (SC) officers and other volunteers – past and present – and other sisters so that we may have the story of Phi Sigma Sigma’s history told in words of our own. Phyllis will be interviewing alumnae from our Zeta chapter at UCLA, our Mu chapter at Berkley and our Beta Tau chapter at California State UniversityNorthridge. Included will be Marge Wesler, a former SC officer from the 1940s. Wow!

We have jam-packed schedule this weekend. Last night, Judith and I visited our sisters from Zeta Alpha, Woodbury University, in Burbank, CA. The sisters took Judith and I to dinner after a mini-tour of their beautiful campus to CA’s own “Shakeys” a pizza place with wonderful food. There, we learned all about the chapter’s philanthropic work, fundraising, and other activities while we dined on Hawaiian pizza and mojos – amazing potatoes. We were thrilled to meet the chapter’s new members and one of our very own scholarship winners who won the Michelle Stacey Friedman Scholarship.

This is so invigorating for us; the Zeta Alphas were wonderful and so happy to have visitors! This chapter has an up close understanding of how Foundation serves the Sisterhood. Today we head on down the freeway to visit our Orange County sisters. More adventures will follow!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Good News From Iota Gamma (CSU Dominguez Hills)!

Thanks to Carolyn, the CKA for the Iota Gamma chapter for sharing this great news with us!

The Iota Gamma and the Southern Los Angeles County Alumnae Chapters are working with the Cal State University, Dominguez Hills Institute for Cultural Diversity (ICD) for Sight Night 2008. As part of Make a Difference Day we decided to change it to Make a Difference Month. For the complete month of October members of the collegiate and Alumnae chapters and the ICD will be collecting used eyeglasses, store bought reading glasses, sunglasses, and eye glass cases that will then be donated to the Lions Club. These will then be refurbished and distributed to needy people throughout the world.

This has become an annual event that the 3 groups do together on the campus of CSU Dominguez Hills.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Delta Sigma (SUNY-Brockport) is Making A Difference!

The Foundation would like to thank the sisters at Delta Sigma for this awesome update! If you have news to share, please don't hesitate to contact the Foundation at!

Because members from Delta Sigma Chapter at SUNY Brockport volunteered at the Transplant Games and they were able to meet athletes from the hometown team - NKF of Upstate asked if members of the chapter would help volunteer at the recent NKF Walk. The walk took place on Saturday, September 27th at Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester.

We had over 28 active and alumnae volunteers who signed up. NKF was very pleased with the response as we had more women participate than what was requested. Last year chapter members actually walked and this year they were happy to help as volunteers. They hope to make this an annual event.

We were able to catch up with some of the Team Upstate athletes including Bonnie who was featured on the blog during the games. We are also fortunate to have a chapter sister, Alli Williams who is currently completing an internship as a special events assistant with NKF of Upstate in Rochester.

Alli had this to say, "I am SO PROUD and grateful for everyone who volunteered to take part in this event on a Saturday morning!"

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Make A Difference Day -- Saturday, October 25, 2008

By now, you have probably heard about the Foundation's participation in Make A Difference Day...after all, we have received national recognition for our participation in the past!

This year, we want YOU in on the action. We are calling all collegiate chapters, alumnae chapters and even just group of sisters and friends to help make this one of the biggest Make A Difference Day events for Phi Sigma Sigma!

To help you get started, the Foundation has created a step-by-step guide to choosing the right project. You can access our guide by clicking here. You can also get more information by visiting our website at

After you complete your project, be sure to tell us about it by leaving a comment on the blog or by emailing us at We will be featuring chapters for their awesome work on our blog and website to be sure to pass along your information so we can feature YOU!

To learn more about Make A Difference Day, visit their official website by clicking here.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Foundation is Honored by the North-American Interfraternity Conference Foundation

The Foundation is proud to announce that we received The North-American Interfraternity Conference award for the "Annual Campaign - Best e-Mail Package." Congratulations to the Foundation, but a special congratulations to our fabulous donors who helped make our Founders' Day Campaign a huge success!

You can read more about our award here:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Foundation Elects New Officers

At our most recent semi-annual meeting, the Foundation elected new leadership for the 2008-2009 term. Please join us in congratulating our new officers!

  • Candace Hogan (Gamma Nu, '86), President
  • Beth Coyle (Zeta Pi, '85), Vice President
  • Katie Herschede (Gamma Tau, '04), Vice President Operations
  • Heather Kelley (Beta Psi, 97), Secretary
  • Judy Slater (Gamma Nu, '84), Treasurer

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Signing off from the 2008 Transplant Games

Well, we did it…and we did it in a record breaking way! Another successful Transplant Games is in the books and the Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation, through generous support from our treasured donors, helped make it possible.

As you have undoubtedly read, nearly 125 Phi Sigma Sigma volunteers from all over the country converged on Pittsburgh for a life-changing weekend. For us, what is extra special about this trip to the Games is that the stories keep coming. We are still getting almost daily emails from our volunteers who have reached out to athletes via e-mail and are hearing more about their triumphs of life. We are still hearing from our volunteers who, because of their experience at the Games, have decided to make another generous donation to the Foundation so we're able to continue supporting the Games, as well as leadership development programs and scholarships and grants.

It was equally inspiring to hear from you, our faithful readers, as you reacted to blog posts and left comments for us. It was touching to read your comments and exciting every time Katie yelled out that we had another comment. Yes, we were reading your comments in real time, just as you were reading our posts in real time.

There are so many people to thank for their support of the Games. You have read about some of them before, but it bears another thank you to the corporations, friends, chapters and sisters who generously supported our experience at the Games. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for making all of this possible.

Signing off from the 2008 Games,

Kim Hildred, Foundation President
Katie Herschede, Transplant Games Chairman

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Phi Sigs Are Famous!

Here's the latest PR Phi Sig or its sisters have received from the Games!

Check out this clip from You can see Phi Sigma Sigma volunteers in a number of the scenes! Click here to watch the video!

This video clip features Gretchen Ehle and her father Randy, and while it doesn't mention Phi Sig, BOTH are wearing their Phi Sig shirts! Click here to view the clip!

Here's Aubrey Birden's interview with Channel 11 (she's wearing the blue-green T-shirt): Click here to watch!

And this is the article from the paper with Aubrey's picture (shown previously on this blog): Click here to view the photo and read the story!

My 'Transplant Games moment' came AFTER the event...

From Candace Hogan, Foundation VP and volunteer at the Games, dictated as she returned home from a business trip.

Here's a story that I think illustrates how the Games can affect you in ways you never expected or thought possible:

Immediately after the Games, I had to attend a conference for work, meeting people in my company whom I usually only work with remotely. One of the people I bumped into is the IT guy who helps me by phone several times a year.... Nice guy, and I just happened to mention how I'd spent my weekend in Pittsburgh.

Well, much to my surprise, his eyes starting tearing up. He said, "You know my 25-year-old son was killed in an accident two years ago?" He'd been a promising young law student in San Diego, and his death devastated the family. Just before the accident, his son had explained to his parents that he intended to be a donor. He was very specific about his wishes. ... And after his untimely, tragic passing, "We donated everything we could," his father said. But it had not been an easy decision.... I spent a few minutes explaining what I'd witnessed at the Games and how people were living normal, healthy and good lives because of the selfless giving of families like his.

The next day, when I was walking through the corporate office and saying good-bye, I visited the IT guy's office. I complimented pictures of his family and his son, and just as I got to the doorway, he stopped me and said that he'd told his wife about what we'd discussed the day before, and what a comfort my stories of the Games were to both of them. They felt they'd made the right decision.

For me, THIS was my "Games moment" - the one that struck home about the importance of the work we do. I suspect there will be many post-Games moments for sisters who volunteered and, perhaps, for those who are reading this blog!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pictures from the Transplant Games!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

From Judith: 'Pleasant, wonderful, heartwarming'

Brief note from Judith Distler, past Grand Archon and volunteer at this year's Games:

It was a pleasure to attend, and to live our own values.

It was wonderful to see so many collegians working with others from different chapters, and to remember that these women came on their own time and at their own expense.

It was a heartwarming experience in all respects.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bonding with the Harrises, 'regular folks just like you and me'

Lisa R. writes: No matter where I went this past weekend, and regardless of the thousands of athletes milling about, I always seemed to find the Harris family of Huntington, West Virginia. Be it at breakfast, on buses, outside table tennis or in hallways -- we kept running into each other. After about the fourth time, we accepted this fate, and bonded.


The family is led by the dynamic duo of Ken and Joy Ann, the latter of whom is the athlete of the group and the apple of her husband's eye, given how warmly and proudly he speaks of her.... Three years ago, Joy Ann had a life-saving transplant -- and, that same year she married Ken! This red-headed, fun-loving spitfire of a woman had more energy than I feel on a good day, and watching her at the Games was truly a "Joy" to behold.

The Harrises and I talked about everything.... About their adorable granddaughter, Gabby (who, it's said, lives true to her name!) -- about "Brain Age" for DS, and staying young no matter what age you are.... And about so much more.

These were regular, good folks, overcoming an uncommon, even difficult situation that could affect any one of us. What a blessing to meet them, and what a reminder to us all that people who need organ donations are just like you and me....

'I loved the Games, and Chris Klug, and ... everything!'

From Ashley Ferrentino, EZ chapter sister (and one of the Phi Sig 5K runners from Sunday a.m.!)

After spending 2 days at the Transplant Games this past weekend, the only thing that I can say is WOW! It was such a wonderful experience, seeing people from all over the U.S., hearing stories that made me cry, meeting my new hero (U.S. Olympic snowboarder Chris Klug), running in the 5K race, and spending some quality time with my fellow sisters.

It was an eye-opening experience that made me think about a lot of things. Since the opening ceremonies on Saturday night, I am seriously considering putting my name on a "live donor" list in hopes of changing someone's life. I know this is a serious thing, but I really am thinking about it!

I hope there's a way I can go to the next one in 2010!

LITP, {Looking Into Trans-Planting? hahaha)

P.S.... Bill Wohl is my new hero (google him!)

More from Wendy... My 'Michael' story

FROM: Wendy Lau, continued from a previous blog (submitted after she'd returned home from the Games)....

Of all the people I've met in the last two days, I'd have to say that Michael is the one that stands out in my mind. Michael is competing with Team Arizona this year, and has already done pretty well in two days' worth of competing, including earning a few medals and breaking some records!

But for me, it's not about how fast he is, how many records he's broken, or the fact that he could probably kill me with just a thought, it's about the joy. (In case you're wondering, Michael just got his second black belt in Hapkido - apologies if I spelled that wrong - and apparently works as some super secret government agent; well, I'm not ENTIRELY sure about his occupation because as he says, "If I told you, I'd have to kill you.")

So, back to the "joy" part of what I just said.... If you don't know what I mean about that, you will in about 60 seconds - or longer, depending on how fast you read! Within minutes of my conversation with Michael, I found out that he had leukemia, and had received a bone marrow transplant from his older sister some years ago. For any of you that have ever kept up with my ramblings on MySpace, or just happen to know me, you know that not very long ago, the Phi Sig chapter I advise at the University of La Verne lost a sister to leukemia.

Neddie Iniguez was just barely 21 when she passed away, but she remains in my heart and in my thoughts. When doctors told Neddie that there wasn't much left that they could do for her, a lesser person would have become bitter and angry about the hand that was dealt to her - but not Neddie. Neddie took it in stride. Sometimes, I think she worried more about how her friends, family, and sorority sisters would take the news than the reality of her own mortality.

Neddie was about living in the NOW - savoring the good moments, forgetting the bad, and giving it everything she had. She chose to focus on the positive, and embrace the joy of life. Yes, she had her moments, but overwhelmingly, more often than not, she was the candle that lit up the darkness. When someone was having a bad day, Neddie would be the one to try to pick them up, give them a hug, and remind them that there was happiness to be had. Ironic, isn't it? That the person who would have had every right to be angry and frustrated and bitter would be the one that was busy comforting others, making them laugh, and bringing joy into their lives. Puts things into perspective, doesn't it?

Although I miss Neddie, the memory of her words, her actions, and her philosophy on life has carried me through some of my own darkest days. Most recently, I had hit some rough patches due to some personal issues, and I was about as bummed out as I've been in awhile. In fact, the day before I left to come out to the Transplant Games, I was feeling incredibly stressed out, and on edge. As I was driving home from work, I suddenly thought about Neddie. It was enough to wake me up and remind me to appreciate the blessings in my life. I know that sounds simplistic, but maybe you had to know Neddie to know why it works.

At any rate, Michael reminds me of Neddie - and no, it's not the fact that he had leukemia, although it does play a part. Michael reminds me of Neddie because he's energetic and full of life. He can talk your ear off (in a good way), he cracks random jokes, and he reminds me of how joyous life is, and can be. The timing couldn't be better. My immediate stress levels on Thursday were alleviated by thoughts of Neddie; the Transplant Games have been a celebration of life, and the end of my trip has been bookended by meeting Michael.

Maybe it sounds silly, but I feel like it's one of those signs from the Universe confirming that everything is going to work out just right.

Liz's blog: 'Tested, but never bested - and we always aim high!'

Liz and kids

From Liz Rodriguez, Foundation Director and Counsel (and Games photographer, whom we saw everywhere and yet, as sisters who love her, never "saw" to hang out with, it would seem, because of how busy she was!):

Despite being tired and sleep deprived, this was an unforgettable weekend. (One thing I never figured out - how I could go left or right while driving around and end up in the same place. I felt I was lost all weekend!)

I continue to be amazed and inspired by my sisters. To say that our leadership skills were tested this weekend was an understatement. But we proved we can adapt to difficult situations and make things happen.

Above all, we are all A-types :) We all learned new skills (Tara can now measure long jump; Missy learned a lot about basketball scoring and timeouts). Even more impressively, every single Phi Sig there went above and beyond.

Here are a few examples:

  • Wendy and Missy made sure swimming events went off on Sunday.
    Dani made sure the "big boys" played fair.

  • Caryn made sure the bowling tournament started (and was a "pro negotiator" for pins).

  • Candace and Pam even made chocolate pudding for us!!

  • And to all our "bouncers" at the basketball tournament and track and field, you did a fantastic job under difficult circumstances.

Thank you all for Aiming High and making all Phi Sigs proud!


Monday, July 14, 2008

Oops, can't forget track and field ...!

Final blog from Missy (who STILL has a fever, and is still blogging! Talk about dedication):

After getting myself ready Monday morning, I ran to the track and field games to help Stef out as promised. This was a great end to my time here. I got to see my Team Florida basketball players competing in long jump and softball throw. These kids are incredible. I also met Samantha, a superstar long jumper who had a heart transplant. This little athlete is going to go far. I also am going to send Samantha the pic I caught of her in mid-jump. Great job today!

Well, that is the end of my games comments (unless I think of something else I missed). I cannot tell you how much this meant to me attending these games. I met so many incredible people and heard many stories that truly touched me. Phi Sig, thanks for making this possible. I do not care where the next games are being held, I will be there. I just need to remember to take my GPS or pray we do not have as many bridges to cross or road construction to navigate around (oh and sorry again for those who got to experience my off-road driving skills!! : P

Love to all the athletes, donor families and living donors -- and to my Phi Sig sisters who were such an incredible help this weekend!

'I've never seen kids like these...' -- Missy's b-ball experience

From Missy S. after returning home from the games, driving 5 hours and ending up with a 101-degree fever!

I just woke up from a much needed nap, and I am missing the games and the athletes already. So I decided to try to finish talking about the events from yesterday and today. I need to make a few comments about 3-on-3 basketball last night because I met some of my favorite athletes there.

I was lucky enough to have Liz Rodriguez helping me score for the youth games -- and Liz, I have to tell you I had a blast! It was so awesome hanging out with you and getting to know you!!

Liz and I were able to watch Teams Philly, Indiana, Florida and Mississippi play. Now this was the 14-and-under group, and these games started around 6:30 p.m. and were not over til way past 10:30. I was exhausted from a 15-hour day of volunteering, but watching these little athletes with so much energy and drive keep playing 'til they were exhausted was beyond words.

I have to shout out to a few of these powerhouses. I mentioned Junior Whopper in an earlier blog. Junior Whopper was a little guy named Michael, but he had such a huge personality. His mother told me that he just received a second kidney on Labor Day and without this second kidney he would not be here with us today. My eyes welled with tears as I looked at him and knew how special this little boy was.

Then there was Mary Katherine, Garrett and Payton from Team Mississippi. These kids were the only three on the team which meant they never got to sub out and take a break. They also played three 20-minute games in a row. I have never seen 3 kids with more love for life and drive than these three. Go Team Mississippi!!

Then, Team Florida. I fell in love with Gabriel, Heather, Reese and Trevor. These kids were so awesome on the courts and each one of their stories was just incredible. I have a pic of me with some of these kids, and one with Liz with them so I hope you get to see them. (Editor's note: They are posted elsewhere in the blog.) Thanks for making our night so fun!!!

The NKF staff volunteers also thanked us profusely for the work we did that night at the basketball games. Not only are the athletes thanking us for being here, but the staff also has told me they are so appreciative that we are here to help them and make things run smoothly for the athletes. It is a wonderful feeling to know we are making a difference in a lot of lives.

I am going to go lie down and debate whether I can find the energy to go to work tomorrow. I am sad the games are over, but cannot wait til the 2010 games to see how much my little basketball players have grown. 'Night all!

From Julie: Monday's track and field success stories

Monday, off to track and field with all of the other Phi Sigs still in attendance at the games. On the way to Carnegie Mellon I got to meet Jack from Team Arkansas as he hopped on the hotel shuttle with us. Jack has been featured several times on the blog with Caryn and on a post by Missy. I would definitely say that Jack is a new Phi Sig friend. What a great guy. This is his first games, but he said he is "hooked" and won't miss them again. We will be sure to be on the lookout for him at the next games.

Track and field - what a huge event. All volunteers were very much needed and all played an active role in their duties. We were all over the place - I don't think there was an event going on where a Phi Sig was not spotted. The time passed very quickly and then we were done. The one big question that I kept hearing though is, "What is a tartan?" As in the Carnegie Mellon Tartans. We quickly learned it is a plaid pattern, like what is used for a Scottish kilt. Their mascot is a Scottish terrier with a tartan plaid sweater.

Last thing was the 5-hour drive back home. Thanks to Jamie and Autumn for taking turns sleeping so that I always had company for the ride. The weekend consisted of little sleep, coordinating showering schedules, not eating regularly, having trouble navigating the city, etc. You've heard it all throughout the different blogs. It was great sharing this experience with all Phi Sigs. I'm glad Autumn could experience this as her first Phi Sig event, being our newest initiate. It was great recapping the weekend with both Jamie and Autumn on the drive home.

What an amazing weekend. How wonderful to see so many Phi Sigs give of their own time and money to be in attendance and dedicated to something so worthwhile. I don't think there was one of us there who was not touched by someone participating at the games and who will not carry this experience with them forever. I wasn't fully sure what to expect upon arriving. I was excited to know that I would be seeing fellow Phi Sigs from around the country, but quickly learned this was not like other Phi Sig events. I really spent very little time catching up with other Phi Sigs as I quickly learned this was about something so much more, and so much bigger.

Hope to see you all, and to have an even bigger Phi Sig delegation, in Madison, Wisc., in 2010!

Julie Orchard
Community 4 Archon

GO 'Team Phi Sig! - Team Philly's Sharon (EZ Chapter) at shot put!

At the shot put competition: Phi Sig sister Sharon got some air on this baby!

Missy, Sharon and Lisa R., in the shade of the tree where track and field competitions were taking place at Carnegie Mellon.

Signing off for now... more soon!

OK, sisters and friends...! Many more stories to come, but time has run out for blogging from the Games, as some of us are hiking it quickly to the airport from track and field competitions (and the computer for blogging goes with).

Katie will no doubt post something after this from her Blackberry.

Transplant Games logo

For now, let me end this part of the Games (which live on in our hearts and memories, and which you'll hear more about once we arrive home) with something Michele said to us just moments ago, while surveying the vastness of the Games below on the field, filled with children and adults -- all survivors of medical conditions that threatened their lives, if not for the miracle of organ donation. She said:

"We need to remember how good our lives are.... That, no matter what we're experiencing in our personal lives, or how bad a day might be, our troubles are nothing compared to what others overcome."

We admire the heroism of the athletes, and we thank every sister who volunteered to help make this NKF event a tremendous success!

Signing off for now


Lisa R.

Blog interview with weary, wonderful Michele Dominiak!

Michele and Kim <-Michele and Kim @ Expo!

Blog from Michele Dominiak, leaning wearily on Katie's camera bag from the banister above Lisa R.'s head in the president's press box above the Tartans track & field, as dictated to Lisa:

LR: Say something, Michele. I'll blog what you say.

MD: While I am tired, this has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I'm so very glad I got the opportunity to participate.

LR: Favorite event moment?

MD: Watching the little kids swim, cheering them on, especially the ones who were struggling to finish.

LR: Why was that your favorite?

MD: Well, a) because it was incredibly emotional and b) because we're just so proud of these kids that you don't even know.

LR: Favorite Phi Sig moment of the Games?
DZ girls
MD: At the Expo on Saturday when most of our women were there, the Delta Zeta (Stevens Institute) women lined up on each side of the aisle, creating a sort of gauntlet for athletes to walk through. And as they did, our sisters hollered and cheered. It was so cool.

Katie H. (chipping in from a chair nearby, surveying the Games below): Yeah, some people started dancing through it!

LR: Sort of like a recruitment event?

Michele, Katie: (laughter) Yeah, sort of!

MD: Other good times: Trying to find your way to or from any venue here... an adventure any time you got in the car! Oh, and the "inclinator!"

LR: What's this about the 'inclinator'?

MD: (laughs) Last night, when Wendy and I were taking three Kappa women to the airport, we were trying to act like tour guides or something. And we passed the Duquesne Incline (cable car railway that transports people up and down the steep, scenic Mount Washington overlooking the city) and Wendy says, "What's this called? The 'Inclinator?' I think it's one of the tallest in the world.... Anyway, it's something tall and big!" Needless to say, we were very informative and impressive!

Bird's eye view!

We are up here in the press box watching all of the amazing track and field events. We have an awesome view!

Right now, a Phi Sig alumna is competing in the softball throw. Good luck and bring home the gold!

Sent from my BlackBerry device from Cincinnati Bell Wireless

Wendy: 'Back in Cali, but my heart's still in Pitt with you...'

From Wendy Lau, posted at 3 a.m. PT after returning from the Games to her home in California:

Okay, so I'm home safe and sound now, but here's the blog I wrote right before I left... love to everyone still at the Games! I had an amazing time!

So here I am in the hotel room that has been my home for the last two and a half days. I just finished packing, and I'm sitting here with Dominiak as I type out this blog. I can't believe Sunday came so quickly! It's been a whirlwind of activities, and my body would LOVE LOVE LOVE some Starbuck's right now to keep it going!

That being said, being at the Transplant Games has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life - and I've done my fair share of living, so that's saying quite a bit! Most of the highlights of my weekend relate to meeting many of the athletes and talking to them about their experiences and what brought them to this year's Transplant Games. It is inspirational to hear their stories of courage and perseverance, and it is a constant reminder to appreciate life in all of its multi-layered facets.

I had the pleasure of working at the swimming events both days (my friend Joey Dykstra would be proud - he's a lifetime swimmer and is now the women's swimming and dive coach at the University of North Texas!), and getting to know some of the participants.

Little mermaid swimmer

During Saturday's events, a number of the youngest transplant recipients competed, and it seemed especially poignant to see such dramatic scars on such young bodies. Despite what each child must have gone through to get to today's games - waiting, doctor's visits, stays at the hospital, and eventual surgery and recovery - it made my heart glad to see each kid behaving just like... a kid. How amazing is it to know that they are able to have a childhood through the grace and generosity of a living donor or donor family's gift? It made me laugh to see one young swimmer with "Eat My Bubbles" written on his back, and it made my eyes tear up to see another swimmer with "Thank you, Donor Family" written on his back.

I commiserated with the young athletes who just DIDN'T want to get in the pool, and cheered on the ones who jumped in, water wings and all. On the other end of the spectrum, we had swimmers all the way up in their 70s, poised on the starting blocks and raring to go. Imagine what a phenomenal place this world would be if we all dared to do what we didn't think was possible? Not only are some of these competitors grandmothers and grandfathers, they are also transplant recipients. So I guess any excuses I might have for not going to the gym just aren't going to cut it now, are they???

(To be continued... more from Wendy in a later blog, so look for it!)

Everyone's reading our blog - not just Phi Sig!

Computer guy better

Submitted by a bleary-eyed, but happy, Missy S.:

So this morning I woke up first of all the roommates, as I have done the past few days, to take my shower and get ready for the last day of events. I went out to the cafe in the hotel to grab my first cup of coffee and wake myself up since I only had 4 hours of sleep.

As I was walking back to our room, I looked into the computer room of the hotel and noticed a gentleman on the computer. I saw on the screen he was reading the Phi Sig blog!!! I was so excited to see an athlete reading it, I ran back to the room, grabbed my camera (trying not to wake the still sleeping Tara and Michele) and ran back to the computer room. I introduced myself and asked this gentleman if I could take a pic of him reading our blog, as I was sure Lisa and Katie would love to see that. He said absolutely, and then proceeded to explain he was told by one of our sisters his pic may make our blog. Sure enough I helped him find it. He is the buff athlete showing his guns with Caryn Jacquish.

Jack, Team Arkansas, introduced himself to me and told me his story. He had received a heart transplant over a year ago. What's more, his father also had a heart transplant and his uncle had needed one but did not receive one in time. I was touched by this man's outlook on life and how he embraced the energy and emotions of the games. He told me how he strives to make anyone he speaks to knowledgeable about organ donation and how grateful he is that we are here to spread the same message.

As a side note, Jack told me that he had brought a digital camera with him, but not knowing that regular batteries may not last long in the camera, he was not able to take many pictures. He was so happy to find our blog to see some of the events, and he is planning on sharing this with the hospital where he received his transplant. If anyone from the hospital or Jack is out there reading this, then here's a "hello" from the early morning Phi Sig, and I promise to send some pics to your daughter!!

Track and Field - Here we are!

Even though we have slept an average of 3 hours a night, our group is thrilled to be at track and field this morning! We took the early shift as many of our sisters are catching planes or jumping back in their cars to go back to their respective corners of the country.

Right now they have race walking going on. It must be popular because they have 3 hours of it scheduled! They are also going to be starting some of the field events soon.

Soon, a different Games will start half way across the world in China, but, I will tell you what, nothing can compare to the spirit and camaraderie at these Games!

Sent from my BlackBerry device from Cincinnati Bell Wireless

Posted last night as a comment, and worth reading now!

Just a little note to say hello to my sisters! I am so proud of all that you are doing to make the Games a wonderful experience for the athletes, donor families and living donors. You are truly demonstrating your servant leadership. Thank you on behalf of all of us who couldn’t make it this year! Enjoy the experience, and keep posting…I’m enjoying “hearing” about all that’s going on. :)

Alicia Scott
Supreme Council Director

Happy Birthday, Gretchen!

Holy cow!!! We all try to keep up on these things, but Gretchen Ehle, who is a devoted Phi Sig volunteer and who, along with her parents, was here in support of the Games because "Dad" is the famed "Randy" described ALL this weekend.... Well! Gretchen, we learned, is celebrating her XXth birthday (haha, you'll have to ask her yourself!). However, as "sisters who care," we will tell you it is a "significant" birthday -- and we love her all the more for showing up this important weekend!

She's beautiful as ever -- and even more so for being with us now!

"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday TOOOoooo you, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR GRETCHEN!... (you are a hero for so many of us, and we love your fam-i-ly! Keep kickin' butt, Randy!)...

...happy birthday you!"

Larry Hagman: The "Major Anthony Nelson" photo...

Promised a photo, here it is...! Larry Hagman on the right (he was SUCH a "George Clooney" in his day, though we understand, collegian sisters of today, if that's not immediately evident), and his sidekick on the show, Bill Daily (Capt. Roger Healey) to his left....

'I hope I can teach people what I learned...'

Hi everyone! This is Tricia from Epsilon Zeta (Bloomsburg). I am writing from Bloomsburg right now, after an exhausting but amazing weekend in Pittsburgh. Not only was I have to meet tons of sisters who I have never gotten the opportunity to meet before this weekend, but I was also able to reconnect with sisters who I have met at other Phi Sig events. Aside from Phi Sigs, I was able to meet possibly the most inspirational people I have ever come across in my life: the athletes, living donors, and donor families at the 2008 Transplant Games.

When Ashley, Erika and I first arrived in Pittsburgh, after a 5-hour drive from Philadelphia, I had NO idea what to expect. When I first walked into the Expo at the Convention Center, I was truly blown away by the number of people who were there. After about 10 minutes of getting situated, Nash took Ashley and I under her wing and "taught" us all about trading pins (which Ashley and I took full advantage of and met tons of amazing people from all over).

Saturday, Ashley and I were able to meet some more amazing people at Swimming. Shout out to Team Arizona, Team Iowa, Team Philadelphia, and Team North Carolina. Athletes from these teams truly touched my heart, ranging from a man who had 2 heart transplants to twins who both had lung transplants, and who all won medals in their respective events.

Opening ceremonies was the most amazing part of my weekend and possibly my life. Words cannot describe what I felt seeing all of the athletes, living donors and donor families walk into the convention center, some with radiant smiles and others with tears of joy. A young boy sang Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying," in which he dedicated to his dad, I turned to Ashley and simply said, "That song will never be the same to me again!"

These weekend has definitely changed my life forever. I am sure everyone else there can say the same thing. In the car ride home, Ashley and I talked a little about how this weekend has made us seriously consider becoming living donors. After this weekend, I know how important it is for people to be educated in organ donation, and I hope I can help teach people about it somewhat.

My only regret for this weekend is that I wasn't able to stay longer! I hope to be able to make it to the games in 2010 as an alumnae, and hopefully then, more Epsilon Zetas will be able to attend!!

LITP, Tricia (EZ)

PS: GOOD LUCK SHARON HILL FROM EZ!! (I wish we could have been able to meet you!!)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Junior Whopper is da bomb!

Kids bball2

FROM Missy, Community 3 Archon AND 3-on-3 basketball coordinator extraordinaire:

OK, so I am not going to say too much about today because it's after midnight, and I'm beyond exhausted. I just finished up my very, very, very long day scoring and timing for 3 on 3 basketball (swimming was in the morning). I can't wait to write my stories about today though. It was a great day! I have to give a brief comment about one of my favorite little athletes, Junior Whopper. Yes, you read that correctly. He has given himself the nickname "Junior Whopper" or "JW" for short. His name is Michael, and he is a basketball player on Team Philly. I will tell you more about this amazing little guy later, but if Team Philly reads this, give Michael a huge hug for me!

OK, since I am in Kim and Katie's room, and they are moving things around and putting stuff away (reminder it is now almost 12:30 am!). I am going to drag myself to bed. I have to wake up at 6 a.m. to get ready for track and field first thing in the morning, as I promised Stef H., our event lead, I would be there ready to scream and yell once more. I also have a 5-hour drive back across the state to Philadelphia tomorrow (today). Thank goodness Lisa R. will be with me, because I might otherwise have slept the whole way. OK, I will definitely write more later because I have a lot of great stories from today. Night!!!

Stef's blog... and time to go to bed

From Stefanie Hutchison, Foundation Director of Special Events:

I am so tired... have yet to blog, so here goes.... Today was spent at one of my favorite sports, ping pong/table tennis, as I noticed the hard-core players call it. I chased after ping pong balls for seven hours, yet had a blast and met so many wonderful athletes. Roger is my new friend from Team Florida. He competed in the over-70 crowd and almost got the Gold....

Spent the eve at basketball, what a crowd!

Just have to say that these athletes have made my time here.... This has been the most worthwhile experience! I cannot wait to go home and share what I did here, and what it all meant with my family. I will try and explain to my young sons what I did this weekend, yet I am very aware that they just won't yet understand all of this. Someday they will join me here, and hopefully we'll reunite with those whom I have met this weekend and my kids will get to hear firsthand why it was so important for mommy to be gone yet another weekend. Oh, but boys, I brought you a pin....

"Team Ehle" checking in

Good Sunday evening from Pittsburgh. My goodness, this weekend has been such a rewarding experience for me and my family. We have been awaiting this weekend for two years, when Phi Sigma Sigma was volunteering at the games in Louisville and my dad and I were preparing for our transplant surgery. (Nash even sent me a "transplant bear" from the games that helped me get through recovery!)

These games have really touched me in several different ways. Seeing so many Phi Sigma Sigma sisters cheering on the athletes and making connections with the donor families showed the true generosity and altruistic spirit of Phi Sigma Sigma and the Foundation. I've made connections with so many people this weekend, as did my entire family. We shared stories with donor families who were so happy to connect with recipients, other donor families and supporters. I got a huge hug from a Tennessee man who was "19 at heart" and 68 in body, and I was welcomed into the family of a bowler-recipient from Alaska.

Sharing this experience with all my families -- my biological family, my Phi Sig family and now my transplant family -- has been a phenomenal learning and bonding experience. I've made so many new connections this weekend and I can't wait to come back, and participate in 2 years!

All my love to our Phi Sigma Sigma Family,

Gretchen Ehle

Delayed at the airport, and amazed by what's happened...

From Caryn Jacquish, Supreme Council Director and former Grand Vice Archon, sent after leaving the Games Sunday night:

I am at the airport in Charlotte, NC, waiting for my delayed flight to West Palm Beach to actually take off. I am exhausted but so amazed at the energy that flows through the donors, donor families and recipients at the Transplant Games.

I have volunteered for Phi Sigma Sigma for 20 years, and I have seen commitment on many levels. But this is the first time I have seen so many women from so many different regions, both alumnae and collegiate, give everything they've got, representing the organization so well and doing it all because they wanted to contribute to a great cause. Absolutely amazing. So many athletes, donor families and living donors could not believe that the 125 women from Phi Sigma Sigma were from a "sorority." They could not say thank you enough. We were a big hit.

On a side note, thank you to everyone, especially the collegians from URI, who helped us get all (yes, we got them all) the team pins. My goal is to complete a shadow box featuring the pins and bring it with me to the next Supreme Council meeting. I am hoping it will travel to the LCs and Convention 2009 so that everyone can see it.

By the way, while I have been waiting here at the airport, I caught up on the blog and saw a mention of Larry Hagman in I Dream of Jeannie , which originally aired from September 1965 until May 1970. Here is a link to a short video...

(Editor's note: There's simply no way to describe just how many pins Caryn collected, or how tirelessly she "wheeled and dealed" with just about everyone to gather the remaining and most rare for the collection. Remember, each pin represents not only a "team" of organ-recipient athletes but also the spirit of that team in overcoming life-threatening obstacles to achieve health, happiness and the "normal" life that most of us take for granted. Some teams distributed hundreds, even thousands, of pins. Some teams were so small, they could only distribute a handful. Way to go, Caryn and everyone!)

From Julie: Sunday - table tennis - Aubrey - all great!

Sunday got off to a great start! As I got on the shuttle to go to the table tennis/ping pong competition, I quickly met two members from Team Upstate NY. Upon arriving at the convention center, there weren't too many Phi Sigs, but that quickly changed as the day got going.

I really enjoyed volunteering at table tennis because it allowed us to interact with the athletes and provided the opportunity for a more personal connection with athletes from many teams. I saw this happening with many of the Phi Sigs. As we touched base with one another, I kept hearing, "I met so and so from team such and such; they told me their story, and I can't believe everything they had to go through." It was really amazing.

I quickly met other members from Team Upstate and cheered them on throughout the day. One of the women who really touched me was Bonnie; I will share her story later on. On the shuttle, I met Dan and I didn't learn about Dan's story until later in the day. One of the other Phi Sigs had found out that he was the recipient of the Mickey Mantle Award in 2006 because he had endured the most to get to the games. Dan has undergone a double kidney transplant, a double bypass and suffered from thyroid cancer. Even with all of this, he was almost reluctant to tell us, as it was apparent that he was living in the moment and not looking back. He told us he has been coming to the games since 1996.

None of these athletes had a "woe is me" attitude. Instead, all cherish the gift that has been given to them. It was really incredible to see not only the camaraderie they had with their own teams and others. More than once throughout the weekend I heard what a "family" they all are.

One of the great highlights of the day was for all of the Phi Sigs to cheer on our fellow sister Aubrey from Team Indiana as she played table tennis with two other young women: one from Team Pittsburgh and the other from Team Illinois. Aubrey was a hit over the course of the weekend, not only with all of our sisters but also with the press. She made the front page of the local newspaper, was interviewed by channel 11 news and is highlighted on the U.S. Transplant Games website, which also makes mention of her Phi Sig sisters! Read the article here!

Aubrey 1 PSS Team Indiana
It was great to see Aubrey's enthusiasm as she sported her Phi Sig pins and wore her shirt that said "I Love Dad." I don't think any of the Phi Sigs will soon forget those they met and the personal stories they heard - but most of all they will not forget about our fellow Phi Sig sisters and their families who have had personal experiences with disease and organ transplantation.

I would also like to say "thank you" to all of our local Pittsburgh alum for preparing all of the food and hosting the Phi Sig picnic on Sunday evening. And a very special thank you to Janet Holland and her husband for graciously allowing the event to be at their home. It was an experience for all of us to make it up Janet's very steep driveway, but it just gave us one more thing to talk about over the course of the weekend.

Will be checking in again before the weekend is through.

Julie O.
Community 4 Archon

Message from the Gamma Taus...

The Gamma Tau chapter is here in full force and having a great time. According to the women:

"Being at the Games has made us more appreciative of the National Kidney Foundation and the awesome work that our very own Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation does. This experience makes us want to encourage everyone to look into being organ donors. Seeing how one person's gift of life can save so many others makes us proud to be an organ donor and a Phi Sig."
Sent from my BlackBerry device from Cincinnati Bell Wireless

B-ball - packed to the rafters, and busy as can be!

We are here at the basketball game and things are hopping! This place is packed and getting fuller by the minute. There are 6 courts going at one time and hundreds of athletes and spectators. There are kids and seniors and everyone in between!

Just when you think things can't get any better, they do! This is one cool event and I am so glad we are here!

Sent from my BlackBerry device from Cincinnati Bell Wireless

Kids bball
Playing ball - and overcoming life-threatening health obstacles to be... kids!