Monday, September 15, 2008
Guess what? This coming year is not going to be any different. Nor will the year after that or the 20 years after that. From the standpoint of not having Chris here they will all have the same feeling. Most will be good times, fun times, exciting times, but there will ALWAYS be a small piece missing which would make it complete.
This blog was created several years ago and it's purpose was to keep all of the hundreds of people that loved Chris so much informed about what was happening in her life with her battle with breast cancer. At the same time that it provided information to you, it also was helpful to me by giving me a forum in which to let out some of the emotions (good and bad) that were flowing through me.
This past year was just horrible to put it bluntly. Next year will hopefully be better. At the same time though this past year was also a way for my family and I to get stronger and closer. From that standpoint I think I did well and that my family did well. We have a lot of work ahead of us but we'll face each challenge as it comes.
I put a survey up asking if you wanted to see me continue this blog. Final scoring was about 30 yes's to 1 no. The no wasn't mine! But, I agree with the no and it's my choice. :) So this will be my last post on this blog.
What I have decided to do is to create a NEW blog. This blog will be about the DeWitt Family and what is happening in our lives as we continue forward. Much like what the past 6 months or so have been in this blog. I wanted to separate the 2 as this blog is a tribute to Chris I would like to keep it that way. Please visit the new blog at:
Be sure to bookmark it when you get there. Please send me some ideas of what you would like to see on the blog but for now it will be similar to this.
Chris lives on in each and every one of us. Especially within Tyler, Alex, Michael and I. Don't worry, there will still be PLENTY of mention of Chris in the new blog too, however it will be more geared towards the kids and I, and what we're up to. Very much like this blog has been in the last 9 months or so. I don't know how often I will update it, but I will do my best.
Well this is my FINAL post here and I would like to say one final thank you to each and every one of you who have viewed this blog. Most are friends, some are family, and some are unknowns. I urge you to go back and read some of the old posts as I just did. They can be entertaining for sure.
Please remember to keep Christine Annette DeWitt in your thoughts and in your prayers. She was a very special woman to all of us. She is missed so much by her parents, brothers, sisters, children, and of course by me. Her loss has left a huge impact on our home, the community, and office place, but it is up to all of us to take what we have learned from her and the values that she has set forth for us and to continue on in her honor and her memory. She will be remembered not only by this generation, but for future generations as well.
Thank you for all of the love and support that you've given me and my family the past few years and especially this most recent year. The pain of Chris's death remains and will for a long time, but with continued support we will work through the pain and continue forward as best as we can.
I'll see you at the other blog...
P.S. If you are a first time viewer of this blog and would like to start from the beginning click HERE and it will take you to September 2006.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
The entire week leading up to Thursday was difficult. Thursday was the worst. Can't sugarcoat it. The pain that I felt last year on this same day when Chris passed away was just as bad this year. I don't know why, it just was.
I didn't set my alarm, and I went to bed around 2AM and very tired. I woke up early and rolled over to look at the clock. It was 6:20 am!!! Chris passed away right around 6:30am last year. I laid in bed for a little while and absorbed it all but could not help but recall the minutes from last year.
Tyler decided that he wanted to go to school. But Michael wanted to go to a mass in Damascus that was being said in her honor. Chris's parents were going so we decided to surprise them. We got there a little early and went to the church. I had not been inside that church in 20+ years, but when I walked in I remembered EVERYTHING about it and more importantly the exact place where Chris and I sat the 1st time she and I went there. It was a wonderful memory. We were young and sat 1/2 way back and held hands which I can remember vividly.
After mass, Chris's parents, Mike and I went to a small diner in Damascus (where Chris grew up) and had breakfast. After that Mike and I came home. He just sort of vegged out as did I for a little while. I received many emails and well wishes throughout the day. One which was very special was a visit around noon by a special friend, Aylesha. She worked in the Cancer Center in Frederick where Chris and I would go for her chemo treatments. Aylesha was a wonderful person and made Chris and I so comfortable during the most trying of times. She continues to work in the hospital oncology ward and went out her way on Thursday to visit me and bring me flowers because she knew that Chris liked them so much.
I went to the cemetery around 2:00. I've been there more times this year than I can count, but this time was a very difficult one. I took baggie with 2 pictures in it and placed it at the site. Other people had already been there but I was able to be there alone for the duration I was there. The weather was very nice.
Later in the evening Chris's parents were returning from the cemetery and called here. I told them to come by and we all went out to dinner. The restaurant located in downtown Frederick was the same one we all attended during the evening break at Chris's wake. We sat in the front window and watched people go by. Dinner was very good and we really enjoyed each other's company.
We came home and they stayed for a little while. I finally, got the boys to bed around 11 and collapsed myself very soon after.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I've tried so hard this past year to take care of our family as best as I can. Running the family on my own is very difficult and at times I sit up way late at night and just pray to God and to Chris and ask for guidance. I know she is with me and the kids each day and throughout the year we have done remarkably well. Many wonderful things have happened to us and many wonderful events have been put in place to honor Chris for many, many years to come.
This year was a year of firsts. All special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc) that we had to spend without having Chris there with us. Some were easier than others, but all of them were dealt with one day at a time. I am, and will always be, eternally grateful to all of my friends and neighbors that have been with me the last year. I could not have made it this far without you.
There are so many things about Chris that I miss so badly. So many that it would be impossible to list them all here. But the one thing that I miss the most is her being a mother. I've stepped up and had to do many things over the last year, cooking, cleaning, shopping, schoolwork, church, but the one thing that I CANNOT do is be a Mom.... I can't even begin to try. This has been the most difficult thing for me to deal with.
One year ago tonight I, along with family, sat with Chris and watched as God came down and took her from this earth to be with him. I know in my heart that she is there in a wonderful place and is waiting for me. Waiting for all of us...
I post this with tears in my eyes and pain in my heart. Tomorrow will come soon and we will deal with this final "first" in some way. The tears will dry, but the pain will still be there for a long time to come.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Where to start...
This weekend was the beginning of a time that I've been dreading for quite some time now. It was Labor Day 2007 that we had to take Chris to the hospital because she was feeling so ill. It was the 3rd last year. All of the horrible memories from that week are starting to come back.
The boys and I were not going to sit around and take it though! Saturday we left for the day and went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival over by Annapolis. We had a good time. We ate a lot of good food, steak on a stake, sausages, you name it! Chris and I went to this about 20 years ago when we didn't have children. This year was a fun time for Ty, Mike and I. We saw jousting and watched several of the comedy and juggling acts. It was nice to see the boys laughing, me too.
Sunday we went out for a pool party to our friends Danny and Brenda. Sort of an end of summer gathering. It is so hard to believe that summer is over! We got home late but had the dog with us so it didn't matter too much. She likes going and running with their 2 bigger dogs. OH yeah, I made some special beans for this event and I must say they came out pretty good. Everyone enjoyed them. I've been trying to better my cooking skills, what few I have.
Monday, we decided to take in the final Frederick Keys game of the season. The game was in the afternoon and it was a glorious day outside. They have a pizza giveaway each game to the fan(s) who scream the loudest in between innings. Well Michael won that hands down this time! So we had a large pizza for lunch. Michael also was able to run down 3, yes 3 foul balls at this game. He and Tyler are really good at this and every game that we go to someone comes home with a foul ball. After the game Michael also was given a bat from the dugout! Another one for the collection!
We saw Dave, (Keys General Manager), after the game and congratulated him on a successful season and looked forward to opening day next year! He's been very good to me and my family during the last year and we can't thank him enough.
Well 9/11 is right around the corner. I'll TRY to keep you updated on what's going on but as that day approaches my desire to do much of anything is pretty low. Thanks for checking in...
Friday, August 29, 2008
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Erica Brown has been named the head women’s lacrosse coach at Lycoming College, as announced by Scott Kennell, the College’s director of athletics. Brown played Division I lacrosse and served as a graduate assistant coach at Lock Haven from 2005-07.
“We’re pleased that Erica will be joining our staff,” said Kennell. “She has a great deal of experience having played and coached at high levels of the sport. We look forward to her continuing the excellence the women’s program has established here at Lycoming in recent years.”
Brown spent the last year working as a customer service specialist at Villanova University.
Prior to her employment at Villanova, she served two seasons as a graduate assistant coach at nearby Lock Haven University, working with the Division II Lady Eagles’ lacrosse program.
While at Lock Haven, she assisted the coaching staff with all areas of running the program, including recruiting, gameday preparation, conditioning, academic monitoring and fund-raising. The Lady Eagles posted a combined record of 33-6 in her two years on the staff, including a trip to the NCAA Final Four in 2007. That same year, Brown coached the Division II Midfielder of the Year, two first team All-Americans, two second team All-Americans and two All-NCAA Tournament players. In her two years at Lock Haven, she coached a total of seven All-Americans.
She played lacrosse at Wagner University. A standout goalkeeper, Brown still ranks second all-time in Wagner history in career minutes played, career saves and career goals against average. She also holds the record for minutes played in a season and ranks second in saves in a season. A co-captain of the team in her senior year, she was ranked on www.lax.com as one of the top-12 goalies in all of Division I.
Brown earned a bachelor’s degree in public policy and administration from Wagner in 2005 and is working toward a masters degree in liberal arts at Lock Haven. She is certified as a lacrosse referee by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) and U.S. Lacrosse.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Well Saturday Michael and I took Alex back to school to begin her Junior year. Yes only 2 years to go... It was certainly sad to see her go as it was really nice having her home for the summer. Now that she's gone it is just the boys and I again. Last year was a tough one for sure but we are hoping that the coming year brings us a little more patience with one another as we all try to do as best as we can in school, sports and our jobs!
While we were at the school we went over and took a first hand look at the memorial brick that was place in honor of Chris by the lacrosse team last year. It was a wonderful sentiment and was just wonderful to see her name on there. In fact her brick is only about 75 yards away from Alex's dorm room (3rd floor AGAIN!). So she's being well looked after.
Michael and I said our goodbyes and then we went over to watch some of the Little League World Series. We caught the US championship game and it was really fun to watch. There were 24,000 people there and most were in the outfield with us! We got home later in the evening and then just crashed. Tyler went with his grandfather to help Joey work on his house that he recently bought and is fixing up.
Today, Sunday, the boys and I went out for a late breakfast and then we went over to the cemetery to do some gardening. There hasn't been much rain lately and the flowers are starting to take a beating. We up and made our way home.
There are less than 3 weeks until the 1 year of Chris's death. So many, many memories are going through my head each day that it is really starting to weigh very, very heavy. I only hope that I along with the help of the boys can get through this coming event...
Monday, August 18, 2008
It's so seldom that I'm at a loss for words.... You don't have to know me long to realize that I love to talk! But the Keys event on Friday night has limited my vocabulary. Adjectives that come immediately to mind are: AWESOME, AMAZING, INCREDIBLE....
What the Frederick Keys accomplished in partnership with Comstar and ACS is nothing short of INCREDIBLE. To raise the amount of money in a few short hours that they did...and so generously match it...is nothing short of AMAZING! And to open their venue to ACS to pay tribute to so many local cancer survivors as well as raise funds for local programs is AWESOME! We were able to reach survivors in our community that have never been a part of an event that brings with it so much hope and healing.
Thank you so much to each of you for being a part of this inaugural event. You are all AMAZING people with big hearts...and I am sincerely grateful for all that you do!
I'm already looking forward to doing this again next year!
South Atlantic Division
American Cancer Society
1037 Haven Road
Hagerstown, MD 21742
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Well it finally happened! Friday night went off perfectly. After getting rained out completely in July, the Inaugural Chris DeWitt Breast Cancer Awareness Night drew a really good crowd for the Keys game.
I spoke a few words of thanks before the game started along with a representative from the American Cancer Society. It turned out that the person invited to speak was Michael's vice principal from school ! He's a wonderful guy and has been so very helpful to us this past year.
After some words the kids all got to throw out a first pitch. All 3 of them threw perfect strikes! The game itself wasn't all that good. They lost 14-0!!! One of their best pitchers started the game and gave up 9 runs before getting the hook!
The evening was loaded with so, so many friends and family members. I only was able to sit down and watch a couple of 1/2 innings. My good friends Rich and Jill were able to attend as they were in town and this is THE reason that the previous date was rained out. Chris wanted them there.
During the game there were several events going on. First was a silent auction where all of the players pink hats, the actual bases and some pink bats were being auctioned off to the highest bidder.
There was also 3 raffles going on where fans could by tickets for a chance to win one of the actual used bases, one of the pink signed bats, and a pink hat signed by the entire team. All are very wonderful prizes!
Well when the drawing time came and they announced the winner of the pink bat I looked at my tickets and almost fainted!!! I won! Yes me. Hard to believe huh? Fate huh? Just wait...
When I went up to claim my prize I saw Tyler running towards me. He was excited and told me that we won! I said I know. He said NO.... we won the base! He had tickets as well and his was drawn as the winner of the signed base! Let's see, 5500 people times.... 5 tickets each... Roughly 20,000 + tickets. 3 drawn and 2 were ours. Fate? I think we had some help. Thanks honey!
The raffles and auction raised a good deal of money which the Frederick Keys organization is going to match! They will be making a very generous contribution to the Children's Trust Fund all in Chris's honor.
After the game the American Cancer Society went out and displayed all of the luminaries that were sold during the game. They placed them along the basepaths and lit them with candles. After I spoke, they turned off the lights and I was able to walk with Laurie Fry of the Cancer Society and I was able to see several that were lit for Chris. That moment and the joy of the entire evening finally took it's toll on me and I could not stop crying. I made it back to my section with friends and family while the fireworks display was going off. On the big screen in the outfield was a rolling display of many different things about the evening. The last photo you see here is a picture of Chris that was displayed for a great deal of the fireworks. It was a wonderful ending to the most wonderful evening and best honor that could have been given to Chris. I know she would have been very humbled as I was.
The next few weeks are going to be very difficult ones for me and I can already sense the stress and buildup toward 9/11. This is the time last year that Chris started feeling ill. We had just come back from Deep Creek and attended Danny's Crab Feast. Well yesterday we attended his 24th annual Feast. This was my 1st one without her. It wasn't the same by any means. The kids had fun and I too enjoyed seeing everyone and being there with them. But the void that is left in my life, family, and heart is just huge and is weighing pretty heavy at times...
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Wednesday they came to the house and I showed them all the progress on the basement that we had made. Rich came down to visit me in May and helped pick out the colors with me.
Thursday morning Alex took their daughter Shannon shopping and I took Rich and Jill to the cemetery. Jill had not been there and wanted to visit. There is a lot of history in the cemetery and as you drive to visit Chris you go by a very long row of graves of soldiers that were burried there from local battles of the civil war. There are both
Confederate and Union soldiers there. The headstones are very old and many are faded away and several years ago new ones were erected directly behind them. The first picture here shows them lined up along the fence.
After going there, we picked up Shannon so Alex could go to work and then headed off to Antietam Battlefield. About a 35 minute drive. That was the site of the bloodiest 1 day (12 hours really) battle in civil war history. 23,000 soldiers died in that one day alone! It is a very special place to go and visit.
After the driving tour we went into the Antietam National Cemetery where about 5,000 soldiers are burried.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
While there Tyler and Alex were able to do some fishing. As you can see from the photos they have different fishing styles...
Sorry for the blurry picture but Tyler was a little shaky holding his camera. It's a nice announcement about the upcoming baseball game on the 15th. I also heard from Chris's high school reunion class and a big number of them are planning on attending as well.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Saint Mary's press release is found here. Lyco's is as follows:
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Lycoming College head women’s lacrosse coach Kara Reber announced her resignation on Wednesday to accept the head coaching job at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
According to Scott Kennell, Lycoming’s athletic director, a national search has already begun to identify her replacement.
The Lady Warriors posted a record of 47-34 in Reber’s five years at the helm of the program, including back-to-back 14-4 seasons and trips to the MAC semi-finals in 2007 and 2008. The 2009 squad returns all but four players, who graduated in May.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Every morning, as the dawn's early light reaches the bronze statue of Francis Scott Key, Ronald Pearcey steps down from his porch and opens the iron gate to Frederick's 156 year-old Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Pearcey has lived and worked at the cemetery for nearly 43 years.
He oversees a great deal of American history, regularly meeting Civil War buffs, students and tourists, patiently answering questions about those enshrined. When he can find time, Pearcey still researches old diaries trying to identify the remains of hundreds of unknown Confederate soldiers brought from the battlefields of Gettysburg, Antietam, South Mountain and Monocacy.
The cemetery sits on 150 acres atop the city's highest pla-teau and holds the remains of more than 40,000 persons. But Mount Olivet also continues to function and serve area residents; in fact, two new mausoleums broke ground in April and 35 acres remain available for burials.
Not all the significant people, services or memorable events here are from the 19th century, either. There have been other historical footnotes, significant local stories, personal tragedies and even one recent small miracle born at Mount Olivet
"It keeps you pretty busy," said Pearcey, who started in 1966 after a lead from the county unemployment agency. He took over as superintendent in 1983 from Bob Kline, who himself worked at the cemetary for 48 years.
Pearcey isn't the only long-tenured employee. His staff of 18 includes office manager Austin Drury, who started in 1979. Jesse Shank, cemetery foreman since 1962, manages the actual grave-digging with Tyrone Hurley, who has been at the cemetery for 25 years. Hurley's sisters, Polly and Jeannie, have taken care of the flowers and shrubbery for more than two decades.
In a near-tragedy last month, Shank's son Jamie, who works on the grounds, severed his right arm in a wood-chipper accident. Incredibly, it was successfully re-attached and something close to a full recovery is expected.
"It's amazing," Pearcey said. "We did everything right and he had a great doctor. He's due back to work real soon. It's hard to believe anything good could come out of that, but I think something might if he shares his story."
In 1852, four downtown congregations, Evangelical Lutheran, All Saints Protestant Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal and the "English" Presbyterian Church raised $10,000 for the land then called "Barrack's Hill" -- because of the nearby Hessian barracks. A decade later, the bodies of 408 unknown Confederate soldiers were brought here from western Maryland and south central Pennsylvania. Other bodies, too, of men who died at the numerous Frederick hospitals.
Pearcey can recount their journey and how they came to Mount Olivet, as well as Francis Scott Key's saga. The lawyer, poet and author of The Star Spangled Banner was born in Frederick in 1779.
When Key, for example, died of pneumonia in 1843 at his daughter Elizabeth Howard's home in Baltimore, he was initially interred there in Old Saint Paul's Cemetery. In 1866, his body was relocated to Mount Olivet. In 1898, the huge monument where he and his wife lay was erected.
"He was born here and, supposedly, always had said he wanted to be buried in Frederick overlooking the mountains," Pearcey said.
Local patriot Barbara Fritchie is nearby. A friend of Key's, she was 96 when she famously waved a Union flag at Stonewall Jackson's Confederate troops in 1862, daring them to "Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, but spare your country's flag."
Thomas Johnson, Maryland's first governor, U.S. Supreme Court justice and delegate to the Continental Congress, and James Cooper, a Union general and senator from Pennsylvania, are buried at the cemetery, too.
On a different historical note, Mount Olivet was a strictly segregated "white only" cemetery until 1954, Pearcey said. "Written into the by-laws."
Pearcey explained that in the 1940s a white businessman and farm owner named R. Rush Lewis sued Mount Olivet, a community-owned non-profit, in order to have his children's beloved "colored" nanny, Bird Smith, buried at his family's site.
"People apparently had mixed-feelings about it at the time he brought the suit, but because it was in the bylaws it held up in court," Pearcey said. "She was buried on their farm."
Four decades later, in 1986, the farm was sold to a motel chain which asked if Mount Olivet could remove the casket.
Smith was brought to the cemetery and buried in a small service.
"Rush Lewis' daughter Elizabeth Peters was still alive and lived in a house downtown on Court Street," Pearcey said. "The day of the service, it was pouring rain and I called and asked her if she wanted to come. She was very elderly, 87 years old, but she said she wanted to. So, I went and picked her up and held a big umbrella over her the whole time.
"I think finally getting to see her buried where she was supposed to be buried brought her some peace."
The largest service that Pearcey could remember was in 1988 for a 16-year-old Brunswick High School baseball player named Richard Allen Maceron, who died of an illness. Pearcey believes it was leukemia.
"It was February and it was a sunny day, wasn't cold at all," he said. "Long after the service was over, people were coming, the procession backed up all the way to Brunswick. The truck stop across I-70 was filled with cars."
"I knew him from baseball, my son played baseball then and he was just a popular, well-liked kid," Pearcey said. "All the kids from the high school came, walking single-file by casket."
Pearcey's own sons, Jeremy and David, now 37 and 36, respectively, worked at the cemetery growing up, cutting the grass, trimming and weeding. Tragically, their mother, Kathy Pearcey, Ronald's first wife, died in 1995 from complications related to diabetes and rests at cemetery.
Shortly after Maceron's funeral, another baseball story began, albeit, a much happier one, directly across the street from Mount Olivet. The minor league Frederick Keys moved into the new Harry Grove Stadium.
Not coincendentally it turns out, the two dozen plots closest to the ballpark, space that had been sitting idle for years, sold immediately, Pearcey said. Longtime American Legion baseball coach Harold E. "Sonny" Blank, whose teams played on the previous field, is buried within a good throw of the ticket office. He even has a baseball diamond and batter on his tombstone -- designed by Pearcey.
"You know, they play the national anthem before every game and Francis Scott Key is buried less than a quarter mile from the stadium," Pearcey said. "And no other place can say that.
"The other thing, if you notice, is that his right hand on the top of the statute, which was built in 1898, points exactly to where the home plate sits. I think that's kind of interesting."
Monday, July 28, 2008
Last year I was unable to attend this event because Chris was in the hospital at that time. I sponsored a hole then. This year I sponsored a hole and was able to attend the event. I played with my friend Rich and even though the weather was iffy at best they still managed to raise over $5,000 for the camp! My hole sponsor banner is the picture above.
After the event I flew back home to Baltimore and then drove to NC to be with the kids down in NC (more on that later)....
Sunday, July 27, 2008
The basement is finally nearing completion. Tyler and I have worked really hard on the basement and it is now to the point where we need to put furniture in it! We just bought a sofa and loveseat with some accent tables today so that's done.
Next step is stools for the bar and a pub table. More pix to come once we get things hung on the wall!!!
We started this about 6 months ago. Tearing out everything in the basement. New bar, new lights, new tile, new carpet, new paint.... You get the idea. The TV and stereo cabinet are in and finally hung permanently. They're perfect.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Hi Kara - On behalf of the Awards Committee for the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA), I would like to extend congratulations to you and your team for being selected as the 2008 Team Community Awareness Award Winner. There were many outstanding teams nominated for this award, so congratulations again on being selected.
The award will be presented to you at the Awards Banquet at the IWLCA Convention. A media release announcing the award will go out the week of the convention.
Allison B. Valentino
Associate Head Lacrosse Coach
United States Naval Academy
151 Cooper Rd
Annapolis, MD 21402
Friday, July 25, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
He just came back from a very successful climb of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. He was an extraordinary man with a huge heart. He's been doing this for about 3 years now and the numbers in his group continues to climb.
He shared with me some personal data of which I will keep to myself, but in a nutshell the research that he raises money for is something that could benefit someone in his personal life as well. Best of luck to you and your loved ones Andy!
Tomorrow morning Alex and the boys are driving to the Outer Banks, NC for a week of vacation with our close friends across the street (Ray and Cheryl). I am flying to Rochester, NY to attend a special charity golf tournament in honor or Ryan McPhee. I'm coming back on Monday and then driving down on Monday to the beach. Should be a busy weekend. Once there a little R and R on the beach will be most welcome. Chris and I had been several times before with Ray and Cheryl to the beach to the same location. It will be hard not having her there with us but I'm sure she'll be watching over us.
While we were loading the car we came across a bucket of beach toys and in it were a bunch of shells that Chris had collected the last time that we were down there... that hurt a little.
Monday, July 14, 2008
It rained. Big time and would not stop. Disappointing, but as Dave the GM put it, "it gives them more time to promote it to an even bigger event".
The Breast Cancer Awareness night in honor of Chris will now be held on FRIDAY AUG. 15th at 7:00 pm. Friday's are traditionally big nights. THis one will be huge as Fireworks are already on the schedule.
Thanks to everyone who came out last night. I'm hoping to see more on the 15th...
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
This picture was sent to me by one of the climbers in the Climb for Hope group. I have never met Beth Dyer, but have had several correspondences with her before her climb. She bought one of the fundraiser t-shirts from the Lycoming Lacrosse team and took it to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro
The picture shows: front row (left-right) Molly O'Brien (PA at Annapolis Breast Cancer Center), Andy Buerger, Beth Dyer. In the back is Dr. Leisha Emens.
She is the wonderful physician that treated Chris with such dignity and respect while she was at Johns Hopkins.
The following text is from an email that Andy sent to me after Beth sent us both the picture. Andy is the creator and primary contact for the Climb for Hope program.
Thanks for sharing that picture. It's a great shot -- so glad you hauled that t-shirt all the way to Africa and then along our 65 mile journey to the 19,400 summit. It's a real tribute to Christine.
Charlie: As Beth pointed out, I took a minute before our mid-night departure to remind our climbers why we were there. Yes, we were there for our own reasons, but we were there for a greater reason as well --- to carry something with us -- a t-shirt or a memory of someone who couldn't make that climb. With that, I told the time I was climbing with Christine's memory in my heart. I was taking her memory to the top with them. (And every hour for 8 hours I thought about Christine and what good things are being done under her name.)
I told the 25 people in that tent that when it got dark and cold and we were tempted to turn back, ponder what challenges Christine went through and how important it was us to walk in her pain for a while. Besides we couldn't let down the hundreds of your supporters that were following us.
So, Charlie, every single person made it up to Africa's highest peak, miraculously. We fought debilitating blisters, stomach problems, dysentery, exhaustion, and terrible cold. I have to think that Chris gave us little tug every once in a while when we were struggling.
I'm proud to tell you that yes, we had 100% success, but I'm so much more proud to tell you that we carried Chris' memory (and thanks to Beth, her t-shirt) to the summit for you and your family. You were an inspiration to us all. Please also know, we raised over $200,000 to fight this terrible disease so other women won't have to go through what your courageous wife struggled with.
Christine DeWitt's name and memory will continue to be a blessing.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
They treated here like a little princess as you can see.
Its a little quiet around here this week. Alex has been at work and the boys are BOTH away at lacrosse camp together. The peace and quiet is nice but I don't really like it...
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Keys, COMSTAR will host breast cancer event
Originally published July 05, 2008
By Gina Gallucci-White
Christine DeWitt could read an entire book in two to three days. She
loved to plant flowers in her garden and attend her three children's
These and many more memories bring a smile to her husband Charles DeWitt's face.
Christine DeWitt died Sept. 11, 2007, after a three-year battle with breast cancer.
"We are coping," Charles DeWitt said. "We are doing well."
To celebrate her life and the lives of others touched by the disease, the
Frederick Keys and COMSTAR Federal Credit Union will host the Inaugural
Christine DeWitt Memorial Breast Cancer Awareness Night on July 13 at
Harry Grove Stadium.
DeWitt worked for COMSTAR for more than 20 years and regularly did marketing business with the Keys.
"We wanted to do something to raise awareness, and honor her memory and her
family," said Keri Scrivani, Keys assistant general manager of
After registering with the American Cancer Society of
Frederick County, survivors will receive two free tickets to the July
13 game, a T-shirt, tote bag and access to a survivor recognition
ceremony in the Keys courtyard.
The ACS and Frederick Memorial Hospital will pass out informational materials.
While the event is for breast cancer awareness, all cancer survivors are
welcome, said Laurie Frey, ACS Frederick County community manager.
The event is a good way for cancer survivors to come together with people who understand what they have gone through, she said.
"It's going to be a fun time," Frey said. "I'm very excited about this."
A silent auction will include commemorative pink bats, bases and hats.
All proceeds will go into a trust fund for DeWitt's children. The Keys
will match the funds raised by the auction.
With donations to the ACS, luminaria will be placed on the field after the game to create a
"Field of Memories," with each light representing a life.
"It's a very touching ceremony," Frey said.
Charles DeWitt and the couple's three children will be at the event. He said he
has been overwhelmed by the support shown to his family.
"It's very humbling," he said. "She would be very honored."
Sunday, June 29, 2008
This was a vacation that we were all looking forward to for the last several months, I on the other hand was looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time. A very bittersweet trip for sure. The only reason that I agreed to go was because we were going with a group of friends. There was 6 families and 23 total people going. There should have been 25 however, but 2 people were missing, Chris and our good friend Ryan. Ryan passed away 2 years ago from leukemia. His parents came all the way down from Rochester, NY to fly with us as a group. Our friend Danny put everything together for everyone and did a great job coordinating everything for us.
We left Thursday evening and stayed at a hotel near Dulles airport (near DC). We were able to leave the cars at the hotel and caught a shuttle to the airport for our 9Am flight on Friday. We landed around 12:30 in Cancun and by 2PM we were at our resort in Playa Del Carmen. It is about 45 minutes south of Cancun. Our resort was an all-inclusive and right on the ocean. It was directly across from the island of Cozumel and at night you could see the lights on the island many miles away. During the day you could see the cruise ships docked for the day.
The trip was sort of a "spring break" type trip. There were older kids (18 - 21) who would go out to some clubs in downtown with the resort staff. Alex was one of them. They had a great time and were able to look out for one another while away from the resort. Tyler was part of a younger highschool group. They were able to go to a resort across the street where there was a nightclub that allowed young teens to attend. They went there a few times and spent some late nights out "clubbing" for their 1st time. Michael was one of those kids where was too young to hang with the older kids. It's too bad but he and I buddied up and made the best of the week. It was not a problem at all and we both had a pretty good time.
On Monday we all boarded a couple of buses and went to a natural theme park called Xel-Ha. This was a wonderful area where water comes in from the ocean and flows into a beautiful lagoon/lake are. There are paths all around the water area with rope swings, cliff diving, tubing, and most importantly snorkeling! Michael and I spent 4 hours in the water snorkeling around the lagoon. We saw thousands of fish and some of them were pretty large, 3 to 4 feet! Tyler thought he'd be smart and try to touch one while it was feeding on something. Needless to say the cut on his finger proved to him that they have teeth and they are "sharp".
The rest of the week we spent at the beach and at the pool soaking up some much needed rest and relaxation. Each day we utilized the swim up bar and the all you can eat (and we did) buffet. The food was spectacular and we found ourselves making our own fish tacos with all the fixings from the buffet. Each day our room was made up and the maid would leave an animal on our bed made out of one of the towels along with real flowers. They were really cool and always fun to look at when we came back from a long day at the beach.
The trip home was uneventful. We got home late Thursday and found that Ramsey (our cat) was missing. He left the day before while our neighbor was watching the house. We got a call on Friday evening from someone who got our number from his collar. He's home now and will be staying in the house for awhile.
The weather was just perfect for a vacation. Hot and humid but no rain at all until the night before we left. Also the day we left it started pouring down rain about 1/2 hour before we boarded the bus to the airport. We felt a little bad for the poor people who were still there, wondering what the heck we would do if we were there and it was raining. We were busy every day with swimming, eating and relaxing!
I could not have done this vacation without the support from my many friends who were there with me. Chris and I were trying for 3 years to go to Mexico and we were never able to get away because of treatments. In hindsight we should have just gone, but we didn't. the kids had a good time and I did as well, but there was never a minute that I did not have her on my mind. Seeing families and couples walking on the resort brought a constant reminder to me that our wife/mom was no longer with us in body. She still is there in mind and soul. There were a couple of moments during the week that I thought that I wouldn't be able to make it. Again, it was my group of friends that helped me through it. One day at a time... even in Mexico.
This picture is of Chris and her "cart partner" Linda from the radio station. Linda and Chris were business associates, but more importantly were friends as well. Linda sent me this picture a while ago but now that golf season is in full swing (not for me) I thought I would get it posted for everyone to see and remember. It's been over a year since I've even considered picking up my clubs to play. Hopefully Tyler and I can get out soon. I bought him a new set of irons for getting all A's on his final report card.
Jenny recently walked in a Relay for Life walk-a-thon. She sent me a couple of pictures of the event. This is yet another wonderful friend who continues to remember Chris and what she meant to her. Thanks Jenny...
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
We are headed to an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun.
I'll be away for a little while so please be patient with me. I'll fill you in when I get back...
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The Keys have been and continue to be a big part of our lives. The boys and I went last week to watch a game on a very pleasant evening. Tyler was able to get a bat that was used in the game by the up and coming Matt Wieters. He is just a phenomenal player and was given a $6 Million signing bonus by the Orioles last year. Matt broke the bat during the game and Ty used his charm to get it from the dugout. He basically asked nicely. He then went to the clubhouse where Matt was signing autographs and was able to get the bat signed as well! He has it hanging in the basement on a bat rack that he made in school.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I thought that it would be a good time ro post the information for those who did not see the article in the Frederick News Post.
Read about the award directly from the newspaper by clicking here.
Award winner excels while battling illness
Originally published October 04, 2005
By Gina Gallucci
CLARKSBURG -- Christine DeWitt had attended the Maryland Credit Union League's annual conference every year since she began working for the company 22 years ago.
This year, Ms. DeWitt, who is the vice president of operations for COMSTAR Federal Credit Union in Clarksburg, had decided not to attend. She had been diagnosed in September 2004 with breast cancer and was not sure if she wanted to make the trip to Ocean City for the conference in late June.
Her CEO, Lisa Whitaker, encouraged her to attend because she had nominated her for an award.
"She said, 'I think you need to go because you have won an award'," said Ms. DeWitt, who was honored with the 2005 Judith A. Burgin Memorial Credit Union Professional of the Year Award.
"It was very emotional and very gratifying," said Ms. DeWitt. It was an honor to be nominated by the CEO and given the award in front of colleagues.
The contenders were judged on their ability to achieve effective and efficient results in the areas of management and supervision; ability to motivate staff and volunteers and instill in credit union personnel a spirit of teamwork and cooperation; participation in credit union activities at the local, chapter, league and national levels; and professional training and educational achievements.
The award was created to honor, Judith A. Burgin, who was responsible for directing and managing the operations of all Tower Federal Credit Union branches. Ms. Burgin began her career at Tower in 1969 and worked until her death in 1983.
Ms. DeWitt was able to do her job while going through a 12-week round of chemotherapy.
"A lot has to do with technology," said Ms. DeWitt. "Fortunately, the credit union set up a computer at (her) home so I could check my e-mail. I also checked my voice mail. A number of the managers are independent and got the job done and kept everything running. ...I have not missed much work. I come into work as much as I can. Keeping a normal schedule has helped."
To boost her spirits during chemotherapy, co-workers took up a collection and hired a cleaning person to tidy up her house once a week and a chef to prepare meals for her and her family.
"It was a huge help," said Ms. DeWitt. "I did not have many side effects (due to treatment), but there were a lot of things I couldn't do."
Currently, Ms. DeWitt is undergoing radiation treatments and going in for regular check-ups.
"Its an ongoing process," said Ms. DeWitt. "I play it by ear. One test to another."
Ms. DeWitt lives in Frederick with her husband Charles and three children.
Friday, May 30, 2008
The MD/DC Credit Union League is an organization that supports the several hundred credit unions in the MD and DC region. They hold an annual convention each year in Ocean City. I've been to many of them with Chris and her COMSTAR family.
In 2005 Chris was awarded the Judith A. Burgin Professional of the Year Award. A very prestigious award that she was so deserving of and nominated for by her CEO Lisa. At that convention they would also hold a special awards breakfast for just the marketing awards. There are quite a few categories and each category is broken up by credit union size. That way tiny one's aren't competing with the huge ones. Each year Chris would represent COMSTAR and would win anywhere from 4 to 8 individual awards. Of all the jobs that she had she really enjoyed the marketing the most and it showed.
The 2008 convention is coming up but now the marketing awards are done at a separate luncheon in order that more people can attend. Wednesday I attended this year's luncheon with Alex, Lisa (COMSTAR) and Chris's Mom and Dad. At that luncheon the awards were given out as usual but this year the audience was in for a surprise. A new award has been created by the League and they have named the award in Chris's memory. The award is called
The Christine DeWitt Memorial Award for Excellence in Marketing, Best of Show
I was told about this a few weeks back and was very much looking forward to being there to present the award for the 1st time. After arriving MikeBeall (CEO of the League) let me know that he was going to ask me to say a few words. Never a problem for me. After hearing Chris's name and all of her accomplishments, we were introduced. I will have to admit that addressing the audience of Chris's peers was the most difficult thing that I have ever had to do. I was very choked up, but was able to say a few words.
I am so grateful to everyone involved in this award. This is the most thoughtful thing that could have been done to honor Chris. Her name will be on that award for every year from this year on. One day the winner will say "Who is Chris DeWitt"? Once they look it up they'll be just as amazed then as the current winners are now.
Excerpts of the Speech delivered by Michael Beall, CEO, Maryland & District of Columbia Credit Union Association, at the Trailblazer Awards luncheon, Wednesday, June 28, 2008.
“Because this award recognizes significant achievement, it deserves a name
that also represents success and recognizes results. In that spirit, one individual’s name was suggested and it was agreed upon immediately.
The individual whose name will become synonymous with the “Best of Show” special award is … Christine DeWitt.
Many of you had the pleasure of knowing and working with our deceased friend and colleague, Christine DeWitt. Christine was the vice President of Operations of COMSTAR FCU before her untimely passing. I’d like to give you a brief biography of this special person.Chris settled into her first career job as a credit union teller She progressed to positions of increasing responsibility while raising three children. The last position Chris held was Vice President of Operations of COMSTAR Federal Credit Union. Some of Chris’ accomplishments included: leading her credit union’s operational efforts through two credit union mergers; directing aggressive branch expansion from 2 branches to 7 branches, and more than 10 ATM machines; serving on a number of Board Committees including Asset Liability Management; winning the 2004 CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council’s Diamond Award of Merit for radio advertising, a 2005 award for COMSTAR’s “Rooted in Service” campaign and MDDCCUA’s 2005 Judith A. Burgin Professional of the Year Award.
In July 2004, Chris was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy – while only missing less than 7 days of work. When Chris was too ill to travel to the office, she worked via e-mail and phone – all part of her typical work ethic and commitment to the credit union. Sadly, Chris succumbed to breast cancer and passed away on September 11, 2007.
Chris’ dedication and commitment to excellence exemplifies the qualities of the best. So it is only fitting that the new “Best of Show” award be honored with the name of Christine DeWitt.
The MDDCCUA’s special award will be called the Christine DeWitt Memorial Award for Excellence in Marketing, Best of Show.
And, now, I would like to introduce some of Chris’ family members who have joined the celebration today - Chris’ husband, Charlie DeWitt; her daughter, Alex DeWitt; and her parents, John and Pat Barr. I’d also like to welcome Lisa Whitaker, President/ CEO of COMSTAR FCU. Please join me in a round of applause to celebrate this special recognition of Christine DeWitt.
(It’s at this point that Charlie says a few words…)
And now with great pleasure, I would like to announce that the winner of the first Christine DeWitt Memorial Award for Excellence in Marketing, Best of Show is . . . NIH Federal Credit Union.”
by Michael V. Beall, CEO (Click hyperlink for Mike's bio)
Life and the Governmental Affairs Conference
Tributes to Don Beall and Chris DeWitt
CUNA held its annual Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) last week, and for the first time in decades it was NOT held at the Washington Hilton. Everything changes, and the conference made the move to the bigger, brighter DC convention center. It was fantastic, yet I found myself a little bit reflective of times past at the Hilton, and was taken back a bit into my own family memories of the old venue.
GAC was time that I got to come to several years’ worth of events with my Dad, Don Beall. Many of you knew my father and his work at NASA FCU until his death on June 4, 1991. 17 years ago – it hardly seems possible. He always made a big deal about the GAC and my reaction to it changed over the years.
As a younger boy, I found the trips to the Capitol and offices of members of Congress to be exciting. It whetted my first appetite for politics and the law. I always wanted to be a lawyer growing up, and these early trips to Congress focused me on this aspiration. As a teenager I rolled my eyes at my Dad’s enthusiasm for the battles of credit unions such as obtaining the ability to offer checking accounts. Later, in 1991, I had lunch with him at the Hilton the February before he died to deliver resumes that he could pass out to friends and colleagues – he wanted to be sure I GOT a job, and that it was in credit unions.
So, this year as I led a delegation of British CU representatives around GAC as part of our partnership, I listened as they talked about fighting the same CU fight to be able to offer checking accounts. The more things change the more they stay the same. And I couldn’t help but think about what it would be like to have had my Dad meet me for lunch at the GAC as a retiree and provide advice on all the latest legislative maneuvers to be contemplated for our CURIA bill.
On my return back to the office I received an e-mail from Charlie DeWitt, the husband of Chris DeWitt, formerly VP of Operations for COMSTAR FCU. Christine passed away after a fight against breast cancer on September 11, 2007. Charlie was providing me a link to the blog about Christine’s battle with cancer that has also turned into a blog on life after her passing.
Check out the blog at http://chris-dewitt-updates.blogspot.com/
I didn’t know Chris well. I actually came to know her when she was nominated for and won MDDCCUA’s Professional of the Year in 2005. She was a very determined lady in her fight, and well loved by her family and credit union friends. And, as often happens, I made the connection between what Charlie and his family are going through in their first year of loss. For me, its been lots of years since losing my Dad, but I still miss him, and still wish that he could be here to see where credit unions are fighting the good fight on lots of issues.
Seeing her pictures on the blogspot reminded me of the moment we were together onstage as she received her award. She was so very proud that day.
Each one of us has loved ones and friends in this credit union movement that have passed away. Today, take a minute and remember someone at your credit union that is no longer with us, and help the next member with the enthusiasm of the person you miss. I will be using that passion for our next MDDCCUA meetings with Senators Cardin and Mikulski to get them on the new Senate version of CURIA. I know my Dad would have been fighting away for the legislation if he were here.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
He came down on Friday and we went to a Frederick Keys game. Saturday was a trip into Frederick and since he is somewhat of a civil war buff we visited the Monocacy Battlefield in Frederick. Good history there. That's the battle that prevenented the Confederates from attacking Washington, DC. Later Saturday our friends Danny and Brenda came out and we all went out to dinner at La Paz. This was one of Chris's favorite restaurants.
Sunday I took Rich and the kids out to historic Harper's Ferry, WV. Another very important place during the civil war. The aerial view above is from a very high cliff over looking the area. We are going up there next time!!! Here's some pictures of the day there. The weather was spectacular and we had a relaxing lunch overlooking the town.
Later that night Tyler made a bonfire in the backyard in his firepit under the trees. Rich and I just sat and chatted until late in the evening.
Monday, we took Rich to the airport and then went over to D&B's to sit around the pool and enjoy the rest of the beautiful weather.
This was probably one of the better weekends that I've personally had in awhile. Friends and relaxation were a big part of it.
Today I'm off to a special event that I'll update tomorrow. Hint... It has to do with Chris.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
ANNVILLE, Pa. – The Middle Atlantic States Collegiate Athletic Corporation spring Academic Honor Roll, which notes academic excellence by student-athletes, contains 270 honorees as announced by Executive Director Ken Andrews.
The Honor Roll comprises those student-athletes of sophomore class standing or higher who participated in a varsity-level sport and registered a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 (4.00 scale) or higher and completed the playing
season in good standing...
Click HERE to read the whole story. Alex's name is down on page 3 with Women's Lacrosse.
Monday, May 19, 2008
This was a very busy weekend. It started with Michael leaving for a special bereavement camp on Friday night. It’s offered through the Hospice and he was one of only about 25 or so children are selected. It is called Camp Jamie and has been in place for quite a few years. He was gone all weekend and I picked him up around 1 pm on Sunday. He was paired up with a "big buddy" who essentially was with him the whole weekend. I'll be having a followup conversation with his buddy some time this week. Michael came home with a lot of nice things, blanket, flower pot etc. and he indicated that he had a good time.
Friday night was Tyler's confirmation at St. John's. He started confirmation late last summer and Chris helped get him started. Our good friend Marianne had her baby on Monday so she could not continue to be his sponsor. Alex stood in for her and all was good. A bishop from Baltimore was there. Tyler was actually chosen to do one of the readings as well. It was nice.Saturday was the annual community yard sale. Chris always took care of this. We had some things to get rid of and Tyler and I took care of it all as Mike was away and Alex was at work. We did sell our old furniture from the basement so that was a relief.
Sometimes I actually look forward to Mondays after such a busy weekend. Today was one of them!