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66 donations

This fundraiser ended on 08/06/10

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Hi, My name is Valerie Sun and I am raising money for little Mikayla Schmidt, who was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma this spring. As Mikayla bravely fights her cancer, I will be doing a two mile ocean swim in her honor. Please help support me. Thanks!

There are a bunch of words I could use to describe myself…However, the word “athlete” has been expunged from my self-descriptor vocabulary for a very long time now. What is funny is that I used to be quite athletic; in fact, I was a competitive gymnast, training 10 hours a week when I was eleven. But, a life altering diagnosis of aplastic anemia, a disease characterized by bone marrow failure, carved a path that would take me down roads that my family and I had never previously envisioned. A road that included years of transfusions, waiting for a bone marrow match, and absolutely NO sports, due to my low platelet and red blood cell count. I remember watching enviously as friends played tag and other games that I always had to sit out on. In high school, I was enrolled in Adaptive P.E. with the Special Ed kids where we pretty much stretched for half the period. Thus was my life as a “sick” kid – relegated to the stands to observe, but never participate.

When I found out I would be getting a bone marrow transplant the summer after my freshman year in college, I started dreaming again of the day I would play sports, or just have the freedom to attempt something fun and new like surfing. This dream was short-lived, however. Not too long after my transplant I developed severe side effects from my treatment and medications, many of which involved my bones and joints. Then came a string of orthopedic surgeries between 2001 and 2006, the most major being a total hip replacement at the ripe old age of 21. The little hope I had of incorporating sports and athletics back into my life was crushed.

The past few years I have been blessed so that for the most part, I manage to stay fit and am able to exercise regularly. However, athletics and I have continued to be quite mutually exclusive. When I first heard about the Crum Pier to Pier 2 mile ocean swim that occurs every summer as a part of the Surf Festival in Manhattan Beach, I was in awe of those that could do such a thing and immediately mentally put myself in the spectator category. Over the next few months, however, I just couldn’t shake the idea of the swim. After all, swimming was something that I could still do – I wasn’t great at it, but I could do it. Slowly, but surely, a resolution formed in my mind that I, Valerie Sun, self-described “non-athlete,” would attempt the swim the following year. It became a goal that would involve numerous challenges, but perhaps none greater than the mental challenge of turning around 17 years of the instilled mantra “I can’t,” into one big “I can.”

A long story which brings me to the main point and purpose of this letter…I had the original goal of swimming as my own personal challenge, but another recent life-altering diagnosis has brought a whole new meaning to this endeavor. One of my dearest friends from junior high, Lesley Schmidt, has a beautiful 17 month old little girl named Mikayla. Mikayla was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in March 2010. The Schmidt family has had to endure the shock and horror of having their lives upended due to crisis, and the grace and strength in faith with which they have navigated it thus far has been an inspiration to all of us. I know from personal experience that dealing with the financial impact of such a crisis can sometimes become a burden heavier than that of the actual diagnosis. It is to this end that I am dedicating this swim to Mikayla as a way of showing my support for Lesley and Steve. And I am asking that if this is something you also wish to support, please consider donating via this website to help out the Schmidt family. Even if you are not able to donate monetarily, I know more than anything, the Schmidts covet your prayers for their daughter.

August 1, 2010, I will not be sitting on the sidelines. For the first time since I was a kid, I am participating in an event that is going to take a combination of stamina, focus, fortitude, and dare I say… athleticism. I say this not to pat myself on the back before I have even attempted such a feat, but to enter into it with the humbling acknowledgment that this is a huge challenge for me, and success is not totally guaranteed – like many things in life. Mikayla’s challenge in front of her is also momentous, but not insurmountable. I’ll be conquering my fears (not the least of which is the freezing Pacific waters!!!), and Mikayla will be conquering chemo, needles and pokes, and eventually, cancer. I swim in honor of Mikayla, and this understanding, along with your support, gives me the confidence I need to accomplish this feat.


If you prefer to mail a check, you can do so by sending it to:

Argos Wesleyan Church 

300 N. Maple Street 

Argos, IN 46501

*NOTE - Please be sure to write checks out to "Argos Wesleyan Church" and leave the memo section blank. Please enclose a separate note indicating that you would like the donation to go to Mikayla Schmidt and they will take care of the rest to make sure it gets to the Schmidts directly. Any donations will be send to them 100% and you will also receive a tax receipt for your donation.


You can also follow Mikayla's journey at:

We have a Facebook Group now! Join up by clicking here:!/group.php?gid=131628490207361&ref=ts


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