Second generation Santa carries on the spirit of Christmas for Memphis families

The Great Experimenters

It is the morning of the 2011 Grand Opening of the Enchanted Forest to benefit the LeBonheur Children’s Hospital at the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. Even with ear protection, the sound of the helicopter blades beat against Kennison Kyle’s chest like a timpani. He is more than 100 feet off the ground. He looks over the crowd below, his brown eyes scanning for three familiar faces. There are almost 1000 people looking up. All are waiting for the helicopter to land.

Even from that distance, he makes eye contact with his mother. He has the sensation that she is sitting right in front of him, looking right back at him. Then he sees his sister and aunt standing next to his mom. Tears well up in his eyes and threaten to spill out onto his beard and red coat. He knew his family was going to be there…

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A beautiful day for a picnic

AZ RESCUE, an organization I wrote about a couple of times recently, hosted their annual Adopter’s Picnic and Reunion yesterday. Hubby and I went because we are Adopter’s of the feisty and sweet King Lukas.

Thanks to Jennifer Berry and all the volunteers for hosting such a great day! It was a grand time reuniting with Lukas’s foster parents, and watching The Big L strut his stuff in his kingly robes.

Below are photos from the day:

This is what a face looks like surrounded by love.

Happiness is reuniting with people who loved you back to life.

A parade of dogs marched the land in their best costumes. The tiny “skeleton” in the foreground recently survived a major surgery and is doing great, thanks to the love and care of her foster-mom-cum-forever-mom.

Proud, strutting puppies!

King Lukas surveys the land in all his costumed glory.

King Lukas carries his ruby tipped scepter, which can also be used as a squeaky toy when he gets bored.

The king was proudest at seeing his fellow brothers and sisters in rescue–all happy, all with shiny coats and fully bellies, all at home and surrounded by love with people who care what happens to them.

When the costume parade was complete, we all sat together in the shade on a gorgeous day.

King Lukas was surrounded by his loving families — the family that brought him back to life and the family that has committed to be there for him for the rest of it. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Family photo! Is it me, or does Lukas appear to be giggling?

Dog Hymn

by Janice Bressler

God made Adam, then Eve
for obvious reasons

and hoped they would love, honor, comfort each other

Seeing it would likely not last forever,
given Adam’s appetite for conquest,
and Eve’s hunger to converse,
God made Dog.

God gave Dog
the ability to love without speech
and delight in chasing things
without the need to catch or accumulate.

God gave Dog too
a fiercely loyal heart,
a quiet respect for human tears,
and an inclination to sleep curled up
at the foot of the bed.

We all know,
of course,
that Adam and Eve
betrayed God,
deceived each other,
and so were banished from the Garden.

But remember, and give thanks:
because God is compassionate,
he sent Dog with them.

Published in the September/October issue of The Bark Magazine.

I’ve got spirit, yes I do!

I’ve got spirit, how ’bout you?

Today is Spirit Day, a day to take a stand against bullying and reach out your hand in support of those who have been bullied. Show your support by wearing purple today and turning your Facebook or Twitter accounts purple with images from GLAAD. As GLAAD says, “Words and images matter.”

Go Purple!

Jennifer Berry puts passion into animal rescue

With thanks to Jennifer Berry and all those at RESCUE for putting your passion to work for the sake of others. Your work saves the lives of thousands of animals and brings fullness to the people who adopt them. Without you, there would be far less joy in the world and far more sadness. I know, because my own life was less complete without the joy of knowing Lukas.

The Great Experimenters

Jennifer Berry arrives at the Maricopa County Animal Shelter filled with dread. It is August and, even at 8:30 in the morning, the temperatures are close to 100. She opens the door of her van and, as she steps out, is hit by the heat like the blast from an oven door. Her thoughts go immediately to the dogs and cats inside the shelter. If it’s hot outside, it means the animals are hot too. If it’s cold, so are they. And if there was a thunderstorm the night before, she knows the animals will have been terrified the entire night, with no one to comfort them.

She looks at the building in front of her. A sprawling, one-story cement structure painted surprisingly cheerful oranges and blues. Lining out the door are people with dogs panting on leashes or cats meowing in cages. She does not know whether the people…

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New reason to get outside for Worldwide Recess Day

My husband and I have a new reason for getting outside on September 14th, which is Worldwide Recess Day. We just adopted a new dog!

Meet our newest traveling companion!

AZ R.E.S.C.U.E is an organization that rescues cats and dogs from the euthanasia list at the local pound. Our little guy came to them in very bad shape, in need of lots of medical attention, besides needing to be neutered. Three months later, he is shiny, happy, and hopefully ready for a life of love and adventure with his new bi-peds.

On the couch together, just a paw’s touch away.

Thank you to Vicky and Phil, his foster parents, for taking such good care of “The Big Guy”, giving him the love and attention he needed, to be ready to meet a new family. Your strength, compassion, and blessing on the world are beyond measure. Without the commitment of organizations like AZ R.E.S.C.U.E and foster parents, we would not know the pleasure of feeling his particular warm paw pads press against our elbow as he sleeps next to us, or the belly laugh that bubbles out when he races to the couch and bounds into our laps. May you all experience the rich blessing that you give to others.

Thankful for the Versatile Blogger Award

The way of blogging on WordPress is a wonder to me. Each time I post a blog, I get to “meet” new people with amazing lives who also blog about their adventures. WordPress tells us about each other through links and suggestions. The number of people out there living really passionate lives is inspiring.

One such person is Esti, a woman who is not originally from Shanghai, but who lives there now with her husband and daughter. Her blog, coffeecameralove, shares lovely pictures and stories of her explorations around the area she now calls home. She brings her readers into her world, making us feel like we are sitting across the table from each other over coffee.

Esti did me the honor this week of passing along the Versatile Blogger Award and I would like to thank her for that. It has made me smile all week.

The Versatile Blogger Award comes with a few rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who has nominated you and link back to their blog in your post.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award onto 7 other bloggers whose blogs you enjoy reading.
  4. Write to the bloggers you have nominated to let them know about the award.

Thank the blogger who has nominated you and link back to their blog on your post.

Esti, thank you, again for giving me the Versatile Blogger Award. It has been so lovely getting to know you and your family through your own blog and now you have made me feel so great by sharing this award. May your blog, coffeecameralove, ever continue to grow in readership and fun.

Share 7 things about yourself.

1. I am an Experimenter with a capital E. That’s why writing and traveling suit me so well. I like trying all sorts of things to see how they fit. Then, once I feel I have mastered the experience or learned from it, I get bored and move on. In my bolder moments, I like to think of myself as walking in the shadows of Leonardo di Vinci. In my humbler moments, I think I might just be somebody with Attention Deficit Disorder. Either way, I like trying new things.

I made this Beaker costume after I got inspired one year around Halloween. That's really me in there! Experiment: Success. Lesson learned: I can make Muppets! And: Never wear a Beaker costume to your nephew's 1st birthday party. It scares them.

This is me setting up irrigation for my container garden a couple of years ago. Which I did for one season. Before it shriveled up in the desert sun and all died. Experiment: failed. Lesson learned: I am not a green thumb.

2. One of the things I’m proudest of is my Masters degree in Transforming Spirituality from Seattle University; not because having a Masters degree makes me “all that”, but because I worked hard for it and it continues to teach me a lot about living my life authentically. It taught me to ask questions so that I can be aware of my choices and experiences as my life story unfolds.

That's me only moments after walking across the stage, so happy.

3. When I am not writing blogs or working on my books, you will find me working on drawings for patent applications to illustrate how an invention works. Below is Ninja Kitty. While she is not a drawing from an application, she is in the style of the work I do as a Technical Draftsperson. Ninja Kitty and her meditative counterpart have inspired my store and a line of products I created at Zazzle.com.

Ninja Kitty.

4. I cannot dance. I thought I could when I was a kid. My sister and I would listen to Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow while dancing all over the living room. Outside of that, though, I cannot loosen up enough to get into it and, when I dance with my husband, I always try to lead. The older I get the less self-conscious I become so, perhaps by the time I’m 80, I’ll be able to shake it all over the dance floor, just in time to break a hip. Look out nursing homes!

I will dress up like a flapper, but I cannot do the Charleston. It is very sad.

5. I. Love. Coffee. You probably figured that out just from the name of my blog. From the time I was a little girl, I was drinking coffee with my grandmother. To this day when I sit and have a cup of joe, I feel like she is with me, guiding me with her earthy wisdom. So, coffee has an appeal to me, both as something wonderful to enjoy, and as a connection to someone I love who has passed on.

Espresso art in a cup from Royal Coffee in Phoenix. The art comes from the little splatters made when the espresso is made and how the crema rings down the cup as I drink it.

6. One of my favorite parts about travel, my favorite parts about life really, is people watching and people listening. The stories of others fascinate me and nothing impresses me more than when I see someone living out their life with courage, passion and, often, tenacity. People inspire me. I guess that’s why reading other people’s blogs is so inspiring.

You may recall having seen this man in my Seattle article. To this day I think about him when I think of opportunities missed for getting to know an interesting person. Even so, his passion continues to inspire me!

7. I am an introvert. I can be very outgoing. I love meeting new people. But I must, must, must have significant time in my week to be quiet and still, to listen to the birds, or watch the wind tickle the leaves in the trees, and to write. I must have this time to allow the jumble of sights, sounds, and experiences to settle quietly in my mind so that I can truly savor and appreciate them. Then, I can go back out into the world and be extroverted again without being fake about it.

Nature helps me relax and refocus. This is a cactus that bloomed in a container in our backyard.

Pass the award onto 7 other bloggers whose blogs you enjoy reading.

MyTown366: Set in the metro area of Phoenix, Arizona, this blogger never ceases to amaze me how she can capture some of the same places I go to on a regular basis and make them new just by the way they appear in her pictures. Her photos come from several different parts of the metro area and are inspired by daily life lived there.

Going Dutch and Loving It: Malou is a versatile blogger in that she shares several facets of her life–from travel, to cooking, to life as a woman who was born and raised in the Philippines now married to a Dutchman and raising her own daughter in the Netherlands. Her blog has gorgeous photos of tulips in Holland, sunsets in the Philippines, and sunny avenues in France.

Ms Elena Levon Traveling: What’s not to love about Ms Elena? She is a 28-year-old marvel. Her stories and photos take her readers on a fantastic journey to the hills outside of Los Angeles, the crags and crevices of Marrakech, the sand dunes of the Sahara–and they almost always overlap with the incredible people she meets. Reading her blog gets my travel itch started all over again.

Spiritual World Traveler: I am just getting to know this blogger’s adventures through the bright enthusiasm of her posts around the world. Like Ms Elena, she inspires my own travel dreams.

Traveling ChichaThis blogger says on her site that she is “resolved to do anything that sparks enthusiasm in my heart” and, from the looks of it, she is living this resolution fully. Aside from enjoying her adventures, I actually learned some things from the layout of her articles, which I hope improves my own writing and flow of information.

Bringing You BeirutBeirut is just one marvelous setting from which this “English girl” writes. She tells of life, in all its ups and downs and curiosities, living with her young love, and traveling with him around the world.

World in My Eyes-China & the USThe spirit of this blog is one near and dear to my heart. The husband and wife team, who make up the adventures found in this blog, share stunning photographs of their travels in China and the US. What they do with it, though, is what sets it apart and touches my heart most: they illustrate through their photography how very similar we all really are. It brings us closer and, for any who might fear “the other”, their blog shows how we’re really not “other”. We are unique, of course, but we’re far more alike than different. I love it.

Flancer’s rocks tastebuds every night of the week

One of the restaurants at the top of our list in the Phoenix metro area is Flancer’s in Gilbert. Their motto is “rockin’ tastebuds since 2000” and they’ve been rockin’ our tastebuds on a near weekly basis since about 2007 when we first discovered them. This is the place we meet up with family and friends. This is the place we take out-of-town visitors when we want to provide a local experience with delicious food. We have also catered our Christmas and Thanksgiving meals several times from Flancer’s. The food is always delicious and it takes all the pressure off.

It’s not a fancy, hoity-toity kind of place, but that’s one of the reasons we like it. We can go there, knowing the food and service is going to be excellent and we don’t have to dress to the nines to experience that. All we have to do is come as we are, relax, and unwind with all the other folks who have discovered how great Flancer’s is.

If the sign is lighted, tastebuds are ignited!

Pictured below is Juliet, one of our all-time favorite servers who has become a great friend. She takes such good care of us. She always remembers our regular orders and makes us feel like VIPs. As you get to know the staff there, you learn that a lot of them, like Juliet, are vibrantly creative. Juliet is an artist who was featured at a gallery downtown. Jimmy, the general manager, is an accomplished musician and artist in his own right. It’s no wonder the atmosphere at Flancer’s is so alive when you have such creative, thoughtful people working there.

We love Juliet! Hugs!!

The fun starts as soon as you walk in the door at Flancer’s. Jimmy is there with great advice on the beer selections that he hand picks every week. Hubby always loves his choices of IPAs. And Kacie is a wisecracker who cracks us up even before seating us. Below, she gets in on the fun as I tried to capture a picture of Hubby on the Flancer’s patio.

Silly, Kacie!

Their patio is one of my favorite spots to eat in the Valley. Even though it sits alongside a busy street, the cafe lights and the great music piped through the speakers overhead–classics from the 60s, 70s, and 80s–make me feel as if I’m on an isolated island where everyone knows my name (Cheers!) and I know all the words to the song. It’s just a very easy place to be.

On this night, we had the patio almost completely to ourselves, but don’t let that fool you! That same night, we had to wait 20 minutes for a table because we got there when the restaurant was completely full.  When we first got seated, the tables on the patio were full. We just linger longer than others and, by the time I took this picture, the patio was almost empty. It is a hopping place and does not take reservations, so be prepared to hang out. It’s worth it!

The patio is dotted with pretty cafe lights and heaters for when it gets cold.

My favorites on the menu for dinner: the Veg Out pizza (pictured here) or the Vibes of Veggie sandwich. Their bread is homemade and slap-your-knee fantastic, so pretty much all their sandwiches are a hit. Hubby likes their buffalo tenders with HOT sauce.

Veg Out Pizza, minus the black olives.

Juliet always puts on a fresh pot of Lavazza coffee when we arrive. It’s fresh and a perfect accompaniment to the cobbler of the week. My favorite is the strawberry cobbler, but shown below is the apple-cinnamon. Yum!

I only eat half of it because I'm keeping track of calories, but it is good enough to inhale the whole thing.

There are two Flancer’s locations, one in Gilbert and one in Mesa.

The Gilbert location can be found at 610 N Gilbert Road, a quarter mile south of Guadalupe, near historic downtown Gilbert. Take out orders can be made by calling 480-926-9077.

The Mesa location is at 1902 N. Higley Road, on the southwest corner of McKellips. Take out orders can be made at this location by calling 480-396-0077.

Flancer’s is rockin’ it seven days a week 10:30am to 9pm. Happy hour is from 3pm to 7pm everyday!

For more info, visit their website, which provides access to their menu, along with information on upcoming events, such as the Charity Beer and Cigar tasting. If delicious food, fun atmosphere, and great people aren’t enough, Flancer’s is big into supporting the community, so many of their events benefit charities. Currently, they are organizing a raffle which will support the Wounded Warrior/Warfighter Sports. When we eat there, we feel great knowing we are supporting a local business that goes on to support others. It’s win-win all around.

Thanks, Flancer’s and all the staff there, for being such a great place we are happy and proud to call home!

Robot invasion sweeps Ann Arbor, Michigan

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and robots of all sizes and shapes. Today’s coffee hour is inspired by the Liberty Street Robot & Supply Repair in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

A favorite mug from Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair in Ann Arbor.

Sometimes I think I should have been a social roboticist. Alright, I admit that I only heard that term about three months ago when I came across an article about Heather Knight on CNN.com. Since then, I have been mad with jealousy that I never pursued that route.

Below is a video of Heather presenting “Data” at a Ted Talk. Data is one of the social robots she programs and learns from. In the video below, Data tells silly jokes and gauges the audience’s response.

I do have my own robot, though. Her name is Rosie, or at least that’s what I call her. You may recall that “The Jetsons” had a robot named Rosie.

Rosie the Robot, a toy version. (Photo by t()by.)

My Rosie is not quite as multi-functional as the robot on “The Jetsons” but I love her no less for it. She is a Roomba, the kind of robot whose purpose in life is to suck up life’s dirt while I go about doing other things, like writing this article.

You might think I am odd to name my robot and give her social characteristics, but when you cohabitate with a robot, you tend to pick up on their little idiosyncrasies. For example, Rosie loves going underneath furniture. She’s very good at it too, sliding beneath wardrobes and armoires–and getting stuck because her little nose (sensor) is too tall to get her out.

She also loves climbing things. Rosie has two wheels that remind me of the all-terrain wheels on the Mars Rover. Whenever she comes to something, such as the base of a floor lamp or the air tube under my bed which pumps air into my Sleep Number bed, she sees it as a challenge to climb it, and puts her full-purpose into it until she gets both wheels up off the ground, dangling. Moments later, when she has realized she can go no further, she calls out “Error! Move Roomba to a new location then press CLEAN to restart.”

Rosie and I have come to understand one another, though. Because of her penchant for climbing on things, I now set up a “virtual wall” at the end of the bed so she can’t climb up onto the Sleep Number air tube. When I prepare a room for her to work in, I scoop up wires (she loves to munch on the small ones) or block off certain entry points under armoires where she has gotten stuck before. Now that we understand one another, I can go about my business without checking on her so often. Kind of reminds me of when I was first training my puppy.

But why is a travel writer blogging about robots, you ask? It has everything to do with setting the stage for the place I discovered last summer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As someone who finds robots utterly fascinating, imagine my delight when I came across the Liberty Street Robot Repair & Supply Shop in downtown Ann Arbor.

Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair shop.

When I first encountered it, I squealed and giggled like a little girl. Adult restraint kept me from clapping my hands and jumping up and down. I did, however, press my nose to the glass to see what was inside. It was like something out of a future envisioned in the 1950s. Robots, robot parts, and “robot swag”, as they called it, lined the shelves. I longed to go inside and explore! Sadly, though, the store was closed. I had to wait until the next day to go inside.

Robot stuff everywhere!

They were closed, but I loved their door sign.

When I did, I found a delightful shop celebrating all things robot. There were robot brains and robot souls. You could buy robot tears and anamorphic equalizers to make your bot more human. They had ultra-flex suspension coils, joint lubricants, and, of course, tons of loose screws.

Better Bot's Positronic Brain.

Hand-Crank Robot Souls. The fine print reads, "Studies show that robots with souls are 54% less likely to rise up against humanity than their soulless counterparts."

Robot tears.

Sound-Activated Anamorphic Equalizers. "Now with test button!"

Ultra-Flex Suspension Coils.

Joint Lubricant.

Loose Screws.

If building a full robot is out of the question, have no fear! They have robot ducks! And erasers in the shape of a robot! Maybe you would like some robot art made out of old scrap metal and Raytheon vacuum tubes? They’ve got it all!

Robot Duck.

"Robo-Swag" advertised among robots from days gone by.

Raytheon tube robot art.

The best part about the whole thing, though, is that the store is just a front for 826Michigan, a nonprofit dedicated to “supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.” As a writer and robot lover, I had returned to the mother ship.

So, the next time you’re in Ann Arbor, go down to Liberty Street and check out the robot store. Not only will you feed the part of you that wishes you had a robot butler, but if you buy something from them or donate to them, you’ll be supporting a great organization that inspires and empowers kids to write. After all, if the kids aren’t getting inspired to create, who’s gonna design our robot butlers?

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Need a place to stay in Ann Arbor?

Bellanina, a day spa in A2, has at least two vacation rentals which both offer fantastic locations within walking distance to everything. We have stayed in the vacation rental just across the street from Kerrytown Market and Shops and loved walking over to Sweetwaters every morning for coffee. Because we had a kitchenette, we also took advantage of having a fridge to store perishables found at Sparrows Meat & Produce, also located within the Kerrytown building. We’re looking forward to our next visit to Ann Arbor when we will stay at the other one.

Our favorite eats

We walked all over downtown Ann Arbor and enjoyed quite a few restaurants during our two weeks there. Our favorites, though, were Logan, “New American” cuisine, and Grange Kitchen & Bar, locally sourced, farm-to-table meals.

Watching Detroit come back, with hope for the rest of us

Eminem started it last year during the Superbowl with the award-winning Chrysler ad. It was a call to the strength and resiliency Detroit is capable of.

Eastwood continued the call but broadened it to all of America, using Detroit as the epitome of what it looks like to return to glory.

Detroit’s image is looking up, thanks to the new pioneers who have decided the city is worth saving. I see article after article about the energy buzzing through town. People are coming together to reclaim the history–all of it, even the hard stuff–and remake what’s there into something even better. Sure it has a long way to go, but from the sounds of it, there is an understanding that their work is for the long-term. There isn’t a silver bullet that will solve all problems overnight.

Still, they work and they open their hearts and hands to what needs done. They look to each other and dig deep into the rich wells of their bold, creative spirits and release what is there.

People Mover Station in Detroit. (Photo used with thanks to Maia C.)

The Thanksgiving Parade float for the International Jazz Festival, on display during the festival. (Photo used with thanks to Maia C.)

Fisher Theater in Detroit. (Photo used with thanks to cseeman.)

And now we can taste the fruits of their labors. We can learn from them. We can warm ourselves to the hope they have sparked and take it with us to the corners of our own worlds, bringing that kind of hope borne out of hard work and belief in what’s possible. They represent what’s possible because they’ve seen the worst of it. If Detroit can come back, maybe the rest of us can too.

American flag on a building in downtown Detroit. (Photo used with thanks to cseeman.)

That is the inspiration that is rippling out from Motor City and touching the hearts of people in Michigan as well as points beyond. Thanks to people like Dan Austin, who is an historian of Detroit and founder of HistoricDetroit.org, the story of this city is being told. His website shares all the news about what’s happening architecturally and historically through the eyes of people that live there. He was kind enough to share with me on Facebook the name of several organizations in the area which offer tours of all shapes and kinds. I will be in Michigan in June and you can bet I will be participating in at least one of them.

Detail on a Detroit building. (Photo used with thanks to cseeman.)

  • Inside Detroit has the inside scoop on what’s happening in the city. Their mission is to “to educate the public about Detroit’s history, culture, community, and livability in order to spur economic development.” They offer a variety of tours: walking, biking, Segway, and bus. They also have unique Bar Tours, which take you to different bars in the area on special occasions, such as St. Patty’s Day and Summer Kick Off.
  • The Detroit Historical Society has been around since 1921. Their mission is to “educate and inspire our community and visitors by preserving and portraying our region’s shared history through dynamic exhibits and experiences.” Their tours are specific to the Detroit Historical Museum and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, but their exhibits, events, and resources provide a sturdy foundation for learning all you might want to know about the city before heading out to explore it on a city tour.
  • Preservation Wayne has been around since 1975 and is Detroit’s “oldest and largest architectural preservation organization.” They offer lots of different walking tours beginning in May and running through September.

These stories, these dreams, give me hope and inspire me to believe that we can make it and become an even better country, an even better world.

Belief in downtown Detroit. (With thanks to Maia C for the excellent photos of a city she clearly loves.)

I haven’t even arrived in Michigan, yet I am inspired by what I’m hearing and seeing about the “new” Detroit.

Where do you find inspiration?

Go Red! for Women hosts a red-hot night of cocktails and shoe fashion in Tempe

The Halle Heart Children’s Museum in Tempe, Arizona was a sea of red dresses and sparkly shoes last Wednesday night as a group of ladies (and a few gentlemen, not in red dresses and sparkly shoes) came together for a cocktail party fundraiser for the Go Red! for Women program affiliated with the American Heart Association.

Margo, Carol, and I at the American Heart Association Red Dress Cocktail Event.

We all knew going there that heart disease is a serious issue. Who doesn’t know someone who has either had a heart attack or stroke? We also knew that the American Heart Association takes on the hard work of educating the public about heart disease and helps to fund research into the causes of heart-related diseases. In fact, as my friends and I were on our way to the event by way of pre-event manicures, a woman who looked to be in her 60s noticed our red dresses and told us her life had been saved by the American Heart Association, thanks to a surgery she received when she was a child. She thanked us for participating in the ongoing work of the organization and gave me goosebumps in the process of telling her story.

Maria Benson and the Go Red! Ambassadors somehow managed to balance those serious truths with some light-hearted fun. We were surrounded by the colorful and informative Halle Heart Children’s Museum, where we could push buttons to light up the giant heart at the center of the museum, or listen to how the brain is impacted by the health of the heart. We could even compare the sizes of hearts in other mammals, such as dogs, cats, and elephants! The museum itself is already a colorful, vibrant setting in which to have a party, but Maria and her team turned the Children’s Museum into a rocking fashion show and cocktail party that got the Go Red! message across with great fun and lots of laughs.

Those who went were treated to a fabulous spread of food and wine sponsored by Whole Foods, Urban Tea Loft, Citizen Public House, and Paletas Betty. Several tables were lined with valuable treasures, such as home decorating baskets, gift certificates, theater tickets, and spa baubles, all of which were raffled at the end of the evening to great success. Between the raffle and the donations, they raised almost $4000. E&J’s Designer Shoe Outlet in Scottsdale sponsored a fabulous fashion show, complete with shoes from the Spring lines of Coach, Cole Haan, and Anne Klein, and we each got a coupon for even larger discounts from the shoe outlet.

Margo won two raffles!

No one went home empty-handed, even those of us who didn’t win in the raffle. We each got a goodie bag filled with coupons and travel packs, but my favorite take-home treasure was my very own Go Red! for Women lapel pin. Now I feel official.

My very own Go Red! for Women lapel pin! I love it!

The fundraiser brought in a good amount of cash for the American Heart Association, but perhaps more importantly, it made countless supporters in the process. I know I, for one, will be back next year, sporting my red dress and red dress lapel pin. Congratulations to Maria and the ladies on the Go Red! Ambassadors team for a successful event!