A trip to Chicago for some MAGIC!

No one within the Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia world ever asks me why I do this thing called Tri-ing By 50. They all know why. The only person who does that is myself. It's not that I don't know why I swim, bike, run (triathlons) and run some more (marathons), and then put myself out there for all the world to see: the world of Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia/Adrenal Insufficiency and the world of those who have no clue what those conditions are and how they affect those with it.

From July 12-15, I experienced the why for myself. I traveled from Charlotte North Carolina, to the Chicago, Illinois, suburb of Lombard for The MAGIC Foundation 24th Annual Convention. Sadly, Merrill couldn't come because she had a school conference to go to in Raleigh and the girls were all busy with camps. The MAGIC Foundation is a charitable non-profit organization created to provide support services for the families of children afflicted with a wide variety of chronic and/or critical disorders, syndromes and diseases that affect a child's growth.

After procrastinating long enough to pack my clothes (it was one of my worst jobs of packing), Hello Kitty and I left around 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 11. Way, way, way late! The goal for the day was to make it to Lexington, Kentucky. We got there and a little farther, Frankfort (the capitol of Kentucky)!
Mexican BBQ. It was good!
Cool building


The next morning we got up and started on the road to Lombard. Well, after we got a much needed coffee!
Starbucks fuels my drive!

We went through Louisville, Indianapolis, Chicago and on into Lombard. One thing I had not planned on was the tolls in Chicago. They are old school and only accept cash or coins and have a person working in the toll booths. Well, I never travel with money...SO, I had to get a slip of paper that said payup in 7 days or else...

I arrived at the Westin in Lombard, checked in, took my bike and bags up to my room on the 18th floor. What a pretty view. Unfortunately, it was hazy every day, so couldn't see the Chicago skyline.

Once I was settled, I went downstairs to the room where the convention was happening. The first day was vendor day. It was amazing! Things (medications and products) that hadn't existed when I was kid were being shown. Plus, there were children all around with their parents and families. Adults were wandering around. I met Lisa Hughes, the division consultant for CAH, and her family.

Then I got to meet Teresa Tucker. She is one of the co-founders of The MAGIC Foundation and is the one who nearly a year ago invited me to come to this amazing event.

I had dinner with Dr. Mimi Kim and her son, and Dr. Mitch Geffner joined us afterwards. If you have followed me you know who they are. If you need a refresher, they are the co-directors of the CARES Comprehensive CAH Clinic at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. It was about two years ago that I wrote the letter to Mitch that got Tri-ing By 50 rolling along. What an amazing pair of doctors they are!

Saturday was my day to speak to the CAH families. I had an hour to speak and was concerned about having enough to talk that long. Well, those who know me better than myself know that it is not a problem for me to keep the attention of a group for that long. I talked about growing up with CAH, going away to college, having my (non-CAH) daughters and finally marathons and triathlons. There were a couple of CAH children in the group. One is going off to college and runs half-marathons. Seeing them was a boost.
Hello Kitty and I ready with Camp Cortisol support!

Speaking to the CAH group.

That evening I was determined to get authentic Chicago food, aka Chicago deep dish pizza. In the years I was up in Milwaukee I never made it down to Chicago for food. I drove to Naperville for pizza at Lou Malnati's. It was delicious and Naperville is a pretty town.
Naperville, Illinois

On Saturday, I woke up and finished up my presentation that I was going to give to a large group. I was to be the motivational speaker. What did my presentation consist of? It was photos of me through my 50 years of life. I started by reading the email I sent to Dr. Geffner in 2016 saying that I wanted to reach out and get involved with CHLA because they were the ones that allowed me to make it in life. It is impossible for me to get through it without tearing up. If you want to see me like that, ask me to read that email. The emphasis of my speech was that anyone with some kind of medical situation should not just say they can't do something because they have been told they can't. Doing the marathons and now triathlons is proof of that for me and I hope anyone who hears my story. It is what Tri-ing By 50 is about!
I am First Stroke, First Step, To Finish Line

I was "challenged" by people who will remain nameless, but they know who they are, about what I would wear. Here is my outfit:

Yes, I came riding in on my bike wearing my triathlon suit under my wetsuit. Hello Kitty couldn't get away because she was on my back while I rode in. Again, I spoke for the entire time. My measure of whether I was a success is if people come talk to me afterwards. The true measure is when I hear the words: "You give me hope for my child!" Both of those moments happened and I left happy! All I want to do is provide hope and build awareness for parents whether it is CAH or some other medical condition they or their child is living with.

To celebrate I went to another restaurant that was recommended I go to: Portillo's. I got a Chicago-style hot dog, an Italian beef and delicious onion rings. I was too full to get the chocolate cake shake. I will save that for next time.

I was done! Hello Kitty and I packed up and headed out the next day (Sunday). Before we left Chicago, I had one place I NEEDED to visit. Merrill would not have been happy if I did not stop at the fire station featured in the NBC show Chicago Fire. Sadly none of the guys or gals from the show really work there.
It's hard to see but it says No 51.

The front: There is a 51 on the glass door.

Imagine Severide's rescue squad table and chairs over by the inside door.

We avoided the toll roads and drove from there to Richmond, Kentucky for the night. 

Fueled up with Starbucks for the ride home we drove on. I think I need a Starbucks sponsorship! Is there anyone that can help get that done? LOL
Fueled again by Starbucks!

On the way from Richmond to home, we made one spur of the moment, "Oh, that sounds cool," stop. The original Kentucky Fried Chicken store was not open and we didn't want to wait.

How would I describe the weekend? AMAZING! FULFILLING! HAPPY!

I need to thank Teresa, Lisa and The MAGIC Foundation for this moment in my life. Thank you for trusting Tri-ing By 50 and Hello Kitty to speak to your members.

Would I speak in front of a group again? YES!!!!!!!


I have plans for race events I would like to do this fall and in 2019. To help me spread the Tri-ing by 50 message, please visit my Go Fund Me page.

Thank you!