From the "Webmaster"


October 15, 2006

Seems like we just were in Ohio at Christi's funeral, but it's been almost a month now since her passing. I have had intentions of putting my eulogy online, but have been holding back for some reason. Maybe the longer I wait, the less "final" it all will be. Unfortunately, Christi has moved on to a better place and I need to accept it. There won't be a day that goes by that I won't think of her, what she did for me and for literally millions of others across the world. For this reason, my eulogy was appropriately titled... Amazing.

I gave the following eulogy at Christi's funeral on Saturday, September 23, 2006.
This was e
xactly four years after ChristiThomas.com was launched.
It also was the day that this site reached 1 million hits.

Amazing…

On September 19, 2002, I received an e-mail from a fellow bank-school classmate that forever changed my life. This was how I learned of Christi’s diagnosis. Four days later, on September 23rd, I started ChristiThomas.com and that’s when I became part of this four year long, life-changing experience. As I contemplated what I was going to say this morning, I sat and stared at my computer screen for half an hour before mustering the strength to press the first key. I knew once I started, it would be difficult to stop.

Sitting in front of my computer... I’ve been doing that for Christi for four years now. I wanted to make sure I said the right thing, whatever that may be. As many of you know, I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the Thomas Team’s entire journey, even if I could not be there with them physically through it all. The highs and the lows. The smiles and the tears. I’ve been to the extremes of the emotional spectrum with them over these past four years, all the while with Christi leading us along the way. Despite the sadness that I’m feeling, that we ALL are feeling right now, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way and consider it an honor they let me in. (Angela?)

As Christi’s faithful “webmaster,” I have received a lot of compliments and credit. It’s really Christi who deserves all the credit, not me. She inspired me, like thousands of other individuals from ACROSS THE GLOBE, to be a better person. To put others first. To take time for the “little things”. My perspective on life is forever changed thanks to her, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful. And speaking of her global reach, since the Christi Thomas Memorial Fund page was launched Tuesday evening, we have received over $21,000 in donations from virtually every state in the Union, as well as Canada , Germany , Greece , the United Kingdom , Belgium , Italy , France , Australia , the Ukraine and I’m sure the list has grown since I last checked.

Little did I know that becoming best friends with my “running buddy” from the Graduate School of Banking would have brought me here, before all of you today. But, as one of our instructors used to say, “life’s a trick”. I don’t think that Shayne or I ever really figured out what he really meant by that statement, but we have used it often over the years. I think the “trick” in all of this is for us to fight through the sorrow and celebrate all the good that resulted from Christi’s short time with us.

To put some perspective on things, I want to provide you with some statistics, after all I AM the webmaster and geeks like us love statistics. I think they are a telling tale of just how Christi’s story changed the lives of so many.

  • Well over A MILLION HITS on her website and blog combined over the past four years.
  • 220 WEBSITE PAGES, 172 of them journal entries (several pages long) with the first entry dated September 10, 2002
  • 71 PLAYMATES in Christ’s Clubhouse, 35 of whom earned their angel wings before her and I’m certain were waiting for her in heaven
  • OVER 2,500 PICTURES documenting her extraordinary life
  • 384 PAGES OF “BLOG” ENTRIES, often times with several postings in a  single day
  • THOUSANDS of e-mail messages and blog comments from ALL OVER THE WORLD
  • All thanks to ONE AMAZING CHILD

While I contributed here and there, in most cases I was simply performing the “magic” of cut and paste when it came to my work on the website. The task of putting their thoughts and feelings into words belonged to Angela and Shayne, and they need to be commended for this. It was my “job” to make sure the rest of the world got to hear them… see them… feel them.

It has been said countless times that Christi touched so many in her short time on earth. To even scratch the surface and try quantifying her true impact would keep us here for days. Exactly how many people she had an impact on we’ll never know… but maybe that’s the trick in all of this. If you think about it, it’s the tricks that can’t be explained that are the most amazing, and Christi was just that… amazing.

January 23, 2006

Blog for Christi! I said on January 15th (below) that 2006 year was going to be the "year of the Blog" and I wasn't kidding. I have made a few more updates to my personal Blog, but now also have Christi's Blog online for all of you Cotton supporters!

So, be sure to stop over and check it out. You can post comments to entries made on the page and this now will enable you to communicate directly with the Thomas Team and show your support.

See you online...

January 15, 2006

Wow, has it really been since October 2004 when I last put an entry on this page. Where does the time go? I must be a slacker. So much has happened since then, I'm not even sure where to begin. Better not try and go back too far, but at least wanted to recap a few things for 2006.

First of all, Alicia and I want to thank the Thomas Team for a wonderful time in December on the Dismay cruise. Words can't even begin to express how much fun we had and only regret the trip didn't last longer. Alicia and I say to each other all the time we wished the Thomas Team lived closer, we would hang out with them all the time.

In an effort to keep up better with friends and family, 2006 is going to be the "year of the Blog" for me. I have read about boggling for quite some time, and decided to jump in and create one of my own. So, while I may not be "back" to this page in a while, hopefully I'll do a better job at keeping my blog going. I'm sure that Christi and the Thomas Team will be a regular subject, in addition to everything else that's going on.

One of the things that you'll read about in my log this year is my fundraising effort for the Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation (CNCF). I'll be competing in Michigan's only 100-mile mountain bike race in June and I will be looking for supporters to help me reach my goal of $5,000.

Speaking of blogs, I'm also working with Angela on getting a Christi blog going to make it easier for visitors to CT.com to interact and provide comments. Once we get the details worked out, I'm sure there will be a big "announcement" made and you'll have one more way of keeping in touch with the wonderful Thomas Team.

As I said before, I'm sure there has been tons of things that have happened since my last "posting", but Angela does a pretty good job at keeping you all updated on what's new. We are looking forward to getting together with the Thomas Team sometime later this winter and Shayne and I have already committed to each other to race the duathlon in Tiffin, OH for the second year in a row. We both had a blast last year and with Shayne now running marathons I've got my work cut out for me if I want to keep up with him.

Wish me luck in my training and we'll see you online. Thanks for visiting, reading and supporting Christi. The Thomas Team (and I) appreciate all of your support.

October 10, 2004

Call me a yuppie, but I love Volvos. Yeah, I know... to many they conjure images of a "boxy" car and are typically reserved for someone looking for a safe (and some would argue, boring) vehicle. However, that all changed for me when Volvo decided to team up with Cannondale bicycle company and sponsor a mountain bike racing team. Their vehicle of choice for the team car was a XC70 Cross Country! I have a good buddy that was the mechanic for the team a few years back, and he let me drive the car during one of his brief stops in Michigan between races. I was hooked, and decided that would be our next vehicle (I just had to convince my wife).

Looking back, I've always had a thing for wagons. They get good gas mileage, you can pile a lot of stuff in them and if you get one sporty enough, they are fun to drive. It all started with my Saturn SW2. Aah, I remember it well, despite the fact that it was "lovingly" referred to as the "grocery getter" by my coworkers at the bank. It was a 24-valve, DOHC (that's dual over head cam, and if you knew me and my understanding of cars, you'll know that I learned that tidbit of information out of the owner's manual). Anyways, it was a 5-speed manual transmission (so it was fun to drive), I had a bike rack on the roof and that car took me literally across the country riding my mountain bike to races, events and the all too common "weekend warrior" rides. I had stickers all over that car to "show off" I was a biker, and was proud of every last one of them!

Ok, you're probably wondering what my "wagon fetish" and Christi have to do with one another. Well, I'm about to tell you... aren't you glad that you're still reading? You see, my wife and I are the proud owners of a 2001 Volvo XC70 Cross Country AWD WAGON! Yuppers, the same model that my buddy used when he was VC's wrench, and we love it. Well, about a week and a half ago, we got a post card in the mail from Volvo promoting their "Volvo Drive For Life Days," which were this weekend.

I thought "cool". Volvo does a lot of good for the community (despite the fact they are no longer sponsors of Cannondale's mountain bike team... moment of silence please... thanks). Well, to get back on with my story, when I flipped it over, I was surprised to see that dear Alex Scott, Christi's friend that started the amazing Alex's Lemonade Stand, was featured on the back. Even "cooler"! So, unlike most "marketing mail" that comes in my mail box, I read every word, more than once, in fact.

The Volvo "crew" from Maple Hill Auto Group. (L-R) Mack Thomas, Stacy Baird, Bill Baird & David Schmitt. Thanks for a great day!

The card said that Volvo would donate $10 for every test-drive taken this weekend. I informed my bride (the XC is HERS by the way, but she does let me drive it once in a while - no stickers allowed) that we were headed to Kalamazoo to Maple Hill Auto Group to take some 2005's out for a spin Saturday morning. Oh yeah, we'd also be getting a glass of lemonade and making sure we got at least a few of the $10 donations under our belts by checking out some of the new Volvos. I also took a handful of Christi's cards with me since I figured they all would like to see how Christi has continued to carry Alex's torch and hold lemonade stands, still reaching for that $1 million goal.

Mrs. "Webmaster" standing next to a 2005 Volvo XC90 SUV. Get out the checkbook honey, I need one of these!

The day was perfect weather, not a cloud in the sky, which is pretty unusual for Michigan in early October. The day was so nice, they even moved the lemonade stand outside to help attract more attention for the weekend event. We drove the 2005 XC90, their new SUV, and also took the 2005 XC70 Cross Country for a spin. Both were "very nice" to say the least, but I'll be driving the good 'ole Durango for at least another year (sorry guys).

After we finished driving around Kalamazoo, we returned to the dealership and chatted with the folks about Christi's website and all of the things that she has done to help continue the promotion of cancer awareness and help to raise money to fight this nasty beast. They were very appreciative of the cards with Christi's website on it, and I'm sure they will be reading this (and the rest of the site) very soon (hi guys!).

As we prepared to leave, they came out and gave us an envelope full of special butterfly pins, crafted after Alex's own drawing, that were being given away to anyone that test drove a Volvo during the special event. The card the pin is attached to says:

In Memory of Alexandra Scott - Alex's Butterfly Pin

The brave little girl who had cancer and who raised over $700,000 for children's cancer research. Life dealt Alex the most "bitter" of lemons, yet she made out of her life the sweetest lemonade. She inspired us with her ability to live life to the fullest, to help others

For her parents, her family and others who loved her, the butterfly has become a symbol of the beauty of Alex's life and work. As a tribute to Alex's inspirational fight to raise money to benefit pediatric cancer research, this butterfly pin has been created to show support and continue her legacy. Help keep Alex's dream alive!

www.alexslemonade.com

Volvo is committed to helping Alex Scott reach her $1 million goal. Here are Mr. & Mrs. "Webmaster" with one of the promotional vehicles, all "logoed" up for the day. Thanks Volvo!!!

What some of you may not realize is that some of the experimental treatments that Christi has undergone (and helped to create her incredible quality of life throughout all of this ordeal) were made possible with funding from the $700,000 that Alex helped to raise with her lemonade stands before earning her "angel wings". Without Alex's fight, who knows what would have happened to Christi, and countless other children that are battling this terrible disease.

I would like to personally thank Volvo and Maple Hill Auto Group for helping to support such a wonderful cause. I'm not sure if this past weekend's event will take Alex over her $1 million goal, but I have a feeling that she's looking down on us all with a smile as we all continue to carry on the fight that she so bravely started. Go Alex, and thanks again Volvo. Now we've got one more reason to love our car!

March 22, 2004

Well, it's been more than a couple of weeks since the Thomas Team has come and gone from our home, and I've been meaning to get something in the journal but just haven't found the time. I know, slacker...

First off, I wanted to let everyone know how much fun we all had when the Thomas Team "invaded" our house the weekend of February 28th. They pulled in Friday around 7:00 and the fun didn't stop until Sunday when they sadly left. I'm continually amazed at the talent the entire family possesses (must be something in their water, because they all have a special "gift" of some kind).

When they arrived, they wanted to take a tour of our new home. So, off on the tour we went. When we got to my "office" upstairs where I do my Eggott.com "thing", Shayne sat in the futon that sits right across from my desk. He plopped himself down and asked "is there where your paying website customers sit when they come over?" "Yes," I replied, "so get up, you freeloader." Of course, we both laughed at that one and had to replay that conversation to Alicia and Angela a couple of times over the weekend. While I don't get "paid" in the conventional sense for CT.com (nor would I allow it), I get something much more from the experience. Trust me, it's well worth it!

You've all seen Christi's artwork, but one of the most impressive things from the weekend was when we were at Kellogg's Cereal City USA. One of the areas has a huge whiteboard where kids can draw with dry-erase markers. While many of the children were busy drawing squigglies, stick people and other creatures difficult to name, Christi proceeded to reproduce the famous Toucan Sam, from the Froot Loops box. When I say reproduce, I don't mean something that looks "sort of like" him, I mean it was dead on! As I sat there in amazement, I looked around and all the parents watched in awe as she completed the drawing. Little did anyone know this little girl was not just a talented artist, but is in a fight for her life.

When she was done, she took a step back to admire her work and almost fell off the counter, where she was standing to produce the drawing. Thankfully, she regained her balance and didn't fall. Shayne, always the one to "lighten things up" said, "oh that would be great, we travel all over the country and survive 19 months of chemo to lose her at a dry erase board." Where does he come up with this stuff?

The rest of the weekend involved watching the girls work with their electronic education "books" (more like computers, but I'm not sure what they are really called). When Christi, who's six remember, started doing fractional math and completing the 5th grade exercises, I decided to step away and find something else to do, for fear of looking dumb (when was the last time YOU did fractional math?).

As Sunday approached, I jokingly told the girls when they get back they'll have to e-mail Ally, our golden retriever. Both girls fell in love with Ally and she very much enjoyed the attention. On more than one occasion she doubled as a "doggie pillow" and we found the girls cuddled up on her (she loved it). A few days ago, Ally actually got an e-mail from Christi, and attached to it was a picture she drew with a new art set she got. Yes, Christi typed the message all herself and the drawing is pretty darn good (of course).

Alicia and I are headed down to Tiffin for Christi's first communion on the 18th of April. We look forward to seeing the Thomas Team again and creating even more memories. Watch out Team, here WE come...

November 24, 2003

Hello from the Webmaster! As you all know, creating and maintaining Christi's website to keep family and friends updated about her progress and prayer requests has been a labor of love that I'm happy to do.

At this time of year, especially, folks are making preparations for the holidays and wanting to do nice things for others in a way to share their gifts and blessings with those less fortunate. If you would like to share a gift of love with the Thomas Team, here are some things that I believe would be most appreciated during their time of need. Thank you for your interest in Christi's story as she bravely and courageously continues to fight for her life.

From Christi's Faithful Webmaster,
Eric

Christi: age 6 1/2: Clothing size 7/8. Christi's interests include: ballet, girl scouts, attempting to perform magic tricks, telling jokes, playing with legos, writing, art, piano, reading, cats, dolphins and being in the 2nd grade when her health permits.

Shayla: age 4 1/2: Clothing size 5/6 Shayla's interests include: taking ballet, dogs, playing with little animals, reading, art, and drawing. Shayla attends preschool.

The girls' favorite colors are: pink, purple and yellow.

Favorite TV shows: Liberty Kids, Care Bears, Magic School Bus, Cyberchase & Full House.

Shayne and Angela: I'm sure that they would appreciate your prayers for the miracle they need for their daughter's full and complete healing. They could also use food gift cards (Cheddar's, Bob Evans, all the fast food-type places, etc.) and gas cards (Shell, Mobile, BP) as they make many 500 mile (one way) trips between home and treatment hospitals.

Each trip home costs $30 in toll fees, so with gas and food stops, you can see how the traveling back and forth is getting expensive. As they are nearing the $1 million max on their heath insurance donations to Christi Can! would also be appreciated. Shayne's interests: reading, fitness, coffee (yes, there are plenty of Starbuck's around). Angela's interests: scrap booking, traveling and reading.

Mailing Information: Please send items to the Thomas Team at the following address...

2259 South Township Rd. 159
Tiffin, OH 44883

Have a wonderful holiday season and thank you all for your support!! Keep up the fight, fellow Prayer Warriors.

November 22, 2003

Greetings to all of CT's prayer warriors!!! Your faithful webmaster here... Many of you may not realize this, but my wife and I just recently finished building a new home in the woods. One of the wonderful things about living out in the "country" is the wildlife that we get to see in our back yard. Our dog, Ally, certainly enjoys playing with all her new friends and the room to roam about the wooded areas.

Another interesting aspect about living in the woods is the interesting plant life that you don't find in the city. For example, much to my surprise just last week I was outside enjoying the fresh air and a bright red speck of color amidst the brown forest carpet caught my eye. Despite the freezing temperatures and diminished amount of sunlight, there among the pine needles and crackling leaves was a bright, pink flower literally staring back at me.

This flower was unlike anything I have ever seen before, so I immediately rushed inside to grab my digital camera and steal a picture of it to share with you all on CT.com. Now, before you click on the link below to check it out, I want to caution you that this flower is unlike anything you have ever seen. I have scoured the Internet trying to find the name to include with this journal entry. Much to my disappointment, I am unable to formally identify my discovery for you. Maybe after you see it for yourself, you can e-mail me with what you think it could be.

So, with out further adieu and delay, I present to you the mysterious, intriguing and unique FLOWER.

September 14, 2003

This past weekend thousands of people flocked to my hometown, Historic Marshall, Michigan, also known as the City of Hospitality for the 40th Annual Historic Home Tour. Friends of ours, Danny & Sandra Wolin, just so happen to have a home conveniently located between two of this year's featured homes and decided to help our the Thomas Team and raise some money by collecting donations at their lemonade stand.

When the two days were over, Jacob, Hannah (Danny & Sandra's kids) and their friends were able to collect $200 for the Christi Can! fund. What a great job! The Thomas Team will be thrilled at your effort.


The donation jar is out and ready to be filled up!


Someone helping with a donation on the way to the next historic house.


The "crew" ready to accept a donation or sell you a cold beverage.


Hannah and her friend, Emily, show off the collection jar.


Buddy Maihai and Jacob take a break between the action.


If Jacob and Maihai can take a break, so can we!

September 6, 2003

Labor Day weekend 2003 will be one that I'll never forget. Alicia and I once again had the joy of visiting the "famous Thomas Team" in Ohio, and joined them at Shayne's mom's place (Joan) in Port Clinton. This trip served many purposes, as you will soon read below.


Alicia and Shayla.

 More pictures
below...


Christi received some cool new Cyberchase stuff!

Surprise!
The primary reason for our visit to Ohio was to bring a rather special gift to the Thomas Team. About three weeks before the start of our final year at GSB (the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin, where I met Shayne in 2001) a couple of wonderful classmates had the idea of doing a raffle to help raise money for Shayne and his family. Cheryl and Gwen worked diligently on rounding up prizes from fellow classmates, designing a flyer, getting a raffle license from the state of Wisconsin, getting approval from GSB staff, etc... It was a lot of work, but we were ready to go by the time school started.

We sold tickets for the raffle during the first week of school at dinner and the student support from our class and the other two classes was tremendous. Those that knew Shayne and had been to ChristiThomas.com knew what was going on with his daughter and were very concerned and eager to help. It was apparent early on that Shayne was missed by everyone that knew him (he's just "that" kind of guy!).

At our Senior "welcome back" party on Tuesday of the first week Cheryl brought her video camera (calling it the Christi Can! Cam, in honor of the fund established in the same name). She took it around that night and "interviewed" fellow classmates, allowing anyone the opportunity to send messages back to Shayne. I had the opportunity to view the video before taking it to Ohio (I just HAD to see it before passing it along) and it was incredible and quite touching some of the comments that came from his fellow classmates. Of course, there was a lot of fun captured on tape as well and some good blackmail footage of people performing karaoke (very funny!).

The big raffle was set for Thursday night of the final week at the Nitty Gritty, just down the street from the dorms where we stay while at GSB. The members of the senior class outdid themselves by donating back prizes won, turning me into an auctioneer for the night. After the bidding completed and donations were made we were able to raise an amazing $12,200 for the Thomas Team, well beyond anyone's wildest dreams.

Friday night before Labor Day, Alicia and I arrived in Port Clinton and that evening went over to Put-In-Bay with Shayne and Angela for dinner. Christi and Shayla kept Grandma "company" while the four of us had the best time. Probably the highlight was stepping into the Beer Barrel Saloon (home of the world's longest bar) and listening to the band "The Earthquakers" - a bunch of guys dressed as Amish/Quakers "rocking out" on stage. They had so much fun with the crowd and it was good to sit, the four of us, and just laugh and joke around. It almost seemed, at least for that night, that everything was "ok". Well, the night was a huge success and we all had fun (so much fun, in fact, that my wife complained the next morning that her cheeks hurt from laughing so much).

After returning to Shayne's mom's place later that evening, I went to my bag and started getting the surprise out. We brought our own VCR from Michigan (just in case) and it's a good thing because the TV downstairs didn't have one and grandma and the kids were fast asleep upstairs. Shayne & Angela thought initially we were going to show them a video of our new house (yawn), but were amazed to see Shayne's classmates on the video sending messages back to their missing buddy. More than once I looked over and in the dimly lit room noticed a "gleam" coming off Shayne's cheek - he was certainly touched by seeing everyone.

After watching the wonderful video (thanks again Cheryl!), I told the story of the raffle and how we sold tickets for prizes that were donated by fellow students. Two of these prizes, a $200 savings bond and American Express Gift Checks, were donated directly back to them, which I also delivered. Then, I handed them a card from the "raffle organizers" that had a check in it for the $12,200. When Shayne and Angela opened it their jaws dropped, their eyes got wide as dinner plates and for the first time ever Shayne Thomas was speechless. Yes, you heard it first right here, it literally took his breath away. Those of you that actually know Shayne can infer from that last statement the power of the moment, because that doesn't happen very often.

After he caught his breath, he got up off the floor and promptly came over to give me a great big hug. It was a pretty emotional time, but made me feel so good and proud of my fellow GSB classmates to know that we have impacted someone's life like this. The best part, is I can't think of a more deserving family to be the recipient of such generosity and those of you that have followed Christi's fight on this site I'm sure will agree. Their strength, positive attitude and determination is an inspiration to us all and I'm fortunate to call them my friends! Keep it up, guys. Now, on with the REST of the weekend...

Lake Erie Fun
Alicia and I figured it would be fun, since Joan lives on Lake Erie, to bring our WaveRunners down for the weekend too. Little did I know that Christi would take such a liking to them and we'd be riding every day! You can see from the pictures below that she really enjoyed herself and I let her drive it out of the canal and that just trilled her to death to think she was actually "in control" of such a machine. I think this was also Shayne's first time on a WaveRunner but he was speeding along the lake, making waves and splashing around in no time, just like a pro.

Shayne said that Christi had a "perma-grin" on her face the entire time she was on the water, speeding along. At one point Christi said to me "Go up next to daddy like you want to tell him something, and then SPLASH him!" Of course, we did just that and she took great joy in soaking her father several times this weekend. More than once she would look back at me with a grin that stretched from ear-to-ear and it would make me feel so good that we were having such a good time, yet break my heart at the same time knowing the fight that she still has before her and what the unfortunate reality of her circumstance is. Cancer sucks!

Each morning thereafter Christi would wake up and one of the first things she would say would be "I want to go WaveRunner-ing"! Saturday it got a bit chilly and the wind picked up. We could see Lake Erie from Joan's condo and the lake had some pretty big whitecaps on it, which means rough water. That didn't stop our trooper Christi, she wanted to go out and said the bumpier the better. So, we bundled her up in Alicia's wetsuit and jacket (ok, it was just a little big but she looked so cute in it) and off we went.

Now, I have rode in some rougher water on Lake Michigan, but admit this was the roughest I've ever rode with a 6-year old, but she loved it. Shayne again joined us on Alicia's machine and we took turns watching each other jump waves. I was amazed to see Shayne go completely airborne (these are BIG machines and that's not easy to do), but even more amazed when we got back and he told me that Christi and I were getting "big air" too. I knew we were having fun, but didn't realize it was that much fun. Of course, if mommy could have seen what Christi and I were doing she probably would have freaked (sorry Angela) but Christi was laughing and giggling the entire time. What a hoot!

Sunday finally came and it was time for us to go - but not before one last ride. The water was considerably calmer this day, which meant not as many jumps, but even more splashing of daddy (sorry Shayne). She even asked to BE splashed, and Shayne was happy to oblige. They say laughter is the best medicine, and if that is truly the case, then Christi is well on her way to a 100% recovery after those three days on the WaveRunners. Wouldn't it be wonderful if that's all it took? I wish.


Christi getting ready to brave the wind and waves.


She drove out of the canal to Lake Erie.


Watch out for those rocks, Christi!


Hey guys, wait for me...


Taking off.


Nice shorts, dude.


Having a blast on Lake Erie.


Giving a big wave.


Time to come in and get warmed up.

Who Let This Buffalo In The Van?
On Saturday we loaded in the van and took off for a drive-through safari just outside of Port Clinton. This is where you drive through in your vehicle and all sorts of animals come to your window, sticking their head in to see what you have to eat. Shayne brought a huge bag of carrots and we got a couple of cups of food for the animals too (which, by the way, mostly ended up on the floor of Angela's van - hope you have had time to vacuum it out by now, ha ha).

At one point a very LARGE buffalo came up to the van and I had Shayla on my lap and was taking pictures with my camera. With my hands full I had no way of stopping him, and Shayne proceeded to put a carrot right next to my head, which our oversized, drooling and rather smelly new friend wanted to munch on. Of course, Shayne couldn't just let the buffalo take the carrot and go on his merry way, he held it there and made him work for it, making me increasingly more nervous that this buffalo wouldn't stop at the carrot and would end up continuing with my ear or some other facial feature. By this time Shayla had high-tailed it to the back of the van and all I could hear was Shayne's signature laugh and the cheers from the "peanut gallery" (Angela, Alicia, Christi and Shayla) in the back.

At another point I was taking video and Shayne pulled up to some "friendly" ostriches. If any of you have ever been around these freaky beasts, you know that I'm being sarcastic when I say "friendly". Shayne proceeds to place the cup of food in my lap, while I'm video taping, and I see this bird lunge into the cup, making me nervous because I know that some of the food pellets have spilled onto my shorts. Let's just say I was praying the bird had good aim for the cup and poor eyesight not to see the rest of the food on my lap. Fortunately I got out of there with all "members present" but not after a bit of a sweat.


Shayne & Christi... they look like they are up to something.


Shayla checking out the deer.


Umm... we have a visitor over here.

 


Ok Shayne, just feed this guy and get him out of my lap.

 

The Thrill Seeker Christi
Saturday night Shayne finally crashed after being up for nearly three days straight. So, he and Shayla stayed at the condo while Angela, Alicia, Christi and I went to Cedar Point. Given Christi's affinity for the WaveRunners, it came as no surprise to me that she loved roller coasters. However, mommy didn't share that same attitude so Webby Eric and Christi got to make the rounds and go on the rides!

I didn't want to "steal" any mommy-daughter moments and was very careful about just volunteering to ride all rides with Christi. However, after the first couple I could tell that I was doing Angela a favor by going on the rides with Christi. This gave me some great time to spend with Christi one-on-one and only made me fall in love with this angel on Earth even more. I had to keep reminding myself that I was talking to a 6-year old because she doesn't seem that young at all.

This also gave Angela and Alicia some time to chat, which I'm sure was good. We were at the park for five hours and ended up staying until it closed and had the best time. I had not been to Cedar Point since probably high school, so it was an extra special treat to come back and spend it with Christi - again, a memory that I'll never forget. Angela said the next time they go to Cedar Point they are going to helicopter me in because even Shayne cannot hang with the thrill seeker Christi, especially on the "twirly" rides. Just let me know and I'll be there!


The real reason Shayne didn't go to Cedar Point.


Angela and Christi getting a bird's-eye view.


Perfect picture of mom & daughter.


Christi and her "guardian angel".


This kid has no fear!


Smile for the camera, guys!


One of two times riding the "Wildcat".


Man, that was great... can we go again, Eric?


Christi loved the "Corkscrew".


A "tight fit" on the Junior Gemini.


Getting ready for Christi to take us for a car ride.


Racing on "Cedar Downs" - you'll never guess who won... Christi, of course!

Until Next Time...
I said to Shayne as we finally loaded up the WaveRunners on Sunday, "the hardest part about a great weekend like this is that it has to come to an end." How true. I know this entry has been a LONG one, but I wanted everyone to get just a taste of how wonderful of a weekend it really was. As you can see, so many things happened in such a short time and I left many stories out just to save time (and your eyeballs from having to read any more).

As with most of my work for the site, I'm doing this at the "wee-early" hours of the morning (I started this at 3:15 a.m.). While this may explain little "oops" here and there on the pages you are so kind to visit and read, I tell you this more for the reason that Christi and her fight has literally become a part of me over the past 361 days. Through the website, I have been contacted by so many wonderful and encouraging people, I'm continually amazed and touched by the amount of kindness that exists in this world. I'm so very proud of my GSB classmates and the others that attended this year's school, your generosity I got to see first hand make a lifelong impact on someone and not everyone gets to do that for someone else - you should all be very proud.

Thank you all for your continued support of Christi and the rest of the Thomas Team. I told Shayne & Angela that after this weekend I was Christi's new #1 fan (ok, maybe #3 right behind them tied as number one and Shayla as #2). While most of you will never have the opportunity to visit them in Ohio or get to meet Christi personally, I can assure you that your prayers, letters of encouragement, e-mail messages, cards, gift baskets, post cards, donations, phone calls and anything else you do for this little girl are worth every bit of energy spent. While the "odds" still don't look good, just like rules... they are meant to be broken and together I'm certain that we can make a difference for Christi! Keep up the fight and thanks to all you "Prayer Warriors" out there!

July 18-19, 2003

Hello again, it's your faithful webmaster here. Recently, Marshall Savings Bank (my "real" employer) participated in the 2003 American Cancer Society Relay For Life. This event was held at the Calhoun County Fairgrounds (in Marshall) and literally had thousands of people turn out for the 24-hour walking event. Alicia and I took the 8 am - 9 am shift on Saturday. I am pleased to say that our community surpassed our goal of $100,000!

In addition to walking, Alicia and I also purchased two luminary bags in honor of this site's namesake. In addition to her two beautiful bags, there were hundreds upon hundreds of other bags, some in honor of survivors and others in memory of the ones that lost their battle against cancer. One of my wonderful coworkers, Dasha, took some pictures of Christi and the rest of the Thomas Team that I printed and did a wonderful job decorating the bags. Amy took the pictures on this page (she's a fellow geek at the office but won't admit to being as "bad" as me). Thanks ladies, just one more reason why I love working with you!

Also that night there was a PowerPoint slideshow with names of everyone that had bags purchased for them. It seemed to go on forever and I was reminded of how many people have had their lives changed by this disease. In fact, of the 50+ slides that listed only the survivors (each slide had 25-30 names on it), I recognized at least one person that I personally knew in the community on each slide that was living with cancer. I had no idea.

That slideshow, combined with the glowing luminary bags and everyone holding candles was almost more than one person could take. I saw many tears of sorrow as people remembered lost loved ones and tears of joy as people celebrated survival stories. Let's all just keep praying that Christi continues to remain in the latter category.

This was the first year that Alicia and I have been able to participate in the event. Normally, we are up north for a state banking convention, but that was moved to June this year. We talked about how ironic it was that this year we were able to participate and this was the year that we have been so personally touched by Christi's fight. Always one to go a bit "extreme," I told Alicia that I was thinking about doing the entire 24-hours solo and trying to get some extra publicity (and money for cancer research) out of it. She just shook her head, so we'll see...

Pictures From Our Visit


First time meeting the "famous" Christi Thomas.


Shayla and her new gifts (thanks Jacob & Hannah)!


Sisters sharing (and coloring together).


A little troll watches me work on Christi's website.


Mommy & Christi.


The "Web Team" of Eric, Christi and Angela.


Together again, and it's not even bank school!


"Mrs. Cook" and Angela - a couple of wonderful women.


Gettin' some hugs from Shayla.


So, what exactly is this Pokémon thing anyway?


Shayla introduces her friend Pikachu.


The Thomas Team.

April 18-19, 2003

Hi everyone! While you are probably used to reading all of Angela's Journal entries, this is a first for me to actually put something up on the site. Until recently, the only "blurb" from me was located on the Christi Can page.

I wanted to create my own page so I could share my thoughts on what a privilege and honor it's been for me to create this site for Christi. I've received countless e-mail messages from around the globe (literally) telling me how nice it's been to be able to keep up with the events in Christi's life. I can tell you it has been an honor, a privilege and certainly a labor of love to do this for my friends.

This past weekend my wife, Alicia, and I traveled to Tiffin, Ohio to visit the Thomas Team during their brief trip back home for Easter. While I have come to know the entire Thomas family very well from my webmaster duties, this was the first time I have had the pleasure of meeting Angela, Shayla and of course, the "famous" Christi Thomas. Christi even gave me a little "I love biking" troll doll that now sits on my computer monitor.

While we were only there for a little over a day, it was as if we had been friends forever. It was great to be able to put the pieces of their life story together that I've read about on the site (like seeing Old Fort Bank, where Shayne worked, the Ritz Theatre, their home, etc.).

We were pretty active in our short time there, which doesn't surprise me. Even at Bank School, Shayne never sat still. Visit the Spring 2003 Photo Page for some pictures of us on a canoe trip with Uncle Jeff and Aunt Marty, what a blast. Shayla even transferred into our boat half-way through the trip and ordered we go "triple speed" to beat everyone. What a hoot! In addition, there are some of the shots that I took with my camera to the right of this page.

Heading home to Michigan was difficult after such a brief stay. Alicia and I were headed back to our "normal" life at work, our dog, spring cleaning and my webmaster duties. Of course, I got a fresh batch of artwork that will soon be up on the Art page, so check back soon...

Shayne and Angela, on the other hand, will soon be back in New York City, continuing to take care of two wonderful kids in somewhat "challenging" circumstances, living at the Ronald McDonald House and anxiously awaiting the results on the next round of tests for Christi.

I don't think that I know of two stronger people on the face of this earth than my friends Shayne and Angela. If there is a team that can beat this thing, I'm certain they are it! YOU guys Rock! We love you guys and want you to come home again soon... for good this time.

Eric Cook
Banker & "webmaster"
Marshall, Michigan
eric@eggott.com
http://www.eggott.com