Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What’s that saying? “Oh what a difference a day can make…” Well, how bout a decade? As we head into 2012, it’ll mark 10 years that I have had the honor to fight with Sal and his extended family, along side of hundreds of other dedicated souls to fight for a cure for CF.
I’ve been sitting here staring at a blank computer screen for an hour… thinking about how Sal and Sal’s Pals has impacted my life… and just how to put it into words. I read previous blog entries, and I mirror the sentiments written before me. I too began my fight against CF stemming from a long time friendship with Jenny and Rick. Jenny and I met at Christ the King, and have remained like sisters ever since. I always knew Jenny was strong. I’ve always admired her ability to make it through – no matter what the situation. She’s a rock. She’s funny. She’s passionate. She’s hardworking. She’s inspiring. All qualities that, from day 1, have enabled her to handle the fact that Sal has CF with such grace.
I met Rick when he and Jenny began dating in high school. We were all inseparable for many years… and when I would come home from college for the summer, Ginny Pinardo was kind enough to let me basically live at her house. Even back then, Rick was always the man in charge. He always had a plan and a “to-do” list. He was known to have The Book of Hoyle on hand to make sure we were playing (usually Euchre) by the rules. He was the man of the house at a young age… While we were lounging around his pool, he was up at the crack of dawn going to work. He always took care of us… and people always looked up to him. Whether he knew it or not, he took on this leading role with a sincere sense of humanity. He always welcomed people in, the more the merrier… And he always had a good time, no matter where we were or what we were doing. These too are qualities that I think still hold true to this day, and are very evident to all of us involved with Sal’s Pals.
Fast Forward to the day Sal was diagnosed: I remember slamming down my phone, rushing out my office door and speeding to the hospital and walking into the ICU – surveying the room. I remember feeling helpless. Not even knowing what CF was, I just knew it was bad. I heard that life expectancy was very young, and my mind couldn’t help but immediately think of unimaginable pain, and loss for my dear friends and their sweet baby boy. Rick and I went outside to take a walk, and I remember the heart-breaking conversation of a father’s hopes and dreams for his son… to grow up strong, healthy and happy, and to one day play football. It’s kind of ironic – because now, here we are 10 years later, and this blog site has a specific post of Sal in a football uniform… playing tackle football with his dad standing proud on the sidelines…
From that day on, Jenny and Rick have handled this situation true to character. Strong. Passionate. Inspiring. They made a plan. A plan to fight. A plan to raise money. A plan to give hope. They have made the ultimate “to-do” list, taken charge, worked hard; and because of their magnetic sprits have created a following of dedicated supporters. People who love Sal. People with will and drive and passion. People who have dedicated themselves to finding a cure for Sal and so many others. And in this journey of giving, I think I speak for all of us when I say that I have been given SO much more than I could’ve ever imagined. After the very first Sal’s Pals Dinner Auction we had at the Elks on Holland Sylvania Avenue… I remember I emailed Jenny and Rick thanking them for letting me be part of such a fun and inspiring event. I told them that Sal’s Pals had changed me. At the time that I wrote that email, I had no idea just how much we would all continue to be changed, and grow in this fight against CF.
The day after Memorial Day this year, I was summonsed to Jury Duty. I was there for a VERY LONG 8 hours praying I would get sent home… that is until I made a friend in a crowd of strangers… A woman who saw my orange Sal’s Pals bracelet and knows someone who comes to our events. By the end of our discussion, she gave me her email address so that I could let her know when the next event was going to be so that she and her husband can attend… The point is: We have expanded our footprint within the fight against CF. Now, almost 10 years later, people in our community know what Sal’s Pals is. Even if they’ve never been to an event, or even if they don’t know Sal. Every time this happens, I get excited and more motivated to keep pushing to create awareness and support for our cause.
The beauty of Sal’s Pals, in my opinion is that we started out a small “grass-roots” type operation, and have turned it into what is now: one of the largest fund raising groups for CF in the country. Over one-half a MILLION dollars raised – and counting! This money has gone to research for medications that by all reports have made significant strides in the battle to cure CF. These medications have improved the quality of life for those with CF. But most important, these developments have motivated us, as a group, to fight harder than ever to spread awareness, raise money, and find a cure. Our determination is steadfast. We will NOT ever stop working until we reach our goal.
For me personally, I have learned an important life lesson because of my involvement with Sal’s Pals: Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. In the beginning, I remember being apprehensive to ask people to donate to Sal’s Pals. But this process, and watching my fellow committee members in action have showed me that when you have passion, and want to do good in the world – people want to help. So, it’s not about asking for money… it’s about spreading that passion in order to create change. So, to all of you who have given your time, or your hard earned dollars – Thank you! Your contributions have not only helped the CF Foundation. Your generosity has opened my eyes and my heart to see the real good that lies within us as people.
Jenny and Rick: You are both truly two of the greatest people I have ever known… and I thank you for your friendship, your leadership, and your commitment to the CFF. Being a part of Sal’s Pals is one of the most meaningful experiences that I will ever have in my life. Sal: You are an inspiration. Getting a ring-side seat to watch you grow up has been a true joy in my life. You are so funny and resilient… and you make it easy for people to want to give. You are loved by so many!!!! It is because of you that we started this journey… and in doing so, countless lives have been impacted… and in the end, countless lives will be saved!

Until there’s a cure,
Erin Dzierwa

Tattoo Party to benefit Sal's Pals

Toledo Tattoo Company/Tattoo For A Cure
Saturday, August 13, 2011

Toledo Tattoo Company-
401 Superior
Rossford, OH

Toledo Tattoo Company would like to Invite you to our First EVER Tattooing for a Cure and open house at our NEW Rossford studio. All proceeds and donations go to Sal's Pals ( Cystic Fibrosis Foundation). Hope to See you there!!! Also, if you would like work done on this day, please contact us ASAP! Thank you! (419) 720-1100