To find out more about Denise and how she is inspiring through kindness on her TV show, in her books and at her speaking engagements, go to: www.denisemrezsonya
It’s 8:00 pm in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Morgan
Stanley Children’s Hospital in Upper Manhattan. Outside the residual
rain bands from Tropical Storm Irene are passing through. Inside
visiting hours have just ended. The parade of families begins to make
their way to the exit. Some laugh and joke knowing that their new
family member will be home soon. Others walk down the hall stunned
at what they just saw. They continue to look back wondering if it will be the last time. As each one leaves, the remaining parents can hear that constant click of the locking door. At the start the clicking goes every few seconds, and then diminishes down to a minute. Once the noise stops, the reality sets in that your support system has gone home, and you are left with the situation at hand, a child clinging to life. Some are micro-preemies; others have a heart defect or some other abnormality that can only be handled in a Level III NICU. For us, the alphabet spells CDH or Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia.
The final click tonight was a Priest, who came by to baptize our child, and also offer him last rights. There is something very surreal about baptism by syringe especially growing up Catholic. Our son was dressed for the occasion his hat was a wash cloth that was used to keep the excess light out of his eyes, keeping him calm while a tube ran down his throat and another into his little nose. His gown was a diaper, adorned with a tiny heart shaped stickers with kittens on them to keep those tubes and wires down. As a new Dad you can only imagine what this does to your mental state. You can’t ask God to save your child only for the strength to handle what has been set before you, no matter the end result.
So tonight with my wife asleep and my son’s vitals stable, I searched for a way to process all of this. I had a Sports Illustrated Magazine sitting next to my son’s bed. On the cover was Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox, my favorite baseball player. The title read Heart of the Red Sox. I remember reading Dustin’s book Born to Play, about how no one believed he would make it the “show”. Tonight as I looked at my son, I needed inspiration from something normal in my life, something as normal as a game. A game that before my son’s diagnosis wins and losses meant so much, yet now not so much at all. This was no “show”, no game, but life and death.
I decided to write Dustin a letter explaining my son’s situation, how he was fighting for his life, and although there is no equation where the life of a child = the outcome of a baseball game, I needed the same grit and determination that Dustin displays on the field. I needed my son to fight and not give in to the odds stacked against him. That night when I put my finger in my son’s hand I could feel his fight. I wasn't sure at the time why I choose to write that letter. I didn’t need a response from Dustin, nor was I upset when I didn't receive one. I thought that writing it was the therapy I needed to make it through the day. It wasn't until later after our 52 day stay in the NICU had ended that reading a children’s book would give me the answers I was searching for.
Fast forward three and half years, my son, despite some minor issues is doing well. He’s going to preschool, laughing and playing and making my wife and I so proud. We love to read to him and we remembered how much peace we got from walking around the NICU and seeing a famous children’s book painted on the walls. These walls helped us through his first surgery at just 15 days old, focusing on the beautiful colors of the caterpillar as it “eat and eat” versus the heart stopping moments waiting for his doctors to come tell us his fate.
When I read Beyond the Laces, I had to look to the heavens, because I barely knew the author yet his story was describing my life and the lives of thousands of other parents who face this battle every day. The story is about a child who just wanted to be healthy enough to play football like the other kids and not face the medical issues that held him back and parents that would do anything to help him be happy. I remember after my son’s diagnosis, feeling like that Dad from the story, helpless, and wondering if my son would be okay. Will he always be watching from the sidelines and will his lack of stamina hold him back from playing a game he loves. Reading the words in the story took me back to moments in our journey - like the day we laid our son on the operating table for the third time, trying to keep my composure, while trying to find a way to explain to him that the mask to put him to sleep would make him feel better. Yet the true power in this book is when you get it in your hands, flip through the pages to see your life being illustrated before your eyes.
The boy in Beyond the Laces put his fears and his sickness aside while watching his favorite player, and used the inspiration from his 87 to translate it to real life courage in his battle. As I know from being involved in this NICU fraternity, not every story has a happy ending, and bereaved parents look to faith, family and friends or may be an athlete to mend their broken heart. At the time I couldn’t explain what it would have done for me had Dustin Pedroia responded, nor can I feel angry that my “one in a million” went unanswered. But after reading Beyond the Laces it helped me understand that having a chance to be “back in the game” is all a parent can ask for. Many nights in the NICU, I would sing to my boy and ask God to “please don’t take my sunshine away”. Today, my “cool, crisp autumn winds”, are filled with plenty of sunshine.
For the author Bob Salomon, success is measured in frowns turned to smiles, dreams made, and hearts filled with hope. My hope is to return to our children’s hospital one day to celebrate the Beyond the Laces mural on the walls of the NICU and hand out books to all the dads and kids fighting to live to see their 87 make a difference in their lives.
To learn more about our story visit: Owen's Story
America’s Favorite Pastime and Man’s Best Friend...
America’s Favorite Pastime and Man’s Best Friend…You can’t go wrong with those story lines and our good friend and Children’s Book Author, Marla McKenna, hits this winning combination out of the park with Mom’s Big Catch and Sadie’s Big Steal. With her books, Marla aims to teach children that dreams really can come true and to never give up! Not only is Marla a talented author and inspiration to children, she is responsible for the layout and design of
Beyond The Laces. Thank you for all of your help and support.
Check out what Marla's been up to and get your copy today!
Partial proceeds from Mom’s Big Catch and Sadie’s Big Steal go to the
Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation! With special thanks to Rick Springfield
for matching Marla’s donations from her books!
Copyright 2014. Beyond The Laces. All rights reserved.
Inspiring through kindness reaches Uganda, Africa...
“One who sees something good, must narrate it” - - Ugandan Proverb
That’s exactly what Bob Salomon and the Beyond The Laces team has set out to do with this
blog. There are people all over the world inspiring children and families through kindness
and we’ve found just that in Uganda, Africa!
With a population of just under 36 million and 38% of the people living on under
$1.25 U.S. per day, it’s very difficult to feed, clothe and educate the children that
live there. According to UNICEF, Uganda has 2.5 million orphans and that number
grows daily. What do these numbers mean? Unfortunately, there are many Ugandan
children suffering as a result of being orphaned. They lack some of the most basic needs
in life, especially the warmth of a parent’s love.
In Uganda, like many African countries, familial and tribal ties are usually quite strong. Communities, families and friends are motivated to look after children in their surroundings who are in need of care and protection. My good friend Lutalo Joseph, Pastor and Founder of Life Healing Ministry, located in Kampala, Uganda has taken his love for these children to another level.
“I had a dream of building a school for the disadvantaged children
who are dispersed in my community. 7 years ago, I started this
mission and as I speak, we have more than “150 children” in our
care. There is still a lot to do and much effort is still needed.”
Founded on February 18, 2007 by Lutalo, Life Healing Ministry is a Non- Governmental Organization which brings physical and spiritual help to children who would otherwise receive none. Lutalo’s mission is to:
Write, call or email Lutalo to find out more
on how you can help him with his mission:
P.O. 9814 Kampala, Kampala, Uganda
Phone: +256712989560, +256777099791
written by Mark Brislin
and the joy the holiday creates, should not be limited to December only. Throughout the year Chester does just that! Yes, he devotedly dons his magical red suit in December. But there are many of us who have seen him in his Santa hat… and Bermuda shorts! You see, Chester donates his time as Santa for many events and venues surrounding children. One event and cause that is close to Chester’s heart is the THE BELIEVE PROJECT. This non-denominational organization is based in central New Jersey. It was founded by Mark Zacharczyk, a successful Jersey Shore restauranteur and mortgage advisor. Along with his brother, Lee, THE BELIEVE PROJECThas been crafted on the idea of giving back to children who have been stricken with cancer, or some other acute or chronic illness, by sharing with them the passion for the holidays, in general, and Christmas, in particular. It is here, with the desire to reach these children, that Chester brings Santa’s excitement, happiness, and, in love, the hope that surrounds the Christmas season. But, with THE BELIEVE PROJECT it is done in July! Christmas in July is, indeed, just one of the ways this 365-day-a-year Santa shares his heart with others. Thus, Chester has taken Santa to a new level as he inspires and helps children all year round. In so doing, he also is part of a movement surrounding a childrens’ book entitled Beyond The Laces. The book’s message is to inspire through kindness and encourages its readers, both young and old alike, to never give up. The storyline’s backdrop is that of the game of football. For that reason, it is supported by many professional athletes and known sports personalities. And it is often seen in Chester’s Santa’s hands as he spreads Christmas joy by handing out copies to inspire and make children happy… regardless of what month it is! He feels this story hits the heart and that its message mirrors his own mission to make a difference. As he observes, “I like to think all of us have a little bit of Santa in us.” And with this kind, compassionate man, that joyful “bit of Santa” is made abundantly visible. Thus, one can quickly see, there is no doubt “Miracle’s” Fred Gailey would have little trouble convincing a jury that Chester Davis was, indeed, the real Santa!
Something Wicked This Way Comes…
Everywhere you look today you see our friends, family, colleagues and neighbors going through some sort of struggle in their life. Whether it's the loss of a loved one, problems at work, bullying in school or dealing with an illness, there are good people out there who understand what you are going through and are there to help us. Sometimes we don't see them because we are mired down in our own struggles or grief but there are some that shine so brightly, that it's impossible to miss them. One of these Stars is our friend and supporter, Denise Rezsonya.
Howell, NJ – “Something Wicked This Way Comes…” as prophesized by a witch in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Macbeth has a more positive meaning when talking about Rob Spanvill. Urbandictionay.com defines Bad as “Good”, Sick as “Cool” and Wicked as “Great”! That’s exactly what people are saying about Rob and Wicked Thread Embroidery in Howell, NJ.
“I have been using Wicked Thread Embroidery for three years now and I’m always greeted with a friendly voice on the other end of the phone. In addition, we always get our items in a timely manner and the quality is A1”, says Coach Mike Greene of the Howell Hawks and AAU Girls Basketball Teams.
Wicked Thread provides high quality, custom apparel for New Jersey youth sports and non-profit organizations as well as our local businesses. “If you can imagine it, we can design it”, says Rob Spanvill, Owner. “We are a one-stop custom embroidery shop, also specializing in screen printing, heat transfers and digital printing. With our new online Design Studio, placing an order is easier than ever”
From his humble beginnings in Brooklyn, NY, Rob has achieved his success by practicing superior customer service and always doing the right thing, “It’s simple, treat people the way you want to be treated and then after you get to know them, treat them the way 'they' want to be treated. Be honest and loyal with your clients, do your best to meet their wants but more importantly their needs.”
"What can I say about Wicked Thread? They are pretty awesome, always on time, professional, and we have never been let down by their service. We’ve thrown some very last minute projects on them, and they always deliver on time! We use them at least once a month and it’s usually hectic and rushed, but we never worry about it. The staff always handles it with a smile”, says Kristen Zulueta from Nexbrand.
Beyond the daily operations of the business, Rob recognizes an important life lesson, “No matter how tough you think your life is there’s always someone who has to face challenges that are even tougher than yours. That’s why giving back is so important. The biggest reward is the realization that you’ve made a positive change in someone’s life.”
Bob Salomon, Author of Beyond The Laces said, “I wrote an inspirational children’s book. With this book, my team and I do a lot of events and book signings and meet many people. I get a phone call from Rob a few months ago and he tells me he was moved by the book and wants to help us get our message out. Next thing you know, my team and I have professionally made polo shirts with my book’s logo embroidered on the chest. In addition, he silk screens t-shirts for us to give away to the kids at our events. Who does that? The result was a more professional look for me and my team. That will help us continue to make a difference. I’m not sure Rob realizes the positive ripple effect his kindness and generosity has created? We need more Rob Spanvills in the world!”
To find out more about Wicked Thread Embroidery and Rob Spanvill go towww.wickedthread.com or contact Rob: firstname.lastname@example.org(732) 890-8887.
Going Beyond the Laces
March 2nd is the birthday of everyone’s favorite author, Dr. Seuss. In honor of his contribution to reading, Read Across America has been a tradition in elementary schools across the country. This year, we are kicking off the second annual Tackle Reading Across America, in which over 25 NFL teams and athletes will be promoting reading for kids and elementary schools in their community.
Here is how you can Tackle Reading with us March 2, 2018:
1) Wear the apparel of your favorite NFL team.
2) Purchase a #TackleReading shirt (teespring.com/tackle-reading) beginning Super Bowl weekend. Proceeds from every shirt and sweatshirt help us donate more books to schools across the country.
3) Invite former NFL athletes in your community to be a guest reader for the day.
4) Invite your local high school or college football team to read books by Dr. Seuss to your elementary school classes.
5) Set reading goals on February 2nd (Super Bowl Friday) for a month and/or March 2nd to the end of the school year (See example of football reading field below.)
6) Complete language arts and math based football assignments throughout the day.
7) Read and prepare the recipe of an edible football stadium by our celebrity cook, Daina Falk, Hungry Fan.
8) Share your pictures/day on social media @KathrynStarke @beyondthelaces using #TackleReading #BeyondTheLaces
9) Purchase copies of our selected sponsorship titles for your school. (See below).
10) Read football themed children’s books such as examples below:
Where is Pidge? by Michelle Staubach Grimes - Beyond the Laces by Bob Salomon
Smitty Hits the Books by Wade Smith (former Houston Texan) - Bobblehead Beatdown by Bo Rush
The Little Linebacker by Maria Dismondy and Stephen Tulloch - Oklahoma Shake by Bo Rush
The Magician’s Hat by Malcolm Mitchell, New England Patriots - Play Big by Jen Welter (6th grade and up)
Flying High by Julian Edelman, New England Patriots - Tackle Reading by Kathryn Starke
Pine Belt of Lakewood donates books to children!
Excited to announce Pine Belt is supporting the movement to Inspire children through kindness.
A special thanks to Rob Sickel owner of Pine Belt for donating copies of Beyond The Laces to local children....a sincere thank you!!
Pine Belt Chevrolet has been serving Lakewood Chevrolet shoppers since 1937. We've stayed in business this long by taking care of our customers. We want you as a customer for life and when your son or daughter is old enough to drive, we hope you will bring them to Pine Belt Chevrolet to help them find their own car.
The Anti Bully Squad was founded by Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus and Retired music manager Tom Peterson in September of 2014. It's mission is to create a permanent solution to bullying through education awareness and prevention. In one year The Anti Bully Squad has grown to over 6500 members strong. Take The Oath and Join THE SQUAD. http://www.antibullysquad.org
"I want to help young people realize their potential, I want them to succeed and to thrive regardless of their past. I want them to know that an amazing future awaits them if they can get through the here and now, and I want to help get them through it. I want to provide resources, guidance, and encouragement to teens and their families. I truly consider it a blessing to do this work, and pray that it makes a difference in your life."
Copyright 2014. Beyond The Laces. All Rights Reserved.
Beyond The Laces
is part of this amazing day!!!
March 2nd, 2018: The 2nd Annual Tackle Reading Across America Day!
Your Classroom, School, or Football Team Can Join our Team This Year!!
The Real Santa
In the 1947, quintessential Christmas movie, “Miracle on 34th Street,” attorney Fred Gailey, played by the renowned John Payne, proves that a department store Santa Claus, played by Edmund Gwenn, is, in fact, the real Santa. Gwenn would go on to garner an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his role. Should there ever be a 21st century remake, the reprising role of Santa would have to be given to none other than Chester Davis. Amongst those in-the-know, Chester IS Santa Claus! Because the persona of Santa means so much to so many, the red-suited character has come to define the joy of Christmas. He is the symbol of love, kindness, and giving that surrounds our childhood memories of this season. As Chester himself noted, “It's more than a Santa suit… it's the heart you put inside it.” So, not only does Chester look like the real Santa, he lives that role. And he lives it 365 days a year! Chester feels that Santa
Denise Rezsonya is an inspirational speaker, author, blogger, and host of the Be The Light Show on Hamilton County Television in Indiana and Author of the inspirational books, Be The Light, Volumes 1 & 2. She has been married to her husband, Dave, for 15 years and has two children. Denise writes and speaks on her faith, as well as issues pertinent to teens and families.
The Believe Project....The Festival of Magic
Thrilled to announce we have partnered with The Believe Project....Christmas in July!!! This amazing non profit inspires and
touches the lives of many children and their
families. Pine Belt of Lakewood has donated
copies of Beyond The Laces for all the children.
Please join us!
Here and Now, Being the Light for Us