Sunday, September 25, 2011

[Experience] Light The Night 2011

My childhood experiences have shaped and impacted my beliefs.  Learning to play softball at the corner intersections of Francisco and Sherwin and tying bedsheets to the second floor banister to swing like Tarzan are a couple early memories.  From these experiences I have become a believer of a worry free, unyielding, and spirited youth.

Childhood opens the playground to explore, discover and learn.  Yet what happens when the childhood experience is not so unfettered? What might keep children from a no-worry, hassle free experience?  And further what would be learned from the restraints?


Griffin Maks is my nephew.  He was diagnosed with Leukemia and has completed the course of treatment.  His early years of childhood are a variety of sorts which forced him to mature and grow well beyond his soon-to-be 6 year old self.  Griffin's childhood can be seen curving a path uphill dotted with fevers, sleepless nights, and lengthy hospital admissions.  Griffin lives a life that might seem restricted, but you could not tell from the smile on his face and the twinkle in his eyes.  Griffin has experienced some trials and many triumphs.  These trying experiences are a testament to his growth and his beliefs.  Griffin's strength in spirit and his passion motivates and inspires.  Griffin uses this inspiration to bring hope and a belief that overcoming a battle against Leukemia is possible.  He will be walking with family and friends in The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Light the Night Walk

Griffin will be walking to raise awareness and funds that will aid cancer research to help find a cure.  A cure to fight this disease would ensure a childhood free from the worries of blood cancers like Leukemia.  Griffin will be walking tonight September 25, 2011.  Come and join Griffin along with the family, friends, and many others who believe in Griffin's mission.  We will witness tonight that what we do will impact a better tomorrow.

Here are a few links:

Team Griffin donation page:

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Light the Night page:

Team Griffin images 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Growing up my sister and I would walk to the park on weekend mornings for cheerleading games. My sister was the cheerleader and I was a mascot. We dressed in the red and white school colors and wore the letter 'M' emblazoned on the front of our sweaters. Back then we would shake the pom-poms and call out cheers exclaiming how our team's power and might would win over the other team. I recall some of the cheers talking about motorcycles and valley talk and went something like,




We cheered on, rain or shine, in hopes our team would win.

Today, my sister and I, will be walking together along with our family and friends in a very important walk. We will be cheering along the route and we may even call out the cheers about motorcycles and total awesomeness.
We will walk to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. That money will aid research and directly benefit those who are afflicted with blood cancers.

My sister Gretchen and my brother-in-law, Jon Maks, have a 4 year old son, Griffin, who is fighting Leukemia. The story of Griffin's fight is a daily battle.

We walk knowing these funds will benefit Griffin. We hope that research will find a cure. We hope we will win this battle. We hope you will join the fight.

The day is here and the LIGHT THE NIGHT WALK is tonight.

So I ask you reader, will you also rally for TEAM GRIFFIN?

These are the details for TEAM GRIFFIN:

1. Location -- Upper Hutchinson Field in Grant Park (SW corner of Columbus and Balbo -- PDF map of Grant Park enclosed); Team Griffin will gather at TENT 1 (the Kids' Tent).

2. Time to gather-- Festivities begin at 5:30pm -- for check-in and last-minute registration; for food and drink (5:30 - 7pm); to pickup freebies and such; to purchase additional Team Griffin T-shirts from Gretchen ($15 for adult, $10 for youth).

3. Time to walk -- the actual walk begins at 7pm and is about 2 miles long. If you're accompanied by people with short legs, you might want to bring a stroller. The walk should be done by 9pm.

4. Weather forecast -- it looks like it will be clear and cool in the 50's, and since we're on the lakefront, it might be breezy, so dress appropriately and wear comfortable shoes!

5. Team Griffin Group Picture -- hopefully we'll get an "official picture", or at least be organized enough to do one ourselves, at 6:30pm.

6. Parking -- there will be parking nearby at the Millennium Park lots (see enclosed PDF map of Grant Park), at parking lots west of S. Michigan Ave, and some nearby street parking.

7. Bring any additional funds you've raised (cash and checks)-- this is the opportunity to get acknowledged for money you raised for the walk; if you have raised $100 or more, you can collect a Light The Night t-shirt at one of the t-shirt tents (this is in addition to the Team Griffin shirt). If you've raised $500 or more, you will get a special pass to the VIP Tent, which will have MORE food, an open bar and other goodies. If you've raised at least $1000, you will get a 2nd VIP pass!

8. There will be a Kid's Corner opening at 5:30pm for a variety of fun activities, including a bounce house, face painting, games, prizes and more!

9. If you're walking to remember a loved one you've lost to leukemia or lymphoma, join others for the Remembrance Ceremony at 6:45pm at the main stage.

10. Call Gretchen or Jon with any questions or concerns.


See you there!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Will You Join The Fight?

2 More Days left until the LIGHT The NIGHT

Will you be joining us?

Come on out tonight for yummy food, great people, and good times.


Thursday September 23, 2010

550 W. Touhy
Park Ridge, IL


There will be free appetizers for our bunch

20% of dinner receipts will be donated to TEAM GRIFFIN

Fundraising continues with T-Shirt sales...get them while they are hot!

Come on out and meet GODZILLA he is hungry for your donations.

Raffle prizes a plenty.

Catch Griffin and his family here and the first round of Root Beer is on me!

Make a donation and find Godzilla at the event or link to TEAM GRIFFIN

(GODZILLA creation c/o Wayne Rizal-president CALAMBA ASSOCIATION of ILLINOIS)

The Maks family house is brimming with last minute details for the walk coming up this Saturday. Gretchen and Jon continue their efforts to raise funds for the walk as well as quell any tantrums inevitable among the Maks siblings.

Last night Griffin busy playing hide-n-seek with his cousins and made out to be a very good hider and seeker.

Want to find out more about this little dude?

Meet him tonight and JOIN the Fight!

See you there!

Monday, September 13, 2010

2010 Light the Night Walk *Team Griffin*

I remember the day when I was a kid playing endlessly at the park, climbing the monkey bars, spinning in the tire swing, and jumping on the teeter-totter. I played until the park lights started to flicker on and the setting sun cast it's last rays.

Over the weekend, Griffin (my 4 year old nephew), took a break from playing in the park to capture a few smiling images. We had walked a few steps around the jungle gym to find a spot for him to show off his cheeky smile and he said to me,

"I can't walk far because my legs hurt."

I proceeded to find out more about the discomfort that afflicted Griffin, and asked him my cadre of questions to find cause for his pain. Griffin answered my what, where, when, why, and how framework of questions. Griffin described his legs were hurting because he was playing in the park. He confirmed that he did not get bumped at the playground by his rambunctious siblings-Everest, Hudson, nor Kailey. He did not fall off the jungle gym, and he had not been play fighting Tai kwon do with his cousins (my rambunctious kids). Later on, my sister, Gretchen, told me the chemotherapy medication Griffin received made him tired and caused pain to his legs. Griffin left the park not too long after the images were taken and just prior to the debut of the evening sky making it's appearance.

I did not understand Griffin's pain because growing up as a kid I did not have the same experiences that Griffin has to endure. I have stopped asking myself the why about Griffin's Leukemia and find myself asking what can be done.
"What can I do to help my nephew not experience the physical pains after performing activities that children inevitably do growing up?"

On Saturday, September 25, 2010, Griffin and his family plan to attend The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS's) Light the Night Walk.

Joining TEAM GRIFFIN will be family and friends helping to raise funds for lifesaving cancer research. I join the fight to find a cure for Leukemia. A disease, in my opinion, that steals away the fundamental right of growing up as a child. I invite you to join Griffin.

Special mention who have and are still helping Griffin Maks and his family, including the Elizabeth Meyer School --Griffin's preschool. On behalf of Gretchen and Jon Maks: A huge Thank You for your efforts. We look forward to a good turnout in support of leukemia research!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Whether I cheer on the sidelines with pom poms in hand, or I scream and shout from the bleachers, I am showing my support for my team. I know that I can be overzealous shouting out my encouragement to the players on the court. I may stamp my feet and clap my hands. I have been known to stand up from my seat and call out to the referee. I do this to channel the energy that I have, to both inspire and maybe even give that extra "edge" to the players so that a victory will be won. I am preparing to watch my son's basketball game tomorrow morning. My son and my nephew (Everest) play basketball together. Everest is Griffin's older brother.

I plan to cheer for the basketball players tomorrow as I do for my nephew, Griffin. I cheer for Griffin everyday. My cheers for Griffin ride along with my thoughts and beliefs of my faith. I pray to God to keep Griffin well, healthy, and happy. There are other participants on the field who also deserve encouragement. These first string players need no introduction from me. You know them by a first name basis. Jon, Gretchen, Everest, Kailey, and Hudson.

The playing field is set in a number of different places. The fourth floor clinic at Children's Memorial, the house at 60076, and even the car ride to the emergency room. I am shouting out encouragement to

"...keep cool, relax, continue to do what you are doing..."

I am encouraging the players to endure, to sacrifice, and to overcome what may seem to be the hardest hurdle yet to be faced.

The current situation sets the players at different places. Everest is with me for a very early game in the morning. Hudson and Kailey are snug in their bed with grand-parental supervision. Jon, Gretchen, and Griffin are on the way to Children's Memorial. Griffin's white blood cell count has been trending on a downward slope. This situation challenges Griffin's body and makes it hard to fight off infections. Griffin had been monitored by the Md's for the past week plus a few days. Gretchen and Jon were given instruction to come to the hospital if Griffin developed a fever.
I had talked to Gretchen over the phone on Saturday evening (I can not change the time entered/displayed for this post). She spoke to me with tears and told me her "mother's instinct" and interpreted her gut feelings. She was preparing and packing in case Griffin did indeed show more objective signs of fever. I received the call Saturday night (before midnight) they were in fact on their way to the hospital.

Griffin has one more year of treatment and must face every challenge with strength courage, and faith. As I sit here in front of my monitor I invite you, reader, to join me on the sidelines and Cheer your heart out for the Home team. We can do a virtual wave, we can whirl a dervish dance, we can scream from the rooftops, we can send our positive energies, we can pray. However you choose to cheer, encourage, uplift and/or inspire...let us all tip the scale in Griffin's favor. 1-0.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Man & Woman of the Year

The beautiful faces that you see belong to Griffin and Rose. You have been hearing the story of Griffin and all his 'going-ons' from word of mouth, Gretchen's FB, and or have been eyeing glimpses of him here and there.
There is more to tell you about Griffin and his recent follow up visit to Children's Memorial for a routine blood work up. Results are still pending, but the lab result of importance are Griffin's liver lab values. More updates to follow when available.
It was by special request to update the blog and give special mention to Rose and her mission. Rose is a survivor of NHL and her story can be found here:

The benefit for Man & Woman of the Year will be tomorrow May 21, 2010.

Congratulations to all who have supported LLS. To all the candidates in the running for Man & Woman of the Year, it was not only with the donations raised, but with your blood, sweat, and tears that you put a happy smile on Griffin's face.

On behalf of Griffin Maks and his family, Thank you!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Turn on the Light

The cogs are turning and the switch has been turned on. Imaginary light bulbs are above mine and Gretchen's head at the making of this post. The kids are running around us asking us for snacks, asking us to fix their toys, and tattling on the one that seems to cause all the commotion...Griffin. I know the latest post was way back when...but keep a look out for more information. We are here, and I know you are too.