Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Benny's gone, but his kindness goes on

The below artical was taken out of the Tucson online paper, azstarnet.com : http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/184687

Tucson Region
Remembering a special boy

Benny's gone, but his kindness goes on
By Carla McClain
Arizona Daily Star

Tucson, Arizona Published: 05.25.2007

This time, the family will have to do it without Benny.

And with a hole in their hearts the size of the universe.

Exactly a year ago, Benny Petz — a beautiful, wide-eyed boy only weeks from death — celebrated his fifth and last birthday not with a party and presents for himself, but with a lemonade stand to raise money for stricken children.

And to the delight of that special child, and the utter astonishment of his parents, his lemonade raised $14,000 in just a few hours, which went straight to a national foundation that funds research to conquer childhood cancer.

Something about Benny — described by his still-grief-stricken mother as "the strongest, bravest person I have ever had the pleasure to know" — caught the attention of Tucsonans, who showed up in droves that day to support the final and deepest wish of a short life.

And so on Saturday — in honor of their child and on what would have been his sixth birthday — the Petz family will open the lemonade stand again in Reid Park, to try to raise money to help children whose lives are threatened as his was.

Benny hosted last year's event despite the almost unbearable pain of his last days. He died in his parents' arms a month later, on June 27, beaten by the childhood cancer neuroblastoma, which had stalked him for more than two years.

"I know this is going to be very hard," said his mother, Amy. "We will be there celebrating his birthday, and in reality he should be there, but he won't.

"I'm really nervous, the way I was last year — we want to make it great for him. I'm hoping I'll be so busy tomorrow, I won't be able to focus on missing him. We're just hoping all the people who came last year will come again, and bring friends and neighbors with them."

And this time, the goal is even higher. The national foundation — Alex's Lemonade Stand for Pediatric Cancer Research — was so impressed with Benny's success last year that it's asked the Petz family to set a goal of $25,000 this year.

"I said, 'Wow, that's huge,' " Amy said. "But who am I to say no? We'll surely try. It would be awesome if we could raise that much. But we also know that anything that comes in, whatever amount, will help this effort and will be used well."

The national project now known simply as Alex's Lemonade Stand was launched seven years ago, when a little girl, Alexandra Scott — also suffering neuroblastoma — opened a stand on her front lawn in suburban Philadelphia.

After her death in 2004, lemonade stands carrying her name opened across the country. They have raised more than $10 million to fight all childhood cancers.

Saturday, with help from the foundation, the Tucson event will feature not only the cool lemonade, but also a jumping castle, a big slide, a disc jockey, face-painting and little presents and favors for donors. Volunteers from across Tucson will help decorate, provide refreshments and staff the activities.

The Petz family — mom Amy, father Derek and their four surviving boys — plans to open its stand every year on Memorial Day weekend, the closest weekend to Benny's birthday, May 26.
"We want to do everything we can to keep his memory alive, to make him proud of us," Amy Petz said.

As she has moved through this painful year, and worked toward Benny's fund-raising birthday, Amy has written a journal revealing the agony of trying to deal with the death of a child.
She writes late at night, often after midnight, when the house is quiet, the demands of the day done, when her longing for Benny overwhelms her.

"Benny my love . . . I miss you so completely that my body physically aches," she wrote 10 days ago. "My brain still refuses to fully process that you are gone. . . .

"I want to beg someone to please let me have you back, but there is no one to beg and no way to have you back. I want to sit here and hold your warm little body in my arms and feel your head tucked into my neck . . . I want to hear and feel your breath. I want my baby back."

And she remembers all the wild and crazy things Benny loved — motorcycles, babies, monster trucks, piggies, French toast, his stuffed animal Lamby, all things pink and purple.

"He was full of a balance of love, kindness, thoughtfulness and attitude," she wrote.

Benny's name is now carved into the granite wall at Children's Memorial Park. His inscription reads "Benjamin Tucker Moonman Peanut Petz."

Moonman for his daddy's favorite nickname. And Peanut because he once told Amy, "Mom, I like it when you call me Peanut."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Petz Family's 2nd Annual Alex's Lemonade Stand in Memory of Benny

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! I wanted to post this flyer I received from Amy Petz, the mother of little Benny who passed away last June from NB. She is holding a Lemonade Stand down in Tucson, AZ this weekend on what would have been Benny's 6th Birthday. Even though it is still very hard for her to go ahead and do this stand, she knew she had to do it. I envy her strength and I hope she raises a lot of money for Pediatric Cancer. If you know anyone who lives in Tucson or even in Arizona for that matter, please tell them about this event.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Penelope London

I'm a little behind on this story, but I still wanted to share it with you all.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Isabella's wish.... day one...

Well, it's been a week since we got back from our amazing trip to Disney World. I still haven't caught up on my sleep. We haven't even had the time to get everything cleaned up and put away. Here is how we ended up on our wonderful, once in a lifetime trip.

Last September or October we were at Isabella's regular oncology visit when our nurse asked if she ever got her wish. We said no because we always thought of the Make-A-Wish foundation as your child's 'last' wish. Meaning your child was going to die, and when Isabella was going through treatment, we weren't ready to admit that. Then once Isabella was off treatment, we didn't think she was eligible anymore so we never brought it up. But our nurse told us that she was eligible and that her doctor needed to give the okay.

Within a couple of weeks we got our first phone call from Make-A-Wish. They told us she was referred to them by her doctor and that they would complete the documents and set up a meeting once everything was set. Then another couple weeks past and we heard from a Make-A-Wish volunteer who said they would be coming by in a week to ask what Isabella's wish was. He asked if there was anything Isabella liked in particular, and I told him that she liked anything with the Disney Princesses. The three volunteers were also bringing food so they asked what type of food she liked and of course I said Pizza. =)

I remember that the volunteers came over on a Saturday morning around 11 AM with a large Pizza Hut pizza and a Snow White doll. They amazed me from day one because they were able to get a pizza at 10 am and drive over an hour to get to our house. All to help our little girl's dream come true. There were three volunteers who all arrived in the same car. The one who drove had to drive over an hour to get to our house. Their names where Katie, Amit and Eric and we all sat around the table enjoying the pizza while David and I shared a little bit of Isabella's story with them. Then they asked Isabella what she wanted for her wish. Isabella loved all the Disney Princesses and most of the Disney movies so it was only fitting that she wished to go to Disney World.

Once it was final that Disney World was her wish we had to wait a couple weeks to hear if her wish would be approved by the Make-A-Wish foundation. A couple of weeks had passed and we got an email from one of the volunteers that her wish was approved. We requested to go for her 4th birthday and luckily that time was approved as well. So it was set, we were to go to Disney World on April 28th 2007 and return on May, 4th 2007. Isabella couldn't wait to go, every morning she would ask us if we were going to Disneyland that day. I felt bad that I kept telling her, 'Not today', she probably thought we were playing a cruel joke on her.

Then finally the day came... it was Saturday Morning, I got up with Isabella probably around 5 AM because our ride was going to be there by 7. It was a little before 7 when we were finished getting ready and sat our suitcases by the front door. David decides to make him and Isabella a bowl of cereal before we leave, but then David hears something and goes out the front door to investigate......... and our ride had just arrived.... a black limo!!! I couldn't believe my eyes, a limo was sitting outside of our house. David started to bring out the luggage and helped the driver put it all in the car. Then he grabbed the car seats so we could put Isabella and little David in the car. As everything was getting loaded I came back in the house to double check everything was turned off and locked and then threw away the two bowls of cereal that were sitting on the counter waiting to be eaten. =)

So we were on our way to the trip of a lifetime! Isabella was very excited to say the least, but I'm not sure if she knew what she was in for! We arrived at the airport earlier than our volunteers had expected so we drove around the terminal for a few minutes in our limo while everyone wondered who was in that car..... hehehe I stood in line to check us in and it is quite a handful traveling with two kids. Especially one that is under a year old. Little David needed so many things for me to bring on the plane, I probably exceeded the carry on limit but they didn't say anything. We had a backpack with video games, movies, blankets and toys for little David to play with....... just in case. Then I had a bag with two cans of formula for the week (I usually only go through one a week, but I didn't want to run out), 3 bottles, snacks for little David and Isabella, diapers, wipes and since I ran out of room in all the other bags, my makeup bag was in there as well. We also had our camera bag with us on the plane.... you know... for those moments of shear terror! hehehe No, to capture every moment of this trip. Then to top it all off..... our stroller. I wasn't about to go through three airports without a stroller and looking back.... thank goodness we had it. Just be glad you weren't behind us going through security! hahaha It wasn't THAT bad, but it could have been A LOT better! =) So we have the backpack... we also brought our laptop, which was a stupid thing to do! It ended being more of a hassle than it was worth considering we didn't use it but one night. So there we are taking our shoes off, taking out the laptop and putting it in a bin, putting all of our bags on the belt handing little David to.... well... big David. ;o) Then the security guy tells me that we have to collapse the stroller and put it through their scanner as well.... grreeeaattt!! So there I am taking down the stroller and lifting it up to put it on the belts, not even sure if it will fit! LOL Well, the security guy gets it to go through and I start walking through the metal detector and sure enough the alarm goes off... I feel my pocket and my cell phone is still in there. I take it out and throw it in another bin and try it again. This time I was good to go! Meanwhile David is trying to catch everything from falling on the floor and get his shoes on at the same time. It was quite a site to see... we had to go to the side to get out of everyone's way and to get Isabella's shoes back on. We head on down to our gate which thankfully wasn't too far. When we find some seats David says he's hungry and goes to grab something to eat. You remember..... the cereal went down the drain back at home so we had some hungry people on our hands! =) David comes back with a couple pizza's and a couple drinks. We have enough time to finish our food before I notice that our plane arrives and everyone starts piling off. I know it will be our turn to board soon, so I head to the bathroom to change little David's diaper before we get on our 3 hour flight. When I get in there, a lady is already changing her child's diaper and one waiting for her to get done. So I stand there and wait for what had to have been 5 minutes. All the ladies who came in thought I was waiting for a stall..... but no.... just waiting to change a diaper and hoping to not miss my flight! hehehe When I was finished changing little David I got back just in time to stand in the pre-board line since we were on Southwest and I know how you have to fight for a seat on that airline. Then we start to board the plane.... I make my way down the ramp with bags galore and a stroller. Somehow we were able to carry a baby and many bags while getting the stroller to collapse down and leave at the end of the ramp for the airline folks to put under the plane. Thank goodness I didn't hit anyone in the head on my way back through the isle. I let David choose what isle we sat in and both times he decided to sit over the damn wing! =) I don't usually mind, but when you hit turbulence it just seems so much worse because you see the wing going up and down..... SCARY! hehehe Just a little background.... I was never afraid of flying.... I used to do it all the time as a kid with my mom... I loved it infact... well, I didn't like the landings... when I first met David he didn't really like flying and the couple times I got him on a plane, he made me nervous. So on this trip.... I think I was more scared than he was! =)

There we are sitting on the plane waiting for everyone to get their seats so we can take off. We had a plan to get little David to sleep through the flight.... or so we thought! He got up probably around 6 and we gave him a bottle, but then we decided after that we were going to keep him awake and not feed him another bottle until the plane was taking off. Then hopefully he would fall asleep while eating his bottle and sleep until we started to land. Yeah right!! Only in some fantasy land would that actually happen for us. As we were sitting in our seats waiting for the flight to take off, little David started to get really cranky and I didn't want those "looks" from everyone who passed by and saw that we had a baby. So I made him a bottle and tried to wait as long as possible to give it to him so he could be eating it as the plane took off. But he ended up getting the bottle and finishing most of it before we took off. David held him on his chest for a little bit and he started to fall asleep. I'm thinking.... 'Sweet!' He is going to sleep most of the way! He slept during the takeoff and then for like 10 more minutes! ugh! He is the type of baby that hates it if your are trying to hold him to make him go to sleep. He fights you and wiggles and well.... he didn't fall asleep for the rest of that flight into St. Louis.

We get into St. Louis a little late and I was really worried about catching our other flight to Orlando. I originally wanted to wait for everyone to get off since we have so much crap to haul off the plane and I didn't want to piss anyone off. But we decided that we had better get off so we could catch the next flight and get on with the pre-board people again. I was worried that the connecting flight would have a gate on the other side of the airport. When we get off, we look for the nearest information and find that our gate was only 2 spots down from where we got off. SWEET! So I sit down for a couple of seconds and I hear that they will be starting to board our flight soon. So there we are... just 5 minutes off the first flight and it's time to start boarding the next one.

Our flight from St. Louis to Orlando was pretty special. The flight attendants must have noticed Isabella's Wish Child shirt and asked what her name was and told me they were going to do something special. This flight had a TON of kids and so I wasn't worried our little Charrito crying because there was already two other kids crying... whew! So anyways... the flight attendants asked everyone to close their window shades because the magic only worked if it was dark. Of course... our window shade wouldn't close. The flight attendants came around the plane with these cute little gummy fish that would light up (the little clippers they held them with had a little light that made it look like the glowed) for all the kids to eat. But before they did that they came over the speakers and said that they had a special person aboard the flight and her name was Isabella and that Mickey himself sent the magic fish for her and all the kids to enjoy. The flight attendants really made it special. Shortly after that one of the flight attendants asked if we would like to sit with the pilot in the cockpit when the plane landed and I said we would love to. So we arrived into Orlando around 7:30 eastern time and Isabella got to sit in the pilot seat of the airplane. Let me tell you.... it is TINY!! No wonder you never see a chubby pilot! He wouldn't be able to sit down! hehehe I took a couple pictures of Isabella sitting in the seat, not thinking that I should have gotten one of her and the pilot together... Now I think of it! =( Oh well.... it was something that I will probably never get to experience again.... now I say it was something I won't probably ever experience again because who knows... Isabella might! For all I know she could become a pilot when she grows up.... ;o)

Here are a couple of pictures

Friday, May 04, 2007

Isabella's Make-A-Wish Trip to Disney World!!!

Hi Everyone!!! Sorry for such a loooooong time beween posts, but as you can see from the title of this post, there was a VERY good reason for the delay! hehehe

Here are a couple pictures to tease you all!! =) I will write more about our trip in a little while and hopefully get all the pictures online some where for everyone to see.