January 27, 2014

It was not a good idea….it was a great idea

by Mike Scopa and Michelle Scribner-MacLean

Team AllEars did not exist before cancer…but it was forged because of cancer.

Yes, the adopted charity for Team AllEars was Deb Wills’ Avon Walk for breast cancer, which had already established it’s own incredible legacy…but cancer is blind and comes in many forms and from any angles.

That is why Team AllEars grew, and grew with passion. Every member of Team AllEars has his or her own story as to what led them to this team and the fire that continues to burn inside of them to do whatever they can to help those who cannot help themselves, and to protect those who may be prone to cancer’s clutches in the future.

Many years ago, during an awards presentation, an honored recipient stepped up to the podium to receive a distinguished award and acknowledged that he would not be there if not for a contingent of supporters.

But instead of mentioning each and every one of those supporters, he gazed into the audience and made eye contact with every pair of eyes gazing upon the stage and said, “First, if I were to name everyone who has contributed to my success then we would be here all night. Secondly, I would not want to risk missing out naming any one individual because you all, in your own personal way, have brought me to where I am today. In fact, we are a team…a successful team, and for that I thank you.”

In the same manner, it would be impossible to recall all the great contributions that so many of the Team AllEars members have made to this team that I hesitate to attempt such a chore.

There are some moments in general that will always remain fresh in our memories:

• Walking to the corrals with Deb Wills and looking into the lights and recognizing that it was sleeting…in Orlando…in Florida…as we prepared to run a half marathon.

• The times, oh so many times, on FaceBook, when one of the members told us that a family or friend had been stricken by Cancer…or even worse….had been taken by this demon.

• The Annual Meetings in which we shared why we were there…and the courage of one man talking about the son he and his wife never had the opportunity to hold…because of this wretched, heartless monster.

• The pink tutu that saw two races one year, and barely made it through the second one…but survived, like so many of those who will, partly because of the efforts of Team AllEars.

• The applause and tears as each year’s numbers were revealed giving hope to helping those who need just that…hope.

• The many team calls in which ideas were shared and team building took place.

• Seeing dear friends complete a 5K and not fighting the tears, realizing hope important that accomplishment was to that friend.

To borrow a line from the American Adventure, when we first started to gather, “we were stained and tinted (by cancer) with all colors...but as we grew as a team we became “more alike than different” as we all stood for the same cause…for the same purpose.

There was, however, never an indication of what other dividends lay in wait for this team.
The one dividend that was expected was that of friendship, a bonding if you will, of individuals teaming up for the same cause…but that was only the beginning.

As the years unfolded, it became apparent that this team was not just becoming another part of the overall army in fighting cancer. It was more than that...we supported each other…we had fun with each other…we laughed together and we cried together…many times.

We were not limited to just Orlando races…we also ran together in Anaheim, and who can ever forget the laughter during one Pirates of the Caribbean attraction and enjoying ice cream on Main Street USA, possibly standing on the same spot Walt Disney stood on some 50 plus years ago.

It went beyond runDisney as other races in other states began to see the Team AllEars logo and word soon spread about this amazing team and what it stood for…and what legacy it was building.

Then of course the first time we heard race announcer Rudy Novotny yell out “Team AllEars is in the House” to the 20,000+ waiting in the corrals….we had arrived….and then things really took off.

Pretty soon while running a runDisney race we would hear cheers from the folks volunteering, and cast members…”Way to go Team AllEars.”

Since the inception of Team AllEars there have been countless numbers of teams that have sprouted up. We don't have to list them here. We salute all of them for their efforts to their individual causes and wish them well. But let us not lose sight of the fact that none of them will ever be like Team AllEars.

Team AllEars has served as a model for these teams, although these teams will be hard-pressed to forge what Team AllEars has worked ever so hard for over these years to produce not just dollars for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer…but also camaraderie…friendship…family...love.

Finally, as much as this has been an education for all of us we have also done an amazing bit of mentoring for a most important group of individuals…our children.

As our families have grown, our children have learned an important lesson…that is to help those who are less fortunate...to give to help those who need our help…to let those who are struggling know they are not alone…..to let those who are wounded by cancer know there are those standing by them to help fight the battle.

Our children have learned and that….that is also part of the legacy of Team AllEars that we should all be proud of as we look back over the years.

Everything runs its course and so must Team AllEars…but this is not a day of sadness…it is a day of triumph because it is recognized that the efforts of Team AllEars has made a difference in the lives of those who never help coming, and this will continue….Deb’s Avon Walk for breast cancer efforts will continue as long as Deb Wills and her incredible drive to fight this beast lives on…and we will always be there to support her.

So look forward and continue to work individually on what we have all collaborated on for these last five years…continue to look to help others who are unable to fare for themselves…continue to do whatever you can in the battle against Cancer…continue to teach your children that the most important duty we have in our lives is to reach out and help others!

Team AllEars has raised over $330,000 in the five years for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

Continue…to run with purpose!!!

November 17, 2013

Hail to the Bus Driver

by Michael Miller

One of the oldest, most respected distance races in the world is the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. A 56-mile race, Comrades has a very strict 12 hours cut-off, which most people cannot even imagine making. That being said, one of the key things that have helped people complete this race was the creation of the concept of “The Bus.” To some, The Bus is a fancier term for a pace group, which has become more common in races of all distances; however the Bus is more than that.

The Bus is a group of runners who develop an identity over the life of the race, setting a pace and tone that get the whole group across the finish line. And unlike the pacesetter in a pace group whose sole purpose is to get people across the line at a specific time, the Bus Driver's sole purpose is getting everyone through to the final destination... before the cut-off. Besides having to run their own race, the Bus Driver often becomes responsible for the races of others.

This past Wine & Dine race at Epcot, 12 of us Team Allears Members were fortunate enough to form our own bus for the race. Rich Gairing was the Bus Driver who got us all to our final destination. When the team aggregated in Corral H for the race, we did so with the intent of running together. However as often happens with large groups, I am certain quite a few questioned the sanity and ability of a dozen people trying to run together for a night race through crowded/narrow parks. All I can say is that while our group was a cross-section of various speeds and abilities, it didn’t matter as that night we weren’t fast runners, or slow runners -- just runners dedicated on the journey itself versus focusing on the finish.

Rich was the ideal Bus Driver. Not just because he wielded The Glow Stick of Destiny as we called it -- a blinking plastic sword with a Mickey-shaped handle, sold to kids every night in the parks. It had to do with the fact that Rich legitimately wanted to spend time with everyone in the group. As for the group, it was easy to follow Rich, not just because he was carrying a three-foot blinking light sword (oh, I wanted to write saber), it’s because quite simply, he is one of the nicest, most giving people you could meet. He was more than willing to do the work of timing our run-walk intervals and would constantly verify that we were together as a group.

Like most Disney races we had to navigate large crowds, narrow choke points, uneven pavement and a myriad of other issues that could have broken up our group. However through it all, Rich would wield the Glow Stick of Destiny to tell us when we should walk (stick held horizontally, high above his head); when we should run (stick held vertically in front of him); and when we should sashay (whenever there was music or entertainment). Besides using the Glow Stick as a beacon when we would spread out in the narrow parks, or when people peeled off to do their business, Rick also worked with the team to ensure we were together. For instance, due to the very narrow paths of Animal Kingdom, our group had to separate somewhat. However when we exited the park, Rich moved to the side and waited for everyone to collect back together, wielding his Glow Stick like someone using a red flashlight to direct a plane in from the runway.

Overall, running as a large group could have been an annoyance or even a hindrance to others running the race. Once again though, our Bus Driver went to great lengths to ensure this didn’t happen. Rich was able to keep everyone around us aware of our intent through counting down to our run/walk breaks, as well using the Glow Stick to signal our intentions. Throughout the race, we were more often than not asked if we were a pace group that could be joined versus a large group that was in the way. And near the end, we even received some comments from strangers about what a great group we were.

For the 12 of us who ran together, it’s safe to say we had fun. While we quickly dispersed after crossing the finish line in three waves of four -- hands held together and high -- from the first step to the last, our trip was a collective one. And not unlike those people running the Comrades Marathon (albeit we were running a lot less mileage), it’s thanks to our Bus Driver, Rich Gairing, that we got to our destination together.

Thanks, Rich.

September 27, 2013

Fundraising for Team AllEars by Dave Aulen

My wife Holly signed up for (and completed) her first Goofy Challenge in 2010. That was the inaugural year of Team AllEars Running and her first time being a member of a charity team. It was also Holly's first time attempting something like Goofy - a half marathon on Day 1 and a full marathon on Day 2. We knew we were going to make a personal financial contribution to fight breast cancer, especially since we weren't sure how much we would raise from our family and friends. So we decided to find a way to make donating ourselves both fun and meaningful.

We had discussed that since she was stepping up her number of running sessions to train for Goofy she should get "paid" for each training run. We came up with $5 a run and $10 for a race. We picked $5 because she trained for 5 days a week - so $25 a week. That was less than a Friday night dinner out, which would now be replaced with a pasta dinner at home. She wouldn't get paid for skipping a run, which meant she wasn't helping people fighting cancer - and that's not nice. We've been doing this for five years now and I can count on one hand the number of times we skipped a payment.

We wanted a visible indicator of how we were doing at collecting the money, so we needed some form of a piggy bank. One day I came home from a successful trip to Michael's with a jar and stickers. The jar was born! It sits on the kitchen counter as a daily reminder to us that we are doing something to help others almost everyday and it's also a conversation piece we use to guilt people into a donation. Conversations go like this:

Guest: what an attractive jar! I love the stickers. What's it about?

Us: we are members of a Disney-focused running team that raises money for Avon's Breast Cancer Foundation. That's money we put in every time Holly does a training run. Would you like to contribute?

Gonzo, from the Muppets, has become the Team AllEars fundraising mascot. He was kind enough to fly out to Illinois to do a photo shoot with the jar. And yes, before you ask, I do still have the stickers and could update the year on the jar. I choose not to because.......ok, I'm just lazy.


Here's another saving technique I recently learned. This can work for fundraising or saving for that next trip down to Orlando. Each night when you come home empty your wallet of all $1 bills. Put them in a jar or somewhere safe and see how much you have after a month. The one time we did this we had $71. Not too bad over a year's time. If you're looking for a good cause to put that money to consider donating it to your favorite Team AllEars member, or spread it around...... Use the following link to find our individual and team pages on Avon's Do-It-Yourself Fundraising pages.

We take credit card!

September 13, 2013

Team AllEars Runner Profile: Ellie Argaluza

Where are you from?
Cary, North Carolina

Races you’ll be doing in January:
Goofy’s Race & a Half Challenge! The challenge consists of running the ½ Marathon on Saturday followed by the Full Marathon on Sunday.

What do you enjoy running Disney races OR what excites you most about running Disney races?
Disney races are well organized and have lots of entertainment along the way. You get to run through parts of the Parks that are back stage which is an added bonus for Disney geeks like me.


While I love running their races the best thing is that I get to run and spend time with my team mates from Team AllEars. I have been on the team for three years now, each race weekend is better than the last one. I look forward to spending time with them whether it is on the course or in the parks.

Why did you join Team AllEars?
I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast Cancer in 2008. I joined the team because I believe that we need to find a way to end Breast Cancer in our lifetime. I am happy to say that I have been cancer free for five years. While I will be celebrating life with Team AllEars this coming January; I will also be in Washington DC for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in May.


July 21, 2013

Preparing for Dopey

by Mike Paxton

It's about seven months until the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. These last two weeks I've been on the road quite a bit and I'm sure like many other Dopey runners, I have been trying to think about how best to train for the Dopey.

I'd like to make the caveat up front that everyone is different and we all have different training styles that work for us. Some of do better with a higher volume of running, others might use a lot of cross training in their training plan. This post is really to give you some ideas of what I'm thinking about and hopefully adding to your toolbox some things that you can take and use for yourself.

There are some assumptions I'd like to make here. First of all, I'm running the Dopey here. I've done the Goofy now twice and I'd like to survive the weekend of races and also work on improving my overall time for the marathon. That is where I'm coming from but many of these suggestions can be used for people of all levels.

Training to Train

I call this period of time from now until the middle of September, "Training to Train." This is where we build our base and do a lot of experimentation so that when we get to the fall we don't have a lot of decisions left to make in our training plan. Now is the time to try new things out.

I plan to incorporate speedwork into my workout schedule for the race. I'm going to use this period of time to experiment with new and different types of speedwork. For those of you who are thinking about adding some to your training plan, start looking around and try some of these workouts. Whether it's running on a track doing 400m repeats, hill repeats, fartlek runs, or Yasso 800s there are lots of workouts out there that can help improve not only your speed but also your stamina. Speedwork not only makes us faster, but it also helps train lesser used muscles that will overall help out support our bodies better.

If you are going to use Jeff Galloway's run-walk-run method of training/running, now is the perfect time to experiment and figure out which interval length works for you. It might even be that if you are doing multiple races during race weekend you might use a different interval depending on the length of the race. I myself do a 4 min run/1 min walk for the marathon but for the 10k I plan on doing a 4:30 run, 30 sec walk. Everyone has a different interval that works best for them.

Building a Base
I'm going to keep a solid base of running during this period. This means about three days per week with my long runs going up to about 11 miles or so. This also will keep me ready for the Disneyland Double Dumbo Dare in September. This way when I get into my race specific training, I will be already used to running on a schedule and will have a good base of fitness.

If you haven't nailed down your nutrition training yet, now is a great time to start experimenting. For Dopey we are going to be burning a lot of calories. Maybe GUs have never really sat well with you. Perhaps you have never tried gel shot blocks. This is the time to try something new. I really suggest going down to the local running store and buying a variety of different types of running nutrition snacks and giving them a try to see what works for you. If none of those work for you, try to eat real food while you run (fruit, nuts, pretzels, etc). Figure out what works now on your stomach and for your fueling needs.

Losing Weight Before Training
This is a good time to focus on losing weight. For most of us the more weight we lose the less impact on our legs/feet and the faster we can go. A general rule of thumb is that losing 1% decrease in body weight can lead to a 1% improvement in your race time. Weight loss is a tricky thing in our society, everyone is different and for many of us it's a bit struggle. If you are at a place where you can afford to lose some weight, just think of it as free speed that you don't have to train for. For myself I'm hoping to lose 15 pounds this summer just to reduce some of the impact I've been feeling on my knees.

If you feel yourself getting burned out during this period, do something else. Go for a trail run. Go biking. Run with friends. Also if you have any injuries going on, take care of them now. It's very important that you manage this period of your training so that when you get into your race specific training in the fall that you are excited and healthy to train. For many of us it's going to be 12-20 weeks (depending on which race you are doing) of a lot of running. You really want to make sure that do not go into the fall burned out or injured if at all possible.

SAU (Spousal Approval Units)
This is a term that a friend of mine taught me. Urban dictionary explains it as: The SAU or "Spousal Approval Unit" is a measure of how much spousal approval will be lost or gained by performing an action that one's spouse either approves of (SAU's earned) or disapproves of (SAU's spent). Training takes a lot of time and this period of time, before my actual race begins I'm going to be focusing on building up as many SAUs so that when training gets intense in the fall, I will minimize any issues with my wife. If that means cutting a workout a bit short to go see a movie with her, that's what I'll do.

Race-Specific Training
This is when your actual training for the race begins. For most of us doing the Dopey or Marathon it may be 16-20 weeks out from the race. Here is where the real work begins for Marathon weekend.

Training Plan
I suggest that by now you have nailed down a training plan. Once you have it, try and make yourself somehow accountable to it. Maybe that means finding a running buddy and the two of you are accountable to each other. Maybe it means using daily mile. If you don't have a training plan, Jeff Galloway has several on the Run Disney website. Otherwise you can adapt of the many out on the internet (like Hal Higdon or one from Cool Running) for your race or speak to one of your teammates. I believe that running is like many things in life, what you put into it is what you get out of it. If you can, find a training plan that works with your schedule and your body and stick with it throughout the training season.

By now you may have tried several different workouts and decided to incorporate them into your training plan. Yay! Speedwork sucks for most of us. It's not necessarily fun per say but it will make you stronger. I try and wrangle my friends to run with me on speedwork days so that we can suffer together.

Hopefully you are close to locking down your nutrition and hydration. The goal here is not only to fuel our bodies during the run, but it's also to help train our bodies to process nutrition while running (something that it doesn't do very well). When you take nutrition and have to digest it, you are moving blood from your muscles to your stomach to process the nutrition. The more we train our bodies to do that, the better that system works. For me that means on any run longer than 45 minutes I'm taking some sort of nutrition every 45 minutes while running, whether I need the fuel or not. Same can be said of hydration.

Sleep/Rest Weeks
Recovery is very important for our bodies to build the muscle that we working on with our training. That means not only getting adequate sleep each night but also it is suggested that runners build in a week of rest every 3-4 weeks where they scale back their running by a percentage to allow the body to rebuild the muscles.

Weight Loss During Training
This was a tricky one for me to learn, but when I got into my race specific training, weight loss for me had to go on the back burner. When you lose weight you are basically forcing your body to use fat as fuel instead of glycogen. When you are training for a race and attempting to build more fitness you really want to properly fuel yourself as much as possible. Eat healthy foods, drink lots of water but try not to focus too much on weight loss. Don't worry, you will be building muscle during this time.

This is a problem that plagued me this past year for The Goofy Challenge. I had gone through a summer and fall season of races and when I got to Goofy training I was already a bit burned out. This summer I'm taking it easy so that when I get to the fall I'm ready to go full ahead with my training.

Again, everyone is different. We all have different backgrounds, levels of fitness, age, history of injuries, etc. Hopefully there is something here that can help you prepare for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

Please remember, not everything in here will pertain to everyone...but there might be something for you.

July 14, 2013

Team AllEars Runner Profile: Sue Lopresti

Sue Lopresti

Where are you from?
Turnersville, New Jersey

Races you’ll be doing in January:

What do you enjoy running Disney races ?
The best moment for me was running up Main Street last year. The cheers and the crowds were amazing and getting to run through the Castle was a moment I will never forget.

Why did you join Team AllEars?
I discovered Team AllEars while on the AllEars Website a few years ago. I followed along as they trained, raced and raised money for the fight against Breast Cancer. I knew then that if I ever decided to get serious about running that I would join the Team AllEars Family. Then about three years ago two of my sisters tested positive for the gene that causes breast cancer. I have watched as they both under went a preventive mastectomy and reconstruction. I joined the team to raise money for Avon Walk for Breast Cancer soon after. I'm excited to be back for for my second year with Team AllEars.


July 7, 2013

Team AllEars Runner Profile: Brian Thompson

Where are you from?
Mount Joy, Pennsylvania

runDisney Event in January:

What do you enjoy running Disney races OR what excites you most about running Disney races?
I’m very excited to be a part of something that I’ve been hashing around in my head for a number of years. I think just being there and crossing that finish line will give me a great sense of accomplishment and validate all that I’ve been through over the last year.

What is your favorite Disney attraction or restaurant and why?
My favorite attraction is a toss-up between Soarin’ and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. My favorite restaurant is Artist Point.

Why did you join Team AllEars?
I joined TAE because my wife and I have been supporters of Deb Wills' efforts for years, not to mention the friends I have on the team who have been nudging me in that direction for quite awhile (cough, cough... Brad, cough, Melanie)


June 30, 2013

Team AllEars Runner Profile: Christine Surh

Where Do You Live?
I currently live in Levittown, NY on Long Island. I moved here with my husband about six years ago for his job. I am from Mohegan Lake, NY which is about an hour north of NYC. I hope to move back to that area someday.

In Which runDisney Events Will You Participate?
I will be doing the 5K, 10K and Half Marathon.

What do you Enjoy Most About Running Disney Races?
I haven't had a lot of experience with Disney races but what I enjoyed most about the ones I have done are seeing the characters and everyone cheering for you. It is really a fun time and spoils you for other races.

Why Did You Join Team AllEars?
I joined for two reasons. First, is in honor of my grandmother, who past away 16 years ago from breast and ovarian cancer. The second is my love of Disney. It was my grandmother who passed on that love of Disney. She and my grandfather always said that Disney knows how to do things right. I have a lot of memories of seeing Disney movies in my pajamas at the drive-in theater in the back of my grandparents station wagon. :) Last year was my first year on the team and I loved it. So glad to be back again this year.

What Is Your Favorite Disney Attraction or Restaurant and Why?
My favorite Disney attraction is It's a Small World. It is the one ride I have to go on every trip. It is a classic and I still enjoy it every time. And yes, the song is my phone ringtone.


June 23, 2013

Team AllEars Runner Profile: Rich Gairing

Name: Rich Gairing, Jr (Never Richard please unless I am in trouble)

Where Do You Life? I am from Newtown, CT – a great place to live

In Which runDisney Events Will You Be Participating: This year I will be too lucky with my Disney running (my wife calls it an addiction). I will be out in California in August for the Dumbo Double Dare and my Coast to Coast medal. Running my first 10k and getting to run in an inaugural race for once is going to be amazing!

Then in November, I get to team up with my Team AllEars friends again at the Wine and Dine, for my first real nighttime race. Finally, in January, I am capping off my running career with the Dopey Challenge. Four days of running with the most amazing people in the world (they have to be to wake up at 2 AM).

Why Do You Enjoy Running Disney Races The thing I love most about running Disney races are the following (like children – you can love them all the same): I love that you get to see the parks and the fans in such a different setting, to be able to ride a bus or monorail and say “I ran there” or “the DJ was up there."

I love being around people who are enthusiastic and are there for the fun of it all. I love the challenge and satisfaction of finishing a Disney race and getting that amazing bling. But most of all – I love the friends that I run with. Bonds are developed, and cemented during the Run Disney weekends, that will live forever.

What is Your Favorite Disney attraction or Restaurant and Why?
I love Splash Mountain and am amazed that they went to build such an amazing dark ride / thrill ride combo. The joy I get from seeing Brer Bear with the beehive on his nose, I laugh every time I see it. When it is working right, from Brer Rabbit hoppin’ along the boat, to the fountains overhead, to those mangy vultures – smiles every time. (Jungle Cruise is the my favorite old school ride & and Pooh’s Honey Hunt wins best overseas ride)

Why did you join Team AllEars? I joined TAE last year because I’ve had too many friends who suffered with breast cancer. While I am thankful so many were saved through science, I lost a close friend in July to this horrible disease. I think about her constantly, about her laugh and how loving she was to her family… and it just makes me angry that she wasn’t with us in January so I could share this with her. Sure my love of Disney and my desire to change my life were important, but I run for all those who are have, are, or will be fighting.


June 16, 2013

Team AllEars Runner Profile: Evelyn DeLuccia

This year we'll be featuring some of the runners on Team AllEars. We asked them to tell our readers a little bit about themselves, their connection with Disney, runDisney, as well as Team AllEars. We hope you enjoy these runner profiles.

Name: Evelyn DeLuccia

Where Do You Live? : White Plains, New York

In Which runDisney Event Are You Participating?
The Dopey Challenge, January 2014

Why Do You Like to Run Disney Races? Disney races are fun running through the parks, meeting up with our team mates from Team AllEars, and of course touring the parks after the Races.

Why Did You Join Team AllEars? Originally I joined Team AllEars to have others to meet up and run with as well as working for the Avon. I also joined to share information, ideas, training, information about Disney, etc.

What Are Your Favorite Disney Attractions? Tower of Terror, Pirates of the Caribbean and Toy Story Mania are favorite attractions. I LOVE Disney at Christmas time. Osborne light show is awesome. Food and Wine Festival is one of my favorite things to do as well. As for Toy Story Mania, I get competitive playing. My favorite Restaurant is La Hacienda (new restaurant in Epcot) and my favorite Drink spot, LaCava!!!!!