Saturday, May 19, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me, What I Have Learned in the Last 12 Months

If everything had worked out the way I wanted, today would be the big day. Not just my 40th Birthday, but the 40 mile run. I'm writing this at 10:30 am so I would be about 4 1/2 hours into it and would probably be about 10-15 miles along my path. But if life has taught me one thing, it rarely goes as planned. On a positive note, I am going to watch the Orioles play the Nationals in DC tonight with my daughter. It will be her first time there and it will be a lot of fun for both of us. I am still dealing with headaches from the concussion but they seem to be slowly improving. I met with a chiropractor last week and that seemed to help and I am meeting with a neurologist tomorrow and have a follow up chiropractor visit as well. So what does all of this have to do with Autism......

When I set out last year, I wanted to get back in shape, raise money to support families dealing with Autism in Maryland and raise Autism awareness. Before the accident,I had lost just over 40 pounds. Today I can say I have lost 22 pounds one year later. Once I can start training again, that will become my primary focus. So far, the campaign has raised just under $11,000.00 which includes an approximate $600 from the Birthday bash on Memorial day weekend. I will be kicking off another social media campaign Monday that should raise another $400 in the next 30 days, so we should be well over the $11k mark by the end of June. I have fallen short of my goals but I have done quite a bit of good. My last blog post was a copy of my presentation at the Pathfinders for Autism Golf Dinner on Monday night. I had numerous people tell me that my story touched them. The ladies at Pathfinders told me the live auction held immediately after my speech raised 3xs the money it had any year before and they think what I said had something to do with it.

If that is true. Then EVERYTHING I went through this year was worth it.

Thanks for reading, Together we can do great Things

Mike S.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Being a Parent of a Child with Autism and What "Pathfinders For Autism" Has Meant to Me."

Last night was pretty special. I had the opportunity to speak in front of about 100 people and talk about being the parent of a child with autism and how the wonderful people at Pathfinders for Autism have impacted my life. As a result of my relationship with Pathfinders I have become friends with Alisa Rock, fellow autism parent, autism blogger and she is a board member for Pathfinders. Last night she suggested that I share a copy of the speech I prepared. While not exactly what I said (I did use some creative license) this captures the spirit of what I shared with the audience.

When Rebecca first asked me to speak today she told me that many of you are longtime supporters and that many of you are not parents of children with autism. To you I am truly grateful. You have given a tremendous amount of your time and money to an organization that means a great deal to me and to people just like me. It is hard to articulate what being the parent of a child with autism is like but my wife and I often say “ if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.” Let me be clear… I love my son with all my heart. He looks exactly like my wife and I always imagined he would. Mikey has a mop of blond hair with big sparkling blue eyes and he laughs like an elf from one of those Christmas cartoons we all watched as children. But his Autism is something that we never expected and it wears on me every day… the center for disease control told us recently that 1-88 children will be born with Autism and that for some reason, in the state of Maryland, that number jumps to 1 in 55. ASD or “autism spectrum disorder” is so frustrating, not only for the parents, but for those trying to solve it. The Puzzle piece really is appropriate. No one knows what causes it, but they have some ideas. No one knows how to treat it, but they have some ideas. Some things help some kids but not others. The disruption to your regular life is incalculable. Simple every day routines like shopping or going to the park are now “adventures” at best and can often turn into nightmares. My wife and I have another term we use, divide and Conquer. That’s where we each take a child to accomplish the necessary and typical aspects of our life. Mikey has a big sister and she has a life too and frankly she deserves to live it like a typical child. So we go out of our way to allow her to live it that way. But that means that her brother doesn’t get to attend her basketball games because the noise and the activity would be too much for him and he wont get to attend her concert tomorrow night because he just CANNOT be quiet for the 90 minutes the performance will take.

And that is why I am grateful for Pathfinders for Autism. For in addition to the vast resources they offer on their website I know these ladies work their butts off (usually seven days a week) providing seminars on every topic of need and interest to families like mine. But more importantly, Last summer they created an environment where my family felt safe to have dinner together in public without the scrutiny of others watching us. They allowed us to take our family to a baseball game and to eat ice cream and be together as a family. When you have child with Autism, it is very easy to draw inside and feel alone. because of Pathfinders, I feel a lot less lonely. I’ve made friends through this organization that I am sure will last a lifetime. So again, I ‘ll say thank you to each one of you for being here today and supporting this wonderful organization, I am truly grateful.


Afterwards, I had many people thank me and congratulate me for my presentation including BJ and Polly. That meant more to me than words can describe. Everyone in that room was giving something to make the world better for families dealing with Autism and that really is the point of all of this.....


Thank you for reading, together we can do great things!

Mike


BTW I hope to see all of you at Camden Yards on May 27th, still some time to get your tickets, click here 



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Autism Awareness at Camden Yards

Hi Everyone, I  know it has been a long time since my last post. I have been working with some new found friends in the Autism Community to create my BIGGEST event yet. on Sunday May 27th we will be hosting a Bullpen Party and baseball game. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is one of my favorite places in the world and I cannot wait to share this special day with you. I have 200 tickets to sell. So please bring your families. If your company is interested in Sponsorship let me know and we can add you to all future promotion. I will need your help to make this event a true success, so please spread the word. All the profits will go towards my fundraising campaign for Pathfinders for Autism. The more sponsors I pick up the more money will go to Pathfinders. All the details are below including and online link to purchase tickets. Special thank you my friend Glenn Carr for making this a reality, see you "at the Yard!"

Thank you, together we can do great things!
Mike S.

Get your tickets Here!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

French Fries, Toast & Peanut Butter

The funny thing about Autism is it really seems to effect your appetite. In our house, we go through a lot of French fries, peanut butter, gluten free toast, Stax potato crisps and fruit snacks. And when he's feeling fancy, we throw in some Steak-ums. Short list, I know. One of the big challenges to sensory issues is just that, sensory. Mikey doesn't have trouble with bright lights and loud noises don't seem to bother him more than they do any one else. But noisy places overwhelm him. The sensory must be at the root of the food. With the exception of the fruit snacks, just about everything Mikey eats is some shade of brown or tan.

When I tell people about Mikey and his Autism I often get feedback like "he seems fine." Sure in small doses Mikey can be anywhere from tolerable to down right lovable. But imagine for a moment that you knew beyond a doubt that giving your kid Pizza, or Mac and Cheese or Chocolate would make your kid vomit. Now compound that with the knowledge that he absolutely loves these things most of them have no good alternative. Now you have a glimpse into our world.
I haven't blogged much lately because of the new job and the mental drain that has put on me. I am hoping to get back into the swing of things. Have not started training again yet, I have to take that day by day. Frankly I am terrified to try anything like that again. The last time gave me headaches for days.

On a positive note, we did finally break $10,000.00 in donations. Also, one of my new Autism buddies ( were kinda like a secret society without the decoder rings) is helping me plan a huge event at Camden Yards for Memorial day weekend. Don't worry I will have that official announcement along with how to buy tickets soon enough.

For now, thank you all for reading this and sharing in our journey. I have some T-shirts left if anyone wants to buy one and if you just feel like kicking in $20 please use the link on this blog page.

See you all next week!

Mike S.

BTW, if reading this made you laugh, then you get it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

An Important Update about the 40 Miles for Autism fundraiser

Hi Everybody, thank you for stopping by today. I mentioned in a previous post that I was in a car accident in early November 2011. My car was destroyed but my personal injuries were minor..... Sorta. About 6 weeks after the accident it is discovered that I have a mild concussion. It gave me terrible headaches anytime I would read or use the computer. Since those are two key elements of my job it made being productive at work a real challenge. In the last couple weeks those side effects finally began to subside and I started to feel "normal" again. Last weekend I decided to have a mild & short term trip on the treadmill. I only did 20 minutes and I kept it under 4 mph. The next day the headaches returned. When I met with my therapist on Tuesday I told her what happened and she informed me that even 20 minutes at such a low speed was "overdoing it" for someone in my condition. She recommended I hold off on anything else until Thursday or Friday and then It would be no more than 5 minutes and no more than a normal walking pace. After a week of that I could increase by one minute but not the speed. She then informed me that I really should avoid strenuous exercise for another 4-6 months.

In other words, I cannot begin to train again for my run in May until June or July at the soonest. So I have decided to move the Run from May 19th to October 20th. This way I should be all healed up and can fully prepare myself for the 40 mile run.

The good news to come out of this is I will have more time to hit my $40k goal and I can schedule more fun events to meet people and raise awareness. Not really the plan I was going for, but I intend to make the best of this otherwise frustrating situation.


So spread the Word! The run has been moved to October. BTW, I still have T-shirts for sales in XL and XXL for $25 including shipping. I seem to be stuck at the $10k mark ( just under it actually) so I really do need everyone's help to hit my goal. Please post , re post, share, tweet and even print this out and leave it in the break room at your office.

Thank you, Together we can do great things!

Mike S.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Just shy of $10,000 for my $40,000 goal

Hi Everybody, sorry I have not been updating as much as I should. The last official report showed donations at $9,914.82 I really would like to break $10k today so any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. For health reason I had to stop my running  regiment, but I hope to be back on track in the next 30 days. Pathfinders for Autism held a fantastic FREE event at the Baltimore Aquarium last weekend and that is just one example of the many things those ladies do to support the families in the Maryland community dealing with the daily challenges of Autism. Those 4 women work their butts off (24/7 it often seems) not because of the money they earn, but because they truly love what they do and believe in the cause. I know most of them have children with Autism so this is personal for them.
As the parent of an autistic child I know how helpless you can sometimes feel. Pathfinders for Autism goes out of their way to help families just like mine and yours. All of the donation information is on the side of the blog. you can mail in a check or you can click the "donate here" link on the right hand side and pay with a credit or debit card. I had the good fortune to be on a local radio show this past week and talk about Autism, my campaign and Pathfinders.

You can go to www.wttr.com and click on the "on demand" link. then select "the Carroll County Buzz" from 1-11-12 to listen to the interview. its about 30 minutes long. Steve Aquino and Charlie Wolpoff have been great supporters in my community and we gracious enough to have me on their show to talk about this. Thanks guys, you are the best.

Stay tuned as I am gearing up for some great new events in 2012!

Thanks, together we can do great things

Mike

click here to listen to my radio interview from 1-11-12

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Looking for 600 strangers willing to give me $50

I am taking a little different approach to my blog this week. First, I am glad to be writing at all. The car accident in November did result in a concussion which has resulted in terrible headaches for me for the last 3 weeks, and they have been getting worse. Today I am wearing my glasses because not wearing them hurt too much.  I still have a headache but it is much more tolerable. Back to the topic...

 So far I have raised $10,000 of my $40,000 goal for Pathfinders for Autism. I have a little over 6 months left to generate the other $30k. When I first started talking about this concept to my friends and family I said several times " I just need to convince 800 strangers to give me $50."  I figured, after that one guy managed to trade up from a paperclip all the way to a new home ( or was it a million dollars) that getting $40k in 12 months would be a reasonable goal. I have to say that the support from my friends and family has been great, but frankly it hasn't been enough, so I need to begin stage two..

Several people have told me that they would make a donation but have not yet done so. I must say, now is the time. With 2 weeks left in the year, you should get in your taxable donations now. otherwise you will just pay that money in taxes on April 15h. To all of my friends and family that have donated, THANK YOU! I would not be where I am right now with out you. Your support is truly appreciated. I am going back to the well to ask for your help again.I don't want you to donate more money (though that would be awesome) I want you to please share this blog post on your social media pages. The ONLY way I can get 600 total strangers to donate $50 is with good people like you telling your friends and family about what I am doing and encouraging to help.

I am sure there are many of you that have read my blog and considered making a donation, please read the paragraph above and apply it to yourself. This is the time of year when many people get their annual bonus and just feel in a giving mood  because of the holidays. If it helps, imagine me in a Santa suit with a fake beard, ringing a bell in the freezing cold standing over a green tri-pod with a red padlocked bucket for spare change.

Whatever it takes, I'm not picky. More importantly I am grateful! Because every penny goes towards my goal and goes to support Pathfinders for Autism, a great Maryland based non-profit focused on serving families in the state Maryland dealing with the every day challenges of Autism.

Thank you, together we can do great things

Mike

P.S.
The fun events will start back up in January, once I work through the whole car accident concussion thing, Thanks

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Holidays & Autism

Hello, I am Back! It been a rough couple months but I am pulling myself together for an "end of the year" push. Please share my video blog on your social media today and I wish all of you a safe and Happy Holiday season.

Thank you, together we can do great things,

Mike

video

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Choosing the Right Advocate Can be Difficult

Hi everyone, thank you for checking in today. This week has been a real emotional roller coaster. I am still dealing with the aftermath of my car accident from 2 weeks ago, So I have not been training the way I should. I plan to get back on track this week and begin the climb towards my revised weight loss goal. I want to get my overall body weight back to 200 pounds, which would mean I will lose a total of 66 pounds. As for the fundraising, our event at MaGerks Pub did not have the turn out I had hoped for. I do want to thank all the people that did come out and make it a fun evening. On a VERY positive note, we received a huge $5,000.00 donation that has put our total at just over $9,600.00!

I wanted to take a few moments and talk about the value and importance of  selecting the right advocate for your child with autism. For those of you with typical children, you may not understand what an advocate does for you. Put simply an Advocate is just what the word says. It is a person who has your child's best intentions  and presents that on your behalf to the public school system. The advocates value is they understand the process of dealing with the public school system, they know your child's rights and they can recommend the necessary actions to get the services your child needs. I am sure many of you are asking "why is this necessary?" The simple and unfortunate truth is that the public school system does not have unlimited resources so if they see an opportunity to not provide a service, they don't. In fairness, the "Services" that your child may need are vast. There is no "black & white" or "yes & no " answers to what is and is not appropriate for your child's individual needs. To compound the matter, most parents ( myself included) simply don't know what we don't know. We don't know what questions to ask and we often trust the school system to do the right thing. So an advocate can be an essential part of your child's educational development.

So here is the down side to things. These are people you pay for out of your own pocket and the hourly rate can be very expensive. Our first advocate was someone that we knew, we were familiar with and we liked. They tried to help us but ultimately admitted that what our son needed was outside of their skill set. We had another company recommended to us "The Special Kids Company" in Ellicot City Maryland. That turned out to be a disaster. I wont go into details publicly, but I will say my wife and I are now VERY aware that there are many questions you need to ask before giving anyone a $500 retainer to advocate for your child..

As you can see, while this week had some great victories, it also involved some terrible defeats.

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and thank you all for reading and sharing my blog with others.

Thank you, together we can do great things!

Mike Shelah

Friday, November 11, 2011

Come To MaGerks in Baltimore Tonight to Raise Money for Autism

Hi Everyone, sorry no blog last week. check out my video for all of the updates. I hope to see all of you at Magerks in Baltimore Tonight to Raise money for Autism.

Here is the Link To Register

MaGerks in Baltimore Raising money for Autism Tongiht!

video
Thank you, Together we can do Great things!

Mike S.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

One Goal Down Two to Go!

I am very excited to announce that the scale read 225 Friday morning which means I have now lost a total of 41 pounds and completed 1 of my 3 goals. It has been a lot of hard work and it has been very rewarding. I hope this serves as inspiration to others struggling to lose weight. My new goal is to reach 195 in time for my run on May 19th 2012.

Donations are now at $4,200.00 so we are making slow but steady progress there. our event at MaGerks pub is still open for Registration. It's only $10 to attend and all of the money raised will go towards the "40 miles" campaign. Here is the link so bring your friends, your boyfriend, girlfriends, husband, wife and significant others to our next great event. I looke forward to meeting you all on 11-11-11

Register Here for MaGerks in Baltimore on 11-11-11

Friday, October 21, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

Hello everyone and thank you for checking in today. Great news, the scale read 227 this morning so I have lost 39 pounds of my 40 pound goal. In addition to that we raised $390 at Monday nights event , I received a $100 donation from a customer this week and I sold another T-shirt, so the Grand total is now just over $4,000.00! Thank you to everyone that has helped out so far. Please check out this weeks video blog for more great info and be sure to check out the facebook page to see all the photo's taken for my upcoming article in the "Cross & Crescent" magazine

Thanks

Mike

BTW, don't forget to register for out next great event on November 11th at MaGerks Pub in Baltimore, see you all then.

Autism FUNdraiser at MaGerks in Baltimore November 11th Register here!

video

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Big Event Monday Night!

Hello and thank you again for checking in to read the blog today. Weight held steady this week at 229, so I have lost a total of 37 pounds. So close to my goal, I cannot wait to cross that finish line. No updates on donations but should have some exciting news to share next week. Stay tuned for all the great details. Today I want to remind everybody about Monday nights event at Ram's Head in Savage Mill. The link below lets you register in advance for $10. You can pay at the door but it will be $15 then. Frankly, I really hope you pay at the door because every registration dollar is going towards the "40 Miles" goal of $40,000.00

I have a limited number of T-shirts available in Xl and XXL and will have them on hand Monday night

There will be some other great incentives to take advantage of that night too. Here is the link, so come network and help raise money and awareness for 40 miles for autism.

Thank you! together we can do great things!

40 Miles for Autism FUNdraiser and Networking at Rams Head Savage Mill

Friday, October 7, 2011

Please Watch this 3 Minute Autism Video & Share With Others, Thank you

Hello and thanks for stopping by today. The scale said 230 pounds this morning so my total weight loss is 36. No new donations this week. I hope you will share today's video with your friends on your social media pages today. I need to extend my reach and you can be a big help. I would love to meet all of you at one of my upcoming events. check the links below to register.

Thank you, together we can do great things!



Networking for a Cause 11-11-11 see you there!

Networking for a Cause At Rams Head Savage Mill 10-17-11

video

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Started Autism Hockey This week

Hello and Thank you for stopping in today. Weight loss is stuck so I will be changing up my routine this week and should have positive results to report next week. We raised some more money this week and our official total right now is $3,464.82
Today Mikey started his second year of Hockey with the Baltimore Saints. They are a non-profit Hockey team that works with children with developmental disabilities. Everyone is welcome. We have close to 100 kids in 3 one hour sessions in Reisterstown Maryland and the majority of the kids are on the spectrum. I have to tell you a little about the people that started this wonderful program, Jimmie and Teresa Zinkham. They don't have children with Autism, they just love hockey and saw an opportunity to do some real good for the community through something they truly enjoy. They get up every Saturday morning before the sun comes up and Drive to Reisterstown to get the Ice rink ready for the first practice at 7:45. that's right 7:45 and they get there at least an hour before that and they live close to an hour away. You do the math, "Saints" could not be a more appropriate title. They have created a community where our son fits in and all of the other parents fell at home, it is truly wonderful. Mikey's coach "Coach Mark" has a little boy with autism too and the two quickly created a bond that I doubt will ever be broken. So, if,your in the Reisterstown area one Saturday morning and you want to see what these "disabled" children really can do in a positive environment, stop on by and say hello. We will be there every Saturday till the end of April at 8:45

Thanks for reading today. Please share this on your social media pages. Together we can do great things!

If you want to know more about the Saints, just click on the link below

Baltimore Saints Hockey


Would love to see you at my next event raising money for Pathfinders for Autism. Click here for all for all of the details and to register.

Networking and FUNDraising for Autism at MaGerks in Baltimore

Mike S.


Friday, September 23, 2011

A Special Autism Donation of $25.95

Hi everyone, thanks for checking in today. Did not lose any weight this week, but I  did bring in another $145.95 in donations. Check out this weeks video for all the details. Don't forget to register for our next big event At MaGerks Pub on 11-11-11. Use this link to register as the guest list is limited to 100 people.

MaGerks FUNdraiser in Baltimore on 11-11-11


video


Thank you, together we can do great things!

Mike

Friday, September 16, 2011

As Parents it is Important to Tell People About our Children with Autism



Welcome back everybody. Please check out the link for our next great event on 11-11-11 I hope to see you all there. This weeks topic is very important to please share this with the people that you know. Increased awareness is one of the best ways to help solve the puzzle that is Autism.

Our next great event, click here to register


video



Friday, September 9, 2011

A great week and Announcing our next big Event

Magerks FUNdraiser for "40 Miles for Autism" 11-11-11 7-10pm

Hi everyone and thank you for checking in this week. I am down to 235 so that means I have lost 31 pounds since May 19th. Also, we only had one donation this week but it was for $500! So that makes for a very good week. We have blown through $3,000.00 and are inching closer to $4,000.00 thank you to every body for your help and  participation. As you can see from the link at the top we have our next event planned and we are giving you plenty or advance notice, so the only excuse for not being there is you waited too long to register. This event is limited to 100 people, so be sure to take care of your registration today!

Thank you all, Together we can do great things!

Mike S.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Great week, A Great Event and More Great Events Coming Up!

Hi Everybody, This was a great week all the way around. check out the video entry and share it with all of your friends

Thank you, Together we can do great things!

Mike Shelah

video

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Individualized Education Plan or "IEP"

Hi Everybody, thanks for checking in today. Did not lose any weight this week but I gave myself an easy week so I can't really complain. Sold a couple T-shirts which means another $24 raised for the cause. Monday night's event at the County Cork really should be a big catalyst for us. I hope to sell out the rest of the T-shirts from this run and get tons of new people out to one of my favorite restaurants in Carroll County. All the money goes to Pathfinders for Autism. we will be there from 5-9 so I hope you can join us, and please tell your friends.
We had our first IEP meeting for Mikey this week. For those of you not in "the know" that stands for "Individualized Education Plan." The Public school system, in an effort to provide my son with a "free and appropriate" education came up with this 45 page document detailing everything Mikey needs to learn and to hopefully overcome his disability. Now is a good time to make this point, Mikey's Autism is a "disability." looking at him you can't tell but after "watching" him people that don't know him would say "that kid is different." Yes, he is different, but that doesn't mean he is incapable of learning. When he is given the proper motivation he can do things like what you see in this picture below. Remember, Mikey is just 6 years old, but he is very bright, he just can't always communicate that to others.

Thank you for reading today, together we can do great things!

Mike S.