Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Back from the beach and making more of an effort

We are back from our great vacation in Charleston with my parents and my Aunt Loretta. We were also thrilled to see my Aunt Anita, my cousins Laura and Jonathan and their kids Jeremy and Gabriella. The kids had a terrific time at the beach. Avery loves when we get nailed by the waves and Ethan loves looking for shells.

The last few weeks have been crazy with cool things happening to me from being elected to the Terry College Board at UGA to throwing out the first pitch at the Braves game. I was thrilled with everything that I received but still there is a part of me that is having a tough time.

It took talks with Andrea and with my therapist George to figure out the problem I'm having. That problem is that I miss my friends. Over the past few years, I have not made the same effort with my friends that I have made with my charitable efforts. While I believe I've been put on this earth for a purpose and that purpose is to raise awareness and donations for cystic fibrosis, I think somewhere along the way I forgot to have fun. Granted, I have a terrific time with Andrea and the kids. Still there is something missing and that's my friendships that I cherish.

To my friends, please know that I am blessed to have you in my life and I miss seeing you on a regular basis. I know with kids it is a lot more difficult but I will try to make more of an effort to talk to "you" rather than just texting you, forwarding you my blog or sending you updates about charitable endeavors. Whether it's just a phone call or a lunch get-together, I hope that we can find time to catch up.

In other news, we took off Avery's training wheels and she is almost riding her bike without any help. She is reading all the time now and I'm just amazed at her progress.

Ethan is the Energizer bunny. Seriously, someone find the off-switch. He is a good kid though. He loves to smile and he is a total prankster like his daddy.

A special Happy Birthday to Andrea today. She's least to the kids. I will never reveal a woman's age on my blog as I don't want it to be shut down. Andrea, I love you. I hope you have an amazing birthday!

In other news, my back is finally recovering from my trip to Skyzone. I can now run again and lift heavy weights. I have met some terrific people of late through our foundation and now have speeches planned at LinkedIn, Marist High School and one for the Atlanta Jewish Gene Screen.

I want to send my condolences out to the families of the victims in Aurora, Colorado. What a horrible event! I am so sad that this happened and know now that movie theaters will likely become like the security gates at airports. It's sad what the events of 9/11, Oklahoma City, Colombine and Aurura, Colorado have done not only to the victims but also to the people of this country who used to feel so safe. I am thankful at least that the police caught the man who did this. I pray for the families involved.

I wish everyone a wonderful week and I look forward to talking to you soon.

Live your dreams and love your life,


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Why my ego will never get the best of me

Before I begin, here is a picture of Andrea and the kids from last week when I got to throw out the first pitch. To check out my first pitch, go to and click on videos. It's included.

Now for today's funny story...

So Andrea bought a copy of the AJC the other day with the article about my fight against CF in it. I told her she didn't need to buy any extra copies but it was sweet of her to do so. She brought it to me as I was saying good night to Avery. Andrea said "You should read it to Avery." I thought Avery might be a little too young to understand but the girl is an old soul and sometimes I don't give her enough credit.

Anyway, I begin reading and halfway through I hear Avery say "Whoa...that's so cool!" I'm thinking to myself, "Avery thinks her dad is all that. I'm all of a sudden thinking I'm Ron Burgandy from Anchorman where he says 'I'm kind of a big deal.'"

As soon as I'm about to tell her, "Just wait, sweetie, there's more about your old man that you'll be excited to hear..." She said again "Whoa...that is just so cool!" She's captivated. Her father is her hero. My arrogance began to grow like a beanstalk when she finished the statement "Whoa, dad, that is so cool. Spiderman is coming out soon!" Low and behold, right below my article was a piece on the new Spiderman coming out. That was the story that was capturing my daughter's 6-year old attention.

Oh well, I supposed it could have been could have been Justin Bieber. I dread that day.

I hope everyone is well.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Throwing out the first pitch - what a remarkable experience

Hello everyone,

Yesterday is over but it was an amazing experience. I want to thank my family, my friends and all of those with the Suntrust Club and with the Atlanta Braves who were very cordial to me and my family.

We got to the stadium around 6 as I was running a little late. It's a good thing that my wife may be the best driver in metro Atlanta. After running around the stadium, I finally found my contact with the Braves. They sat me down near the dugout and I talked to long time usher and a celebrity in Atlanta, Walter Banks. He knows the history of the Braves like no other.

As I looked at the field, I remembered that day back in June of 1987 when I took the field at Fulton County Stadium for the first time as a batboy for the Braves. None of the players or coaches from that game were in attendance in 2012 and this was even a different stadium but the feeling was similar. I'd watched thousands of games at Fulton County when I made my debut and I'd watched even more games at Turner Field before I made my debut last night. It was a true thrill.

Finally at 6:53pm EST I walked onto the field and waited for them to call my name. I then jumped over the baseline (my salute to Turk Wendell for baseball fans) and got to the mound where relief pitcher Anthony Varvaro would be catching the pitch. I am not going to lie. I was a little disappointed that it wasn't McCann, Beachy or Chipper but I knew Beachy couldn't do it due to his arm (he just had Tommy John surgery) as his agent called but he told me that Beachy was with me in spirit. I thought it was so nice for Rob to call me and also for Brandon to tell me he was behind me for the pitch. Those 2 guys are second to none. Brandon had planned to catch the pitch long ago until he had to have the surgery. I know that Chipper had other obligations and McCann had to get ready to catch. Thanks to Anthony Varvaro for coming out and catching the pitch. I hope you become a big star.

When I got to the mound, I wound my arm in a big circle and reversed my cap (a salute to Bill Murray). I watched about 100 ceremonial first pitches over the last week to get some fun ideas but really the only fun ones I found were guys who couldn't get the ball over the plate. I wanted to make my friends and family proud so I got ready to throw and then realized what a lonely feeling it is on the mound. You can feel every small gust of wind. The mound seems like it's 500 feet away from the plate instead of the actual 60 feet, 6 inches. I was worried I would not make it. It reminded me of being a kid and climbing to the top of the high dive for the first time and thinking how far down the water looked.

Instead of worrying about throwing it over the plate for a strike, I just worried about getting it to Varvaro's glove without it bouncing into the dirt. I had thought about so many funny things I wanted to do like:

a) Doing the double somersault like Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds.
b) Running the bases and throwing the ball to the guy catching my pitch and have him try to tag me out ala Bill Murray.
or even:
c) Throwing the ball sidearm like Peter Moylan of the Braves.

You know what. No one was going to remember what I did as long as I got the ball over the plate without bouncing it. Mission accomplished. It was high and outside but it got there. The late Eric Gregg would have called it a strike (a little Livan Hernandez humor there). I have to thank my friend Josh Lembeck for giving me the advice of not aiming; just throw the ball like I always do. That was my thought process when I let the ball go.

It was especially cool to have my kids there and to get all the e-mails and texts from family and friends. I have to say this is the most nervous I've ever been for an athletic event. I always thought that honor would go to the Olympic Torch relay from 2001 but seeing my kids smiling at me and signing I love you made me especially anxious as I did not want to let them down.

I attached a picture of me going out to the mound and another of several of my friends and family who came out to the game. I also attached a picture of the dessert my kids earned for being good last night. Thanks Andrea for taking some amazing pictures and taking a great video which I'll share soon and of course for being an amazing wife. Thanks Emily for getting the amazing seats and for being a wonderful sister. Thanks mom and dad for getting everyone tickets, for being amazing parents and for getting me the opportunity to throw out the first pitch. Thanks to my friends for coming out and supporting me (including my friend Paula who came in all the way from Texas). You witnessed a dream come true yesterday. Thanks to Ethan and Avery for giving me the 2 best kids that a dad could ask for (Thanks Andrea for that as well as you played a big role). I am truly blessed to have all of you in my life.

I hope that everyone has a good weekend.

Andy (the 6th man in the Braves rotation - Fredi, I'm available if you're desperate)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Peachtree and throwing out the first pitch tonight

Well, it wasn't so much the heat that was difficult yesterday but the humidity. It was a scorcher. The first 3 miles were pretty easy for me but once the hills and humidity took over, I was lucky to run the whole thing. I ran the Peachtree (6.2 miles) in 73 minutes. Earlier that morning, I did an interview with Fox 5 and Buck Lanford. I think it went pretty well. I also got to meet Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed as we talked about the Hawks and how thrilled we both were with the recent trades.

I am attaching a picture of me and one of the winners from yesterday's race. The top 3 runners were all from Kenya which gave me the idea that next year I'll have a shirt that on the back reads "If you're from Kenya and can read this, shame on you for not training better this year."

Tonight I throw out the first pitch at around 6:55pm at Turner Field. I'm excited but nervous too. I'll have about 30 friends there to watch me. No pressure, right?

This has been a dream of mine for years and I'm excited that I can cross this achievement off the bucket list tonight.

I'll let all of you know how it goes. My sister will be taking video.

Thanks again for the support!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sweet 16 and a crazy week a comin'

Tomorrow is my 16th Peachtree Road Race. I'm looking forward to it although this will be the hottest Peachtree in recent memory. It's over 100 degrees here in Atlanta. Every year I look at the number of Peachtrees I've done and come up with a significance. My 16th Peachtree will be done in Wendy's memory. After all, she died after just 16 days. I hope as treatments continue to improve and a cure continues to close in that her memory will continue to incentivize researchers to end this disease forever and give so many other children a chance at longer, more quality lives.

This afternoon I'll be throwing the baseball around with my neighbor and his son as I prepare to throw out the first pitch on Thursday. I haven't thrown a baseball in a long time. I play softball but it's quite different. I figure it should only take me 15 minutes to know if the first pitch will be exhilerating or embarrassing.

Today I had to delete my Facebook account as it was hacked into and it was not worth starting over. For those of you who still want to follow my stuff, please go to the Wish for Wendy page. I'll start a new Facebook page in the future.

Today I became a Class of 2012 member of the 40 under 40 for the University of Georgia. Last year I was nominated but did not win. I want to thank my Aunt Loretta for nominating me this year. It's an honor to be one of the 40.

The articles written this week in the Buckhead Patch, the Huntington Post and the Atlanta Journal Constitution were well-written and appreciated. They detailed my journey with CF and the significance the Peachtree has had on my life. I want to thank the writers as well as my PR firm, Hope-Beckham. Here are some of the articles:

Last night we went to the Braves game with the kids. Avery and Ethan had a good time for the most part but it is difficult keeping kids' attention at this age. I don't think they watched a single batter for the Braves...consider them lucky. We got crushed. The night was a success for them though because they talked us in to getting cotton candy. I still can't believe that Dip & Dots are still around. Technically they did say it would be the ice cream of the future and it is still around so I guess they weren't lying. It's crazy to think that in a few days I'll be taking the mound and fortunately for the Braves, I'll have a pitch count of 1. I wonder what Braves is going to have to catch the pitch. They better stretch first.

I was thrilled to see the trades that Danny Ferry made for the Hawks. He is officially the best GM the Hawks have had and his first official season hasn't even started yet. He got rid of 2 ugly contracts and has put us in position to grab some high caliber talent prior to the 2013-2014 season. CP3 and Superman, come to the ATL please.

I was able to speak at the Atlanta Financial Center to the Atlanta Jaycees last week. I had a great time and really enjoyed the view. The group was terrific and I think I made some really great connections there. I also found out last week that I was named a Board Member at the Terry College Business School at the University of Georgia. I was thrilled to find out that news.

Andrea and I saw Earth, Wind & Fire last week. They were awesome. Andrea, thank you for taking me. I had an amazing time. There's nothing better than hearing "September" at Chastain.

Andrea, the kids and I went to SkyZone last Sunday in Suwanee. OH MY GOD! This is a place where you constantly jump on trampolenes and try to dunk basketballs and jump on walls. I thought I made it through unscathed but even 2 days later my shoulders are killing me, my lower back hurts and my feet feel like I just walked across the sun. I felt better when Avery said she was in pain too. I knew I couldn't blame it on getting older though we all know that it's part of it. Still I think I showed my daughter that her dad can still do flips and dunk basketballs with the best of them (Of course the best of them is me referring to older people like myself with greyish hair and 6 inch vertical jumps).

With my shoulders and back feeling like I lifted a U-Haul and preparing for the hottest Peachtree in years, I just can't wait to see how I feel when I throw out the first pitch. Maybe I'll be the first person to throw the pitch and then throw out my shoulder all at the same time.

I wanted to wish all of you a Happy Independence Day and I hope all of you stay safe in this heat.