Suspecting she might not make it a sixth season, Madi had asked dad if he might consider volunteering this year, wanting him to see the magic. This organization helped ignite Madison's spirituality and passion to pay-it-forward, immensely rewarding: she came home after each camp completely exhausted and happier and even more fulfilled each time. So in her legacy, there's no way I'm not going... er rather, not coming... I'm here in Colorado with XMO inspired by Madi's absolute determination to go in 2017, despite the very angry metastasis again, she wouldn't -not- come. She needed oxygen occasionally, a terrifying amount of fluid (we called tumor juice) was accumulating and needed to be drained while she was here, all while shepherding blind athletes to and through so many amazing experiences, a minimum of 16 hours a day.
So XMO 2018 so far in brief, day 2 of 8: about 65 blind and impaired athletes trainers, and facilitators arrived in Denver on Sunday, boarded vans and and traveled up the hill to Winter Park Colorado to the YMCA. Bryan, Mindy and a couple of other volunteers drove up with supplies, a few dozen cases of water, and sound equipment. On Sunday evening we had dinner at the YMCA, enjoyed some wonderful music, and everyone went back to their rooms. For every volunteer trainer in a room, there are two bunk-beds for four athletes and a bed for the trainer who plays the role as a mentor/camp counselor at night. The rooms are nice but cramped: imagine corralling four kids/young adults through this whole week, starting with getting dressed and snow-ready every morning by 7AM. Okay, picture this. at least two suitcases/bags per person and only a few can see only a shadow of their gear at most... without trying to trip over a seeing eye dog or other bags. I'm amazed, it flows and it all works extremely well! These kids are so excited to be here, we all are! In our van coming up the hill there were numerous newbies... haven't been here or anything like this before. It was kind of quite at first, some chatting, then giggling, a tough of sarcasm, then laughter... that was the music, truly heartwarming, didn't need Spotify! There were a couple of others who don't seem to have adapted very well... yet. Most haven't been away from home for anything like this. There are tribal elder youth here who embrace and help peer-guide the nervous newbies, who then learn and draw strength from the happy campers/athletes. We're just two days and I am so touched, so very impressed by these kids!
A few pics below, more to follow in the coming days.
I brought a bag of Madi's ashes here... having them hanging with me in my room with a view (for us), unless of course it's not legal to bring them abroad an airplane. If that's the case, that's not them pictured. Madi's BFFs Nathan, Marleigh, and I will determine where to sprinkle them in her favorite place on the planet, here, unless of course it's illegal in Colorado...
... as far as you know.
Dear Madi, I get it now and I'm only two days in, thanks for sharing! Oh yea, it happened again here too: While a number of people know my name... everybody knows me as "Madi's dad" (not Chris).
We all love and miss you here Shug, sending you love and we'll rejoice together again... when we see you. Please save space in your village and plenty of seats at your table.
Dad, the athletes, trainers, and facilitators at XMO