Friday, March 8, 2013

From One Warrior To Another

As if St. Jude weren't already the most incredible place on earth to us...

This week we got treated to one of the most incredible and memorable nights I think I have ever had.  Kayla and Anthony said it was the best night of their lives.  I just feel so blessed to have spent it with three of my favorite people in the world while we were all healthy! That was the icing on the cake.

Last week I got a call from our local ALSAC rep, Meredith.  She let me know that the Hoops for St. Jude campaign is currently going on and wanted to know if we would be interested in going to a Warriors game. The warriors star player, David Lee, had recently visited St. Jude and fell in love with the kids and all that the hospital is doing to save lives.  He was so impressed that he doubled his normal donation.  Since learning more about David, I now know that his best friend is a two time cancer survivor... so finding a cure is near and dear to his heart.  We were honored to be the family to represent St Jude and mostly to THANK him in person.  Meredith told us it would be a fun night, but we were not prepared as to just how fun it would actually be! 

We arrived at the Oracle Arena in Oakland at 4:00pm and were greeted by Meredith and a rep for the Warriors who escorted us in through a private VIP/Players entrance only.  There were security guards standing by waiting for the players to arrive.  We knew exactly which ones were players as they arrived because they had to duck under the door way.  We walked through a metal detector and made our way onto the court through the same tunnel entrance that the players run through at the beginning of the game.  We tried to take it all in because even just that was a once in a life time experience!

 The door in the background says "Players Entrance Only"
Posing in front of David Lee's pic
 Here we are walking down the very private VIP entrance onto the court. SO cool!

Once we walked out onto the court we were able to sit and watch the players and the cheerleaders warming up.  Just thinking back as to how awesome that was makes me smile.  A few of the cooler players made time to come up and shake our hands (I got hugs) and say hello.  Kayla got miked and she was followed around by a videographer and photographer.  They were sure to capture all of the moments.  And there were many. 
 Kayla getting miked

 You can't get much closer than this...

The player in the background(Harrison Barnes) was cracking me up. He was making funny faces in my pics! Love that they were all so sweet to us!

I have a hard time picking my favorite pictures from this night. They were all moments I am glad are captured in time through the eye of a camera :)  They are for sure in my heart forever. 

Just when this was getting too fun, we were brought out special gifts. All of us! Kayla and Anthony got backpacks filled with warriors gear. Shirts, hats, key chains, necklaces, cups and more. So so soooo generous and cool of them! Before the excitement of their gifts could even ware off out came David Lee to meet us. All I can say is WOW. What a NICE guy! Such a sweet heart. He had big hugs for all of us and insisted we come back for a private tour of the locker room and more. We got to see where the guys get taped up, ice themselves, and I even accidentally saw someone in their underoos. Oops. He didn't seem phased at all.  Everyone was all smiles as David brought us back into meet his coach.  We saw the dry erase board and all the cubicles where they strategize during the game.  It truly was a once in a life time moment. I wish I had more pics from that part.  David brought us over to his locker where he presented a ball that he autographed for Kayla and a jersey of his that he autographed too! Pretty awesome, huh? Kayla's favorite part?  Autographing a St. Jude Tee-shirt for David . She really loved that part!

Serious Warrior fans for LIFE

 Anthony took this shot... we do LOVE St. Jude

 Finally we got to meet our new favorite person... seriously. Such a sweet heart! All 6'9" of him

 So much in common. Not only is he a Taurus and a Warrior... but he's also a LEFTY like Kayla!  Love you DL #10  :)
 This is where the players get taped up pre-game or looked after if they get injured
 Work out and pre-game stretching goes on here
 "Thank you for donating money to St. Jude  Love, Kayla Rose Dehnert"
Following the amazing meet and greet, we got escorted to a VIP dinner where we got to meet the chef!  After taking us through each and every dish he created (buffet style), Kayla requested Buttered Noodles.  We all laughed... except Kayla. She was dead serious. So, guess what? They whipped some up from scratch for the VIP girl.  Even Anthony got his requested hot chocolate!  All was delish, but we were anxious for the game to begin.
We made our way back out onto the court and Kayla was quickly ushered away by a warriors rep.  She was made honorary captain and got to stand out on the court next to David during the national anthem. What a wonderful moment!

We watched and cheered as it was a VERY close game the whole time. 
 Just as the first quarter ended, we were surprised and pampered yet again with snacks galore 
courtesy of the Warriors

Ultimately the Warriors won and our girl CONKED out.  Not Anthony.  10:30pm? Nope. Not him! 

What a wonderful night for these Warriors!!!

So much has happened over the past two months that my head spins when I try and recall it all.  Long story short, we sold our house!  With all that has happened in our lives since all of this began, we have realized that it's time to simplify.  We dream of a smaller house located closer to school.  When we moved into our house on Drakewood Place, Kayla was only 6 months old. We have had so many memories there. Mostly good.  It will always be "home".  Now it's time to find our next place where our journey continues.  For now, we are in a very cozy apartment (month to month) that reminds me of a carpeted Target House. Oh and minus the security guards, amazing FUN activity rooms, elevators and emesis bags. 

I have missed blogging.  It's been such therapy to me during all of this.  Kayla has been continuing her piano lessons. She truly is good!  I cannot wait until her recital. I promise to post the date/time so that if any local friends want to come and cheer her on they can. We would love to have as many people come as possible so stay tuned!   Kayla's next scans are at the end of April.  For now, we are just happily doing the grind. I like the grind. This new normal. I hope it never gets interrupted again.

Please say a special prayer and or light candles for my former co-workers daughter Amanda. She is 15 and has been diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma.  Since I last blogged, two amazing warriors that I knew personally gained their wings. Ryan and then Matthew.  These boys were amazing and they are missed terribly.  I do know their parents... and these boys lives will not be in vein.  Their legacy will live on. Their momma's won't stop fighting to spread this awful truth. Neither will I.


  1. Wonderful wonderful blog Annie! and OHHHHH what a night! You were all treated like royalty!! No one is more deserving of this kind of special treatment than you, Denny, Kayla and Anthony. You're the true Warriors. The night could not have been more fitting, especially when Kayla's name was all it up on the big board. AMAZING!! So happy of all of you and so proud to call you MY FAMILY!! Love & extra hugs, Neena

  2. So wonderful to see you all together having so much fun! What a special occasion. Your pictures and your way with words made me feel like I was there too - The usual effect of your blog!! Glad you are back on it. So wonderful to be able to stay connected with your lives. Miss you so much and sending you all the love in the world. XOXO

  3. What an amazing night! Super pictures!! Hugs to you all! xoxo Allie

  4. Wow! What a fabulous night for all you warriors! What beautiful representatives you are for the St. Jude story to get the word out and create this special connection with David Lee. Glad to get back to your blog, read your delightful narrative and gorgeous, fun pictures. Thanks Annie! As always, missing you here in PA. Love, hugs, Auntie Ann and all

  5. That sounds like an AWESOME night! I'm so glad you all got to experience it! You all sooo deserved it! Betty Criesco

  6. I am in tears! Why? It's the pure joy that is written all over each of your faces & Kayla's healthy beautiful face. That fills my heart!! Am I a warriors fan? Well, have never really been a basketball fan, but I AM NOW!! David Lee's dedication to the fight to find a cure is awesome and bringing more attention to St. Jude and what they are doing in the fight makes him a hero in my book!! Pictures & a memory to treasure for the Dehnert family ~ priceless!! Love you all!

  7. I have been following Kayla's story for over a year now. I work in Novato and was introduced to your blog through a co-worker. I am so happy to see that everyone is healthy and happy. Kayla looks great- those rosy cheeks, and that hair! She looks like a little trendy setter with that style :) Best to you and your family.

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  9. Oh dear Kayla, I love your mohawk look, Your so beautiful..
    I wish I was closer, I miss watching toons with you..
    I think of you all each and every day..
    Love Hugs and Wishes to all

  10. I have missed seeing your blog and missed this one. What an experience for Kayla, our warrior.