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Olympic Distance Triathlon for Leukemia

Monica's face (in the center giving the salute) shows her stoke as she begins the race.

To all of you who gave me support on so many levels,

This experience of doing a triathlon to raise money for the leukemia lymphoma society has been life changing – I am struggling to know what to write because there are so many things I could say or write.

For one, it has been a celebration of God’s healing in my own body.  For those of you who don’t know, on Feb. 13th, 1995 I was diagnosed with a childhood form of leukemia.  While I was blessed enough to be in remission after one month of chemo, I had to endure two and a half years of intensive chemotherapy to ensure the cancer would not ever come back (and praise God it hasn’t come back in over 15 years!!!).

One of the hardest times during treatment was one night at my grandparents’ house.   During the daytime, the doctors took me off of a horrible medication called prednisone which made me very irritable.  However, while prednisone was a horrible medication to take, it covered the unbearable pain I experienced from another chemo drug called vincristine.  Vincristine deteriorated all of my muscles to the point I could not walk.  But that was just the beginning of a horrible night.  Later that night, after my mother essentially carried her 14-year-old daughter up the stairs,   I had to witness my grandparents and mother at my bedside as I complained about my agonizing pain and see them hurt because there was nothing they could do to take away the pain.  However, instead of crying they spend the entire night kneeling at my bed and praying for me.  Finally, at about 5 in the morning the pain subsided.  An hour later Good Morning America came on and their theme song was, “Love will save the Day” by Desiree – which is so true because it was God’s love and my mother’s/grandparents love that saved me that night!

Honestly, until I just wrote the previous paragraph, I have never admitted to anyone that was one of worst nights of my life…..So….that night at my grandparents – couldn’t walk…..

However, this past Sunday April 25, 2010, not only could I walk, but I participated in an Olympic Distance Triathlon on behalf of the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society!!!!!!  The swim started at beach next to a tourist hotspot called the Pier.  The fact that the swim started there was so incredible for me because before I had Leukemia, my grandparents used to take my brother and I to the Pier to eat buffalo wings!  So, even though my grandparents were not healthy enough to come see my in the race, in a way they were there by the fact that the race started a place that represents joy to me.  That was just cool.

The swim itself was actually fine – although the water was quite choppy so had to alter the course was altered for us a little bit.  I am slow swimmer but thanks to the AMAZING Leukemia Lymphoma Society Team in Training coaches I can now actually do a free style stroke, which I wasn’t able to do before.  I think the most important lesson I have learned through training for the swim portion particularly is something that is applicable both in swimming in the ocean and in life: to stay afloat and on course in life you need to breathe first before anything else.

My favorite part of the event was after I finished the swim in the bay and heard my mother screaming “Way to go Monica”.  If it wasn’t for her support that horrific night during treatment, there is no way I would have been able to finish that swim.

After the swim was the bike ride……..which was fine but WINDY!  Not too much really happened there, except that close to the end of the ride I saw my father smiling ear to ear encouraging me on which was AWESOME.   As for the run, that was where I really lost a lot of time – but you know what bottom line I finished with both of my parents and several of my fellow team in training mates at the finish line!

So overall, it was a sweet weekend – I still have a long way to go but it is a great new beginning – but, I felt it was a way to honor my parents for their love saving me.  Also, and most importantly, I was able to do this race in honor of Brad Henderson, a sweet friend of mine from college who passed away due to complications from another of leukemia in college.  So, thank you, for your support on so many levels!  Without your help, this wouldn’t have been possible!  Be blessed!

Much love,
Monica Bestawros

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Light in the Darkness

I attended the Artivist Film Festival last Friday night in LA and saw the film, Dia de Luz (Day of Light), produced by Brad Corrigan and directed by Matt Katsolis… what a film. It captures the raw and unbelievable conditions of a community of people living in a trash dump. In such a horrific setting, it’s amazing how the vivid and rich cinematography almost casts a beautiful light on this darkened corner of the world. Sure enough, as the film unfolded I was left filled with hope for those people and the place known as La Chureca.


The film is well done and is certainly worth a viewing. I know it has stirred me into action, I hope it can do the same for you. Learn more at Love Light and Melody.

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gum on my shoe? no- Gum For My Boat

We met Kahana, Chris, and Russell at different times during our time in Nicaragua… Incredible to see these guys continuing to live out Purposeful Adventure on the other side of the world.  And such an inspiration that they continue to share the story with all of us.

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Freeridin with 88 Bikes

My good friend Rachel Johnson with Touch A Life just cued me in to a cool group of guys who have been inspired by their adventures abroad to spark a wonderfully simple yet brilliant concept – the idea that giving a bike to a kid can change his/her life.

It makes me think back to when I was 5 years old and was given my first real bike for Christmas – we’re talking the real deal Huffy, no training wheels, and it even had some cool neon spoke thingies. Within no time I was king of the neighborhood, I could now exceed my boundaries and make it back in time without getting caught. I could keep up with the big boys. I could get to the neighborhood park in 72 seconds flat. But most of all, I could get on that bike and feel like a free man (ok, boy). So when I came across Dan Austin’s organization, 88 Bikes, the concept really resonated with me.

88bikesThe 88 Bikes Foundation has a very simple goal: to provide a sustainable, joyful, empowering form of transportation to young people in developing countries, in situations where these children have been challenged to be their own heroes due to war, conflict, poverty, disease, or other regional hardships. In early 2010, 88bikes will travel to Ghana, India, Nepal and Vietnam, endowing orphanages, ashrams, centers and schools sheltering children rescued from human trafficking. The Moment of Happy will occur in January, 2010 at more than a dozen sites throughout the world. 300 children will receive a bicycle and the training to maintain it.

Ride on guys, ride on.

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Skydive for a Cause

I just saw this story on the Fox evening news… it doesn’t get much more Purposeful Adventure then this!…

A new skydiving record to fight breast cancer in CaliforniG7XF2575a. 181 female skydivers from 31 countries joined together on Friday 9/25 and set a new women’s formation skydiving world record… raising over $900,000 dollars to fight breast cancer. That’s the most money raised in the event’s history which puts the money towards research. Participants in the dive included breast and other cancer survivors. The event kicks off October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month.

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Upcoming Event on Oct 15

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We’ll be contributing this year. If you’ve got a blog, hope you will too!

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The Beginning…

Since this is the first post on a new blog, I think it makes sense to provide a brief history of its origin and cast a little vision for its future…

This blog came about as I was searching online for current stories of adventurous people that are doing unique and amazing things – the kind of inspiring stories that make you want to jump in and take part, or that just leave you hopeful for the world. After hours of dead end, cliche search results, I realized there was a good chance that what I was looking for did not exist. Of course, there are millions of great stories out there, but I don’t know of any one place that brings them together well. It’s my hope this blog solves that problem. 

So in the posts to come, I will be sharing stories of people, projects and organizations that are engaging in Purposeful Adventures – risky endeavors with uncertain outcomes full of meaning and significance. But I need your help if this is going to be awesome. I need you to share Purposeful Adventure stories of your own – ones you’re involved in or just know about. Sound like a deal? Let’s get to work.

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