Our Sweet Angel

Our Sweet Angel

Monday, January 20, 2014

Purpose of Team Carmen, Carmen's Story & Legacy

Below are the beautiful words of Darren Miller, our amazing brother-in-law and dear, dear friend.    Darren and Carri, were part of our Team Carmen support team last year but have courageously joined Team Carmen to each complete the full Triathlon in March.

Darren's words capture the essence of not only why this cause is important but how Carmen continues to inspire all of us every day.

Love and Light

Heather and Chris


PURPOSE OF TEAM CARMEN, CARMEN'S STORY & LEGACY and CONGRATS CARRIE LINGENFELTER (sometimes people say a story is not for the feint of heart, I say this is a story for the full of heart) - by Darren Miller

So proud of you Carrie Lingenfelter, regardless if you hit your personal time goal in yesterday's Marathon, or not.  Thank you too for your pre-race words of inspiration about Carmen on our Team Carmen | Waikola Lavaman 2014 team page.  In many ways it sparked what follows, which I hope will also be inspiring to those who take the time to read it --

As you know, there are so many goals when you take on something the size and scope of a marathon or a triathlon.  There is the threshold you cross to just start the process, period. There is the goal to train for X amount of months and X amount of days and hours per week... to appreciate the personal milestones and navigate each challenge along the way... and to hit/exceed your fundraising goal for such a remarkable cause as Team in Training and all of the many individuals, families and friends fighting Blood Cancers everyday that those efforts impact!  There is the goal to just make it to race day, the starting line and to find your way through whatever your body is dealing with on that day for those hours tackling each mile of the race. Whether that means making it all the way to the finish line or simply pushing yourself to complete as much of the distance as you are capable of on that particular day.  That is truly an accomplishment to be proud of...  Even if you didn't hit your particular time goal, I choose to celebrate all of the other goals you conquered along the way to finishing your 2nd Marathon, your 5th TNT event, I choose to celebrate those last 8 miles yesterday (which were probably the toughest) when you weren't seeing the times you hoped for and yet I know you still dug even deeper within yourself to push to the limit of what you could find in each minute, each step of the remaining distance.  That is true spirit and courage in my book and to us in the McMiller household!

That you choose to and continue to run in Carmen Leolani White's honor and carry on her legacy in your individual commitment to fight Blood Cancers is of the highest honor to me personally (one of her many proud uncles), to Carri McClure (my wife and one of her many proud aunties), and I think I am safe to say, to her father Chris White, her mother Heather White, her magical brother Trevor and all of Carmen's extensive array of family, friends and supporters.  As so many of us can attest, Carmen's courage, limitless zest and beautiful unique spirit continue to inspire thousands.  Your commitment to raising funds and racing in her honor allows her story and inspiration to continue to grow and give courage directly or indirectly to ANYONE facing whatever type of challenge they are dealing with in their lives, disease related or otherwise.  I believe that is at the core of why each of us are putting in the time and commitment to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on behalf of Team Carmen and log the miles and hours of training in order to show up and compete on race day at the 2014 Waikola Lavaman Triathlon.  We are all proud to do this in honor of Carmen, as Carrie, you have now done 5 times in your TNT marathon work and as each member of Team Carmen 2013 did last year when Carmen was also honored as the Lavaman Race Angel for the approximate 1500 race competitors.

Carmen has touched and inspired us all individually in so many ways personal to our own growth.  In her battle against Leukemia she showed us first hand the true meaning of limitlessness.  What I remember most about Carmen's courageous fight with the disease is anytime it/or the related circumstance surrounding her treatment attempted to imposed a limit or constraint on her, Carmen made a point of finding a way through or around it; her spirit would not be bound.  With her own brand of sheer will and fearless determination she met each challenge head on and refused to be confined for any real period of time from embracing the fullest joy and beauty she was capable of manifesting and sharing each day with everyone around her.  Her teachers will tell you that, her friends will tell you that, her caretakers will tell you that, complete strangers who she encountered will tell you that. It is not to say she didn't have bad days (as anyone struggling through the intensity of such extensive treatments does) but she simply refused to allow it to limit her over time from the celebration she embraced and expressed as love and life.

Through her example this 5-year old pink twirling princess literally taught me a different way of seeing the beauty of life, the magic of imagination and pure creativity, the limitlessness of love and life if you find the courage to look inside and draw up your own will and not let outside circumstance keep you from it!  Outside circumstance no matter how imposing is not strong enough to contain the will of the human spirit and the love it can express and share.  On a large public platform Martin Luther King, whose birthday we celebrate today taught us this through his living example, Nelson Mandela who recently passed shone a light on the possibilities of the human spirit for change when willed into a direction that dismantles artificially imposed limits and Carmen, in a no less 'impactful' and personal way, taught me this first hand in how she handled herself through the disease willing herself through each imposed limit in a fight not simply to live, but to ensure she was not missing a single opportunity to live each moment of each day to the magical fullest she could muster... and it didn't stop there...  For Carmen, she had to share her special infectious gift for life with everyone and we are all thankful and the better for it!

Coming back full circle to Carrie Lingenfelter's marathon run yesterday in Carmen's honor.  I remember this day in late December Carrie texted myself and Carri a picture of her holding a sign.  She had just completed her longest training run to date in preparation of her race.  She had run 16.6miles (further than I had biked that day ; ).  When she arrived at the finish of her run her Team in Training Teammates were there holding up a sign for her with a picture of Carmen on it that read "Carrie! You're an amazing women with an even more amazing heart -- In memory of Carmen."  I can't tell you how much that inspired me and touched me to think that somewhere off in the middle of Arizona Carmen was having a part in providing inspiration to someone, and even a group of teammates possibly, who were not just challenging their own limits, but finding their personal place and space beyond those limits and in doing so were giving and contributing to a cause near and dear to our hearts.  Carrie, in doing that you have shattered any personal pre-set time goal or time record in history, as far as I am concerned.  That is what matters.  That is what makes a difference in life and in the lives of others, as I believe Carmen would concur!  You may not be competing with us on Team Carmen in the Lavaman this year but you are always an honorary Team Carmen member... and an inspiration to me (and possibly other the Team Carmen members) as we reach for our team fundraising goal and find ways to get through our own individual perceived limits as we train and prepare for our race starting line in March.

Me and Carri were support staff for, but did not compete alongside last year's Team Carmen 2013 Lavaman team members, but, you who did and the incredibly moving experience we had last year during the race events inspired us to do so this year!  That said, being peripherally around the race and preparation of the race, one thing became unavoidably evident to me...  when you race for Carmen and in honor of Carmen you don't race alone.  As I am sure many of our fellow teammates who raced last year on Team Carmen experienced, the spirit of Carmen (in everything I described above) is right there to draw on and inspire you in your training and in your race.  In the past months, this has become even more directly clear to me in my training.  Whether you are just starting your training today or if you are two and a half months into official training like myself and Carri, or more, there is no difference.   Whether you have never technically swam a competitive lap in your life and are just learning how to breath in the water like Carri who courageously dipped her toe in the water and started working with the swim coaches in the pool last week (very proud of her!) there is no difference.

I never expected or planned on this (and know it isn't to last forever, which I am not worried about), but each workout since my start of training I have achieved a new personal record that in some way or form exceeded my previous work out.
I wasn't focused on this and didn't even realize it until a little over a week ago. Some weeks I am even working out 6 days in a row, my legs wearing and fatiguing more and more and it has still continued to happen (and again I know there will a stopping point to this).  BUT, what I also began to remember is that in each and every workout (or even when I didn't want to go work out) whatever the 'wall' was that I was hitting, I would think of Carmen, the fierce strength, courage resolve and love that the TLP (Tough Little Princess) showed me, and everyone, and I find the inspiration from her to move through it -- break down that next limit that faces me and find that new space on the other side that I couldn't see before.  As Carri described so well in her fundraising message a couple of months back and so many other of our team members have highlighted, as well, Carmen personifies the true meaning of inspiration for ourselves and so many others who she continues to touch in many different ways.

We Team Carmen members did not set out to be triathletes, but Carmen gives us the opportunity to transform ourselves into triathletes with the purpose of helping those who face challenges similar to those Carmen faced herself.  She inspires us and in turn maybe we can inspire others!  That is the spirit, the story and the legacy that is Carmen and that is the purpose of our resolve, me, my fellow teammates and those who support us.

ARE YOU WITH US?  If you are and if you are inspired to make a donation to support the cause, please do so at the link below.

I know not everyone will have read all of this (as I just set another personal record for longest post in my FB history and probably future), but thank you for those who did take the time, as it is my personal tale of the ever-inspiring story of Carmen and her ongoing impact in so many lives.  Thank you to all of the supporters who have donated to Team Carmen and its members thus far.  None of this is possible without you and none of it has the purpose it does without your donations, which go to support the millions of lives currently effected directly and indirectly by the disease.  May each each individual out there facing blood cancer and those individuals standing by there side find healing, courage and support from what we are attempting to accomplish and above all else know you are not alone.  We have been down the road ourselves and we know it is not a road anyone should have to or can travel alone.  In the interest of that we are with you in spirit and support, doing what we can so you have as much care and opportunity for the best treatment and with the hope that one day maybe no one has to travel that road at all.

There is no way I can repay the gifts that Carmen gave me as thankfully they are the truest type of gift that require no repayment -- only appreciation for having been touched by the lessons and the willingness to share it with others, which I hope I have done here today.

At one point during Carmen's treatment, she made a wish and comment, not that she hoped to get better but, selflessly, in her own words, 'that she wished no kid had to suffer or experience childhood Leukemia again.'

If you are with me/us in fighting to make this wish come true and haven't donated yet, please feel free to do so at the below links.

If you want to donate to my personal fundraising page this is the link -- all donations made to my personal fundraising page automatically pass through to credit toward our overall Team Carmen fundraising goal too

If you happen to read this, but don't know me and just want to donate directly to the Team Carmen fundraising page by all means, please do! -- here is the link to the Team Fundraising page

If you somehow read this and don't know any of us feel free to click the link to the Team Carmen Fundraising page above and then feel free to click on any individual team member name to go to their personal fundraising page and SURPRISE them with an unexpected donation.  Carmen loved surprises and all donations made to any of our individual team members automatically credit toward our overall Team Carmen fundraising goal too

Lastly, if you want to make a donation and happen to work for a company that is willing to match your charitable donation (many companies do this or are willing to do this if you ask).  It is a great way to double the impact and also give your company (and yourself) a charitable tax write off.

* If you want to do something, but are unable to make a financial donation me or one of our teammates can find a creative way that you can contribute -- sometimes those are the most fun anyway.  Help us reach our Team Fundraising Goal.  We are almost 70% there and looking to break through that threshold.

And remember... no donation is to small or TOO BIG!

If you are not familiar with Carmen's personal story you can discover it in more detail at her blog --