WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN DOOR COUNTY THIS WEEKEND? THE SISTER BAY BOWL AND THE DOOR COUNTY HALF MARATHON!
I met Mary and Eric Erickson during the course of routine real estate business in the summer of 2011. Basically, I sell houses and they wanted one. A condominium in Sister Bay, to be exact, because their family had visited northern Door County on vacation and had fallen in love with the community and with Sister Bay in its entirety as a year-round village. During their transaction, Mary and I developed a friendship that lasted beyond the sale. Besides the fact we both have a healthy sense of humor and can text reallyreallyfast, we have one sure thing in common—we both love northern Door County.
While Eric is very calm (exactly the trait I would want in a surgeon, if I were due for some surgery), Mary is a lightning bolt, and I secretly nicknamed her “Hurricane Mary” early in our business dealings and told her so. She did not take offense. The woman has more energy than seven people, and a TRULY incredible sense of humor. She also has four daughters under the age of four, and has confided to me that one of her energy “secrets” is Starbucks. The photo is of Mary and Eric on their first "Bowl" date, and for Mary, it was true love.
Around Christmastime, the Ericksons attended a benefit for Eric’s orthopedic surgeon partner who spent a year in Haiti. That benefit changed Mary’s life.
As we in the United States basically lead sheltered lives, not everyone realizes that in early 2010, Haiti suffered what was, at that time, the sixth largest recorded earthquake in the history of the world. While Haiti was already an extremely impoverished country, the needs of Haiti have been greatly amplified by the devastation in 2010. The death toll in that country from trauma has now exceeded that of HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.
Orthopedic surgery is a specialty that depends heavily on access to expensive instruments, radiographic technology and very costly implants. Because of these various factors, the availability of quality musculoskeletal care in the Haiti has always been extremely limited. More brutally, as a result of the earthquake, there were more orthopedic emergencies created at one time, at that place, than at nearly any other time in the history of our planet. Even the worst of wars and the deadlier of quakes that cause tsunamis paled in comparison with what Haiti faced in the aftermath of the 2010 quake.
As a result of the earthquake, Eric’s surgical partner, Terry Dietrich, along with his wife, Jeannie, a nurse, went to Haiti as part of a disaster relief team. What they saw staggered them. They took a year off from their lives and medical practices in Wisconsin and decided to stay. Mary stated that even people who weren’t injured in the earthquake heard there were doctors in the cities and came and started just waiting to see if they could get any medical care at all, according to the Dietrichs---especially when they heard that people were having their limbs healed. Haiti, as a country, had basically never had access to orthopedic care before, so what was going on was considered a miracle. What they saw and learned changed Terry and Jeannie’s lives forever. Back in the United States in 2011, they held the benefit dinner that the Ericksons attended for The Haiti Indigent Patient Fund.
The Fund was established in 2011 through the registered charity, Amistad International. The sole purpose of the Haiti Indigent Patient Fund is to supplement and subsidize the actual costs associated with providing orthopedic and medical care to the indigent in Haiti. It is the dream of many associated with Haiti Adventist Hospital and Haiti Indigent Patient Fund to provide excellent orthopedic care to all Haitians regardless of their ability to pay and that no Haitian should ever be turned away from the door. An educational documentary and specific relief fund for orthopedics was created: Haiti: Together We Move.
Mary smiled and shook her head when she stated she nearly forgot (even though they had RSVP-ed---having children and being holiday-busy will do that to the best of us) about the benefit dinner that the Dietrichs were giving last Christmas, because that event changed HER life. She began a personal crusade to raise money for The Haiti Indigent Patient Fund via Haiti: Together We Move. http://www.haititogetherwemove.com
Among Mary’s many gifts are talent for writing, boundless energy, humor, and a drive and ability to motivate others (which will come in handy as the mother of four). She started blogging on Wordpress about her ideas to raise money for Haiti: Together We Move, focusing on different ideas. Mary’s one criteria is consistent: as terrible as the situation in Haiti is, she wants to make the contribution process as enjoyable as possible for those reading her blog and joining the cause. From spray tan parties (I want to have one) to her rice and beans diet that lasted less than my pledged one did (we questioned if we could survive on the average Haitian diet—I broke early) to silent auctions, she’s been working for the past four months raising money however and whenever she can. Thinking of the bigger picture earlier this year, Mary quickly teamed up with one of her best friends, Katie Kaminsky, from the Milwaukee area. In a brainstorming session, Mary and Katie decided to try to combine two of their great loves (for Mary, it was Door County, and for Katie, it was running) into one special event around many to raise money for Haiti: Together We Move.
Mary and I had some discussions in early January. Originally Katie’s idea to find a “special” run, I quickly agreed to the query from Mary that the Door County Half Marathon would be the perfect venue to run for the Fund. Absolutely affirmative. Mary was elated—and familiar with the run. Her next question: Can we somehow involve the Sister Bay Bowl?
“I have been trying to combine things that I love, especially Door County, which I want to share with all my friends, with a great cause. So many people jumped onto this idea because it’s different and the Door County Half Marathon is so great because you can pick your own cause and run for that cause; it’s not focused on one specific thing”. The next step was to tie in Mary’s favorite Door County supper club/bowling alley, the Sister Bay Bowl. We formally introduced her to Sharon Daubner and Penny Anschutz of The Sister Bay Bowl, and a friendship was also forged with Brian Fitzgerald, who is coordinating this year’s run, so there was a flow from Fish Creek to Sister Bay.
Daubner and Anschutz quickly agreed that they would be pleased to contribute in their own way with Mary to Haiti: Together We Move. After the Half Marathon, the public is cordially invited to the Sister Bay Bowl, and the Bowl has generously offered to contribute 10% of all of their sales from 1 pm to 5 pm to Haiti: Together We Move. There will be drink specials, and you can play the jukebox for free.
Mary and Katie have recruited nearly 20 people doing either the 5-K or the Half Marathon this Saturday on behalf of Haiti: Together We Move. Each participant is additionally raising $200 for sponsorship on their own.
Mary states that her goal is to do fun things to raise money for a good cause, while emphasizing her love of Door County. “This is a serious issue and the people running for Haiti are serious people, but everyone involved wanted to have a good time while raising money. One thing I additionally loved about the Door County group was that everyone wanted to help and was eager to help: Sharon Daubner, Penny Anschutz, the Realtors and Brian Fitzgerald ... I really hope to make this an annual event.”
Mary estimates that donations to the Haiti Indigent Fund have accumulated to over $200,000.00, and that once fund gets to $500,000.00, they will use interest. The group has trained one Haitian doctor for ongoing practice and will visit Haiti several times per year.
Eric and Mary are going to Port-au-Prince in August to donate their time and energy in Haiti. Mary will visit orphanages and bring supplies (toothbrushes are a big request) and food, while Eric performs surgeries.
The Door County Half Marathon will be held Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 10 a.m. The entire half marathon is run on paved surfaces in Peninsula State Park. Visit the website for more info.
If you are running in the event this weekend or just visiting Door County, keep an eye out for Mary and Katie, and please join their group for fun after the run at the Sister Bay Bowl from 1 pm until 5 pm. Additionally, later in the evening, the Sister Bay Bowl will feature the very popular and wildly talented band Bacchus Lotus with local favorite, Charlie Eckhardt.
Donations can be made directly to http://www.haititogetherwemove.com/donations
Mary finished with the following comment: “The people of Haiti are extremely thankful for any help that is offered and often start crying tears of joy after having to wait 8 hours to see a doctor. Every donation, large and small is appreciated.” Donations of $50 or more receive a coffee table book documenting the earthquake, Haiti, and the medical work that was performed.
See you at the Sister Bay Bowl after the run with the Erickson girls and the Haiti team! (the ladies below 4 will probably be with a sitter, but they still love that jukebox and the bowling!)