Sunday, November 30, 2008

Liz and Arya

I don't know you personally, but when I came across your webpage, your sweet smile and winning personality(not to mention your mother's sense of humor) made you unforgettable. I am now an Erin Fan, and eagerly look forward to hearing about your escapades and to see how you're doing. I pray for you every day in Chattanooga TN, and if it's a school day then I send prayers your way from Kennesaw GA(where I go to college)also . I am a medical anthropology student and will very soon(in 2 semesters) begin teaching at a college or university. My larger goal with my research will involve helping to improve the Malaria situation(where it's very very bad) in Zambia, and other similar places.

I have heard that you like animals, and I have a sweet, somewhat silly, and definitely sneaky three year dog. Her name is Arya(pr Are-Ree-Uh), and she's a 55 pound ball of energy(mostly sneaky energy). I see that you have read the Eragon series and may have already heard the name. In one of the pictures I sent you, she is seen hintingly blocking the shower in the downstairs bathroom by laying in it right after following me around seeing me get ready to take a shower! In one she has her heard on top of the laptop. I'm not sure if she wanted to help, or just wanted some attention. There is also a picture of her on top of the cage we used to use at our apartment with her leg stuck. I couldn't help but laugh and take a picture before I helped her down. I also sent a picture of her looking sweet and innocent, thinking sneaky thoughts. The last picture is of the white squirrel in the back yard. We are so amazed by his ability to survive without much change of chamoflage and big dogs and cats around, just as we're amazed by your courage! sending you prayers from Tennessee and Georgia, Liz and Arya

Nancy Calloway

I am Sarah Radencic's mom, ergo a big Erin Fan! I have seen my daughter glow and sparkle when she speaks of her lovely friend, Erin. I have come to love Erin through Sarah's words and eyes. She never tires of telling me stories of Erin who can do anything she decides to do. I am in awe! I was also Kim McLagan's best friend, and I know Kim would have loved Erin and her fire-like spirit! Kim would always tell me if there was any issue in my life that she thought might be giving me a bit of a hard time, "As my father always said, Don't let the buggers get you down!" And she would laugh so prettily - just like a little bird. Her father had raised her on a tea plantation in Africa and another farming plantation in Malaysia. She was indeed a lovely soul. She so reminds me of how Sarah speaks of Erin. I want to enclose a few pictures of Sarah and me if I might. the first is of Sarah in the Austin Bluebonnets, and the second is of Sarah, her Irish grandma, and me Jan. 07, and the 3rd is of me standing in the Sea of Galilee in Israel. My complete respect and affection goes out to Erin for all the work she has done to excel so greatly in school and also for all the work she is doing to make money for research. I cannot wait to buy one of her fabulous cook books! In fact I plan to buy many to give as gifts! I am also very greatful for all she has done for my daughter, Sarah, in teaching her so much about how to enjoy life to the fullest and with a sparkle in your eye! I hope to meet this wonderful young lady some day.

The Karstadts

Hi Erin,

This is a really cool way to visit with you. So, some memories and updates for you, memories first. The first thing I think of when I think of Erin Buenger is Splashtown and that you taught me the Jacob’s ladder string trick. It’s pretty much wedged in my brain now. I still teach it to other people and they teach it to other people too and so on. A pretty simple thing but I thought it was cool that you got it out of a book, right? I could hardly learn it watching you do it, let alone you doing it from a book. Another memory is when I went to your house the last time I was there we made, or tried anyway, to make a small boat out of leaves, popsicle sticks, tape and string. It didn’t really work out. We set sail but oops-the string got twisted, the tape came loose, and there went our little vessel! Another thing we tried to build- a slide about 2 or 3 feet high made out of your piano chair. I remember laughing a lot and falling off it.

You have always been strong so stay strong and laugh as much as you can


Hey Erin, mom’s turn.

I have hunted through the entire house for a picture of you that I know I have but I cannot find it. When I do I will email it to you, so if you get a random picture from me it will be “the one”. It is a picture I was taking in Davis and Hannah’s classroom while they were having a class party or something like that. But, in the background, there are two little critters running around, one is Kelly and the other, with a shocking crop of bright red hair is you. Both probably still in diapers?

You gave Kelly a board game one time, Labyrinth, we still play it a lot. In fact I have looked up the maker of the game online to find more interesting games that they may make. Anywho…we like to play it but avoid inviting Kelly’s dad, he is soooooooo competitive and does not want to lose so he takes hours to make a move. Kinda like a chess game you leave going for days! I like the game because it requires you to think a certain way, brain exercise.

I have attached some pictures of you and Kelly at the rodeo, do you remember the calf scramble? I’ll do the updates since Kelly missed that part. Most interesting is that she broke both of her arms. She bounced off of one of those big, huge, blow up slides at a church picnic, scrapped up her face and broke both arms. The looks she got when wearing two casts were fun and interesting! Strangers were always quizzing her so she got used to talking to strangers and she doesn’t seem as quiet or shy now. Not that we encourage her to talk to strangers!! We went to the River Walk in San Antonio and Larry and I walked a little way behind her and watched the reaction of people who noticed her arms as she walked by, that was fun. One comment we heard after she walked by was young man that said “Boy, I bet she could kick someone’s @?$#% wearing those things! The biggest downfall was bathing, she didn’t like that and neither did I, a huge production.

She recently tested for her second degree black belt, I like to watch her spar with boys and win! I agree with Kelly, be strong and laugh as much as you can. A quote that I took from a family who also wrote to you on Erin’s project, seems to say what I think (thanks Wunneburgers!).

"A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable."

A big ol’ hug to you, Kate

Sara Maley

Gillian Peters

I've been thinking of Erin and her / your family a lot and wanted to send something. Here's a picture of me with Erin's tomato plant she made for our food riddles in Spanish class and a little note.

After our food riddle project in Spanish class, I made a bulletin board of all the students' projects. I got so many comments on all of the wonderful and cute projects and everyone said it was their favorite bulletin board. However, Erin's tomato plant never made it out there, because it went above and beyond expectations and hence could not be stapled to the board in the hallway. It sat on my bookshelf along with a few other 3-D projects that could not be displayed and became almost a live plant to keep us all company in class. I've never had a very green thumb, so this paper plant stayed bright and cheery and I never even had to water it!

Here's a poem for Erinita, as we call her in 8th period:

Erinita, Erinita
siempre fuerte, aunque chiquita
Una muchacha feliz y bonita
!Cuídate bien, nuestra lucita!

(Erinita, Erinita
always strong, although small
A happy and pretty girl
Take care of yourself, our little light!)

Morgan Minter

I don't know if you'll remember me but my name is Morgan Minter. I first met you at Relay for Life, the year you were the honored guest. In the past I've also had the privileged to attend First Presbyterian Music and Vacation Bible School together with you!

I was amazed to realize how many things we have in common. We're both in 6th Grade and I go to SFA Middle School in Bryan We both had art projects featured at the BISD Art Fest today. I loved you landscape drawing of trees, it looked similar to the photo of your backyard that is on your mom's blog page. You did a fantastic job with both of your drawings!
I also love to bead and am currently making earrings. I have a whole table of beads set-up in my living room and my sister, mother and I have fun mix and matching to see what combination turns out best.

I've always been impressed with your sunny personality and the fact that you never give up! I'll keep you in my prayers and I hope you get to feeling better soon.

Terri and Chrisotpher Leedy

I have been reading your updates for several months now. Your strength, attitude, courage and beauty amaze and inspire us. Your smile makes me smile. My 4 year son Christopher has decided he wants to marry you, so if that does not work for you, please don’t let him know.

Since you like pet stories I will tell you one. When I was about 10 (I don’t want to give my age away, so I won’t tell you that was 30 years ago). It had been raining really hard. We had an old dirt bridge that went to the back of our property. The bridge had holes so you had to be careful to avoid the holes so you did not fall into the creek below. One rainy day I went out to feed the animals (we had cows, chickens, rabbits and pigs) and I found that one of the cows had fallen into one of the holes on the bridge. I went over to check on him and he was stuck pretty tight into that hole. I turned around and ran (as quick as you can through knee deep mud and cow poop) and ended up face first in the mud and cow poop mix. I had mud/poop in my eyes, my ears, my nose, everywhere. I did not think my family would quit laughing long enough to come help me get the cow out of the hole. We rescued the cow (and yes, I finally did get a shower).

I am a dispatcher. I dispatch police, fire and ambulance crews as they are needed. I learned of Neuroblastoma through 911 cares. They did a story on Marissa Monroe and from there I went to the loneliestroad website and found I wanted to do something to help. So in my off time I have been working on raising money for the band of parents. I work part time for my brother’s race team (if you ever want to check out a race car up close) I can hook you up. You can go to WWW.BILLMCANALLYRACING.COM to see some of the cars.

I will send pictures in next day or so. You stay strong and know that you are in our nightly prayers.

Pam Perrone

I actually met Erin a couple years ago at Aerofit. I was her swim instructor. I instantly liked Erin. She was so full of life, caring, funny and just would brighten my day at each lesson. I had never forgotten her. Then, at the beginning of the year, I am invited to a parent conference and in walks Erin. A grown up beatiful 6th grader. How time flies. I am currently the Inquire counselor at Jane Long so I have the pleasure of seeing Erin's bright and smiling face each day. She really is an inspiration to us

Sarah Radencic

One picture is from Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day and the other is from London Bridge in 2003. My mom took me there and to England for Spring Break together. It was a special treat to get to be in Ireland on such a special day. One of my grandma’s is 100% Irish and then there is a “wee bit” on the other half of my family. I wanted to share some of my favorite Erin moments, since I have had trouble narrowing them down to just one or two. Even though I have only known Erin for less than a year, she is enriching my life in so many ways. I know that there are many more than these, but I tried to not hog a lot of space! So…here they go:

~The first day I met her, with her feet not touching the floor from her chair, she had the brightest, warmest smile I have ever seen – with a sparkle in her eye. She was still in 5th grade and I just kept thinking WOW, I can’t wait to have that sparkle in my Science class!

~At the beginning of the school year Erin, her mom and I were talking and I can’t really remember what brought on the comment other than we were talking about all the choices of clubs and the like you have in middle school. I think I said something about with all the choices you could find what you really like or are good at. However, I will never forget Erin’s response of “I’m good at everything I try” – and she was!!! If only all children, and adults, had that outlook they would accomplish things of the imagination.

~Warm Donuts on a Friday morning while Erin told me the story about the character they forgot to mention in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry – the red haired penguin. She was reading the book at the time and had brought a picture to show me of this elusive character. Was a pretty cute penguin that looked very excited by a fight by two manly looking girls!

~Getting to hang with Erin and Jackson at Texas Children’s while they built a huge Star Wars craft out of Lego’s (amazing accomplishment to me since all the pieces seemed to be black, grey or white). It was a little peek into her world and I was glad she let me in.

~Hissing Cockroaches at the Girl’s Science Day at A&M – never have I been brave enough to hold them, till Erin did and told me it wasn’t bad at all. They were almost cute, almost!

~We had a debate in class about drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Erin was on the “anti-drill” side and I will for ever be impressed by her insight and pointed arguments – how many 6th graders would bring up the Carter administration’s influence on our gas mileage and know that was a good argument against drilling in Alaska.

~One day at lunch when it was one of those warm fall days and Erin had begun to where hats, I looked over to see Erin standing with her head tilted up towards the sun – eyes closed and hat off – soaking in the sunlight and warmth. She looked so happy just to be standing there, embracing the sun. It is one of my favorite peaceful images that can always make me smile.

~Getting to eat lunch with Erin in the teacher’s lounge during practice testing for a week was a big treat for me – telling me about recipes and her yummy lunches. It was great to get that quiet time just gab about nothing of super importance.

~The day of Wii – I got to see Erin filled with speechless excitement, the smiles on some of her closest friends faces, and her mom beam at her happiness. I was so appreciative to have been able to be a small part of that.

~The cocked-eye look when something is totally absurd or ridiculous – priceless, as are the giggles.

~Running around the room giggling insanely with a green pillow person, swinging his arms –and hers- wildly…everyone got a good laugh at that one. Way to break up the stress of practice TAKS test. It was great!

~When Erin felt comfortable enough with me to lean on me during lunch outside time if she was tired, cold or just wanted to chat.

~Erin and family recently introduced me to the wonders of Boggle (which I am in desperate need of practice). I had never played the game, but how fun!! Thank you for teaching me such a fun new game. It was more fun than Scrabble (for me).

~Everyday with her smile, the sparkle, her excitement about learning, and kind words to everyone she saw.

~Talks about politics, the environment, alternative energy sources, Chet, plasma cars (so super cool!!!), Lego’s, our dogs, horses, how our Dad’s are named Walter, funny stories about the Pips, about places we have traveled, crazy things kids can do, flying cars…so many topics and I loved getting to talk about everyone of them.

The Reeves

Our family has many cherished moments with Erin. Tiffany knew that Erin would be a special friend for her from the first day they met at Covenant Presbyterian Preschool. Erin has always had such a sweet, sunny, and fun disposition. She especially remembers how she and Erin would play “kitties” together, running around and meowing like two kitty friends would! Tiffany enjoyed the two years she was in school with Erin and has been glad to keep up the friendship ever since. They have enjoyed each other’s birthday parties and other get-togethers. Tiffany and Kaleigh love to spend time with the fabulous, beautiful Erin, whether at a birthday party frolicking in the lake by Erin’s house, or having Erin sleep over, or making lanyards. The Reeves family absolutely loves Erin and has a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for her. She has remained a fighter, an activist, a go-getter, and has accomplished more in her childhood that many adults ever accomplish. We attribute much of this to her wonderful parents. Erin is a true, noble inspiration to all of us. We love you Erin!

Jennifer Newsom

I don't know you all that well. But, I did spend a semester helping Mr. Cady with the Children's Bell Choir at First Presbyterian Church. That was several years ago now. What I learned about you in that short time is that you are an amazing girl - strong, smart and very funny! Since then, I have kept up with you by reading your Mom's blog several times each week.
A little something about me - I work at Texas A&M. But, my passion is teaching Girl Scouts and volunteering for Relay For Life. You are one of the reasons I participate in Relay For Life each year. (I also contribue to Lunch for Life each month in your honor.)

I know you are going through a really tough time right now and I just wanted you to know there are lots of Erin fans out there that are praying for you. You are an inspiration to so many. You are definitely a hero to me!

Blessings to you and your family.

PS: The attached picture was from Relay For Life in 2008. That's me in the dark blue t-shirt and tan hat. You might recognize some of the other girls in the photo. They've gone to music camp at First Presybterian too.

The Porters

We've never met, but I have been reading your mother's blog. My husband Christopher works at TAMU and my son Donovan had a nueroblastoma tumor resected in Dec. 2005 when he was not quite 2. I love your mother's blog and enjoy reading about what you are up to!

When we were still living in College Station, we heard you and your mom on the radio! You were so articulate and intelligent. What I remember most is your cute voice and positive attitude. You spoke about ice cream and making the best of things! We aim everyday to try to follow your lead!

Donovan was too young to remember anything of his many days and hours at TCH but we have always said that he enjoys life with special gusto! In the pictures you can see that he always has a big smile and trying to find a way to have fun. He will be 5 next month. His brother Nickolas is 11. As a family we enjoy going to Houston Texans and Rockets games! And the boys are training for the 2020 X-games....D on scooter and Nickolas on the skateboard!

Terry Anderson and Rose Eder

Here is a pix of me and Terry and a note for the Erin project. Wow, I was so amazed when I started reading those letters! Talk about positive and uplifting - it seems like an absolutely swell idea. I'm keeping my eyes on the website to stay updated. Know that you are all in my and Terry's thoughts.

hugs, Rose

The Beginning (or Erin’s First Birthday)

The Day: June 20, 1997

The Place: the lavender LDR (#4) at St. Joseph

Who: a very pregnant Vicki, Walter, myself, and a labor nurse

The scene: Us running circles behind Vicki in her striped shirt as she paced around the room between contractions. Since Vicki wanted to be move about and not stay in bed, she provided a moving target for the labor nurse who had the challenge of trying to catch up with her long enough to hear the baby’s heart rate. "Bubba" Walter and I were there of course for moral support and general cheerleading.

Finally Vicki reached the end of her patience - she decided she might as well have the baby and get this over with. So she jumped in bed and soon there was a small head covered with red hair emerging. Yes! It was Erin!

The Stats: Time of birth was 12:08, a very considerate time of day for all of us. The 124th baby born that month at St. Joe's. Weighed 8#2, 9/9 APGARS (excellent, but no surprise to us!)

The very first thing she did was open her mouth very wide and begin ear splitting squalling. Then, if memory serves me, she smelled milk, decided that she had earned a good meal after all that work of being born and she found the breast.

It was a very happy day to finally get to meet Erin, whose presence continues to make our world a happier, special place because she is in it.

from your friends Terry, Rose and our two puppies Kona and Bear

The Tjoelkers

We know Erin likes to laugh. Bet you didn't know we were all so good-looking!

The Thornburgs

Anja Schwalen

What I remember most about Erin.

It's funny, and maybe a little trivial, but what first comes to mind was that we went to see Vickie and Walter after they just had Erin. I remember being very surprised that they had another baby after Davis, who was about 10. Anyway, we went to your house and Erin was a tiny redhead rolling on the floor. I remember saying: "Oh, she has red hair - that's amazing" or something like that, because neither Vickie nor Walter are real redheads.

Another thing that sticks out for me about Erin is how well she seems to get along with many different kids, maybe because she has a wide array of interests and isn't bossy, but personable. I know that both our kids, Sandy and Tommy, really like her, and the two don't agree on too many things these days.

What I have come to admire over the past six years is the courage and vigor she has shown while dealing with her disease. It has been inspiring to see how she has lived life to the fullest, something that many of us fail to do, even if we get to live a hundred years. I am sure that many of her friends will agree.

About me: I am Anja, and I was born in Germany (a long time ago). Vickie and Walter are literally the first people I met in College Station when I came over in 1990 to visit my future husband Walter K. for the first time. I remember we had lunch at Café Eccell and Bob Calvert was with us, too. Back then, Davis was a toddler J and very active….I remember thinking: "There seem to be at least some nice people around here - maybe I could get used to this country after all…"

I love languages; although I majored in Spanish, I have mostly taught German over the past 15 years, trying to convey the European perspective on things to my students, more or less successfully I think. Books are my constant companion; I love to read autobiographies and theological stuff. Our family enjoys long road trips through the American West, tent camping (most of the time), and going to Germany and Holland in the summer.

Kathy Jurgens

Erin, I just had to send you a picture of Hans and me and Eddie (one of my 'girls'). That's what Hans' grandpa calls my horses - I have two mares and he always refers to them as the 'girls'. He gives me a bad time about them and says the girls get treated better than he does but I know he likes them too. This picture was taken when Hans and Ellie came to visit me in Ellensburg, Washington last summer. Hans especially likes the horses and his Uncle Quinn's two dogs so it was no surprise to hear he liked your dogs.

I'm not sure which is worse - mischievous dogs or mischievous horses. Early one summer morning Eddie managed to get her back leg through the rungs on the barn gate and stood there and rattling it loudly. Of course I heard her and yelled at Hans' grandpa to "come help me, Eddie is stuck in the gate"! By the time I got out there she'd managed to get it out without hurting herself. Early (like 5:00 am) the next morning I hear this pounding noise coming from the pasture again. Only this time when I looked out she had one of her front feet in the water tank! I have no idea how she managed that trick but I wasn't about to go running out to help her outof her mess. This time I just opened up the window and hollered at her to get out of there!

Erin, I love your spunky spirit and especially enjoyed the recent 'worst day of your life' story. I've had a few of those days myself and in looking back I got a pretty good laugh at myself. And of course, as Ellie's grandma, I am especially fond of all girls with red hair and freckles!

Thank you for sharing your days with us. Enjoy your Wii and hope your back in school soon.

Hans' Grandma Kathy (also known as The Spoiled Cowgirl - Lara and Elle can explain that one to you)

The Wunneburgers

Hello Buengers,

Here’s an entry for The Erin Project.

I have a Word document called “Quotekeepers.” It’s a running list of those that come to me at the bottom of emails or through internet ramblings or whatever. They are thoughts that I am not clever enough to create or eloquent enough to put into words but make me stop and smile or maybe offer an “Amen.”

This photo pretty much sums up our take on Billy Graham’s quote, "A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable." I’m pretty sure that we epitomize every one of those offenses here. This was taken a couple of years ago after a wedding. Yes, Aaron is wearing a tux as he was an acolyte for the service. Throughout elementary school, he had quite a run of wedding appearances. We were considering making a business card and hiring him out to strangers. Why would we come home from a wedding, pull out our horns and take a picture? I’m not sure but I suspect it was time for our annual Happy New Year card that never got printed or mailed. Whatever the reason, I’m glad the kids humored their parents. There is a more reverent version too but this is one of my favorite family photos. It reminds me of the Christmas that the Wunneburger Family Band wowed family and friends with their rousing polka-style rendition of Jingle Bells. Abby laid down a solid “oom,” Anne a crisp “pah” and Aaron kept steady time with the jingle bells. I suppose we should make a new photo now that Aaron has his own “ax” (as in the trombone, not one-to-grind).

I hope this made you smile and reassures you that other kids also have parents who exert their love upon their children in strange yet wonderful ways.