Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day 22: Dooley Ranch to Del Rio, Texas + Livestrong HQ Interview

Our First Halloween Away From Pablo

A year ago today, our family was together at home in Los Angeles. Pablo's excitement for Trick or Treat had us all frothing at the mouth to head down the reservoir to Armstrong Street, our local candy lane. Pablo was a silver robot. A special button on his costume triggered a voice that said 'Take me to your leader.' I remember Pablo being scared to pull the costume over his head. He never liked things going over his head. The temporary flash of darkness was extremely scary for him. Since we don't have any new Halloween stories for you, you can read least year's report. We had a good time. Most important, Pablo had a good time.

Today, I am in Del Rel, Texas, Jo Ann's in New Orleans and Grady's at home in LA with Jimmy and Marissa and Pablo is in heaven, that place where all children whose physical journeys end too soon go to play with all their friends. An old friend told me the other day that a friend of hers—who has never met Pablo and knows nothing about our story—had a vision that Pablo's best friend up there is a blond girl. That made me feel good. Can't wait to spend another Halloween with Pablo. For today, I am still here in the physical realm, and I don't know when I'll be leaving. So, today, I will celebrate Pablo by wishing you all a great, spooky night. Just like Pablo would like. I can feel my son's presence everywhere I go. Jo Ann, Polly, Grady and I talk about it. Email one another about it. He's still here. He's still with us.

Here are some pics from last year:

Pablo marching robotically to the car
Grady trying on his old bear costume
Our boy, looking like he just wants to gooooo!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 21: Kerrville to Dooley Ranch, Texas

We may not have internet service this evening. So you may not see us until Saturday afternoon. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Austin Ride with Lance!

Day 20: Austin to Kerrville, TX

Pablo's Parents Smile

Greg Giesler took this photo of me and Jo Ann in Lance's foyer. When it popped into my IN box just now, I almost didn't recognize us. That's a good thing. It means we both smiled—at the same time—and let some sunshine in. We love Pablo. We love Grady. It felt good to spend two weeks together honoring both of them as we plow across America flying the Pablove flag.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 19: Austin

Morning dedication will be posted Thursday....

Pablove Hangs At Casa De Lance Armstrong

Pablove Across America auction winners Kelly Johnson and Greg Giesler with Lance. Yes, those are the actual, unwashed Tour de France jerseys hanging in the background.

My Pablove Across America riding partner and dear friend Rick Babington, Lance and me

Lance in his custom Pablove helmet. His support and friendship have been instrumental as we carry Pablo's legacy forward with The Pablove Foundation.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 18: Austin

Pablove on the noon news in Austin at KXAN, Austin's NBC affiliate. Click here if you also want to see the written story on the station's site.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pablove Across America Day 13

Hello From The Road

It's hard to capture Pablove moving across America in a moving image. Now that we've been in video-land for over two weeks, I had to put up this still image. Look at the Pablove logo on our legs. That says it all! Thank you for your unending support. We take you all with us every inch of the way....

Day 11 + 12!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pablove Across America - Day Three!

Hey everyone!

Here are the video updates from Day Three! Three down, twenty-seven to go...

- Mike

ps. Jeff is taking over filming duties until Saturday - don't worry if the videos aren't posted as frequently... we never know how the internet's gonna be when we roll into each city.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pablove Across America - Day Two!

Greetings from Live Oaks, Florida! Here are the highlights from today!

- Mike

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Video Blogs!

Hey Everybody!

Greetings from Gainesville! We wanted to share with you the Video Blogs we've done up to this point (the last three days worth), presented here in chronological order. From here out, we'll upload each video as they go up, so it'll be one vlog per post.

- Mike

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pablove In St Augustine+Switching Over To Video Blogs Starting Saturday

A candle for Pablo and Scott

At the end of my two hour ride here in St Augustine, Florida, I walked into the Cathedral of St Augustine dripping with sweat, salt burning my eyes. Leaning my bike against the back wall of the church, I walked slowly toward the altar. The cleats on my cycling shoes clacked on tile floor. The cathedral in an incredible specimen of Spanish architecture. It felt as though I were in Spain—in the mid-1500s. Everything about the place is sacred, including how well preserved it is. The Spanish style of Catholic architecture and interior embellishment is quite different from Italian. Lots of gold accents painted on deep brown raw wood. Black wrought iron crucifixes. I'm not a religious person—I believe in a combination of the in-the-clouds, white-bearded God, and a more oblique Universe-oriented God—but I grew up going to a Catholic school, so when I'm in the presence of things that are meant to convey reverence, I get reverent. It works on me. As it should.

I was an altar boy, so when I'm in a Catholic church I always take a good look at the operations around the altar. Today, as I stood in front of the massive altar, I recalled one particular morning in seventh grade. I was the altar boy for school Mass at St Adalbert's. The entire school was there, plus the usual gang of old Polish women who attended every Mass. To them, our church was called Kościół Świętego Wojciecha. They spoke only in Polish. For instance, when the congregation was prompted to say, 'Praise be to You Lord Jesus Christ,' the elderly Polish women would say, 'Chwała Tobie Panie Jezu Chryste.' Me and my friends, we thought it was hilarious that long after our English business was finished, the old skoolers in the back pews were still chewing on syllables. It was torture being an altar boy at St Adalbert's. And not for the typical reasons they show in the movies. Thing is, when I would serve school mass, I'd hear the extra-long Polish response echoing from the back of our giant church. I'd hear my classmates quietly laughing. And I'd be biting my tongue, almost to the point of bleeding, as I held a giant gilded metal-covered Book of Psalms in front of Father John our priest. It was not cool to laugh in front of a priest, especially when holding the Bible. A great, and totally unexpected, memory.

As I clacked away, a sense of peace came over me. Something deep inside me fell into place. Or, looking at it from a different perspective—something unimportant fell away. Either way, I felt more at ease, more open. Simple and clear. I went to the bank of candles, dropped my two sweaty dollars in the slot and lit a candle. 'I love you Pablo,' I said aloud. 'I love you Scott.' It was powerful to say it out loud. I knelt and meditated. I opened my eyes and looked at the Virgin Mary. I stood up. Took a deep breath. And clacked to the back of the church.

As I stepped back out into the pulverizing humidity, I realized that one of my deep-seated fears—the one that tells me I won't be able to accomplish everything I've set out to do with Pablove Across America—had evaporated. This fear, like any good fear, had been poking me for some time. When that cloud of fear moved away, I felt alive and energized. Reconnecting with the memory of my time beside the altar at St Adalbert's reminded me how lucky I am. Back then, I couldn't have imagined I'd have a son as exuberant and happy as Pablo. And I couldn't have imagined I'd be doing something as serious as riding my bike across the United States in honor of him. Hell, I'd only ever been out of the state of Wisconsin twice in seventh grade. And I didn't know anyone from outside Milwaukee.

When I let go of the fear and let life happen, good things come onto my radar. Fear is reaaaaal good when a giant Ford-RIDA pickup truck is about to edge me off the highway. Fear is kind of, like, dumb, in most other instances. Especially when it hangs around too long in my head.

One last thing: Friday's Pablog post will be the final written entry for a while. We've decided to document Pablove Across America using video blogs—vlogs if you're nasssty—for the duration of PAA. Starting Saturday, I have to focus on the task at hand: riding 100 miles a day, eating and sleeping. And talking Pablove to people who visit us on the road at our ever-growing list of Pablove events at hospitals and in people's homes. The time and energy it takes to write will not be available while I'm carrying out the PAA mission. Good news is, the Pablove Across America vlogs will document all of this—plus two clips a day from the road—in a cool way. We want you to feel like you're out here with us.

Since PAA is a Pablove Foundation activity, vlogs will not be hosted here. You'll have to go to the Pablove Foundation site - If you haven't been there yet, check out the series of clips that are already posted. We've been loosely documenting the preparation for PAA over the past month.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Our Late Night With Dr. Drew

Jo Ann and I had the best time last night with Dr. Drew, the host of 'Loveline.' We've both admired him for years - to put it bluntly, Jo Ann has crushed on him gfor years - and meeting him only enhanced that. He spoke to us from several heart-centered places: the best talk show host around, as a father, as a talented therapist, and as a friend of a surprising number of our friends. He spoke to us - on and off the air - about the state of our relationship as we're grieving Pablo's death. He spoke very clearly to us, not pulling punches, as if we were on the couch in his office.

On a more superficial level, my favorite moment with Drew was when he told me off the air that he saw Van Halen play a dance in the early '70s at Grady's school, St Francis. Kills me. Why did I have to be born so late?

I was excited when Jo Ann said she'd come with me to the 'Loveline' studio. The show is on from 10 to midnight, which put it in the red zone for Jo Ann's schedule. We left the intimate Pablove Across America kick off party at Dangerbird HQ and headed to Culver City for dinner. At the studio, we chatted with Drew for half an hour before going on air. We told him how we'd met on a music video project for an artist that was on Grand Royal Records; their offices were directly across the street from Drew's studio. He got a kick out of the symmetry.

Brian Aubert from Silversun Pickups joined the show via phone from Hilton Head, SC. His ability to capture complex emotion in a single sentence blows me away. 'Loveline' has been on the air since 1983. Last night was the first time they'd dedicated a show to cancer. After the show, the producer, Ann, told us they weren't sure how their audience would receive the topic. Turns out the phones blew up the entire time the lines were open. The calls that got through proved that the cancer conversation is ready to happen - that people w a n t and. n e e d a place to open the dialogue. I was honored and proud to share this incredible experience of bringing with Brian.

I felt Jo Ann's love as she sat on the sofa behind me with headphones over her skull; every time I looked over at her for support and strength, her eyes shot both straight at me. Talking to young people about cancer was not easy. Listening to a mother - who was on break at her job - calling in to talk about losing her son to a brain tumor was not easy.

Being of service by giving feedback, that was easy. It's important to me to give away what I got. My experience is mine, sure. But it's useless if I keep it to myself.

Our friend Rob Goldklang, a radio promotion exec from Warner Bros Records, was also with us. He has dedicated himself to helping the Pablove Foundation in any way. He and Dangerbird GM Matt Solodky have been hammering the Pablove auction scene. Rob also set up the 'Loveline' appearance. His heart connection to Pablove was clear to Drew and Ann, and that got the job done.

It was a great night, and a unique experience to be behind the mic. It was also the single biggest media hit The Pablove Foundation has ever had. 'Loveline' is syndicated to 60 stations around North America, and has thousands of listeners online. In 60 minutes, the mission and message of the foundation hit hundreds of thousands of ears all across the U.S. And that was worth staying up late for.

Next stop: St Augustine, Florida.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pablove On Broadway

When people's hearts lead their minds and bodies, the results can be staggering. This is the case with the efforts of Dangerbird GM Matt Solodky connecting with Julie Pilat, program director for LA radio station 98.7FM. Julie's station is owned by Clear Channel. She rallied the ovtdoor advertising unit of her company to support Pablove Across America on their digital billboards all over the country. We're going to be on billboards along the PAA route, in airports, New York City cabs, and, as you can see above, in Times Square!

A truly breathtaking example of the Pablove Army in action.

Kids Helping Kids

Emily Simon with her big bro Nick at Dangerbird HQ.

Emily and Nick took their support of The Pablove Foundation very seriously. Using Facebook and old fashioned in-person contact, the duo asked their friends to donate whatever they could in exchange for Pablove tee shirts and stickers. That $233 bankroll in Emily's hand is the result of the cash they collected. When I see a 14-year-old high school freshman and an 18-year-old college freshman taking leadership roles in their community, it's very moving to me. Makes me feel like our message and our purpose is clear and is triggering people into action. So many of you have made contributions to the foundation, and each one of them is important to us. I knew I had to feature these guys, because of their ages, and the age of the people who contributed to the funds. Kids helping kids. Beautiful.

I know where Emily and Nick get their dedication to others. Their dad, Adam, is a dear friend of ours. He's the insurance agent for our company's healthcare plan, and a helluva cyclist. Adam and his staff helped us out when we'd receive a mid-six-figure bill that was miscoded and sent to us for payment; or when we were billed twice for the same procedure; or, our fave, when we were charged for someone else's treatment. Knowing that Adam had our back—day or night—took all of these things out of the 'urgent' category, and allowed us to focus on Pablo. We would've had many more sleepless nights during Pablo's treatment if it weren't for the commitment Adam made to us when I called him the morning of Sunday May 18, 2008.

When Adam called to arrange a meeting with him and his kids, he said his kids had something special for Pablove. I wasn't expecting Emily to turn up with a Texas bankroll. When she dropped it on me yesterday, it brought a giant smile to my face. Pablo had a cash wad exactly like that. Except his was movie money from the Hollywood Costume Company.

Pablove + Loveline = Pabloveline

Tomorrow night I will be the guest on the radio show 'Loveline.' Yes, that 'Loveline.' And, no, I won't be there to talk about misadventures of any kind. You knew that. I'll arrive at Dr Drew's studio to talk about Pablo, The Pablove Foundation, Pablove Across America, and aspects of kids' cancer. I'll also talk about you, our community, and how together we have made an impact on the world. And how together we're gonna fly the flag of Pablove Across America from one coast to the other.

Silversun Pickups singer Brian Aubert will call in from the east coast to join me on the show. He lost his mom to cancer when he was a teenager. He lost his little friend Pablo a few months ago. Brian knows the ropes in the cancer game. I'm looking forward to sharing this experience with him. I can feel my blood starting to pump.

I'm looking forward to carrying our message of experience, strength—and, very much, hope. And to talking a LOT about Pablo!

'Loveline' is on 60 stations across the U.S. If you don't live in one of those cities, or, if, like us, you don't have a radio in your house, tune in online.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Scooby In The Sun

Read on for an explanation of this photo.

Sitting in Pablo's play room this morning. The walls are orange. A painting of Grady and Pablo hangs on the wall. Pablo's stuffed Scooby doll hangs from the back of the door, his neck in one side of a metal handcuff, the other around the doorknob. I was sitting in this same spot when Pablo put that guy there. After he did it, he stopped, looked up at me, and said, 'What?' I must have been giving him a 'parent' look. But that's certainly not how I felt inside. I thought it was hilarious. I asked Pablo to jump up on the sofa where I was sitting. Pulling him into my arms, I told him I loved him. Our eyes met as they did a hundred times a day. Our love for one another had no qualifications, no distortion, no uncertainty. I can feel the warmth between us.

I remembered all the details in the above paragraph in one flash of memory. The words flung themselves onto the screen. Had no idea I was going to write about that. It just happened. Wow. It feels good.

Today, I'm looking at Scooby-in-peril, and I'm smiling. I can feel that warmth inside me once again. As the morning sun bathes the room, I feel the warmth of love, like I had that day when Pablo ran in here and hung his favorite cartoon friend.

It will be seven Sundays from now until I can recline in this safe, warm place amid my books and Pablo's toys. I will be away from our home for 43 days, my longest road trip ever. In the years leading up to Pablo's illness, I'd compact my business trips to London or New York into the smallest footprint possible. I'd plan my London meetings to start two hours after I landed, wasting no time. The motivation for this was always the same: I wanted to be with my family. I wanted to be with Pablo. Sometimes, I'd wonder if I had developed an unhealthy phobia around leaving home. Many trips were moved or canceled because I did not want to endure the pain of separating from Pablo.

I wasn't sure if my travel anxiety would subside now that Pablo's physical self has gone away. Here I am, two days before we fly to Florida for the start of Pablove Across America, and my nutty mind still doesn't want to let go of its hesitation around leaving home. Sure, I will be leaving behind Pablo's room, his toys all over the house, the paintings of our kids, and the possibility to go to Pablo's grave at a moment's notice. But Pablo, the little boy who ran into my arms a zillion times, he is not here. Not physically. I sincerely believe Pablo is with me everywhere. So, he'll be with me Wednesday on the flight. He'll be with us on our acclimatizing days in St Augustine. And he'll certainly be with me on the bike on Saturday when we start our journey back to LA. I could not do what I do in any area of my life if I did not feel Pablo with me.

Overall, I'm happy to be letting the warmth of sun rejuvenate my mind, body and spirit. It feels good. In our house, we need good. Good is good. We'll leave great for another day, yknow? Jo Ann, Grady and I have been through some very tough stuff. And things are just feeling...good.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Please Tune In To

The Pablove Across America experience will be documented in video blog form, and it will live on Please drop the URL into your favorites list. Please make it a destination, the way you made the Pablog a morning read beginning in May 2008.

Our intention is to bring you on the road with us, so you feel like you're hanging with us in Gulf Shores, Alabama, or St Francisville, Louisana, or Austin, Texas. We'll shoot on the bike. We'll shoot behind-the-scenes stuff with our mobile family of Pablovers who have been planning the ride for over two months, and who will keep us healthy, happy and safe as we cross this fine continent.

Most important, our video blogs (vlogs) will embody the purpose and mission, so that all who see them will experience not only what we are doing, but why. Our purpose is to float the balloon of awareness for childhood cancer. I have boiled it down to: kids get cancer, too—and it's not somebody else's problem. People need to hear this simple fact. Then they need to hear that we have a Trojan horse that will carry us inside the city walls of cancer. And that is the Pablove Foundation. I very much believe what my dad taught me years ago: people are willing to help people who help themselves. I'd say that defines us Pablovers quite well. With our hearts full of the relentless joy and passion of Pablo, we are helping ourselves, and our community, grieve deeply, and to make our grief productive.

Pablove Across America is a call for financial support. It is calling equally for the hands-on efforts of the existing Pablove Army to carry out its mission. This hands-on business is being done all around us every day. People volunteering at the office while others race to win an experience on the Pablove eBay auction. Some people are putting together their functions using our new Giftberry tool, a portal that allows anyone to activate a Pablove fundraiser in two clicks. Another friend is gathering names of Wilms' Tumor fighters, so that we can honor one of those brave soldiers in each morning's vlog.

I also want you to know my personal goal in doing this. I will not get it all down here, so let me start with this: to demonstrate the depth of my commitment to change, and my commitment to the mission of the Pablove Foundation. The physically grueling aspect of carrying Pablove Across America may soften the hurt in my heart. It may wring a bit of the emptiness and sadness out of my soul. That is my hope. All of this is wrapped in my endless love for PABLO. This ride, for me, is an offering to Pablo, whose spirit is with me every second of every day. I HAVE to show my little boy how far I will go to display my love for him. And to show him that even though his physical body is gone, I will continue to kick ass in his name. I HAVE TO DO THIS.

If you have not yet checked out the vlogs on, please do. Dangerbird video master Mike Mohan has put a lot of effort into stating our purpose in the run-up to the October 10 start date. Some videos are fun, some are serious. Some show the people at Dangerbird HQ who have lead the charge to create and market this massive endeavor. We'll continue to build on this massive pastiche. It's been fun.

I'm heading to Pablo's school, The Oaks. He would have been in the first month of kindergarten today. At this morning's school assembly, Pablo's favorite book, 'Christopher's Harvest Time,' will be inscribed to Pablo, and dedicated to the school library. Generations of Oaks kids will know Pablo from the words written about him on the inside flap of the book. I'm told that the kindergarten class—which includes many of his friends from The Walther School—will sing a song in memory of him. I'm weeping. And I'm still sitting at the dining room table. Better grab a box of tissue.