Last year, during our May 2014 First Friday, Clayton Gray Home introduced you to an incredible young couple, Ryan and Michelle DeJong. Just shy of their two year wedding anniversary and just weeks after Michelle’s first marathon, they received devastating news. Ryan and Michelle had just returned from a cruise vacation. While on that vacation, shortly after snorkeling, Michelle began to suffer a headache. She thought that maybe she had surfaced too quickly. The headache lingered. Within days of returning from the cruise, a whirlwind of doctors, tests and surgery would reveal the Michelle had glioblastoma multiforme. Incurable brain cancer. On March 14, the date of diagnosis, would now be known as the title to her story and FIGHTER would become her mantra.
This year, as March 14, 2015 rolled around, it was a day of celebration. One year of life that Michelle has won in her battle against brain cancer. After traditional cancer fighting methods failed, Michelle entered clinical trails to continue her fight for her life and to find a cure for others. Moffitt Cancer Center has definitely become like a second home for the DeJong’s and the staff like a second family. Michelle’s courageous, spirit and attitude has won her the title as the face of the Neurology Department for Moffitt. Last year, after the shock of the diagnosis wore off a bit, Michelle decided that she wanted to make her mark on the upcoming Miles For Moffitt race (and the world for that matter). She wanted to believe there was good in the world, or to #BeTheGood. Her husband, Ryan went to work. With the help of friends, family and the local run club, Run Tampa, they created a small army of FIGHTERs and formed the largest non-corporate team and crushed their initial fundraising goal of $10K. By race day, over 328 runners joined the team and more than $68K was raised. The second largest team, a bootcamp group called Get A Grip Fitness even joined the ranks by adding the FIGHTER logo to their shirts to show their support. In honor of Michelle’s attitude and drive (and her secretly acquired tattoo) the team took on the title Team Fighter — Too Inspired By What’s Transpired. The FIGHTER logo is now easily recognized as a symbol of power and love that backs this local hero.
If you are just discovering the mighty FIGHTER amongst us, you can check out her story on her website, www.onMarch14.com and follow her Facebook page for updates. In addition, you can check out our May 2014 blog posts, First Friday preview and First Friday recap for stories and photos from last years event. We are thrilled and honored to spotlight Michelle and Miles For Moffitt for a second year. This year, Michelle and Ryan want an even bigger FIGHTER team out there, not only to show love and support for Michelle, but also to show their appreciation to Moffitt and all of the hard work they put into cancer research. You can join Team Fighter — Too Inspired By What’s Transpired on line or in the shop this Friday. Varying distances of 5miles or a 5K walk/run offer something for all levels. If you are not in the Tampa area and still want to help Michelle and her team of FIGHTERs, you can sign up for the virtual run option, meaning wherever you are, you can run as part of the team in your own town. Still not ready to hit the pavement? Then you can sponsor the team! Just follow the link or Miles For Moffitt representatives will be on hand to answer any questions. All of the monies raised through the Miles For Moffitt race go to cancer research. One hundred percent!
April 3rd, 2015 will be the happiest of happy hours as we join together to celebrate FIGHTER First Friday from 6-9pm, and learn from this incredible young woman how to #BeTheGood. Nick Peterson, Clayton Gray Homes favorite celeb, will be serving up FIGHTER cocktails. The other local celeb, Richard Gonzmart of the famous Columbia Restaurant, has become close to the DeJongs and Michelle’s battle, so it only fitting that we celebrate the night with yummy bites from his latest restaurant venture, the fabulous Ulele. Joining in the celebration, another person close to the DeJongs, RyanG Photo, will be our paparazzi for the night, capturing all of the beautiful moments of the night.
All of us at Clayton Gray Home hope to see you on Friday, so that together we can celebrate Tampa’s small but mighty FIGHTER, Michelle. If you have a FIGHTER shirt, please feel free wear it. If you would like more information on purchasing FIGHTER merchandise including a Ryan DeJong created BE THE GOOD artwork, please check the shop and the FIGHTER website at www.onMarch14.com. Instead of our usual swag bags, we will have special prizes and offers for the first 50 people in the door and as always, Clayton Gray Home will proudly donate 20% of the sales from First Friday to the Team Fighter– Miles For Moffitt team.