Josh July 21 2015

There’s a story behind every new business, and you could say that the inspiration behind Happy Puppies was born twelve years ago. That’s because my son, Josh, was born on July 21, 2003. If not for Josh, and for his battle, I never would have run my first race. I never would have chafed. Happy Puppies would never have started.

It all began because Josh’s body started to malfunction. His bone marrow started producing blasts, and stopped producing enough normal blood cells. Josh got cancer.

On November 24, 2010, my sweet, happy little athlete had his whole life turned upside down. After some heartbreaking wails of “I’m going to die!” followed immediately by “I can’t play FOOTBALL!” Josh calmed down, and proceeded to just roll with the punches. He asked his oncologist if he would be able to play football while on treatment (YES!) and if he would be able to go back to school (another yes, but not until his immune system was stronger). Josh’s strength and courage amazed and inspired me.

But I was still sitting on the couch eating my ice cream, mourning the loss of so much of Josh’s childhood, and living in constant fear of that nasty disease attacking again. And then, Tiffany died.

Tiffany was a 16 year old girl who was battling a different form of leukemia, and her body could not tolerate the harsh realities of a bone marrow transplant. Her body shut down, and she passed away, devastating everyone who knew her.

To honor Tiffany’s memory and to raise money to find a cure, Josh’s nurse, Melissa, formed a team to run with Team In Training. Though I had my doubts, I thought that if Josh could battle leukemia so bravely, I could stumble my way through 13.1 miles. And on November 10, 2012, I waddled the streets in Disney World as I completed Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon.

And I felt strong. I felt empowered. I felt as though I could do something amazing! Because I am and I can.

Josh fought leukemia for three years and four months. He emerged, victorious, from battle on March 7th, 2014. He missed 14 months of school. An entire year of football, baseball, and basketball. He has fought through neuropathies, but is getting stronger on a daily basis. He is amazing.

If I were to acquire a magic wand that would allow me to change something, I would immediately erase all of the pain and sickness that tortured my sweet Josh. But, I would never take away the lessons my family and I have learned. Nor would I lessen the strength that we have found.

We live for today, and hope for tomorrow.

We live out loud.

We take chances.

We make sure that our family knows how very loved they are.

We followed our dreams, which have thus far, led us to Happy Puppies.

I wish the same for you. May you live your life like the gate is open. May you be free to live a long and happy life. May you always know that you are loved and appreciated. May you be content with your life. I wish you all these blessings and more.

And to my inspiration, my warrior, my athlete, my Josh: Happy birthday, sweet boy!