Off the Dial



On March 24, my alma mater celebrates a big milestone. Syracuse University turns 144* years old. For the next two weeks, school representatives are traveling the country, getting alumni together. The Charlotte event is tonight (3/13) at the Dilworth Neighborhood Grill.

I was recently in Syracuse, where the weather did not disappoint – 9 degrees and snowing! Kim Brown is the assistant director of alumni programs and she asked me to record a short message for the celebration. It was very much off the cuff and I was glad to do it.  Curious how it was going to be used, I checked out the CelebrateSU page:

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Didn’t really expect to be on the front page (wish I’d put on some makeup!)  You can see my video below;  click here to see others. Happy birthday, SU!!

*Why 44? Since 1954, nine football players have worn the #44; three earned All-American honors (Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, and Floyd Little. I have a funny story about that, actually…). In basketball, two players (Derrick Coleman and John Wallace) wearing the same number broke scoring records. To reflect the importance of #44, the University’s zip code changed to 13244 and phone prefixes to 442 and 443.

Letter To My Younger Self

If you could write a letter to yourself at age 10 or 18 or 27, what would you say?

I was recently asked that question by Ellyn Spragins, the author of “If I’d Known Then” and other books that use that idea to share valuable information and advice. Ellyn came to Charlotte to speak at at the Jewish Federation of Charlotte and they asked me to sit on a panel of local women. All of us would write a letter to our younger selves.

I wasn’t sure at first what (or when) to write about. I’ve made some dumb choices, but I can’t say I have many regrets. Well, I do feel bad about not inviting some co-workers to my wedding. I was told that if I didn’t invite the whole office, I shouldn’t invite anyone. That’s just dumb (sorry Chris & Jeff!).

No too surprisingly, we decided to write about diabetes. Ellyn thought the day of Benny’s diagnosis was a time when knowing what would come next, a glimpse into the future, would have been welcome. She’s right. There’s not much I could have changed, but this letter (below) would’ve given me comfort and confidence.

Ellyn & Charlotte Panelists (1)

Panelists Emily Zimmern, Rabbi Judy Schindler, Ellyn Spragins, & me


Dear Stacey,

You are so indescribably upset. What the hell is wrong with Benny? In a moment the nurse is finally going to tell you: He has Type 1 diabetes.

As much as you’ve been desperate to hear an answer, knowing it will not bring you much comfort. In fact, it will do the opposite. You will have to learn how to push a needle into Benny’s pristine baby skin and watch his face crumple in pain and confusion about why his Mommy is hurting him. And Stacey, you’re going to have to do it five times a day.

The first month at home will be brutal. You’ll weep and sweat while trying to hold your crying child down in order to stick him. Every time he eats. Occasionally you’re going to have to do this in the middle of the night, when he’s sleeping peacefully, and follow up with an insulin shot.

There’s nothing I can say to take this heartbreak away from you and Benny. But I can tell you a couple of things that are essential you understand sooner rather than later. First, Benny’s diabetes isn’t going to get better and it isn’t going to go away. You take care of this—or it’s going to take care of you in a bad way. Which means, hard as it is to believe, it’s correct and essential that you “hurt” your child with this poking and these injections. In two weeks, neither of you will be the least bit bothered. I know—it doesn’t seem possible.

And second, in time it will be critical to understand that this isn’t your diabetes. It belongs to Benny. You have to give your children the tools to take care of themselves so that they can leave you. All parents should learn this, but you and Slade will do well by Benny if you learn it early.

Finally, take heart Stacey. This will not hold him back. He will do everything you hope for him. Imagine: when he is eight he will go to a sleep away camp—not a diabetes camp—for two weeks. Know that you will be so proud of him and of your family.

With compassion,


You can learn more about Ellyn Spragins and this project at her website (click here)

Chiquita Classic

This week I’ve been volunteering at the Chiquita Classic golf tournament. I’m in the media tent with air conditioning and candy so it’s not a bad gig. This tournament is part of the tour; the players try for spots on the PGA. It’s the new Q school, basically.

We’ve seen some incredible golf and local River Run looks beautiful on the Golf Channel. Of course, it’s Chiquita, so there are bananas all over the place:

Chiquita at River Run

Last night I was singing the Chiquita Banana song around the house. My children had no idea what I was talking about, so I pulled up the old commercial. We were surprised to realize it was designed to be educational because in 1944 bananas were an exotic tropical fruit. Don’t eat green bananas and don’t put them in the fridge!

I linked the 1940s commercial on my Facebook page when I got to the golf course this morning. Imagine my surprise when I ran into the current Miss Chiquita just a few minutes later. Too funny. She was great (the guys taping her are with Thanks for letting me tag along!)

(The guys taping her are with Thanks for letting me tag along!)

Here’s the original “educational” commercial:

And here’s me being a doofus with Miss Chiquita:

Miss Chiquita Stacey

Jenny Canales has been Miss Chiquita for 11 years. She told me it’s a great job, “Everyone smiles when they see me!”

JDRF Family Day

Big thanks to the Charlotte Checkers hockey for hosting their annual JDRF day. It’s always a fun time and it’s also the official kickoff to walk season. The JDRF walks are major fundraisers for the chapters and the family teams raise most of the money.

I’m the family team chair this year, so Benny and I were asked to speak.  Announcer Jason Shaya tapes a “Community Spotlight” segment that airs on the big screen during the hockey game.  I tried to prep Benny, but he wanted to wing it. Then we found out it was only 30 seconds long, so he decided I’d do the talking.


Also have to say a big thank you to NASCAR driver Ryan Reed.  Ryan was diagnosed with type 1 in 2011 and was told he’d never race again. Instead, he decided he’d never see that doctor again. With a new medical team, Ryan had a very successful first year on the ARCA circuit in 2012. He’s got a big announcement coming up next week about his racing future. Can’t wait!


Ryan brought his car, tricked out with a simulator for the kids. He also very patiently answered all of Benny’s questions about how to become a race car driver.  I’m trying to get Benny to see that wisdom of a front office job at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Wish me luck.

(Lots more to come on the Charlotte area JDRF walks. Please visit the chapter website for more information)