TeamCallen Goes Gold!

TeamCallen wants to raise the bar on childhood cancer awareness and advocacy, and what better time to do that than during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month?! Those of us who are family and friends continually witness the incredible strength, perseverance and love that the Tyson family and other families battling childhood cancers display day in and day out, and at the same time we wonder what we can do to REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE. How can we move the needle on battling childhood cancers?

Our answer is this: The Inaugural ‘TeamCallen Goes Gold!’ event. What is that? Well, TeamCallen is partnering with Ravenchase Adventures in RVA to host an adventure that is part National Treasure hunt, part Amazing Race, and part Escape Room challenge. TeamCallen wants to see children, youth, teens, and families coming out to fight for other children, youth and teens battling cancers along side of their amazing families.

9/10/16 UPDATE: We have some exciting additions to our event! Carytown Burger and Fries has partnered with us and will be at the finish line with its food truck to feed hungry scavengers. Carytown Burger will further support this event by making a donation to Connor's Heroes Foundation. And for those of you looking for something sweet, the Baking Divas Cheesecakes will also be on site serving up some delicious desserts.

When is this? On Sunday, September 25, from 11-1, we want to paint the town GOLD by taking part in this team challenge adventure and supporting an end to childhood cancers. Funds raised will go to support childhood cancer research and local families.

Registration is happening NOW! Just click on the URL below, and that will take you to the information and registration form. For this inaugural event, we are going low tech (but HIGH energy) and asking for folks to print the form and mail in registration and payment.

Download registration here!

We want to see downtown RVA in GOLD on September 25. Will you be there with us?!?!

The Millennial Donor is in Sight

Callen once asked me, “Mom, do people die when they run out of blood?”.

Just four year’s old at the time, he had already received his first blood transfusion- and clearly understood the relationship between blood and life. That day I made a promise to him that he would never run out of blood, and our relationship with the American Red Cross was born.

Two years, 20 drives and 925 donated units of blood later, YOU have done your part to help me keep that promise to my son. But between red cell and platelet transfusions, and now weekly IVIG infusions, Callen’s need for blood products has far outpaced those units donated in his honor. And he is but one of many in RVA who depend on your gift of life. Who have come to hope that when there is need, there is blood in the bank. Who depend on your life for theirs.

I humbly ask you to join me for our next blood drive at St. Mary’s Hospital [directions] on August 23rd from 12-6pm. St. Mary’s is where Callen received his diagnosis of cancer, his first unit of blood, and- with your help- it is where we will collect the 1,000th unit donated in his honor. To sign up, please use this link or go to and enter the sponsor code TeamCallen.

Thank you for keeping the promise alive!

Katie Tyson

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It started with a piece of toast. Or, more accurately, half of a piece of toast. The half with the jelly on it – the jelly that he asked for , mind you.

After toasting the bread “crunchy with butter”, as per his specifications, Callen asked about jelly. Did we have any? What kind?

I checked and double checked: was he really sure about the jelly? Jelly is, quite literally, not “his jam”. Yes, there’s an occasional request for a dusting of cinnamon and sugar, or a slight variation in the desired degree of crunchiness or amount of butter, but never ever jelly. He eschews anything that even remotely resembles a sandwich - and this would be one swipe of nut butter away from that.

But he was insistent.

The options were reviewed; he settled on grape (as if there’s any other kind when you’re six!). I turned the squeezable bottle end-over and, much to Callen’s delight, the container made a farting noise just before the jelly plopped onto his perfectly toasted and buttered bread.

He ate the plain half first. And while he did, my mind wandered to a beautiful place where lunchtime was infinitely easier because he now ate sandwiches.

He moved on to the jellied half. Bite. Chew. Swallow. Reject.

“Too much jelly!”, he exclaimed.

I took the knife and scraped off the jelly, then blotted the bread in a vain effort to remove any vestige of grape. But the color tinge remained. The fruity scent lingered. And more stubborn than that stinky purple stain on white bread was Callen’s insistence that he would not eat it.

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Space Travel

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but when I was in college Dave Matthews dropped by my apartment and used my bathroom. (I know, right?!?!?!)

To this day, that remains my most impressive (and singular) brush with fame – and he wasn’t even famous yet! Dave was just some guy with a band that we listened to at some bar on Thursday nights where the cover was cheap and the beer was cheaper. I hung on his every word then, and continued to do so for many years after our worlds expanded beyond the city limits of Charlottesville (Dave’s, perhaps, a bit more remarkably than my own).

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