The BEST Ball Boys

While in college, Miles and his best buddy Josh worked as the official ball boys for CMS Volleyball.  They wore matching volleyball “Game Day” t-shirts, complete with festive and/or themed accessories that changed weekly.  These #1 and #2 Athena fans made sure that every player always had a volleyball in hand when needed, and they could be counted on for the highest fives (literally) after every game.  Word on the street is that this spirited and dynamic ball shagging duo might be making an on court appearance at the Dig Deep, Beat Cancer event tomorrow – OMG WHAT?!?!  Yes, we can only keep our fingers crossed and hope.  Miles, Josh, and our beloved Emily will all be in Claremont to support the Athenas and Regals who have joined Emily’s fight against lung cancer.  It would be oh so nice to see you there too 🙂

By The Numbers

Two years ago on the 4th of July, Emily and Miles had a “destination wedding” in Sacramento. The four joyous days were like summer camp, packed with rafting down the American River, bowling at a rented alley, a wine walk through Midtown, and transportation via school bus.  Their wedding truly reflected their priorities—friends, family, and fun.

When the bride and groom asked Miles’ sister, EmTay, to do a reading during their ceremony, she pointed out the irony: they are not exactly the biggest readers, except for Sports Illustrated and US Weekly (and even more ironic, Sports Illustrated arrives addressed to Emily, and US Weekly is addressed to Miles).  So in lieu of a reading, EmTay compiled a list of stats on these two college athletes as a couple:

September 2003

When Emily and Miles first met at a college party.  Miles was serving as his roommate Josh’s wingman, and thought Emily would be perfect for Josh.

372

# of nights during college, before dating Emily, that Miles fell asleep to the classic How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days.

1

# of dates Emily went on with a Clippers cheerleader.  Yes, she found the only league in the NBA with male cheerleaders.

13

# of months it took for Miles to win Emily over.  His only obstacles:  his roommate, Josh, and that Clippers cheerleader.

1.5

# of months it took Miles to tell Emily that he loved her.

$400

The amount Miles earned working as the Ball Boy for Emily’s volleyball team.

$500

The amount Miles spent on international phone calls when Emily studied abroad in Spain.

93

# of Steelers games Emily has watched since Miles converted her to a hard core fan.

40

# of pounds Miles has gained since they started dating.

95%

% of bugs killed by Emily during their relationship.

5

# of years it took Miles to propose.

50%

% of time the groom fell asleep during wedding planning.

100%

The certainty of this marriage lasting forever.

We’ve recently started studying other statistics – those for lung cancer.  One of the biggest surprises is that lung cancer gets the least amount of research funding dollars and kills the most people (more than breast, prostate, colon, liver, melanoma, and kidney cancers combined).

Here are a few more statistics:

80%

% of lung cancer patients who are non-smokers or haven’t smoked in decades.

450

# of people that die every day from lung cancer in the U.S. (that’s 19 an hour).

4%

The fraction of funding that lung cancer research receives compared to breast cancer.

15%

The overall survival rate for lung cancer, which hasn’t changed in 40 years.

Due to breakthroughs in medical research, the survival rates for almost all other cancers have dramatically improved.  Breast cancer has advanced to a 94% survival rate, and prostate cancer is now at 99%.  However, since lung cancer is still viewed as a smoker’s disease, it doesn’t get the necessary funding.  This won’t change unless there is greater awareness, which is what we are trying to do.  And of course, drive Emily’s survival rate to 100%.

Stronger Than Cancer

Ashley Fricks-Gleason was two years ahead of Emily in college but their paths crossed as fellow members of the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) athletic family.  Ashley played on the CMS softball team and was also a CMS athletic trainer who would help Emily prep for practices and games.  Earlier this month, Ashley made an incredible gesture in support of Emily.  While the 1,347+ times that Ashley taped Emily’s ankles for volleyball in college offered substantial physical support, her most recent gesture bolstered Emily’s spirits beyond measure.

Ashley (in red) and her friend and husband spelling out C-M-S just for Emily

On August 4th Ashley took part in the “Survivors at the Summit” event held at the Snowbird Mountain Resort in Utah.  This was the 16th year of the event benefiting the Cancer Wellness House, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free resources to anyone whose life has been affected by cancer.  One facet of the event is the “Hidden Peak Celebration of Life” where anyone living with a history of cancer, their friends and families, and those who have lost a friend or relative to cancer are invited to hike the trail up to Hidden Peak.  Ashley hiked 4.5 miles from the base of Snowbird to the top of Hidden Peak (11,000 feet) where she hung a prayer flag at the summit honoring Emily and her current fight against lung cancer.

Prayer Flags at the top of Hidden Peak

Emily’s bright yellow flag will remain on top of the mountain flying amongst the flags of hundreds of other incredible people whose lives have been touched by cancer.  Ashley also sent Emily the official event t-shirt emblazoned (in perfect CMS colors!) with the motto Stronger Than Cancer.  There is no doubt that with the incredible array of support that Emily has received from Ashley and countless others, combined with her top notch clinical team and treatment regimen, and her own mental strength and endurance, Emily is 100% stronger than cancer.

It was around October of 2004…

Groom Miles and ‘Best Buddy’ Josh

Josh Zazulia (JZ) was Miles’ best friend in college and served as ‘Best Buddy’ when Emily and Miles tied the knot.  When the devastating news of Emily’s cancer broke he put the accrued airline miles from his work as a consultant to altruistic use by covering the Bennett’s most recent flight to Memphis.  The following excerpt is a JZ original.  It will make you laugh.  It will make you cry.  Read the whole thing, I promise you will not regret it.  It will make your day.

It was around October of 2004.  The Claremont McKenna College annual formal dance, Monte Carlo, was happening at the end of the month.  I was happily taken.  My best friend, Miles, was not.  Not really the Playboy type, Miles didn’t talk about girls much.  I was pretty pumped to have two dates.

Quick little side story for context: Our Junior year in college Miles and I lived in Benson dorm.  For the first time in college we weren’t living together.  To ease the pain, we got singles right next to each other.  So close, yet so far.  Yet, so close.  We were a 5 step, 12 second walk away from each other.  Entire conversations were had from our separate rooms, through open doors.  We treated the setup more like a two bedroom apartment with a common area between us.  Other people living in the dorm didn’t matter.  And, at this point in time, I don’t think I had ever received an email from Miles.  In my life.

It was around October of 2004.  Inbox (1).  Mtaylor06@claremontmckenna.edu has sent jzazulia06@claremontmckenna.edu a message.  I wish I remembered the password to my school account; boy would I love to read this email again.  Instead, I must paraphrase…

Click here to read on, you will be so happy you did…