Author Archives: DJacoby

Always in My Heart

LSD - panoramaThe following are excerpts from a story published in the December 2013 issue of Panorama, an Italian Canadian publication.

Always in my Heart

A successful children’s community project in Richmond Hill

Always in my Heart is a project inspired by Liliana Guadagnoli through a Self-Expression and Leadership Program that she is currently enrolled in. She is currently the Assistant to the Chair of the French Studies Department, York University, and a co-author of a collection of poems.

The basis of the project is to help children overcome the loss of a pet, toy, object, etc., with grace and ease. Children had a guided meditation, and afterwards drew what they experienced. On Sunday, December 16th this project came to life, with many participants between the ages of 5 and 16. A surprise twist to the event came when the facilitator, Maria Grazia Bevilacqua, asked the parents to participate.

The children were extremely receptive to the meditation and instructions, which were carried through easily. It was amazing to discover that all children had addressed various losses, from toys, pets, friend and loved ones, to have the ability to find in a short period of time the happy moment after the sad moment of the loss. What was also amazing was that parents were stuck in finding their happy moment  quickly after a loss.

What both children and adults got from this event was the ability to increase awareness of their personalities through the readings of the drawings executed by Bevilacqua. The purpose of the event was to teach the children to increase their awareness, so that they won’t get stuck in their future years, making decisions for themselves and following their true purpose, creating happy lives. The event was very successful and the atmosphere was joyful and peaceful.

Stroke Support Group Comes to Ithaca

LSD - stroke support ithacaAccording to an article in the Ithaca Times, a new stroke support group is now available in Ithaca, New York, due to a project created in Landmark’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program. The Family and Friends Stroke Support Group is now a county wide outreach support resource open to the public, thanks to the efforts of Landmark graduates Joe Zanfordino and Dana Murray-Cooper.

The article reports that this group is different from other support groups that were attempted in the past, due to its support network, with connections to a variety of nursing, rehab and home-care units, as well as the Cayuga Medical Center.

Inaugurated in November,  the group meets on the first Thursday of each month from 1:30-3 pm at the Finger Lakes Independence Center on 215 Fifth Street in Ithaca. The group is open to all stroke survivors of Tompkins County, their family and their caregivers.

Read more at the Ithaca Times.


Winter Winds 2 Mile Race Fulfills Dreams

The following report come from Ty Cucarola, who participated in the Self-Expression and Leadership Program in Atlanta.

LSD - boys and girlsI began the Self-Expression and Leadership Program knowing that we would have to complete a project. What I didn’t know was that over the course of the next six months that it would change my life forever.

At the first classroom session we were asked to begin to think of our idea and present it to Larry Grayson in the next couple weeks to determine if our project idea was acceptable. I first began to think about what I wanted my target community to be. We did a project at the bank with the Boys & Girls Club over the summer where we repurposed the outdoor playground to be more functional. I began to wonder how I could impact my community and what I could do to make a difference in kids’ lives.

I reflected upon my triathlon racing and running experiences and love for fitness, and thought about doing a running race for the kids in Huntsville, Alabama. My next step was to schedule a meeting with Patrick Wynn, CEO and Harold Weatherly, COO of the Boys & Girls Club of HSV.

The first day I met with Harold Weatherly, I told him about my idea of what I saw possible. I wanted to have the kids run a race, buy them all new running shoes, and provide a new opportunity for them.

He first asked me what company I was with. I told him my name and this was my idea and I wanted to make a difference in my community. He next asked me if I had a job, I told him yes I was a commercial banker in Huntsville. He couldn’t believe my idea or proposition. I asked him if he could help me with my vision and he was enrolled and inspired day one. Next we set up a meeting with CEO Patrick Wynn.

Patrick told me I was sent here by god because he told me last year he had an idea of doing a big running event for the Boys & Girls Club but life happened and he passed up on the idea. So I was sitting there a year later in his office and his seized this opportunity and we began day one.

I next thought about what new kind of experience I could provide for the kids that would get them excited and motivated. I contacted my friend Jason Miller in Atlanta and asked if he would donate an airplane ride to the two winners of the upcoming race in February. He told me that without a doubt he would support me. He also told me he was frustrated with his airplane situation, as the current people who he was renting it to weren’t taking great care of his plane. So this prompted him to take a look at other people who he could rent his airplane to while he wasn’t using it. He met Rohan, who is a 23 year old pilot who has been flying since he was 16 years old. He started a flying school that teaches kids ages 8-17 how to fly real airplanes in Atlanta. Jason immediately became excited and decided to allow Rohan to rent his plane for his business. With Jason’s involvement he helped to impact these kids lives forever by providing an amazing day filled with fun!

After I had his commitment to provide an airplane ride, Harold and I began going to the clubs. I presented my idea to the kids to see who was interested.  My first question was has anyone ever ran a race before? Almost no one raised their hands, then I asked, “ Have you ever raced your brother or sister before?” Everyone raised their hand.

I asked them next if they would be okay with getting some new running shoes for participating in a race. Every kid was super excited about the idea of new shoes.

My final question was to find out if anyone had ever flown in an airplane before. Out of over 100 kids that I talked to only one kid raised his hand. He told me he flew to Kansas City once to visit his dad. I asked him to tell me about his experience and everyone in the room was eager to listen to what he had to say. He remembered sitting by the window and getting his wings pin from the airline attendant. Every kid looked like they wanted an opportunity to fly.

So I asked if they wanted an opportunity to fly and everyone said yes. Then I gave them an option to sign up for the race. I had 20 kids sign up and we began having weekly practices at Butler High School in which we ran around a track and started running. On the first day we ran a mile, and we increased it by one mile each week over the course of the four week training program.

I also started raising money for the shoes we needed. First I donated ten pairs and got the fund kicked off. Then I asked a salon where I get my haircut called So Vain Salon in Huntsville. Owner Rebecca Miller and I are friends – she told me she would support me. Brooke Johnson Gumbert is my friend who cuts my hair, and she and her husband Jack also got involved. Dr. Jenny Johnson, a local orthodontist and Brooke’s sister, also very willingly donated money to support buying shoes. I was able to raise $1,500 to support buying new shoes for the kids at Shoe Carnival.

Each week at practice the kids would ask me when they were getting new shoes. I would tell them I hadn’t raised enough money.  The next week Jareesh a 14-year old freshman in high school told me ‘Mr. Ty I have a gift for you.’ He gave me a green rubber band and told me every time I looked at it he wanted me to remember we needed more money so we can get our shoes. That inspirited and motivated me to get the funds necessary to ensure I fulfilled what I told them.

So on the day of the race it was crazy with excitement. It was a race called Winter Winds race. They had three options: two mile, four mile, and a fun run for little kids. All of my kids did the two mile option.

Right before the race Jareesh talked to me about how he had been thinking about the plane ride for weeks and told me how bad he wanted it. At practice he was the second fastest kid so I didn’t expect him to win. He asked for advice and I told him, to run as fast as he could and never to look back until he was at the finish line. I told him I would be waiting at the finish line for him.

So he was the first kid to cross the finish line, and the first thing he said was ‘Did I win? Did I win?’ I was so excited to tell him he did! The best feeling I have ever felt was that day when I saw all my kids cross the finish line.

Kaneesha was the girl who ran the fastest time – she was a 15 year old girl who went to Huntsville High School.

The next Saturday was the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced.  With the help of Jason Miller and Rohan we were able to give the kids their first ever flying experience. The look in those kids’ eyes was the most amazing feeling after they landed after flying for an hour. They were so happy and mesmerized by what had happened that day. Not only did Rohan give them a flight but he allowed them to fly the plane! This is by far the most rewarding thing I have ever done for my community, and this is just the beginning.

My friend Jason Miller and I are planning on getting in touch with someone at the Atlanta office and we are going to do a race in Atlanta in the spring. He also wants to do something with kids and flying in Atlanta.

This was the best experience – it allowed me to be my possibility of friendship, trust, fearlessness, and new adventures.

People began to see me for not as the past told me I was but as my new possibilities say that I am.

This was the most profound project I have ever done in my life. I learned so many things that will allow me to make a difference in other peoples lives.

Special thanks to Larry Grayson my coach Betzalel and everyone in my Self-Expression and Leadership class – you each are amazing powerful individuals who can impact the world!

Ty Cucarola

You can see more about the event in this coverage from WAAY Television.

Mystic Celt Event Supports Emergency Water System in Phillipines

LSD - water philippinesA project created in Landmark’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program is on its way to raising $10,000 to build an emergency water system in Quezon City in the Philippines, an area still impacted by the devastating 2013 typhoon.

The crowd sourced fundraising campaign is culminating with ‘Drinks for Drinks’, an open bar event at Mystic Celt in Chicago, where supporters pay $25 for unlimited drinks and have a chance to win a variety of raffle prizes. Children International is the beneficiary of this event and the $10,000 campaign, with 100% of the money raised going directly towards building this particular water system.

The event is being held this Friday, February 28, starting at 9pm and going until midnight – Mystic Celt is located at 3443 N. Southport in Chicago.

To contribute or find out more, check out the Water Well Wishes Crowdrise campaign.

‘Fun, Flirty, Fabulous’ Run Aims to Inspire Women

LSD - fun, flirty & fabulousThe second annual ‘Fun, Firty and Fabulous 5&5′ race is taking place in Forest Park, St. Louis on Sunday, February 16th. The first race took place a year ago when founder Shannon Schindler, then participating in Landmark’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program, founded it as a way to empower women to get in shape and feel good about themselves.

The race is titled ‘5&5′ because there are both five mile and five kilometer events – it’s designed so that a more experienced runner can invite a less experienced runner to participate with them.

The event is being supported by a wide variety of local sponsors,and proceeds from the race are benefiting the Bridgeway Women’s Center in St. Charles. Read more at the Fun, Flirty and Fabulous website.

Covered Bridge Run Blossoms

LSD - ottowa citizenBack in 2011, one resident of Wakefield, Canada, took on creating the Wakefield Covered Bridge Run as her project in Landmark’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program. The Ottowa Citizen reports that since then, the planned one time event has expanded into an entire event management company which has raised more than $42,000 for community charities.

Dayne Chicoine’s Aegle Events has raised money for a hockey pad project, the Wakefield Emergency Fund, and the Wakefield Grannies, who provide financial assistance to women in South Africa who are caring for AIDS-orphaned grandchildren.

The second covered bridge run last year drew 438 participants, and Chicoine hopes this year’s run in May will reach 1,000 people. Her group also started a separate nighttime ‘Moonlight Run’ in September. Chicoine credits the support of the people around her:

“The community supported me 100 per cent.”