8th Annual Lovely Rita Fundraiser hosted by Twirly Girls Pole Fitness

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Note from Lori: When I started Twirly Girls in December of 2009, a group of friends were scheduled to come with me. Everyone backed out, except one — and that was Rita.  I met Rita a couple of years before, not long after she’d had her third kidney transplant.  We have certainly enjoyed many adventures together over the years and I wanted to share a little bit about her story to help people understand why Twirly Girls hosts the Lovely Rita fundraiser every year.

This is Rita’s story, in her own words, modified from a speech she gave for the National Kidney Foundation:

Tenacity: the quality or fact of being very determined; continuing to exist; persistence.

I would ask that you keep this word in mind for the next several minutes.

Hello, my name is Rita Pearson. I am a three-time kidney transplant recipient. Today I am here to tell my story of life with kidney disease. This journey began 40 years ago as an 11 year old girl from Reno Nevada who liked to play outside, ride bikes, play kickball and twirl on the “monkey bars.”  You would call my family “outdoorsy”,  with the Sierra Nevadas as our back drop, who wouldn’t be?  On one of many trips in the mountains my fath28572_10150192164325386_1092904_ner fell and sprained his ankle.  It became very swollen.  That night, when he and I were talking, he stuck his swollen leg out and I placed my leg next to his.  I remember saying “Look.  My leg is swollen too.” My very worried mother took me to the doctor the next day. This was the first of many doctor visits, and lab tests that would become a staple in my life.  I think I have personally helped many doctors pay back their student loans.

15181571_10157663046430386_1705810351766816609_nThe final result was a diagnosis of Membranoproliferative Glomerulonephritis. These are very long words for an 11-year-old girl and her worried mom. I was put on alternating high dosages of prednisone and high blood pressure medication and sent home.  My poor mom.  Can you imagine?  Adolescence, hormones and prednisone. I gained a round face, mood swings and a sense of not being right or just different.  A low immune system kept me away from people. I became withdrawn and lost.  Kidney disease does that. It isolates you.  Anyone with kidney disease must find inner strength to make sure they are not left behind and are included in life.  Somehow, through sheer determination, my mom and I survived and I made it through high school.  From there, college.  I am the first of my family to graduate college.  It is here I met my husband, David.  One thing led to another and we have been married for 25 years.  It was during my first year of marriage I was to start dialysis.  However, I was very fortunate.  On the day I was to have the fistula installed I received my first miracle call.  A cadaver kidney was waiting.  Get here quick.  I was 26 years old and a young, professional woman.  I wanted a normal life.  I wanted to be a mom.

Prior to my first transplant, I had been told I could not have children and even if I one day could, it was not recommended.

Surprisingly, three years after my first transplant I was told that I could have a child. I would need to be at least three years post-transplant and healthy. My husband and I waited the required time. Once again, persistence, patience. I became a mom to a smart, beautiful girl. We call her Kate. She is now attending St. Mary’s College and is spending this school year in Italy. Despite the obstacles, this dream came true.16298822_10158034218900386_9016536943024915798_n

I then went back to a normal life as a transplant patient, mom, wife and professional. However, in 2002 my transplant failed and I was again forced to decide the type of dialysis to undertake. I chose hemodialysis so that I would be at home with my family. I continued to work while doing dialysis four times per day. It was horribly physically and emotionally draining experience but I and my family soldiered on. During this time, we tested my husband on a lark and found out that he was actually a perfect match for me. While he was going through all of the hoops to donate, a second cadaver kidney became available. We, of course, jumped on the opportunity.

Once again, back to normal life. However, this kidney never really took and in 2007 or so, it failed. This time, I opted for peritoneal dialysis three times per week. No one should ever have to live this daily or weekly torture. But the third time is the magic number and on June 20, 2008, while celebrating my husband’s birthday, we were called about a cadaver kidney and on June 21, I received my third transplant.

And as we say life goes on and here we are today eight years later.

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I have been asked many times what is it like to have a lifelong struggle with disease. Here is a list of cons and pros:

I like to end on the positives.

 

Cons

  • Energy is needed in life! I just do not have the same energy as others.
  • I do not have an strong immune system. I have spent long periods of time isolated because of it. Next time you know of someone who is struggling, go get them and take them on a mini adventure. It keeps them engaged in life.
  • I would really like to get back the time spent at doctors, hospitals, and getting lab tests done. Time is a precious commodity in life. Make sure you treat it with respect.
  • Mood swings — Prednisone and adolescence do not mix. (I’m sorry family!)
  • My little girl watched me through two transplants and several years of dialysis. No child should have to watch their mom get so weak and tired.

Now for the good stuff, the Pros:

  • I get to see how precious each and every day is. Actually I know this.  Not in theory, or some Facebook post.  But I know this to my very bones.
  • I realize the importance of being able to walk and think clearly. These are gifts many take for granted.
  • I am so very thankful for my family. I know to tell them frequently. Because you never know what the future holds.  But I know they know how precio13902793_10208815363915191_6318670003092494437_nus each of them is to me.
  • I do not sweat the small stuff. It is the big stuff that matters.

What I would like the medical profession to understand about living with a lifelong chronic disease:

Having to deal with health issues every day touches everything in my life. My energy, my ability to walk, sit, run or just plan or think, my relationships with everyone and more. Finding energy to do anything is a constant re-negotiation each and every day.  I hope to be able to do X, if my legs do not swell up, if I do not get dizzy, if I can form a coherent thought in my brain addled with all the extra unwanted chemicals in my system. But it is the isolation from life and people that is the hardest part.  Being forced to stay at home and rest my broken body means I miss out on many opportunities and it is sooooo boring.  I want to say yes to everything.  My mind is there, but my body just cannot make it.10431547_10154342097295386_2495616221514645801_n

This fatigue and forced rest has not been fair to my family. They have to pick up my slack.  I cannot tell how much I hate not being able to go the extra mile for them.  Not always being there.

One thing everyone can do today is to call someone who is stuck at home. Better yet, take them out for 30 minutes or maybe it is just 20 minutes.  Just a little freedom makes a huge difference.

In conclusion, this journey has made me the person I am. Looking back, I would not change a thing.

A post-script from Lori: I want to thank all of the Twirly Girls who have helped make the Lovely Rita Fundraiser a success in years-past and who are preparing for this year’s event.  We really do appreciate all of the time spent preparing routines, as well as the items and money donated.  I want to personally recognize Diana for bringing in the bleachers and giving people a place to actually sit (I’ve attended many events where you have to sit on the floor) and also Bel for donating so much studio time to make this such a great event. 27197_111757455504506_8171919_n

Rita ran into some more health problems almost a year ago and hasn’t been able to make it to class in quite a while. I know many new students don’t know Rita personally and have probably been wondering why we put on this event.  I hope this helps you understand a little bit more about Rita.

Please save the date! Twirly Girls’ 8th Annual Lovely Rita Fundraiser will be held Saturday, April 22.  Ticket sales and raffles will benefit the National Kidney Foundation.  We are looking for performers, volunteers, and raffle items to be donated.  If you would like to be involved, please let Bel know!  And if you have any questions, or would like to drop Rita a note, please feel free to join the Twirly Girls group on Facebook and leave comments there!  We look forward to seeing you in April!

Trick or Twirl is about a week away!

Twirly Girls’ annual Halloween showcase is scheduled for Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 4:00 PM.  We will be holding this event at a gym in San Ramon (so, no AC or bathroom issues!!).  If you haven’t picked up your tickets, contact Bel ASAP (www.TwirlyGirlsPoleFitness.com).  Tickets are $15.  NO TICKETS WILL BE SOLD AT THE DOOR AND TICKETS MUST BE PAID FOR IN ADVANCE.  So many people missed out in April when the Lovely Rita Fundraiser sold out, so don’t get left out of this performance.  We have a lot of amazing dancers who are working hard on their routines!

If you are on Facebook, you can get info about the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/424882527568304/?fref=ts

That day, we will also be releasing the Twirly Girls 2013 Calendar, which benefits the Lovely Rita Fundraiser and the National Kidney Foundation.  Calendars are only $15.  Check out a sneak peak here:

We are very excited to share what we’ve been working on this summer.  Come out and support your local arts and TGs!

Planning the Twirly Girls 2013 Calendar!

Hi Twirly Girls and Boys!

It is time to shoot the Twirly Girls calendar for 2013!  100% of the proceeds will benefit the National Kidney Foundation in connection with our Lovely Rita Fundraiser.

Here are the rules this year:

We ask for a $50 donation to help cover the cost of printing.  In return, you will receive a copy of the edited photo chosen for the calendar (once the calendar is released in November).  First come, first served.  This means: If you have a certain month in which you would like to appear, then the first to pay will be the first to choose their month (please provide us with more than one option should your desired month already be chosen).  Photoshoot schedules will be assigned the same way.

The first calendar shoot has been scheduled the morning of the already-scheduled paid shoots.  So four months will be shot Sunday, July 22nd.  The first shoot will be at 10 AM, with appointments happening every hour, on the hour.  The final appointment slot will be at 3 PM.  Please remember, this is for charity and all money will need to be collected prior to the photoshoot.  No refunds for cancellations.

Each month can have up to three people.  If you do not want to appear in the calendar alone, you must put your own group together.  The donation amount may be shared with your partner/group members.  However, you will still only receive the one photo (chosen by us) that appears in the calendar (i.e., these photoshoots are not being set up for personal use, but if time allows, we may be able to let you have some photo time with Andrew, or you may have the opportunity to purchase photos not used for the calendar after the calendar has been released).

A theme will be chosen and costumes/outfits should be run by Bel, Rita and/or Lori prior to your photoshoot.

Three photoshoot dates/times will be set up in advance.  Four months will be shot per photoshoot.  We cannot set up one on one shoots or shoot around individual schedules.  Expect the second and third shoots to happen on a Saturday or Sunday as well, mostly likely in August.  The goal is to have all photos shot by September so that the calendar can go to print by October 1st and we can release the calendar at the Trick or Twirl event the first weekend of November (more details to come).  However, hopefully this will help you understand why we are up against a strict deadline.  If you are in the calendar, please plan to attend the Trick or Twirl showcase so that you can be included in the calendar release party as well!

ALSO, Local business owners/pole related business owners: If you are willing to contribute $100 toward printing costs, you get a business card sized ad on the back of the calendar. Initial printing is 100 calendars.

If you are interested in being in the calendar, please contact Lori ASAP.  Thanks!

E-mail: tazzie2010 at yahoo.com
Tel: (925) 997-8250

The Third Annual Lovely Rita Fundraiser to Benefit the National Kidney Foundation!

The Third Annual Lovely Rita Fundraiser to benefit the National Kidney Foundation is ALMOST HERE!  It will consist of two weekends of workshops and a showcase.

First up, on Saturday, April 14th, there will be a Burlesque Workshop with Lori at 12:30 PM. 

http://www.meetup.com/Twirly-Girls-Pole-Fitness/events/58918022/

Come learn a cute burlesque routine and help us raise money for the National Kidney Foundation.

$25 for one person or two people for $40. ALL money raised goes to the National Kidney Foundation. Must be paid in advance. No refunds. Please contact Bel to pay ASAP (http://www.twirlygirlspolefitness.com/).

There will be a special gift for all participants!

Then stick around for GLITTER SHOES with Diana at 3 PM!

http://www.meetup.com/Twirly-Girls-Pole-Fitness/events/58919562/

You bring the shoes, we provide the supplies!

Turn a BLAH pair of shoes into BLING!

Advanced sign up is required (to ensure enough glitter in your chosen color is available). Please contact Bel (www.twirlygirlspolefitness.com).

$30 per person.

On Sunday, April 15th at 11:30 AM, Jade will hold the Primal Seduction Workshop.

http://www.meetup.com/Twirly-Girls-Pole-Fitness/events/58866512/

Feel Sensual, sexy, powerful and primal during this 90 minute workshop.
$25 per person ~ All levels welcome.
Please call Bel to sign up. Space limited. Bring in your sexy shoes if you’d like.

And the BIGGIE!

The Third Annual Lovely Rita Fundraiser will be held on Sunday, April 22nd at 5:00 p.m.  We will have a raffle, silent auction and showcase featuring many of the Twirly Girls.  All money raised goes to the National Kidney Foundation.  Tickets are ONLY $10!  Space is very limited and tickets should be purchased in advance.

http://www.meetup.com/Twirly-Girls-Pole-Fitness/events/58918652/

https://www.facebook.com/TheLovelyRita
http://www.TwirlyGirlsPoleFitness.com/

Come witness the love and support that the Twirly Girls give their Lovely Rita when they dance to celebrate an amazing woman.

The event contains pole dancing and aerial silks performances. There is NO nudity and this is a family-friendly event.

Raffle tickets are available now and you do not need to be present to win.  Three tickets for $5.  Eight tickets for $10.  Twenty tickets for $20.  

Prize list so far (more prizes are pouring in every day):

Sephora gift basket, Reiki session, massages, bodywork, various Twirly Girls classes or private sessions (Aerial Silks with Sarah, Graceful Moves, Spinny Pole with Diana, Sassy Pants with Lori), Twirly Girls apparel, wine, champagne, Jamilla Deville Routines DVD.

You must attend the event to bid on the silent auction items.  Those items include a plane ride around the Bay Area and Golden Gate Bridge with our very own Maleko, $2,400 worth of dental work from Dr. Jerry Wang, Giants baseball tickets, tickets to Sunday’s A Drag at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room at the top of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, and a photoshoot with Liquidpulp Photography.

You can find details on www.TwirlyGirlsPoleFitness.comYou MUST contact Bel to sign up beforehand.  Checks can be made payable to The National Kidney Foundation.  They will not be cashed until the Kidney Walk in May.

PRE-SALE of the Twirly Girls 2012 Calendar to Benefit the NKF!

Twirly Girls is about to release their 2012 calendar to benefit the Lovely Rita Fundraiser and the National Kidney Foundation.  We thank our sponsors:  Mighty Grip; Jerry Wang, DDS; Senior photographer, Andrew Fryxell of Liquidpulp Photography; and photographer, Johnny Hernandez.

Calendars are $20 this year.  They are larger than last year’s and spiral-bound.  Checks should be made payable to Lori Myers.   (If you PAID to be part of the calendar, don’t forget, you will get two calendars.)

The calendar is at the printer’s and will be done around November 11, 2011.  There are two ways to get your calendar!

You can either contact Lori Myers at tazzie2010@yahoo.com  for an address to which you can send payment.  If you would like to have the calendar shipped, please add $2.  If you would like to use a credit card, please add an additional $2.   She will send you a Paypal link.

Your second option is to stop by Twirly Girls Pole Fitness in Pleasanton on Friday, November 18, 2011 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.  We will show you a taste of the new classes being offered and you can pick up your calendar.  Anyone who buys a calendar at the studio that night will be automatically entered into a drawing for a FREE class for up to five people.

Check out a preview of the calendar here (and thank you to Rita for putting this video together):