Dance Classes, Camps and Birthday Parties: Bella Ballerina

Bella Ballerina‘s dance classes and celebrations for young dancers are full of magic and wonder, and Alice and I had a chance to experience that magic firsthand. We visited the Bella Ballerina Leesburg studio for a special mother-daughter Alice in Wonderland dance class and tea party.

I was extremely impressed by the beautiful studio, the quality of the ballet mini-dance class Alice received as part of the celebration and the loving, kind teachers. The decorations and treats offered at the party were also top-notch! There was story time, a craft — painting her own tea party mug — and a stocked goodie bag, too. No element of an ideal kids’ party was left out.

Bella Birthday Celebrations seek to help young dance-loving kids celebrate their special days. Their parties include a dance class and party attendee performance, crafts and games, a cupcake party and adorable party favors for the guests. There is also a special presentation of the birthday girl. I love how Bella handles all the party details for busy parents. Currently, the Leesburg and Brambleton studios are offering $25 off parties booked in May 2019!

Dance classes at Bella Ballerina are offered for ages 18 months to 10 years, and their core classes focus on the basics of ballet, tap and jazz. The Leesburg and Brambleton studios also offer Bella Beats Hip Hop classes for ages four and up, Bella Broadway musical theatre classes for ages four and up, and Bella Bundle prenatal and baby wearing fitness classes for moms!

And if you are looking for summer camps for kids age three-nine, spaces still remain…just sayin’.

Thank you Bella Ballerina for inviting Alice and me for a fabulous afternoon in your studio. We were hosted at this event. This is not a sponsored post.

Bake for Good: Get Kids Involved in Service Learning

This is a sponsored post.

As a mom, I’m always looking for easy ways to incorporate service learning and giving back locally with my kids. Finding a meaningful, yet kid-friendly, social good project is so important. King Arthur Flour’s Bake for Good program and their local partnership with the City of Gaithersburg fits the bill.

King Arthur Flour has teamed up with the City of Gaithersburg for their Hunger Awareness Month initiatives to fight local food insecurity. King Arthur Flour is offering free baking programs in the city and at local schools for in-school events to spread the joy of baking. These programs teach kids to bake and also to donate the fruits of their baking to others. Think of it as positive social change through the gift of bread.

Individuals, families, and businesses are joining the Bake for Good Gaithersburg cause, and you (and your kids) can too!

Donate to the Hungry

Donate funds, packaged foods and homemade baked goods to one of the hunger relief organizations  or housing shelters in Gaithersburg. (Not all organizations accept homemade food, please call ahead to check.)

 

Bake for Good and Share Joy

Pick a kid-friendly baking recipe and gift your fresh-baked love to family, friends, teachers and others who make your world a better place. Eve, Alice and I made the Bake for Good Kids Bread Recipe, using the awesomely adorable kid-facing recipe booklet you can download here.  It was our first time making real bread with yeast, something I had assumed would be a daunting task. But it was so easy! And delicious.

The Bake for Good Kids Bread recipe highlights the message of giving, because it yields a one loaf of bread for the kids to keep, and one to donate to loved ones or someone in need. This is one of the recipes the Bake for Good team is sharing in local schools, and I know those students will love baking bread to both enjoy themselves and to share.

Learn how you can request a King Arthur Flour Bake for Good In-School Demonstration or Self-Directed Group Baking Activity. King Arthur Flour provides the flour and materials!

Pledge to Make a Difference

Whether you decide to Bake for Good with your kids, or donate in another way to a local hunger organization, be sure to sign the online pledge at Bake for Good Gaithersburg. Let’s help reach of the goal of 1,000 local donations!

Thank you to King Arthur Flour for sponsoring this important program and asking my family and I to get involved. 

 

 

 

 

 

ZooAmerica Family Events and Hersheypark Lowest Ticket Price

 

ZooAmerica in Hershey, PA Rocks

Our DC area families loves a trip to nearby Hershey, Pennsylvania, “The Sweetest Place on Earth.  One of our favorite places to visit in Hershey is ZooAmerica, an accredited zoo committed to the conservation of North American wildlife and habitats. ZooAmerica is open all of March through the end of the year, and is just waiting for you to visit! They also have launched new programs this month especially for younger children. 

Mommy & Me Days: Every Monday in March from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

This weekly event offers a sweet opportunity for parents to get out of the house and spend quality time with their little ones. On Mommy & Me Days, zoo-goers can participate in animal encounters, an animal enrichment activity and other happenings, all of which are included with standard admission.

Animal Tales: Every Tuesday in March at 9:30 AM and 1:30 PM

This program for children ages 3-5 includes an animal-friendly story, craft activity, short walk around the zoo, snack and special meeting with different animals each week. Both single session and full session registration is available. The regular rate per session is $30 or $95 for all four sessions. There is also a season pass rate of $25 per session or $75 for all four sessions.

Teddy Bear and Friends Day: Sunday March 24 from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Kids 12 and under are invited to bring their favorite stuffed animal to ZooAmerica on March 24 for Teddy Bear and Friends Day! Youngsters can stop by the Teddy Bear Repair Clinic with their stuffed animal friend for a check-up by a real veterinarian or Zoo naturalist. There will also be a Teddy Bear scavenger hunt and a parade led by Ranger Scratch and his friends! All activities are included in standard admission.

ZooAmerica Admission Free with Hershey Park Tickets

Guests of Hersheypark receive access to visit ZooAmerica free of charge on the day of their ticket. You can also visit ZooAmerica on its own, without purchasing full Hershey Park tickets for the reasonable rate of $10.50-$12.50, and kids under 2 are free. An annual pass to ZooAmerica is $125 for a family of four (extra family members $20 each), offering unlimited visits in 2019 and special perks. 

On Sale Now: Get the Best Price of Summer on Hershey Park Tickets 

The sweetest deal of the year is here! Buy tickets now to use this summer and you’ll score the lowest price of the season. You will save more than 40 percent off tickets when you purchase by March 31 for use on dates of your choice Memorial Day through Labor Day. 

Get 1 Day Tickets for $39.95 (regularly $68.95), and 2 Day Tickets for $34 per day (regularly $44.50 per day). Kids age 2 and under are free. 2 Day Tickets do not have to be used consecutively — providing another awesome way to same! Get the BIG ticket discount here. 

These ticket provide unlimited access to rides and entertainment, access to The Boardwalk water park, and access to ZooAmerica. You’ll skip the park ticket line, too, as your tickets will be delivered via email upon purchase. 

Let’s hear it for spring and summer! I know I’m ready….

Our Hershey Experiences 

Hershey Family Getaway

Best of Hersheypark A-Z

Girls Getaway to Hershey, PA for Wine and Food Festival at Hotel Hershey 

October Must Do: Hershey Park in the Dark 

Winter Wonder Bus Makes ZooLights and DC Outings Fun for Families

The holiday season is such a special time to head into DC, and the DC Circulator’s Winter Wonder Busmakes it even more fun with the family!

The DC Circulator’s Winter Wonder Bus is having its second annual run and is quickly becoming a local holiday tradition. This year, DC Circulator is sponsoring a seasonal shuttle from the Woodley Park Metro Station to the Smithsonian National Zoo for ZooLights, featuring the Winter Wonder Bus. You can ride this holiday express from 5-10 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays now through January 1st.  This special loop shuttle is just $1 one-way, and ZooLights admission is free, so this outing is not only enjoyable for all ages but super affordable, too!

You have never boarded a DC bus, or any mode of public transportation, quite so festive! The entire bus is decked out for the holiday season, from its exterior wrap of zoo animals in the snow to its blinged-out interior of decorations.

My kids were completely tickled by the tinsel and ornaments that covered the interior. Alice had to check out all of the custom holiday animal window decals, and Eve discovered a special miniature winter scape in the back row of the bus.

My husband Chris and I loved that we were able to take Metro to the Woodley Park stop, and thanks to the Winter Wonder Bus, get the kids to ZooLights without the cold trek up Connecticut Avenue to the Zoo. And we all adored Zoolights! We had a blast walking through the Zoo’s holiday nighttime transformation, with 500,000 LED lights set to music, kiddie rides, tasty winter treats and drinks, musical performances and holiday shopping.

On a Friday, Saturday or Sunday evening you too can catch the Winter Wonder Bus when taking the DC Circulator ZooLights shuttle. Simply step out of the Woodley Park Metro station and look for the Circulator bus stop signs and the special light blue and white wrapped bus. Pay $1 per person and enjoy your holiday-tastic trip to the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Panda Plaza. When it’s time for you to head back home, you can take the shuttle from Panda Plaza back to the Woodley Park Metro.

In addition to the weekend ZooLights shuttle, the Winter Wonder Bus also operates all six DC Circulator routes through January 1, taking happy holiday goers from Dupont Circle to Georgetown and Rosslyn, from Eastern Market to L’Enfant Plaza, from Congress Heights to Union Station and more!  Check out the daily route schedule here.

All new DC Circulator buses, including the Winter Wonder Bus, have free WiFi and USB charging ports! These perks make snapping pics and sharing on social media with the hashtag #WinterWonderBus all the easier. Check out the happy holiday shares on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and join the fun, and be sure to follow @DC_Circulator on Insta, @DCCirculator on Twitter and @DCCirculator on Facebook.

This article is sponsored by the District Department of Transportation. All opinions are my own.

Great Lengths Hair Extensions in DC from Hypnotic Salon Olney: Thicker Hair, No Damage

My hair was thinning. My stylist at Hypnotic Salon and Spa in Olney suggested natural, long-lasting hair extensions. I was freaked out that I would go bald. They lasted for five months and didn’t damage my hair or scalp. Here’s my honest review. 

Ever since I hit my forties, my hair has dramatically thinned. I look back with fondness on the hair I had when I was pregnant, and when I was in my twenties. As I fix Eve and Alice’s hair in ponytails, I am baffled of the thickness of their hair and how it is the thickness mine used to be.

When I have brought photos of desired haircuts to my beloved stylist Chrissy Westbrook of Hypnotic Salon and Spa in Olney, she has often remarked that the styles I have chosen are always for thicker hair. This summer she pointed out to me that instead of a new style, we could change my ‘do by adding extensions.

Immediately my mind conjured up Real Housewives‘ cat fights and Britney Spears putting hair back on her head after her midnight shave. I worried about looking as if I had doll-like synthetic hair obviously added to my head. But then Chrissy showed me patrons and stylists at the salon sporting gorgeous locks I had no idea were bumped up with Great Lengths extensions and tape-in extensions, expertly added at Hypnotic.

Most importantly, everyone’s natural hair was completely healthy and preserved with Great Lengths Extensions! Thanks to Chrissy and other Hypnotic stylist’s expert application and training, there is no damage to the hair or scalp! Great Lengths only sells their extensions to high end salons with stylists who have had the proper, extensive training. They are the highest quality extensions on the market.

I was all in.

First we had the all-important consult. Chrissy assessed my hair texture and color, and we discussed the results I wanted to achieve. As my hair is a natural dark blonde with highlights, she decided that two colors of blonde would work best for me, alternatively applied throughout. We also decided to have a full head of extensions applied, meaning I would have them throughout my head, from the back of my head to the nape of my neck and also on the sides. We decided to try a length slightly longer than my already-long layered style.

Chrissy custom ordered the Great Lengths extensions, and a week later they were in! We blocked off three hours for my appointment, although people with different hair textures may need more or less time. I arrived with freshly washed, product-free hair to save the time of washing and drying at the salon. I brought my laptop and was able to work during the application process. Thanks Hypnotic WiFi and latte service!

The application was relaxing and easy for me, although Chrissy was working hard the entire time. Chrissy took the strands as they arrived and then cut them into even smaller sections, so that the extensions would put less stress on my natural hair. Then she glued the mini sections to sections of my natural hair using the Great Lengths heat-activated glue in system. She alternated the two different colors of hair for the most natural look. The extensions themselves are natural, human hair that feels just like my own.

After all pieces were applied Chrissy cut my hair so that the extensions blended seamlessly with my natural strands. I was amazed. I finally had back the thickness of my hair from twenty years ago. I finally had the overall thickness that no blowout or product was ever able to provide.

The first days, I was very aware of the extension bonds. They felt a tiny bit tight and I had to be careful to only brush my hair with a Wet Brush that would pass over the bonds without pulling on them. But after a day or two this became second nature. After extensions, you must also use salon-quality shampoo, conditioner and products so as not to damage the bonds. I had already been converted to the importance of these products that I purchase at Hypnotic during special sales, and so I could continue to use my favorite Pureology shampoo and conditioner, and Redken styling foam and hairspray. I waited a few days to wash my hair so as not to disturb the settling in process.

I wondered if anyone could see the bonds, but they are expertly hidden from all angles. However, my friends and family noticed the change in my hair, although most were not quite sure what I had done. “Did you just come from the salon?” “Wow your hair looks great!” have been the most common comments. Of course, I have always told them about the Great Lengths Extensions from Hypnotic and Chrissy because the results are just spectacular. I part my hair to show them the pristine bonds and friends are amazed. They look so natural.

One unexpected benefit of the extensions is how much less time my hair now takes to style. Because I was self-conscious of my thin, fine, straight hair, I always, daily shampooed and conditioned in the shower and blew it dry to achieve as much fullness as possible. When I let it air dry or skipped a day of shampoo, I felt it looked too thin and drab. Now with the extra fullness I only have to wash it every 1-2 days, and on shampoo days I air dry. I love the beach-hair texture! This saves me 15-45 minutes each morning!

My extensions lasted for FIVE MONTHS. I had a partial highlight on my roots while they were in, and also had a cut on the ends towards the end of their wear to make the length of the exertions the same length as my natural hair. My bonds did not become tangled or matted. When it was time to have them removed, my natural hair is undamaged and continued to grow healthfully while the bonds My hair and scalp are healthy without any pulling or damage at the roots or application points.

The price is high. I receive a discount as a contract staff member for Chrissy, helping her with social media, but the price tag for the hair that is ordered plus the staff expertise time will cost you $500 and up. However, I found this to be a great investment for five months of great hair.

With the extra hair thickness, I overall look better. I feel more confident. I have the hair I’ve wanted for years.

I wish I had done this years ago.

Schedule your extensions consult with Chrissy at Hypnotic Salon and Spa of Olney today! Call 301.774.4777. I know you will be pleased! 

I receive a discount at Hypnotic but I purchase salon services, and have been a regular retail client since 2011.

Voice Lessons at Guitar Center Review

Charlie and Eve’s voice lessons at Guitar Center have being going great!

As I wrote about earlier, my two oldest children children are participating in summer musicals and so we have turned to Guitar Center’s voice lesson offerings. (This is thanks to an opportunity with The Motherhood Inc. to write about Guitar Center’s lesson offerings.)

Charlie and Eve have both been receiving individual half-hour voice lessons at the downtown Silver Spring Guitar Center location. Until hearing from The Motherhood, I was not aware that Guitar Centers offer lessons beyond guitar! But their musical lesson menu not only includes guitar and bass, but vocal lessons, drums, keyboards/piano, recording software/production and a full suite of band and orchestra instruments. All of these services are offered at the Downtown Silver Spring Guitar Center location, as well as many other DC-area Guitar Centers.

Their instructor is Andre Leonard, an extremely accomplished musician, pianist and vocal coach.  In addition to providing instruction at the downtown Silver Spring Guitar Center, he is the Director of Worship and Fine Arts at Shepherd Park Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in northwest Washington, D.C. and he performs worldwide. Right now he is performing a benefit concert in Puerto Rico! Leonard graduated from the Berklee College of Music, as well as the Westminster Choir College, and has had many notable achievements throughout his professional music career.

But aside from all these impressive credentials, Leonard has given Charlie and Eve a better knowledge of their personal vocal ranges and is working with them to extend their range. Pitch, expression, presentation and better knowledge of music are all areas that Leonard has worked with the kids in just 30 minutes each per week. He provides them with homework so they can further the lessons each week at home and progress in their vocal journeys.

This week Charlie’s rehearsals for the summer his school musical began, and I could see the increase in his confidence and singing abilities. He is much more comfortable singing and performing daily this summer, thanks to his learning under Andre Leonard at Guitar Center. Eve begins her summer middle school musical rehearsals in two weeks, and she is eager to begin singing the songs in the show, armed with her new confidence and knowledge.

If you as a parent are looking for a musical lesson program for your own kids, look into the Guitar Center near you. Guitar Center is one of the largest independent music educators in the U.S. Each Guitar Center location has its own expansive suite of lesson offerings. At the downtown Silver Spring location, they have performances by the students receiving lessons, including a spring recital for the parents. Thanks to Guitar Center, your child can learn piano, guitar, drums, further her instruction on her school string or band instrument, learn music production, or like Charlie and Eve, take voice lessons!

Learn more by following Guitar Center on Instagram and Facebook.

 

All-American SummerFest Vacation at Gaylord National Resort

An awesome family vacation that feels summery, special and all-American is available to you all summer long, thanks to Gaylord National Resort’s SummerFest, An All-American Celebration. Enjoy iconic activities and a memorable getaway that your family will love…without a long battle with traffic!

Gaylord National’s SummerFest has an overnight package especially for families, the SummerFest Family Escape. This package includes

  • One night accommodations at Gaylord National Resort and access to all family activities happening on-site
  • Complimentary resort fee that includes your access to the pool, outdoor sun lounge area with bar for parents and fountain/splash pad for the kids
  • Free transport on the National Harbor Circulator that will drive you to all the attractions at National Harbor, such as the Waterfront District, MGM National Harbor and Tanger Outlets.
  • Complimentary self parking and Internet.
  • Kids eat free at the breakfast buffet at Pienza Marketplace

The package starts at $299 (cheaper and closer than the beach, I tell ya!) and is available now through September 3rd.

We checked out all the fun a family could possibly find at Gaylord National with a SummerFest Family Escape package and we were wowed by all of the activities offered!

We swam and soaked up the sun at the pool and outdoor lounge area.

We all cooled off and played in the outdoor fountain by the pool. Saturdays there are Summer Jams Poolside with live music!

 

 

We took the Star Spangled Quest at the resort, searching high and low to solve 13 clues about our country’s history. We submitted our completed quest for a chance to win an overnight stay! Any visitor, even those not staying overnight at the hotel, is welcome to enjoy the scavenger hunt fun.

We walked down to the Waterfront District and rode the Capital Wheel. When you stay at Gaylord National Harbor, you score 20% off Capital Wheel tickets!

We experienced the brand new “A National Haunting” Ghost Tour, which is free for hotel guest. This very kid-friendly storytelling tour invited kids and parents to learn about the possibly-haunted history of the Potomac River. We were led along a waterfront pathway for a subtly spooky 30 minute tour.

Our crew bonded under the stars, lights, and lasers during the Great American Road Trip Atrium Show presented by bubly, set to American road trip music. All the little kids boogied in front of the dancing water jets that changed color to the music. These shows happen every night at 8pm and 9pm in the lower atrium.

 

On Saturdays resort guests can watch a Movie Under the Stars presented by bubly. Lounge on the provided bean bags or bring a blanket, and watch together a family-friendly film.

 

Seeking to go somewhere fabulous with the family for 4th of July weekend, but want to skip the excruciating holiday traffic? Head to our family’s go-to vacation spot right in the DMV, Gaylord National Resort, for a SummerFest staycation.

 

We also love the awesome restaurants at Gaylord National Harbor. During our visit we had a superb dinner at National Pastime Sports Bar & Grill and then a big brunch at the Pienza Marketplace.

 

More Fun at National Harbor: There are so many fun activities for families at National Harbor — check out our favorites in this post!  We also love the Urban Pirates National Harbor Cruise, check that link for our review.

And if you are considering a couple’s getaway or date night at National Harbor, check out these offerings at Gaylord National Resort: 

Silent Disco Party

Experience the coolest new way to enjoy music at our Lobby Bar with views of our garden atrium and the Potomac River. Participants are given special headphones with channels tuned to select music mixes created by our DJ. Choose your favorite station and dance the night away.

Times: Saturdays, 9pm-Midnight
Location: Belvedere Lobby Bar
Price
: FREE to Overnight Hotel guests and $10 fee for visitors.

Pose Rooftop Lounge #FlashBackFriday

Party like it’s 1988 at Pose – Gaylord National’s exclusive rooftop lounge on its 18th floor. Guests can enjoy hits from the 80s and specialty drinks.

Times: Fridays | 9pm-Midnight
Location: Pose Lounge

Summer Fun at Relâche Spa

Indulge in pure relaxation with special summer treatments. Treatment options include massage, pedicure and facial.

Relâche Spa Services

Happy summer!

Disclosure: We received a family press review stay. No additional compensation received. All opinions are my own. 

See the Butterflies at Wings of Fancy at Brookside Gardens

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Wings of Fancy is open at Brookside Gardens!

Our family favorite spring and summer tradition is a visit to Wings of Fancy Live Butterfly and Caterpillar Exhibit at Brookside Gardens at Wheaton Regional Park in Wheaton, Maryland.  This will be our family’s 15th year visiting the blue morphos and monarchs and more.

butterflies in dc

Wings of Fancy allows you and your children the awesome experience of being able to walk amongst live butterflies from all over the world. Although you cannot touch the gorgeous creatures, you will be up close to them as they fly, feed and flutter amongst the flowers. Kids can pick up study guides to help them identify the different species from North America, Costa Rica, Africa and Asia.

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There is also a caterpillar nursery where visitors can watch and learn about their amazing metamorphosis.

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Volunteers are on-hand to help kids learn about the important role butterflies play in having healthy ecosystems, and how to lure them to our own home gardens.

butterflies

Wings of Fancy is open now through September 16, 2018 from 9am-5pm daily. Tickets can be purchased at the Visitors Center or Conservatory gift shop and are good for re-entry on the day of purchase. Cost: $8 ages 13+, $5 ages 3-12, free ages 0-2.

butterflies

If you know you will be back multiple times, consider a Frequent Visitor Pass and enjoy unlimited return visits to the exhibit this season. Cost: $50 for individual pass, $65 for couple pass, and $125 for a family pass.

butterflies

Strollers are not allowed inside the exhibit, so bring your child carrier for littles not yet walking. Wheelchairs are permitted.

Please note that Wings of Fancy may close if there is a National Weather Service heat advisory, excessive heat warning, Code Red or Code Purple Air Quality Alert. In the event of extreme weather, Brookside Gardens will close the exhibit for safety. Please check the announcements on the park homepage for any updates.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Montgomery County Parks and Recreation. We are frequent paying patrons. 

 

Voice Lessons at Guitar Center: Tween and Teen Musical Discovery This Summer

This summer, my two oldest children children are venturing into the world of musical theatre summer camps. Charlie (14) and Eve (12) will be participating in musical productions for the first time, and as a parent, I am looking forward to seeing their confidence grow. I am also delighted at the prospect of the fun they will have and the new friends they will make.

Of course, a key element in my kids’ summer camp activities will be performance singing, and while they are excited, they are also nervous. They like to sing, but they have only had the standard school choir “music special” training and a couple recent voice lessons. The two voice lessons they had informed their voices and inspired their desire to learn more about singing.

So when The Motherhood Inc. and Guitar Center reached out to me to see if I had any children interested in reviewing the voice lesson offerings at Guitar Centers, it was either the best kind of coincidence, or divine intervention. Charlie and Eve are scheduled to have a voice lesson each next week at the downtown Silver Spring Guitar Center location.

I was not aware until recently that Guitar Centers offer lessons beyond guitar! But their musical lesson menu not only includes guitar and bass, but vocal lessons, drums, keyboards/piano, recording software/production and a full suite of band and orchestra instruments. All of these services are offered at the Downtown Silver Spring Guitar Center location, as well as many other DC-area Guitar Centers.

Both Charlie and Eve played instruments in 4th and 5th grades (snare drum and flute, respectively) but now they are turning their attentions to theatre and choir elective interests. It is empowering for them both to know that they can receive instruction that will help them perform their best, and that singing is not a gift simply bestowed upon the vocal chords of the lucky. Just like they used to practice their instruments and improve, they can receive professional guidance on how to practice to improve their voices.

As a mom, I’m so happy that they are interested in a musical extra-curricular! From what I have read about education and parenting, music education complements all aspects of their academic success, from ELA to STEM and more subject areas. Summer, when their math-English-Spanish-science-history homework takes a hiatus, seems like the ideal time to turn up the music. If you as a parent are looking for a musical lesson program for your own kids, look into the Guitar Center near you. Guitar Center is one of the largest independent music educators in the U.S.

I’ll be posting here soon about Charlie and Eve’s experience with their voice lessons at Guitar Center. In the meantime, learn more by following Guitar Center on Instagram and Facebook.

Find Your Ben’s Run by Clare Goldfogle

This piece is by Clare Goldfogle, who with her family founded Ben’s Run in honor of her son Ben.

While running one day in 2010, my friends and I had a serious discussion about what it would take to create our own neighborhood fundraising run in memory of my son, Ben, who had recently passed away. Could we pull off a run? Would anyone participate? Could we raise any money to help fight this horrific cancer that took Ben’s life? All good questions that only raised even more questions the more we seriously thought about it.

Fast forward eight years, we are about to host our 8th annual Ben’s Run on April 14th. This is due in no small part to a small army of volunteers who come together every year to make it happen, and outstanding individuals, organizations, and businesses who participate in some way — running, walking, writing checks, or donating products or services to our silent auction. About 1,000 people of every age and athletic ability register for the run each year. After seven years, our run is poised to surpass $600,000 in total funds raised.

Our dollars directly fund clinical trials at Children’s National where Ben was treated. These trials are working to detect cancer relapse at its earliest stage so it can be properly treated giving some very, very sick children a chance at a healthy life. Ben passed away after relapsing twice with leukemia and these trials are focused on kids just like him – kids, who without this cutting-edge research, would have little hope for a cure. Learn about the impact of the clinical trials Ben’s Run has funded. 

It’s our absolute joy to know that 20+ children are now enrolled in our clinical trials. That we can have an impact on even one sick child who won’t have to endure what Ben endured is beyond measure. Organizing Ben’s Run has been a labor of love, and the greatest privilege of my life.

Our volunteers feel passionate about our cause, too. While some of our more recent volunteers didn’t even know Ben, all of them know that cancer could affect any one of their kids or someone’s else kid at any time. Volunteering to support our run means that they can have an impact on someone else’s health. In our case, it’s a child’s life. What could be more important than that?

I challenge you to find your Ben’s Run and make the time to get involved. The compassion, joy, and multitude of other BENefits that the experience will bring to your life will astound you. Your hands will be busy and your heart will be full.

To learn more about Ben’s Run and how you can support our race on April 14, please go to www.bensrun.org. Thank you.

A Parent in Silver Spring encourages every family to register for Ben’s Run and support this fight to end childhood leukemia. Our family is volunteering and running the race…please join us!