30 April 2014

Comparing Bluebonnet Pictures 2014

In Texas, it's customary to take pictures of your children in the bluebonnet wildflowers that come out for about 3 weeks each Spring.  Here are pictures of the kiddos over the last few years...

April 2010 (Oliver, 2; Bennett, 6 months)

April 2011 (Oliver, 3; Bennett, 1)
Photo taken by Khimberly Caton of Snaptastic Shots Photography

April 2013 (Oliver, 5; Bennett, 3)
Photo taken by Avonlea's godmother Kristen Crawford of Kristen Crawford Photography

April 2014 (Oliver, 6; Bennett, 4; Avonlea, 9 months)

28 April 2014

Bluebonnets 2014

Our Gamel Family Mamarazzi Bluebonnet Photoshoot - April 2014

Oliver, 6 years; Avonlea, 9 months; Bennett, 4 years

26 April 2014

Baby Bow Ties for Bennett

"Baby Bow Tie" is helping to raise money for a cure for Bennett 
and all those with Cystic Fibrosis!! 

Go to:, choose from the first 5 styles, and use PROMO CODE: BENNETT. 

When you use this code between now and April 30th, Baby Bow Tie will donate ALL of the proceeds from your purchase to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation via "Bennett's Brigade" and the Great Strides Walk (in Waco, TX - May 3rd).

Here are the five styles, modeled by Mr. Bennett himself...
(btw, bow ties are not just for babies - they go up to age 8)
Official Name: "Camo" bow tie
Bennett calls it: "The Army Bow Tie" (his favorite!!)
To purchase:

Official Name: "Emerald" bow tie
Bennett calls it: "The Christmas Bow Tie"


Official Name: "Plaid" bow tie
Bennett calls it: The "Fourth of July Sparkler" Bow Tie


Official Name: "Gold" bow tie

Bennett calls it: "The Golden Ninja Bow Tie"

Official Name: "Black and White" bow tie
Bennett calls it: "The Lego Race Car Bow Tie"

Thank you to Brian's and my dear friend Lindsey Trozzo who introduced me to the founder of Baby Bow Tie, Kat Armstrong (pictured with her adorable son Caleb).  

Lindsey, who committed to raising money for CF this year, thought outside the box and asked her friend Kat to join her efforts to find Bennett a cure.  Kat, being the kind-hearted person she is, generously offered up 100% of her proceeds, to help raise money for Cystic Fibrosis.

I am thankful for an opportunity to raise more money for CF.  
I am thankful to learn about these oh-so-cute bow ties for my boys!  
But, I am most thankful to have gained a new friend.  
People help people.  Thank you, Kat, for helping me.

24 April 2014

Our 10th Wedding Anniversary

What a weird feeling to be celebrating 10 years of marriage today!  

April 24, 2004 - Photo by Kevin Beasley
I feel like I just graduated college and met Brian. 

Spring 2004 - Picture taken by our friend Lane.
But, how in the world am I suddenly a mom of three children and already celebrating ten years of marriage to my best friend?? 

Fall 2013 - Picture taken by Khimberly Caton from Snaptastic Shots.
Brian and I met at the University of Missouri.  He was on staff with our campus church.  I had just graduated college and was starting my first job as a TV reporter at the CBS affiliate, KRCG-TV.

We started dating in the Fall and it didn't take long before I knew he was the one with whom I wanted to live the rest of my life.  I found Brian to be thoughtful, loving, capable, committed and Christ-centered.  I am thankful to say, ten years later, he is still all of those things and much more.

I won't lie.  We've worked hard for these ten years of marriage.  Our first fight as a married couple was on our honeymoon.  Our last fight was just last night.

But the beautiful part of marriage, we have found, is our fights always end is reconciliation and a deep commitment that no matter how tough life gets, we're doing it together.

We knew when Bennett was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, we wanted to particularly pay close attention to our marriage.  So, we have made marriage counseling a healthy part of our relationship. We also have continued, through much of our marriage, weekly date nights so we can get away and connect.

There have been times when I have loved the heck out of my sweet husband.  There have been times when I have not.  But I am incredibly thankful for the person that Brian is.  He is a fabulous father, a loving husband, an incredibly insightful and smart man and the person whose opinion I most value and respect in life.

Spring 2012 - Photo by Khimberly Caton from Snaptastic Shots
Brian and I have lived in three states, had three children, owned two homes, cared for one dog and enjoyed 10 years together so far.  Cheers to ten more, Brian!  Happy Anniversary!

20 April 2014

Easter 2014

He is Risen!  Happy Easter from The Gamels!!

16 April 2014

VLC 2014: People I'm Privileged To Work Beside

This is my last blog post about the CF Foundation's 2014 Volunteer Leadership Conference...but it might just be my favorite one.

The following pictures are of just some of people I met at VLC and I am privileged to work beside in our quest for a cure for Bennett and all those with cystic fibrosis...

Bob Beall (CEO of the CF Foundation), myself, Brian and Dr. Preston Campbell (CFF Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs)

Paige (my co-chair of the Waco Great Strides CF Walk), Amy (our CFF Northeast Texas Executive Director) and me

Joe Flacco (you know, from the Baltimore Ravens, who has a 3 year old niece with Cystic Fibrosis) and Erin (CF mom of 4; one with CF)

Kathy (a CF mom to a sweet little 6 year old girl with CF), me and the band "Branch and Dean" -  Steve Branch (left) and Dean Scallon (right) performed at VLC and did an amazing job.  See their hit "The Dash" (written about Steve Branch's son who died of CF last year):

Catherine (another CF mom whom I originally met on Facebook); She's pretty nifty because she has a salt room at her house for her son with CF

Mary Weiss, a CF mother who is known for her son coining the phrase "65 roses," his way of saying "cystic fibrosis."  Unfortunately, her son died this past year from CF.

Love love these girls!!  Angie and Mary (both CF moms)
Angie was one of this year's VLC co-chairs and has two daughters with CF.
Mary is mama to two little boys with CF.  Read Mary's blog here:

Rebecca and Brock (CF mom and dad to a son with CF); See Rebecca's blog here:

Rebecca (CF mom to a little girl with CF); see Rebecca's blog here:

Erin and Martin (CF mom and dad); See Erin's blog here:

Margarete and Mark Cassalina (CF mom and dad of two children with CF, one of whom is living.  Margarete is the author of the book "Barely Breathing")

Cory and Jennifer (CF dad and mom to two little ones with CF)
I was super excited to meet Cory and Jennifer again.  I had originally met them while at a CF function in Fort Worth.  But, then, our connection grew stronger when we realized we share several mutual friends in Texas.  Big state, Small world.

Of course, my favorite person I'm privileged to work beside: my husband and Bennett's daddy.  I feel like the luckiest girl.

14 April 2014

VLC 2014: Foundation Strategic Plan Update

Outside of the "State of the Science" Session at the annual Volunteer Leadership Conference, each year, I look very forward to hearing the CF Foundation's"Strategic Plan Update".  

I take very seriously my responsibility of fundraising to find my son a cure.  So, I regularly want to make sure the money being raised is being used in the most effective way possible.  It is during this session each year that we volunteers get an update from the Foundation and learn how money is being used.

Rich Mattingly, the CFF's COO, gave this year's "Strategic Plan Update," as he usually does.  I really like Rich.  He is very good at what he does and seems to really appreciate the struggle that those with CF go through and the job we as parents do each day.  I went up to thank him for his work with the Foundation.  And he thanked me for mine.  :)

Rich shared this slide, which underlines the very important parts of the Foundation's new mission statement.  Rich explained that much thought and care had gone in to this statement.  

Rich shared how the Foundation has put a lot of effort towards a Strategic Planning process to help guide the Foundation in the coming years.

This is a list of the Foundation's new objectives going forward.  The Strategic Plan committee came up with these objectives.  I found it helpful to see what kind of focus the Foundation has right now.

This is a list of the parameters the CF Foundation have put on themselves going forward.  I thought the parameter stating no CFF funds will be used to pay directly for patient care was really interesting.  Rich explained that they "have found under no circumstance and under no model has it been beneficial to pay for medical care directly for patients of any disease."

These are 3 of the 6 strategies the Foundation is using to accomplish their mission statement and objectives.

This slide added #6 faster than I was able to capture it on my camera.  But #6 mentioned the inclusion and desire of help from the adult CF community. Rich said, "We will make sure that the voices of CF adults are heard."

This slide demonstrates the Foundation's research priorities.

These are the revenue priorities of the CF Foundation.  I hear there are some great new changes for the Great Strides program coming!!

One of the things that was spoken about a lot at the conference, including during this session was how to make the needs of the CF adults a priority.  Rich said, "We will make sure that the voices of CF adults are heard."

With that in mind, the CFF announced a new campaign they are working on called "My 21,000."  Twenty-one thousand breaths is the number of breaths per day.  The social media campaign will be spearheaded by CF adults in partnership with the CF Foundation in order to encourage fund raising and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis.  I'm really excited about this campaign.  I think the CFF is very plugged in to what the CF community needs in way of resources.  So, it is exciting to see them start this new campaign.

I was also glad to see how the CFF is responding to the CF adult community.  The CFF's new infection control policy does not allow CF patients to attend indoor CFF events.  This has been heartbreaking for our CF community.  So, I am glad to see the CFF work to find new ways to include them.

This year, the entire VLC program was live streamed so CF adults could "attend" online.  In addition, there was a Q/A panel of CF adults during one of the sessions that was really good.  2014 may be the first year with more than 50% of the CF population over 18 years old.  The CFF wants to reflect this change in CF population by making CF adults more present at CF events and activities such as VLC, which is fabulous!  I want there be a place for Bennett when he is an adult.  

The changes at the CFF demonstrate that we are slowly making progress with CF.  Cystic Fibrosis is becoming less and less of a childhood disease.  Each year, I can have more an more hope for Bennett.  I like these changes.