Still Strong

In June of last year Devon Still was faced with one of the most terrifying foes – cancer.  The cancer hadn’t come for him but instead his four year old daughter, Leah.  She was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, stage 4 pediatric cancer, leaving her with a 50/50 chance of survival.  Devon, 24 at the time, and Leah, 4, were in for one of the toughest battles of their lives.

My mother was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in November of the same year so I was especially touched by Leah’s story.  I found a great deal of inspiration and hope from a young father and his daughter courageously enduring the unimaginable.  Their positivity and tenacity were undeniably contagious.  Devon shared their story via social media (Instagram) and ESPN compiled the posts in a timeline starting with Leah’s diagnosis.

It was moving to see the out pour of support and all of those who rallied behind the Still family.  Most of all, the Bengals organization who signed Devon to the practice squad allowing him to keep his insurance and pay for Leah’s treatment.  Additionally, making his jersey available for sale and donating the proceeds ($1 million) to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for pediatric research. Devon told ESPN, “that was when I first saw the impact my daughter was having. She was just making so many people fall in love with her. There are so many things in this country that divide us, but to see people from all walks of life step up and purchase those jerseys, it was just amazing.”

During the course of her fight Leah has written a book, made appearances on Ellen, the Today show, she walked the runway at New York Fashion Week, won an ESPY and was featured on a Wheaties box.  “I remember the first video she did [with Hoda Kolb of ‘Today’], she called me right after and said, ‘Dad, I’m a movie star — cameras were following me everywhere!’ I think it kept her in good spirits and kept a smile on her face”

According to Devon’s Instagram Leah’s cancer is in remission she is currently undergoing radiation treatment.  While she is fighting her cancer he is fighting for a spot on the Bengal’s roster.  He’s giving his all to make the team but he’s still making time to support his daughter and those in need.  Today on Instagram he started #iAmStillStrongMondays where he will profile individual hardships in hopes of inspiring others and he shared recently he has been working on his Still Strong Foundation in his down time.  In an era where reports of professional athletes involved in domestic violence, sexual assault, DUI’s etc. are all to common it’s uplifting to hear of stand up guy like Devon.  He truly is using his platform and influence for good.

I hope his hard work pays off and he makes the Bengals roster but more importantly I hope Leah’s cancer remains in remission.  The world could use more Devons and Leahs but we’ll celebrate and cherish the ones we already have.

“You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” – Stuart Scott

How can you help?  Show your support:

Still Strong Foundation:

I am Leah Strong (book):

Still Strong (t-shirt):


Mount St. Helens 2014

The night I received a group text from my father-in-law, gauging interest in a Mount St. Helens hike, I was a definite yes.  I was already training for Tough Mudder in August so a September 5th hike would align nicely.  I’m an outdoors enthusiast who is excited by adventure and new experiences so I was all in.  My brother-in-laws and some of their friends were in too.

We rented a cabin at the Lone Fir Resort the night before and all eight of us hit the trailhead (Climbers’ Bivouac) at day break.  Our hike would be approximately 10 miles round trip to a peak elevation of 8,365 feet.  The first two miles were relatively flat and heavily wooded.  After exiting the forest we began our ascent to Monitor Ridge.  The next 2,500 vertical feet were through a boulder field and then we climbed the last 1,000 vertical feet on ash and small rocks (“St. Helens Summit,” n.d., para 2-4).  This last stretch was the most difficult part of the climb.  I could see the top but it didn’t seem like I would ever make it.  I remember digging my trekking poles in the ground and pulling myself up all while being blasted by the wind.

The view from the top and the sense of accomplishment made it all worth it.  Being able to look inside the crater as well as view Mount Adams, Mount Hood and Mount Ranier was incredible.  We ate lunch at the top and snapped some photos before starting our descent.  The trip down became mentally challenging.  It felt like it took forever and I was beyond ready to sit down and peel off my boots.  After reaching the parking lot we headed to a restaurant for a celebratory meal and a brew.

Mount St. Helens is definitely one you should add to your bucket list if you haven’t already.  I can’t wait to start planning my next big adventure!


Mount St. Helens Summt – Monitor Ridge. (n.d.).  In Washington Trails Association online.  Retrieved from

Tough Mudder 2014

After years of consideration my brother-in-law, Pete, finally talked me into committing to my first Tough Mudder.  We had a handful of Warrior Dashes under our belts so we decided it was time for a new challenge.  Comparatively, Warrior Dash is 3.1 miles/12 obstacles and Tough Mudder is 10+ miles/20+ obstacles.

Pete assembled the team, Mudder Truckers 2.0 (Pete, Micah, Mikki, Kurt and I), and we registered for the event in Lebanon, OR (advertised as Portland) in August 2014.  I signed up in January so I had 8 months to prepare.  My training included a combination of weight lifting (circuit training) and running.  Additionally, I participated in other races.  Pete, Micah and I did the Shamrock Run 15K in Portland and I did the Kids Dash 10K in Bellevue.  After the Shamrock Run (the trek up to upper OHSU and then the Chart House) I discovered I needed more leg work so I started doing hill training.  I also added push-ups to my runs (25 at the start, every mile and at the end) and started doing the 300 work out.  By August I was running as far as 11 miles and completing 300 reps in less than 30 minutes.

When race day arrived I was pumped and prepared for the experience.  As expected, the course was both physically and mentally challenging, but we all survived and finished together.  It is an event that inspires comradery and pushes you to do more than you believe you are capable of.  There were countless times I helped others or others helped me (both teammates and strangers).  Arctic Enema (gigantic ice bath) and Electro Shock Therapy (hanging wires with 10,000 volts of electricity) were exactly as advertised but the most challenging obstacle for me was Cliff Hanger – 1000ft+ elevation gain in less than a mile.  Overall, it was a positive experience, I’m proud of my team and I’m happy I tried it.  We are all signed up for Tough Mudder 2015 in Black Diamond, WA (Seattle) in September.  I can’t wait to do it again.


Phil and I continued our “50 places to fish near Portland” journey through Spring, Summer and early into Fall.  We crossed Blue Lake from the list and ventured to Cullaby Lake on the coast.

I also added the following to my arsenal:

Shimano Curado Low Profile Baitcast Reels

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Casting Rods

Abu Garcia Black Max/Vengeance Baitcast Combo

Spiderwire Waist Pack

Here are a few photos from our trips:

On one of our last outings of the year to Hagg Lake Phil hooked into a 5+ pound monster (pictured above).  Way to go Phil!  Great ending to 2012 season.

Bass Fever

After nearly a four year hiatus I have returned to one of my favorite hobbies: bass fishing.  I’ve been attempting to catch anything that swims since I was old enough to wrangle a fishing pole.  I learned the trade from my father and have been crafting the art ever since.

While I was at the University of Oregon I was one of the founding members of the University’s bass fishing team which we established as a recognized club sport.  Although a much bigger deal today, it was still a really great thing to be a part of.

Upon graduation I moved to Portland where I began my professional career and consequently lost touch with all of my bass buddies.  My love for the sport never wavered but without anyone to share my passion, coupled with my lack of knowledge for local fisheries, my collection of rods and tackle ended up in storage amassing too many years of dust.

Through random conversation with my friend Phil, I recently discovered his desire to try his hand at bass fishing.  Now that I found a buddy I just needed somewhere to go!  Through the power of Google and thanks to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife I was able to uncover this invaluable piece of information: 50 places to fish near Portland

After purchasing new gear and dusting off my existing equipment I was prepared to dive back in.  See some of my purchases listed below:

Berkley Powerbait Tackle Bag

Shimano Citica Low-Profile Reel (actually purchased from Bi-Mart)

Berkley Amp Rod

Quantum Nitrous Rod and Low-Profile Reel Combo (rod not pictured)

The stars aligned, my fire has been re-lit and my fever is more severe than ever before.  In just a few short weeks Phil and I have been to Hagg Lake, Bethany Pond, St. Louis Ponds and Wilsonville Pond.  We haven’t had as much success as we would like but we are diligently navigating and learning the landscape.



Our recent excursions have reminded me how fickle bass are and how difficult they are to catch which is a large part of the appeal.  We will continue to work our way through the list of 50 places (with bass).  Wish us luck!  Stay tuned to monitor our progress.

Mighty Oregon

Last weekend the University of Oregon football program hosted their annual Spring Game and seven former players were selected by NFL teams.  Draft info listed below:

Round    Overall Pick              Name                      Team        Position

2                 61             LaMichael James              49ers            RB

5                155               Josh Kaddu                  Dolphins          LB

6                178               Mark Asper                    Bills               G

7                240               David Paulson              Steelers           TE

Players not drafted but picked up included Cliff Harris (Philadelphia), Eddie Pleasant (Houston) and Lavasier Tuinei (Seattle).

Oregon fans in Eugene, with three non-perishable food items each, who took a break from the draft (or monitored it on their cell phones like me) made the trek to Autzen stadium; the place where it only rains touchdowns.  Fortunately that held true on a clear and sunny Saturday.  The event was a huge success because Oregon honored the US military, donated over 72,500 pounds of food to FOOD for Lane County and put on a show for a record spring game crowd of over 44,000.   According to Yahoo! Sports UO attracted more fans than the combined spring game attendance of USC, Cal, Stanford, Washington and Arizona.  Impressive.

The match up featured Mighty Oregon (the light team) led by Redshirt Freshman Marcus Mariota against the Fighting Ducks (dark team) led by Sophomore Bryan Bennett.  In his debut, Marcus definitely lived up to the hype coming out of Eugene (even with closed practices) and looked like he did in his high school highlight reel.  Mariota completed 18 of 26 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown, in addition to rushing for 99 yards and two scores compared to Bennett, who completed 19 of 32 passes for 209 yards and a TD.  The highlight of the game was when Mariota faked the option pitch and took it 82 yards to the house, untouched, while out running both the corner and the safety.

What was even more impressive than his outstanding play was his perceived calmness, maturity, command of the offense, humility and leadership.  After every series he was high fiving or shaking hands with his teammates on the sideline.  This is good news for Oregon fans after the surprise departure of QB Darron Thomas.  You can’t draw too many conclusions from just one spring game but from what I have seen so far I am confident the Oregon faithful will be in good hands.  In the end, Mariota led Mighty Oregon to a 41-14 victory.  I can once again wear number eight with pride.

For the last few years Chip has dedicated the game to the US Armed Forces.  To kick of the action two jets screamed by over the gathered crowd, at half time Chip was presented with an American flag and then a US coast guard helicopter made a pass over the stadium.  When the game was over the players met members of the military at mid-field where they handed over their jerseys as souvenirs and small tokens of their gratitude.  Check out the videos of the action below:

Game Highlights:

Jets Flyover:

Flag Presentation and Coast Guard Chopper Flyover:

Jersey Exchange:

Game Gloves
Note from Chip to the Troops
Message from Chip to the Troops

Of course while I was in Eugene I made time for Burrito Boy, Hodge Podge and Brails.  I can’t wait for the season opener on September first.  Go Ducks!

Nike Outfits the NFL

Today Nike became the official apparel provider for the NFL and unveiled new uniforms for all 32 teams.  This historic day marks a new five year deal between Nike and the NFL and ends a 10 year run by Reebok.  According to ESPN, Nike spent $1.1 Billion (nearly double the recent largest Mega Millions lottery drawing in history) on the deal compared to the $250 million Reebok paid.  Needless to say it was more than just a fashion show.

For people like me today was pretty much a holiday, marked on the calendar months in advance, but for most it was just another day at the office.  A lot is being said about the uniforms but I must say it was exactly what I expected.  Nike did a supreme job of integrating the most advanced technologies while remaining true to the traditional team brands (with the exception of the Seahawks).  Of course they had to add a little flare to at least one of the designs.  As an Oregon fan who is accustomed to a tradition of innovation I really appreciated the neon, wings and twelfth man tribute on Seattle’s new look.  Walter Thurmond III is no stranger to unique uni’s.  I am sure he will feel right at home in his new fit.

Love or hate them you can’t deny that Nike is very good at getting people’s attention.  Now that we are all tuned in what’s next?

The jerseys are supposed to be available for pre-sale on April 15 and in stores on April 26. Some Nike apparel is already available at

You Should Noah Better Than That

If Noah’s on court performance and the Bulls’ loss the other night weren’t embarrassing enough, Joakim definitely brought shame to his team, family, fans, city and the NBA when he directed an anti-gay slur at a fan.  This incident comes just a month after Kobe Bryant shouted a similar slur at a referee.  Both were caught on camera but the difference is Kobe was fined $100,000 and Noah $50,000.  The message to players: if you are going to lose your cool and give up your dignity make sure it is directed toward a fan and not a referee.  Does the NBA care more about it’s  employees than fans?  I wonder what Artest’s fate would have been had he gone after a referee  instead of jumping into the stands to confront a fan?

On the surface it seems like a double standard but adding insult to injury a $100,000 fine for Kobe was only .4% of his salary and the $50,000 fine for Noah was a whopping 1.6%.  It looks like Noah’s fine made a bigger financial impact (the difference between a salary of nearly $25 million and roughly $3.1 million).  I commend Mr. Stern for taking decisive and swift action on these incidents.  Behavior like this should not be tolerated in the NBA or anywhere.

Stern must be fuming that this latest incident comes shortly after the NBA’s debut of Think B4 You Speak PSA:

Noah losing it:

Oh yeah and in other but somewhat related news James Harden deserves a fine for his offensive “Fisher flop”:

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