Monday, July 29, 2013

Houston Hero Dogs and K94COPS Need YOU!

Be a Hero to some Heroes, and Show your Love and Support! 

Vote for Houston K-9 Officers, Tommy and Boomer, 

and you can help them win the esteemed 

'Hero Dog Award'

and support the organization that brought them here!  
K9S4COPS is an amazing Non Profit Organization that has made it possible these fine Officers to be powerful and valuable members of Houston's Law Enforcement Team!  In their two years of service, have done amazing work, training K-9's for duty in specialized and highly dangerous fields.  They work with the animals, and their Handlers to establish communication and a bond that keeps both Human and Canine Officers safe, skilled and effective.   

Please click on this link to learn more about these animals, their partners and this organization.  
And visit to learn more about Tommy and Boomer!

From the drop down menu, select the category, 'Law Enforcement/Arson Dogs', and the Charity Partner, 'K9S4COPS'  and you will find Houston's own, 'Tommy and Boomer!  These K-9 Officers have an impressive resume and have done some amazing things with the Harris County Sheriff''s Department.  Check them out, and please consider voting today! 
Click here to Vote For K-9 Boomer!

Click here to Vote for K-9 Tommy!

Please vote ASAP, and please share with your friends and family! Voting ends July 2013!

Video Link from

Photos from


Monday, November 5, 2012

Dear Officer Al....

We had the pleasure of visiting with Officer Al, and meeting his family, friends, and fans last Saturday at his Retirement Party! What a wonderful event!
A few months ago, we asked everyone to write a little something about Officer Al.  We realize that this task was more difficult than it sounded, as it is difficult to sum up a favorite 'Officer Al' experience or memory in a paragraph or two! It is understandable that we did not get a big response to this gift idea, however, we would like to thank those of you who were able to share your memories with us, and your kind sentiments for Officer Al.  We will be sure he receives them.
We learned that Officer Al will be featured in the Campbell Elementary 2012-2013 Yearbook, and thought that we would take this opportunity to present him with a gift that represents many of the children in our community, and their families.
Thanks Campbell Elementary Yearbook Committee! We are proud to be a part of this tribute to a great man, and his dedication to our community! You can be a part of it too!  If you have any photos to share, or Officer Al with a Campbell Cougar Kiddos, please share! You can upload them to the Jostens Website, or send them to us at  We will get them to the right person!

Below is the letter we presented to Officer Al-

  Dear Officer Al,

Congratulations to you, on your Retirement!

Thank you so much for your service, and for going above and beyond your professional responsibilities.

Over the years, you have taken a personal interest in our families. You have been a positive role model for us, and helped to create a safe and peaceful place where our children can feel free to play, learn and grow.

Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your life.

On behalf of your Campbell Elementary Family, ‘The Hero Challenge’ would like to present you with a 2012-2013 Campbell Elementary Yearbook.  Your copy will arrive at the end of the LCISD School Year, in June 2013.

Please keep it as a reminder of how loved you are, and how much you are appreciated.  We hope when you look through it, it will remind you of your great accomplishments, the lives you have touched, and the life long friendships you have made.

You are a Hero to us all!

Campbell Elementary, &‘The Hero Challenge’ Team!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hero Firefighters

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of Richmond's Hero Firefighters yesterday.  When I made the appointment I had no idea of the significance the date.  I can't wait to go through my notes and write his story.
I was watching a cable channel yesterday that aired their actual coverage on that day.  When I turned to this station the news reporter was at the scene, in New York, before the buildings collapsed.  Behind him were many firefighters sitting on the curb waiting for the "command" to go in.  As this reporter was speaking, all the firefighters behind him got up at once and put on their gear.  I heard myself talking to the t.v. saying, "Don't go in!".  But, of course, firefighters go in to danger when everyone is running out.
Here is a beautiful Firefighters prayer:
When I'm called to duty God
wherever flames may rage
give me strength to save a life
whatever be its age

Help me to embrace a little child
before it is too late
or save an older person from
the horror of that fate

Enable me to be alert
to hear the weakest shout
and quickly and efficiently
to put the fire out

I want to fill my calling and
to give the best in me
to guard my neighbor and
protect his property

And if according to your will
I have to lose my life
bless with your protecting hand
my children and my wife.

God bless our First Responders!


Friday, August 31, 2012

No Pouting, No Doubting

So, I was “stalking” on Facebook a few weeks ago and I saw that a Facebook friend and gradeschool buddy had “friended” a mutual classmate from my beloved St. Michael's School.   So I did what most probably do (or maybe it’s just me) I checked out her profile and pictures.  The prevalent color on her page was “pink” and one of her profile pictures was a stick figure girl that had a very curious caption that said, “No Pouting, No Doubting”. Click here to see it.  Well maybe it wasn’t so curious.  I knew exactly what this meant; it meant that most likely my childhood friend was fighting breast cancer.
I have been struggling with writing this post for several weeks now because I want to do it justice.  I want to capture what she wants it to and to be honest, I’m not sure if I can do it but I’ll try.
So, I’m happy to say, after I pursued Jenny on facebook, she “friended” me.  I began to find out a little more  and even went to her blog at I learned a little more about her, her family and her struggle.  I learned that Jenny was diagnosed with breast cancer in May of 2009. But with a blessing of an army of friends, and angels surrounding her, a blog and many fundraisers were started for Jenny to help fight this battle.  You can tell by the title of the blog that she has warriors on her team! 
 We can only assume a fraction of what she felt at this time, I’m sure it was devastating. Jenny puts it best,

 “I have felt confident in my decisions. I have felt the hand of the Lord in my life and have no doubt that His Spirit has given me guidance. I am humbled by the love I have felt from Him, and the knowledge that He is mindful of little me. Nearly every morning there is temptation to fear, to be discouraged, but I choose not to listen to that voice. I am happier than I have ever been. And I know I will win this fight.”

Jenny is a fighter and proactive, so she began to lay out a plan of how she was going to fight this.  Unfortunately the first obstacle to overcome was getting a double mastectomy.  She was on the path the doctors had laid out for her, which included chemo and radiation. But after getting conflicting reports from doctors regarding her prognosis, with much prayer and with a blessing from her husband and support from her two children, Jenny decided to go the naturalistic route than the one initially prescribed (chemo/ radiation).  Jenny encourages everyone to micromanage their health care from the beginning to determine the right path for them.
For specifics of her prescribed care, I encourage you to take a look at her blog.

During the course of her treatment there have been some ups and downs but the fight continues. Jenny describes her feelings like this,

” I had a brief moment or two of grief, but otherwise have felt completely peaceful and calm. I know that cancer is my refining fire. It is my companion now, and I don’t have to be afraid of it .  It brings me to my knees . . . and that is when I can stand tallest “.  I have definitely gained more perspective than I ever dreamed of. The most powerful thing which has changed me for good has been practicing gratitude. I had a cancer survivor suggest to me that I take “gratitude walks” as often as I could—to use as prayer if desired—and to think of nothing I want, but only focus on the things I am thankful for. It is a powerful, life-changing practice, I can tell you that. I am grateful for my cancer journey, as I believe it has helped me become a better person. As I say (in my book-in-progress), Cancer does not define me, but it refines me.”

With friends and family in her corner (her army of angels), Jenny was able to make a small dent in the funds needed to fight this battle. But the fight isn’t over even though the battle will be won. Go to Jenny's blog site to donate here .
or check out Jenny’s shirts  and support Jenny in her fight against breast cancer.
I look forward to reading Jenny’s, soon to be published,  book entitled…you guessed it…”No Pouting, No Doubting”. 


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What? Officer Al is Retiring?

Officer Al is Retiring?

Yes, it's true...our dear Officer Al is retiring this year, and we want to wish him the best as he enters this next stage of his life.  We would love to honor him with a collection of thoughts, stories, and best wishes, from the community he loves, and has served for over a decade.

He has some great stories about his experiences in Greatwood, and we bet you do too! So, please share, and be as creative as you like! You can write about the first time you met Officer Al, share a funny story, or a profound experience.  Write about a time he made you smile, or laugh out loud! Write him a special note from you and your family, or just a sentence of two about what you think of him, and his dedicated service to our community!  Let's let him know how much he has impacted our lives, and how much we appreciate him!

We will make a compilation of your posts, and present it to him in November 2012.

To share your story, thoughts, and appreciation, please email us at and share your 'Officer Al Experience' before October 1, 2012.
We welcome your photos too!

Thank you all, in advance, for making this a gift that he will cherish and enjoy, for many years to come!  

*Please feel free to email us with any questions you may have!  All posts will be edited for spelling and grammar, and profanity will be omitted. So please, keep it clean! Submissions will be credited to the sender's given name.  If you do not wish to be credited for your post, please let us know and we will name you 'anonymous'.       


Friday, August 17, 2012

C-Different for 140.6 Miles

Imagine training 20 plus hours a week for months while maintaining a full time job leaving little time for yourself and family for an event that involves a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bike and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run.  Suppose you run this race but your efforts are not recorded and if someone were to search for you as a participant, it’s as if you weren’t there.  Well who and what I am describing is our next hero Justin Sternberg and the Ironman Triathlon.

You see Justin’s full time job is as a TV producer with Channel 13.  Before he ever trained for an event he was out in the cold covering the Houston Marathon.  If you are not running the marathon, which is held in January, most likely you are shivering while watching it.  Justin’s job was to relay the leaders times back to our experts on the set.  This is when Justin first considered running the marathon.  He thought in order to “get out” of covering the Houston Marathon as a producer for Channel 13, he would have to run it.  Well, I don’t know about you but I think most people might ignore this thought and think it was a delusion.  Isn’t this how it can be when we get a dream for our lives, we brush it off;  but this story about Justin hopefully will teach us not to discount it but to fulfill it?

Justin first began training for the ½ marathon, which is 13.1 miles. After completing it, Justin would describe his time as “horrendous”.  But he was now on a quest to go for the full marathon and improve his time. In 2010 he qualified for the Boston Marathon with a time of 3 hr. and 11 minutes knocking 1 ½ hours off of previous times.

During this time Justin began producing all of the Houston marathon’s post marathon stories.  One that inspired Justin was a story of Charlie Plaskon, a visually impaired, 75 yr. old grandfather that was “guided” through the Ironman Triathlon.  He was so inspired that he began training for the Ironman and became involved with the C-Different Foundation.  C-Different was founded to inspire visually impaired people around the world to lead active and healthy lives. By connecting them with sighted guides and involving communities to support their endeavors.  Additionally, CDF seeks to inspire and educate others through the telling of the stories and circumstances of their athletes and their guides.

Justin had the opportunity to guide Charlie through a 30K after meeting Matt Miller, the founder of C-Different.  Then in 2011 a week and a half out from the first ever Ironman Texas out in The Woodlands, he was asked to guide Charlie through his 7th full Ironman.  While tethered to Charlie, as Justin explains it, it was Charlie that inspired him to complete his first Ironman!  But if you look for Justin’s name, you won’t find it, because he is solely Charlie's guide.  Justin and other guides like him, are encouraged and inspired by the applauding crowds during these events; yet find their satisfaction of helping someone like Charlie achieve his dreams, all the while sacrificing their own personal efforts.  You will, however, find Charlie’s name, as he completed his 7th Ironman.

Justin is such an inspiration, to me, he defines self-sacrifice and encourages each of us to reach deeper and give just a little more of ourselves.  Justin explains that, as a guide, you start to see obstacles on the road that you normally would ignore but they become a hazard for the visually impaired.  It reminds me of how life is and once you start to C-Different you want to guide others to do the same.  So I encourage you to get involved in this wonderful foundation either financially or as a guide and support Justin’s efforts in his next Ironman as he will be competing to raise awareness and funds for the C-Different organization. If you click on the link you can see a picture of Charlie and Justin during the Ironman Texas 2011.  Go Justin!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

We're 'Awestruck' on Twitter!

The Hero Challenge is now on Twitter! Check us out and Follow us @heroholla

Twitter...what a world of inspiration! On August 7, 2012, Maria Shriver shared a great story from her Blog, 'Architects of Change'. We want to share it with you!

By Maria Shriver
When we're busy and stressed out -- rushing around and reacting to the hectic nature of modern life -- the everyday moments of awe often slip by us unnoticed.
Life is so very precious and short. Every day we have on this earth is a miraculous gift. And yet this stress and anxiety is affecting our ability to appreciate the small moments of our lives that make up a life.
We're all looking for a balanced, meaningful and satisfying life, and I've been thinking that the best way to experience this is to look for awe in the seemingly minor moments -- to make the minor moments matter more.
The last couple of months have been filled with huge, awe-inspiring moments. Just in the last month, we safely landed a vehicle on the surface of Mars and discovered the "God particle".
An athlete with prosthetic legs ran in the Olympics. World and Olympic records have been falling every day and Michael Phelps was crowned the greatest Olympian of all time. For the first time, women outnumbered men on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.
Without question, these major milestones have lifted our collective spirits. But what about the moments of awe in our individuals lives that don't get registered in history books but can be recorded in our hearts?
We don't have to be Michael Phelps or NASA scientists to make awe in the world. There are opportunities to find and create awe all around us.
There is awe in simply sitting at a table with your family, everyone laughing and making memories that will last a lifetime.
There is awe in holding the door open for a stranger or giving someone an unexpected compliment.
There is awe in being there when a child takes their first step or when a loved takes their last breath.
There is awe in letting someone cry on your shoulder and there is awe in someone telling you they love you out of the blue.
The gold medal performance of a world-class Olympian like Gabby Douglas can certainly inspire awe in us. And we can also be in awe of her mother's quiet resolve to let her daughter move away so that her gifts could flourish and be presented to the world. That is awesome devotion.
There is awe everywhere we look, if we look with wonder. There are people creating it and experiencing it in their everyday lives through love and sacrifice, commitment and compassion, patience and passion, creativity and integrity.
I bet we'll see a whole lot more of it if we slow down enough to bear witness to it.
I'm trying to be awestruck in my life and by my life -- and bring awe to the lives of others."

Maria asked her readers to share their stories, and we would love to hear them too!

Talk to us on Twitter   Talk to us on Facebook

Warmest Regards,
The Hero Challenge Team