Tag Archive | david wenzel

Drink A Beer

I’m writing this with a cold beer to my right on a Wednesday night. For the last three days, I’ve felt tears welling behind my eyes. Every moment I’m not living life to the fullest, not DOING something, I feel like I’m wasting.

My friend David is dying.

When I shared David’s story on this blog, I was still in TV. That alone feels like a lifetime ago, and that point in his journey felt life a lifetime since his diagnosis. He’s written a book. He’s travelled the world. He’s celebrated 11 years of life since doctors told him a brain tumor would kill him in five. For awhile, it was easy to say David **had cancer. Past tense. He’d beaten it. He’d laughed in it’s face, defeated it with an arsenal of positivity and sheer will, and shared his story to inspire and help others.

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Fuck you, cancer. FUCK YOU. Mom, I know you’re reading this and I’m sorry for swearing, but there is truly no other phrase that accurately fits how I feel about this disease.

It stole Cody from us. I miss his laugh, karaoke duets, how he made my husband smile, and seeing his soul-deep love for our dear friend, Darbi. Brain cancer stole Evan Sharp, a baseball-loving little boy from Omaha, robbed of school and running carefree with his friends on the field. It stole Heather Roberts, a young professional devoted to her Omaha Mavericks, who have now raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in her name.

David’s sister, Heather, emailed me and asked me to put together a video for his girls. They are so little… ask yourself what you remember from Kindergarten?? What will these three big eyed, blonde angels remember about the father who loved them with all of his heart?

For Marian, for Viola, for Etta, for Lori, for DAVID: This is for you.

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David always had a spark. There was something MORE about him. Always the guy making jokes, the guy who wore plaid when everyone else wore black, the guy who was the ever rare ‘part of every group’ guy – active in speech, band and theater, so he was popular with the Drama Dorks, played golf and baseball and ran cross country, so he had the ‘cool’ friends right alongside us. He was the center of attention in every circle he ran in. No matter what the situation, David stood out – trying to make someone laugh, trying to be something extraordinary.

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Complete disclosure – David was my first ‘boyfriend’, keeping in mind we didn’t go on dates, hold hands in hallways, or anything else. I totally ditched my junior year Homecoming date AT THE DANCE for David (Jim, my sincere apologies – still feel super bad about this. Shade.) The cool thing was, after the high school drama (guys, he left me for a girl on POM SQUAD. Devastation! David – I hope this makes you laugh, I still remember that blonde hussy’s name!!), we were friends again by senior year.

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I remember when we ripped a microphone off of Mike Unrein’s body, taped there to stay put under his costume for ‘The Nerd’. Mike was SUPER hairy.. and his pain was hilarious.

I remember going to Mock Trial nationals in St. Louis (State Champs!!), when he and Bobby busted into Cassie and I’s hotel room and literally carried my wimpy ass to the pool and threw me in. I hadn’t wanted to get my hair messed up. Too bad.

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I remember watching him play a trumpet solo in front of the entire student body at a home football game during halftime, and feeling immense pride for my friend, shining bright in that moment in time.

Baseball at Seymour Smith. Being crowned Prom Prince with Melissa. Sitting on Lauren’s steps inside her house at one of countless graduation parties in May of 1999.

Every moment was MORE. Nothing was ‘JUST’. With David, everything was the superlative – funnier, more creative, bigger, deeper, louder and memorable.

Of course, he was featured in Election, got his own trailer, and became bff’s with Matthew and Reese.

Of course, he went on to marry a supermodel wife and started to travel the world with his start-up company, fueled by his big ideas and vision.

Of course, when he decided to write a book, people from around the world would donate tens of thousands of dollars to support him and make it happen. OF COURSE.

Girls, your Daddy was NEVER ordinary. Not one day.

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I wrote my first blog post about David in 2014. He was in the very early stages of writing his book – maybe even just outlining it at that point. I knew he had battled cancer in an unorthodox fashion – attempting every method in the book OTHER than chemo. Chinese medicine, herbs, religion, going green, saunas, etc. I knew he had been divorced but had no idea of the loneliness and desertion that had come along with it. I knew fate brought him and Lori together, but had no idea the details of how that came to be. David bravely bared his soul in his book, Thank you Kung Fu, to hopefully inspire others facing cancer, surprises in life, devastation through divorce.. WHATEVER.. he didn’t sugarcoat anything, but he also found positive in everything.

When I told my Mom last weekend that David may be entering his final weeks, she, too, focused on the positive: he had so much more time than anyone thought. My husband talked about David’s three beautiful daughters that may never have been.

I think of Lori, and this is when my tears fall. She, too, has had her own journey of challenges, heartbreak, plot turns and more. WHY. WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY. Why can’t they have the fairytale ending where POOF?!? Cancer is gone? Happily ever after? Lori deserves that. I don’t know her well but here’s what I see… the ying to David’s yang. The independent, one of a kind, unicorn light that is just SPECIAL. I praise God for bringing these two together… perhaps, no, of course.. this was always His plan.

David was given 5 years… nope.

They were both told no children… they have 3.

They found each other. THEY WERE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER. What is the meaning of life? TO LOVE. TO LOVE. Because I am in a bar and surrounded by other humans… I will only say my husband is literally, half of my soul. He is my rock, he is my partner, he was meant to be mine. We are raising two beautiful boys and someday, when they are grown and off on their own journeys, we will have each other – only each other, blessedly each other, for now and forever. To lose him… I would lose half of myself. For this, Lori, I pray for you. Sometimes more than I pray for David, because I believe he is going to Heaven without pain or fear.

<<My waitress just asked if I was ok because I am now bawling. That’s where we are at right now.>>

Girls, your Momma is a LADY BOSS. She is a fighter. She is a leader. She is kind and cool and amazing. She is strength and honor and beauty personified. Every day.

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Westside was looking for a guest speaker to inspire our staff members to kick off the 2018-2019 school year. I pitched several ideas to my senior leadership team, including David. My high school friend who had proved doctors wrong, written an incredible book, and was now giving motivational speeches around the country; maybe he would be a good fit to come home and inspire our staff? August of 2018, David came to Westside High School to share his story. Thank you, Kung Fu – how he found how he had a hidden brain tumor through being his typical ‘class clown’ self and doing a mock kung fu move at a conference. How through the coming months/years of finding an alternative to his death sentence, his then-wife decided upon a different path. How he found Lori, and with her, they created a new, unexpected life. How throughout every hurdle and challenge, he chose positivity, humor, a smile, and gratitude. Our staff of 500+ gave him a standing ovation. Many left in tears, and approached David after thanking him for sharing his story. He told me afterwards he experienced multiple seizures on stage DURING his half hour speech. He knew beforehand it might happen… but it didn’t scare him, didn’t detract him from sharing his story. He just kept going, smiling throughout. He was just fine.

I met David and Lori for coffee after. They talked about the type of beans and coffee used at the locally owned coffee shop we were at, thinking of their coffee shop back home in Michigan. Everything was normal. Old friends catching up. It was fine – everything was just fine.

David held a book reading that evening at the Bookworm. Lauren. Gail. Jay. All of these high school friends I hadn’t seen in so long, coming to support David. His girls came at the end – two little princesses in dress up clothes; their baby sister with Grandma in Papillion, where David and I grew up. It was fine – he was fine. He was promoting his book.

The icing on the cake – surgery. David found a miracle surgeon in Texas just months later who thought she could remove the ‘inoperable brain tumor’. He stayed awake the whole surgery talking to Lori. She removed the majority of it! MIRACLE!!! Again – has this all been a dream?!? It’s gone!! David and Lori – watching their three babies grow up with their white picket fence, drinking beers on their front porch. It was fine – he was fine.

June 4.

A note from David:

Hello everyone. We have received some difficult news about my health recently. My cancer has spread into other parts of my brain and spine. At this point, the doctors have estimated I have 4-6 weeks. Last week after a brain scan they first estimated four months, but when they saw the cancer on my spine this week, they reduced it significantly. 

Now that this is all very present, I want you to know that I am not scared of death. Lori and I have full confidence in the future of our family. She will continue to be an amazing mother to our girls. I am so grateful for Marian, Viola, and Etta. ❤️❤️❤️

Marian, I see in your face – I have seen it in your Momma and Daddy’s posts from Day One – you will take no prisoners and conquer the world. You are your Father’s daughter.

Viola – you are proof of the miracle that was MEANT TO BE – the true love between your Momma and Daddy. You are unique, and everything your parents love: music, nature, poetry in word and beyond.

Etta – your Daddy was the only boy. Your Momma is the only girl. Your name means ‘ruler of the home’. Just look at your perfect face!?! Your Daddy will be smiling on you and proud of you every day of your life.

***

Anne Frank wrote in her diary, “In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.” My question: why does God take all of the good people? Why children and teens who have so much innocence and desire to learn, why them? Why people like Cody, who just say it like it is in the midst of so much BS – who refresh us with honesty, love and goodness? I don’t wish death on anyone, but when we are surrounded by so much hate, idiocy, ill will towards others and each other… why Cody. Why Evan. Why Heather. WHY DAVID.

Baby girls – grow up knowing your Dad wanted to change the world, and he was doing it in so many places including here in Omaha, Nebraska and your home of Grand Rapids, Michigan. A lot of people TALK; very few DO. Your Dad was a doer. A lot of people BOAST; very few have what it takes. Your Mom DOES.

Lori – from one wife to another, you are in my prayers. Every day.

David – we have one life. ONE. You have lived it with zest, humor, drive, vision, flair. You wake up every day and live TO THE MAX. I am not mad at God – I am thanking him for introducing you to my life and giving you to the world. So many people are dealt a hand, and crumple and cry. They blame others. They lie down and give up. You fought – you laughed – you used your lessons to inspire others – you never lost sight of what matters, LOVE, for your wife and your girls. You have given me not only great memories, but new perspective.

Because life is short. But sweet for certain.”

David, do you still love Dave Matthews Band? My husband met him backstage once – as cool in person as he seems on stage. Dave gave the quote mentioned above. LIFE IS SHORT. But oh, how sweet. How many of us don’t see that? We focus on the negative. You have always focused on the positive.

David, you continue to inspire me every day. I am thankful for you. You have made a difference in this world to everyone you have touched, and your legacy will live on. Jump, David, Jump – from one challenge to the next, from here to your next adventure.

Cheers to you, my friend.

***

The Wenzel family is sharing updates and accepting any donations their loved ones are willing to provide, anticipating costs in the coming weeks and months. CLICK HERE to follow their CaringBridge page.

I also highly recommend anyone and everyone to buy and read David’s book, Thank you Kung Fu, available online through most mass retailers. CLICK HERE to purchase his book online.

All The World’s A Stage

I am currently experiencing a CRAZY sense of deja vu..

This week, I’m back on stage at Papillion-La Vista High School for the first time in 17 years, as a special guest in Monarch Theatre’s production of Legally Blonde the Musical.

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The choir room in this picture.. the theater filled with maroon seats.. the green room where the cast gets ready each night.. it’s all SACRED GROUND to me.  It was my home away from home while I was in high school, where I took part in plays and performances, formed my dearest friendships, and created art that I was so very proud to showcase to our community.  There was something intoxicating about theater to me.. the thrill of seeing your name on a casting sheet, the adrenaline rush when the curtain goes up, the sheer GLEE of hearing the audience applaud at the end.

Many of my fellow ‘drama nerds’ channeled that love into our current careers: my friend Joe Rohacik now teaches at PLHS, where he is also the PA announcer for the entire district.  My friend David Wenzel is now a motivational speaker booked around the country for events (CLICK HERE to read his incredible story!)  My ‘green room’ is now the KETV newsroom, and my stage is 7 Burlington Station.

For others.. performing is simply what they were destined to do.  My fellow classmates Audrey Billings and Leanne Hill-Carlson are now professional actresses in Chicago and here in Omaha.  Monarch alumni Merle Dandridge and Abbie Cobb are now on national TV, starring in shows ranging from HBO to ABC.

Tyler Rambali is somewhere in between.. constantly learning new skills to teach future performers, while fine-tuning her own talents and seeking out opportunities to perform.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“I love to sing and act!” Tyler told me recently, and backed that up with an impressive resume of work, including awards with her trio, Major minor 3.

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“[We] competed in the Galaxy of Stars competition this last summer and the summer before,” said Tyler (CLICK HERE to link up to Major minor 3’s Facebook page to watch and listen to them sing!).  The group won a slew of honors their first year and the Megastar Award last summer, earning a recording session as their prize.  Tyler walked away with an additional bonus.

“That is where I met Chelsea Arnold (Miss Kool-Aid Days) and her mother, Paige, who first talked to me about competing in the Miss America system,” said Tyler.

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Tyler was crowned Miss Chadron last fall, opening up the doors for more performance opportunities across the state… not that she needs them.  She’s starred in Annie Get Your Gun, Nunsense, Lettice and Lovageas, Defying Gravity, and currently, she’s the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.

Tyler takes on these roles in addition to classes at McCook Community College where she is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Phi Beta Lambda, the National Association for Music Educators and Not Your Average Theatre Group.  Now as Miss Chadron, she’s also making appearances and often, trying to promote change with her personal platform ‘Reach Out and Read’.

  “Reading has become one of the least important things to my generation,” said Tyler.  “Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based nonprofit organization of medical providers who promote early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by integrating children’s books and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud [during] well-child visits.  I am trying to expand on this by connecting it to Children’s Miracle Network: reading to the children there, giving them books and teaching them the importance as well.  I also want to start a Reach Out and Read site in my hometown of McCook!”

It’s the part of pageants that doesn’t end up on reality TV, the service and networking opportunities that open up for these titleholders.  THAT is part of what Tyler, a pageant newcomer, hopes to show with her new title.

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Tyler painted this to symbolize her new adventure competing for Miss Nebraska.

“I wanted to try something new, and on top of that, I had a chance to make my voice heard, make a difference, and be apart of something really special,” said Tyler.  “Miss America celebrates women and empowers them and their abilities and accomplishments.  It’s purpose is to serve others, show your personal style and what you can bring to the table, provide scholarships, and help you to be successful, and that is what it has done for me!”

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Tyler also stresses the friendships she’s already made, adding to circle of loved ones she describes as the most important in her life.

“I have a huge family (over 20 first cousins on one side!),” said Tyler.  “Both of my parents served in the US Army (Dad for 20 and Mom for 7) and my brother leaves for basic training in the Navy in May, but I am so proud of him and his endeavors to be a Navy Air Rescue swimmer.  My faith in God is the BIGGEST thing in my life, and it is the only way I will be able to let my brother go off to the military.”

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Tyler adds that her mother is also one of her role models, teaching her at home from Kindergarten through her senior year.. a tie Tyler compares to ANOTHER of her role models, Miss Nebraska and then Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan.

“She has so much in common with me,” said Tyler.  “She loves to sing and act and she was home schooled.  It gives me encouragement and I know that I can do anything I can set my mind to.”

For anyone at a Nebraska high school right now, dreaming of someday being on a big time stage or on that screen in front of millions.. just LOOK at the incredible talent coming out of our state.  Omaha native Gabrielle Union.  North Bend native Marg Helgenberger.  Norfolk native Johnny Carson.

Tyler Rambali not only wants to follow their lead, she wants to be CAST as the lead in this incredible production called ‘life’.. and she’s ready to call Act I: ‘Becoming Miss Nebraska.’

“I feel that I am an extremely diverse person who can relate to so many people because I have so many different backgrounds: I am biracial, military, city girl, country girl, stage-fright-girl-turned-performer, and so much more!” said Tyler.  “I have been placed where I am, in the position I am for a reason, and I will do my very best to not squander the opportunities that God has given me to be a light for HIM.”

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Photo courtesy Chris Swasta

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CLICK HERE to follow Miss Chadron 2016 Tyler Rambali on FACEBOOK

For more information about the Miss Chadron/Miss Northwest/Miss Fur Trade Days Pageant, visit their FACEBOOK PAGE.  For information on becoming a contestant, contact Directors Caitlin Rodiek and Sara Smith by email at misscnwdirectors@gmail.com.  You can also contact Caitlin Rodiek by phone at 308-207-0336.

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The 2016 Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant takes place June 8-11 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Sugar Valley’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Courtney Pelland!

NEXT.. Miss Heartland 2016 Tosha Skinner!

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Thank You, Kung Fu

Everything happens for a reason.

A relationship falls apart, and your heart breaks.  Then you find that one person you are truly meant to be with.

You don’t get that job you worked so hard for and had your heart set on.  Then an opportunity develops you hadn’t even envisioned as a possibility.

While trying to make people laugh at an event, you perform your best kung fu move, hit your head, go to the hospital, and learn you have inoperable cancer.

Wait.. WHAT?

That is just the BEGINNING of the story for my friend, David Wenzel.  THAT moment, a kung fu kick, led to his diagnosis.. and a roller coaster of life changing events including divorce, unplanned pregnancy, and love by accident (is there any better kind?).  His story is the stuff Hollywood is made of, and I’m so very honored he’s letting me share some of it here.

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David and I both went to high school at Papillion-La Vista (go Monarchs!).  He was one of those rare Jack-Of-All-Trades, involved in drama, speech, mock trial and band.. but also ran cross country, played golf and baseball, and was friends with EVERYBODY.  We didn’t have a ‘class clown’ award for our senior class, but David was THAT guy who was forever the center of attention and could always make people laugh.

ELECTION

Our junior year, David’s ‘status’ skyrocketed, when he was cast in Alexander Payne’s film Election, shot at our high school in 1997.  David got his own trailer, made the final cut that hit theaters and I think still gets royalty checks for like $10 from time to time.  (His ‘thumbs up’ scene with Reese Witherspoon still cracks me up!)

While many of us chose Creighton, UNO or UNL for college, David chose Cedarville University in Ohio, a school known as a top Midwest Christian school.  Faith was always important to David (he grew up in Omaha’s Christ Community Church.)  We’d all hang out together from time to time when he came back to Nebraska, but as you often do, many of us lost touch.  He got married, moved to Michigan, and life went on.

Years later, I was working with another Papio alum (and friend!) John Campbell here at KETV.  John asked, ‘have you heard about David?  He has a brain tumor.’

SHOCK.  I was engaged to my husband at the time, planning our wedding and life together, and the idea of being faced with cancer, faced with DEATH, was mind-boggling to me and terrifying.

That was NOTHING compared to what David was going through six years ago, especially, how his diagnosis came about.

“I attended an Experts Conference in San Francisco,” David told me recently.  “The conference instructed us to start every conversation with ‘what are you an expert in?’  Since I was actually an expert in training and working with other experts, my answer was quite confusing.  I gave up and started telling people I was a Kung Fu expert.  Late one night after hearing my response, a guy wanted to start a fake kung fu battle with me in the hotel lobby.  Never one to turn down an opportunity for a good laugh, I took him up on it.  He delivered a fake roundhouse kick to the head.  I quickly turned as though he hit me and struck my head on a concrete pillar.  I turned back around to laugh it off but realized I couldn’t speak.  It was my first seizure.”

David tried to shrug off what had happened, but the next morning on the final day of the conference, he suffered another seizure, much worse than the first.

“I fell to the ground shaking, then passed out,” describes David.  “I woke up as I was being loaded into the ambulance; I remember joking with the nurses and hospital staff, even tweeting about this entire crazy scenario!  After three to four scans, a doctor came into my room and told me I was diagnosed with a Grade II Oligoastrocytoma, a terminal and inoperable brain tumor.  I stopped breathing.  I remember thinking they had delivered this news to the wrong person.  I was in remarkable shape, never broke a bone, never even had a cavity.  And this (somewhat horrible) thought crossed my mind: this doesn’t happen to people like me.”

The doctor left.  A nurse sat down with David and held his hand as he cried.  For hours, he was alone, trying to process what was happening.

“I remember trying to truly ‘understand’ the idea that everything, forever, would be different,” said David.  “Knowing from that moment on, the future would forever be changed.  A few hours later I started making calls to my wife and family.  It was rough.  Just tears after tears after tears.”

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John and I, and many of David’s old friends back in Nebraska, followed what happened next on his blog, Jump David Jump.  I don’t know if it was from his amazing PLHS English teacher Mary Birky or from countless hours listening to the Dave Matthews Band on repeat, but David has always had a way with words, and sharing his own story was no different.  Clearly we weren’t alone in following his journey; David soon started receiving invitations to speak at universities, churches and conferences.  People wanted to hear about his treatment, taking an all-natural approach to beat cancer rather than trying conventional measures (read more here.)  They wanted to hear the crazy story about his diagnosis. Simply, as I’ve written before, people want to be inspired.

“This was the first moment in my life when I was positive that I had a unique story to tell, was given opportunities to tell it, and was receiving messages that people’s lives were being changed because of it.  At this point, I was in full appreciation for the life that I had been given,” said David.  “Everyone was so supportive, but over time my (at that time) wife had issues with me continually sharing [my story].”

The couple tried a new church, a place where David grew uncomfortable after a few months.  He wanted to leave, she wanted to stay.  Eventually, the two divorced.

Everything happens for a reason.  Try telling that to a young man with cancer, recently divorced, who just years earlier was healthy, happy and had the world at his fingertips.  Adding to it, David didn’t know anyone else who’d been through a divorce.. until he met Lori.

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Photo courtesy The Awesome Mitten

The Chicago native moved to Grand Rapids for college, then opened The Sparrows coffee shop, which became one of David’s favorite spots for coffee.  The two met when Lori asked for writing help for her non-profit group, and their friendship blossomed after-hours, comparing stories about issues in their respective relationships.  Doctors had told Lori she couldn’t have children.

David proved that theory wrong.

“My first and only one-night stand,” said David.  “One night, one baby.”

Lori became pregnant; the two friends had only known each other for about a year.

“I was in shock.  Like, actual shock.  I couldn’t believe it,” said David.  “I was so afraid that the goodwill I’d built up around me would all come crashing down.  But I experienced so much love from my friends and family.  I couldn’t believe how well everyone handled it.”

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May 15, 2014, Marian Wenzel entered the world.

“Marian has two meanings: ‘bitter’ and ‘long-awaited child’,” explains David.  “So to each of us, she was that.  She was a complete surprise, and in many ways, a bitter one.  But in the end, she was the best surprise possible, our long-awaited child.  I suppose we just had to live some life and make a few mistakes before she could join us as the miracle of all miracles.”

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A MIRACLE, not a mistake, as David says God proved just a few months later.  Lori, who thought she was incapable of having children, became pregnant again.

“Lori and I had determined that God knows what is going on.  If I was on death’s door, he wouldn’t get Lori pregnant again,” said David.  “She walked onto the front porch where I was enjoying a beer and grinned as she showed me the positive pregnancy test.  My response this time was quite different from the first.  We were so happy.  Apparently, Lori and I are quite fertile people.”

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May 15, 2015, one year later TO THE DAY, Lori delivered Viola Wenzel at the couple’s home.  Irish twins.

Note what I wrote there.. the couple.  Between baby girls, David and Lori made a big decision.

“I realized that Lori had become my best friend,” said David.  “It took a few months of complete shock before I dug myself out of my past to realize that I honestly loved her.  And since then, she has become my beautiful constant.  She’s my center pole in my tetherball version of life.”

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The two married, at The Sparrows, just before Christmas.

I wish I could just type HAPPILY EVER AFTER, and leave David’s story at that.  But thinking back to when he married Lori jars another memory.. David being rushed to the hospital in the weeks before his wedding.  In the midst of such an incredible story, remember, David has terminal cancer.  He had made it six years, keeping a high quality of life through alternative treatments.. but also suffered seizures so bad that by December, he became unable to drive.

In September, when Marian was just four months old, David’s doctor told him his brain tumor was still growing, and without conventional treatments, he had possibly two years to live.  If he pursued chemotherapy and radiation through the Proton Therapy being advised, there was a 50% chance he’d have ten more years.

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David began treatment in March.  He lost a lot of weight, his hair, and at times, even memories embedded in his heart like his daughter’s name. Hopefully, he gained TIME.  Time to post the CUTEST pictures of his sweet girls together, all three of them.  Time to share that witty sense of humor with the world, as he always has. Time to continue to pursue his passion to write, contributing to and ghostwriting several books, and now… his own.  David is currently raising money through Kickstarter to fund his own book: Thank You Kung-Fu.  

“I have learned, first hand, that in all the messiness and disorder and pain and anger and hopelessness, there is a God.  And what God originates, He orchestrates,” said David.  “I know I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can share my story of how three miserable things happened in my life and through each of them, God has been quietly leading me towards where I am right now.  And I can honestly say, my life has never been better.”

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Photo courtesy Jon Melton

As of today, David’s supporters have donated about $34,000; a recent event through Failure Lab raised $8,000 in one night alone.

CANCER SUCKS, guys, it just does.  This terrible, horrific disease steals away fathers, friends, mothers, wives.. it is cruel and mean and blind to who it attacks.. people that the world NEEDS, people who are innocent and undeserving of this terrible fight they’ve been dealt.  I wish I could Kung-Fu cancer.

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Photo of David & Lori courtesy Jill Devries Photography

David Wenzel is trying, directly and indirectly.  He’s fighting his own battle for himself, his wife, and his beautiful, baby girls.  He’s also sharing his story to help others fight.. maybe against cancer, maybe against other demons.  I will NEVER justify cancer, but David Wenzel is living proof everything happens for a reason.

Note.. LIVING proof.

With that, I leave you with two final messages.  From me, maybe you don’t believe in fate.  Maybe you don’t believe in God.  Whatever you believe in, find HOPE in something.  Search for whatever makes you happy and gives you strength, and JUST DO IT.  In the end, who knows how much time any of us has?

David certainly doesn’t know.  But he’s still making people laugh, still the center of attention, and very much so, living life to the fullest.  He leaves you with this.

“I have no idea what you are going through, but I am positive there is a God who knows.  He has not forgotten you.  He knows you and loves you and wants you to know you are not alone.”

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Photo courtesy Gorilla

To learn more about David Wenzel and his memoir, Thank you Kung-Fu, click here to visit his Kickstarter fundraising site, active through July 25.  As of this post, David was approximately $6,000 from his fundraising goal.

David invites you to click here and visit his blog, Jump David Jump, to follow his journey.  You can also click here to learn more about his work with Robin Hood Ink.