Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ride For Roswell 2013: Pre-Ride Thoughts

Almost twelve years ago, I watched cancer take my Grandma from me. I’ll never forget the moment I found out about her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer as my Dad fought back tears telling me, “3 months to live.” This vibrant woman who cheered on the Bills at every home game, polkaed away at parties, and found time to be at all our soccer games and dance recitals, was quickly slipping away from me. 

No one in our family would ever be the same. She was the glue that kept us all together. After the night we learned of her diagnosis, it only took a few weeks before she was gone.

This is just one story, and I’m just one person, but this morning I’m riding 30 miles in memory of Carol Sondel and all the other Grandmas out there who have missed out on watching their grandchildren grow up because of cancer.

7,999 others are biking with me this morning on various routes, all with stories of loss, love and overcoming the odds.

While there will surely be tears shed as I ride through those 30 miles, there will also be a happiness I can’t quite explain. A pure joy knowing others out there want to take a stand against cancer and raised millions of dollars to help find the cure. A pride in knowing Roswell Park is in Buffalo, NY, making a difference for people all over the world.

Thank you to everyone who donated to my Ride (Dick Sondel, Bernie Youra, Debbi Testa, Sharon DeFelice, Matt Testa, Aaron Mason, Alyson O'Connor, Angela Keppel, Suzanne Kashuba, Elizabeth Kresge, Jill McAnaney, Julie Tobin, Lisa Yuhnke, Laura Reed, Steve Foster, Catherine Janese, Casey Herko & Cindy Wagner).

Thank you to all the volunteers that will cheer me on throughout the 30 miles this morning. 

A special thanks to my boyfriend, Geoffrey, who will be biking beside me through it all. 

And thanks Grandma, from wherever you are watching me. I’m so proud to be your Granddaughter, and so lucky to be a Sondel.

Follow along with me on Twitter throughout the day. Don't worry, I won't be riding and tweeting, but will post before, at rest stops and after. I'm looking forward to also serving as a Ride Marshal for the 30 mile route. To everyone participating, stay safe! Ride right, pass left!

See you at the finish line! 

#Ridespiration #RFR13

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

CALL FOR ACTION: Ride For Roswell 2013

This Saturday, June 22nd, Roswell Park will host their largest fundraiser of the year, The Ride For Roswell.

Last year, I participated in the event for the first time. I biked 20 miles in memory of my Grandma, Carol Sondel, who died of pancreatic cancer back in 2001. You can check out my recap of last year's day, HERE. It was quite inspirational. 

Roswell Park is a huge part of the Western New York community, helping thousands of people from all around the world battle cancer and find treatments and cures.

I don't know a single person who hasn't been touched by cancer in some way. Whether it's a family member who lost their life to cancer, a personal battle with it or a friend or colleague you've seen go through it, we can all benefit by the work Roswell Park is doing. 

So, how can you get involved? I have three great ways:

1.) Donate today! This year, I will be riding 30 miles in memory of my Grandma, and all those who have lost their lives to cancer. I lost my Grandma way too early in my life, and if my riding can keep some other girl's Grandma around longer, I have made a difference. You can find my personal page, HERE. Thank you for your donation!

2.) Volunteer! The Ride For Roswell is still looking for volunteers to help out during the day. As they say, "It takes a village", and if you have ever been to The Ride For Roswell you can see why volunteers are so critical to the success of the day. You can check out all the open volunteer opportunities for the opening ceremony on Friday night and all day on Saturday, HERE. Around 100 volunteers are still needed! If you are already signed up to ride, they are also looking for riding marshals for many routes. 

3.) Share this post! If you are already booked this weekend or don't have extra money to donate, please share this post. Post it on Facebook, Twitter e-mail it to friends/family who may be interested, or mention it in passing when you are out. 

I'll be thinking about all my generous readers as I cross the finish line on Saturday morning. Thank you for making a difference in Buffalo! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Omakase Buffalo - "Acadiana"

Cooking up the crawfish
I'm going to let you all in on a secret. Well, a part of the secret anyway. 

Buffalo has an underground dining club. Omakase Buffalo was started about a year and a half ago by a group of local chefs and foodies who wanted to bring amazing cuisine to diners willing to try something new and different. 

I learned about Omakase Buffalo towards the end of 2012 and quickly applied to be on the waiting list. About a week ago, I received an invitation to attend an event entitled, "Acadiana" after the French Louisiana region.  

The premise for the group is based on trust. Very little information is given about the events in order to keep anonymity. Guests are not allowed to share information about who the chefs were, who they dined with or where they dined before or after the events. The only thing you can share, are photos of what you ate/drank.

Omakase Buffalo certainly isn't for everyone. A big part of why they do what they do, is to get people to expand their palate and think outside the box when it comes to food. You are asked to try everything, enjoy the company of people you probably have never met, and retain the level of anonymity. 
Time to dig in!

For me, the event proved to be an incredible day. Our meal included a Southern Louisiana tradition, the crawfish boil, which was something I'd never experienced before. In addition, we sampled the New Orleans hurricane and sweet tea drinks, an amazing jambalaya with outstanding andouille sausage, slow cooked jumbo shrimp, a delicious sweet potato pecan pie, and even a little moonshine! 

You can get the answers to some "frequently asked questions" on their website, and if you are interested in being added to the waiting list, can apply here

If I can think of one word to describe Buffalo right now, it's creative. I'm continually amazed at the amount of creative minds in Western New York working together with one goal: to help reinvent Buffalo. Omakase Buffalo is another prime example of this creativity. 

Start eating outside the box, Buffalo. You will be amazed by what you find!

Jumbo shrimp
Jambalaya with chicken and andouille sausage

Thursday, June 6, 2013

REVIEW: 710 Main Theatre: 50 Shades! The Musical

Last night I had the chance to combine two of my favorite things; live theatre and social media! I was one of a handful of people selected to live tweet during 50 Shades! The Musical at 710 Main Theatre (you can check my live feed out from last night by following me on Twitter @lovinonbuffalo).

Typically, being on your phone during a musical is a big no no, but in recent years theatres have been embracing Twitter and social media to engage their audience before, during and after the show! It's actually quite genius, if you ask me. Who doesn't appreciate a personal mention or retweet from the cast/Twitter handle for the show? 

I'm thrilled that organizations like Shea's are beginning to explore these options and thinking more "outside the box" when it comes to promotion and reach! If your company isn't invested in social media on some level, you really need to consider it. Fast. 

The theatre itself holds 625 seats and offers an intimate setting with really no bad seat. The stage is small and front row is up close and personal with the actors. The lobby area has a small bar. The theatre was formerly Studio Arena, but they have been closed since 2008 due to financial problems. 710 Main Theatre opened its doors in fall 2012 and has hosted a number of great shows in its first year. They just announced the lineup for the 2013-2014 season. Check it out HERE.

50 Shades! The Musical is a parody musical based on the book 50 Shades of Grey by E L James. The musical opens with a book club meeting where they decide to read the book. What follows is the book club's journey through the book and all the hilarious and dirty fun that ensues. 

From the moment the show started, to the very last note, I was laughing, sometimes to the point of tears. While I was a little worried I'd be lost since I never read the books, I never felt  that way during the show. The show offers around 10 original musical numbers, some that parody other musicals, and contain amazing one liners. 

Almost as good as the performance was watching the reaction of the audience throughout the show. It was clear I wasn't the only one enjoying it! 

The cast even tailored the performance to the Western New York audience, mentioning Buffalo, Mighty Taco, Medina and more. 

All eight cast members had moments of brilliance, but standouts for me were Jose, played by Nick Semar and Carol played by Jessica Kemock. 

The show is perfect for a girls night out, and by the second song I was wishing my entire group of girlfriends were with me to laugh along. It's a must see for the women of Buffalo, and men will get a kick out of it too. It does offer a very "risque" dialogue that is not suitable for those under 18, but doesn't take anything too far! It's the perfect balance of flirty and naughty. 

Performances run through the weekend and tickets are a reasonable $37.50/$47.50. There are even some discount coupon codes out there if you look hard enough! 

Last night was another reminder for me that we are so lucky to have amazing theatre options in Buffalo. There is so much diversity - small intimate theatres, college campus productions, Shea's mainstage with internationally known productions and everything in between. 

710 Main Theatre should be added to your Buffalo bucket list over the next year. I know I'll be back!