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To all who are liking the photos and video from the Houston Art Car Parade:

Please know that it wasn’t easy getting to this stage of the Just Ask World Tour. It took a lot of time, sweat and money to make this happen.

Reggie and I were happy to take care of the time and sweat and a lot of the money involved with raising awareness of neurofibromatosis.

But now, unfortunately we are falling short on the money part that will take us through the tour.

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 8.45.11 PMI am truly excited as we have proven that the Just Ask Bus will work as a great awareness vehicle, pardon the pun, through the views donations and Shares of news of our travels.

The $15,000 we have raised so far has helped to get the Just Ask bus in condition to travel the country. We have a motor we kind of trust, the exterior wrap is finished and looks great thanks to some special help from Matt Cline and Bayou Graphics, and a very functional but yet cool looking interior from the Upholstery Shop.

Now, quite honestly, we need to build up the GoFundMe account so that we can actually travel with the bus.

This upcoming trip to attend the CTF Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona has more than tapped us out on our expense account. Fo us to continue and post a schedule, we will need to raise some money, not a lot, but enough to get us to a few more locations.

We really want to be able to make it to Canada and see all of our friends in Vancouver, Calgary, Manitoba and, yes, Red Deer.

Any help you can provide, no matter how small will go a long way for Just Ask to fulfill it’s mission — to make life easier to all with neurofibromatosis by raising awareness, understanding and compassion for those challenged by it.

I can’t think of a better ambassador for NF patients than Reggie Bibbs.

He is doing extraordinary things way beyond even his comfort level to make it easier for the next NF patient to live life a little easier.

If you are unable to donate, and we totally understand, at least share this page with your friends in the event they would like to help.

I think we owe Reggie our unending love and affection but also the funds to help him do what he was born to do.

Please click below. Thanks you!

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Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 8.45.11 PMCheck out our video from INSIDE the Just Ask Bus! Lot’s of fun!

2015 Houston Art Car Parade Video

We decided to simplify the graphics on the back of the bus to make it easier for fellow road hogs to connect with us on the road, particularly our Twitter brethren. I like it a lot. Much cleaner and easier to read. We also added a photo and quote from Reggie and hashtags for our social media geeks.

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Courtney Willoughby, NF Hero and blogger, “Courtney’s Column”

Please meet a very special friend of Reggie, myself and Just Ask, Ms. Courtney Willoughby of Red Deer, Alberta.

She writes a weekly blog that we think you would enjoy! It’s called “Courtney’s Column” and it’s very inspiring. But then, so is Courtney.

Several years ago, Courtney singlehandedly raised over $25,000 for NF research at a medical center near her home.

On October 5, 2013, Courtney became the first recipient ever of the “Reggie Bibbs NF Hero Award” in recognition “… of her exceptional courage, strength, and determination in her battle against neurofibromatosis and for her dedicated and tireless spirit in positively impacting the lives of others affected by neurofibromatosis.”

Below is her first blog published in “Courtney’s Column!”

Friday, September 12, 2014

“Welcome!

I want to be the first one to thank you for clicking that link to read my blog…. RIGHT ON! I thought I should probably introduce myself, so here we go!

My name is Courtney Willoughby, I am 20 years old and am living with Neurofibromatosis Type 1. What’s that you ask? Well check out the other page on this blog to learn more about it!

I was diagnosed with NF when I was 3 years old. There is no family history of it in my family, so you can only imagine how shocked and terrified my parents were when I was diagnosed. Growing up, I really never experienced many difficulties with NF, I met all of the major developmental milestones and was excelling in my studies at school. It wasn’t until I was 13 that I truly entered my journey into this whole NF business.

I had a plexiform neurofibroma removed off of my back the summer before I started Grade 8, which was an extremely painful procedure and recovery. At this point in time, I had never had an MRI of my brain, so my pediatrician decided it would be a good idea to have one done to use as a “baseline” reference.

Being only 13, I was absolutely terrified. I was terrified that something would show up on the scan. I was terrified I was going to have a nasty brain tumor that would be cancerous. I was terrified that I was going to need brain surgery.

After the day of my scan, I anxiously waited for the test results. I will never forget the day that my doctor sat me down and delivered the news.

I had a brain tumor.

It was inoperable. It truly felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. I couldn’t breathe. I kept asking myself “Why? Why me?”. I truly thought my life was over, my heart was broken. My doctor told me that we would need to keep a close eye on the tumor to make sure it wasn’t growing. I went home with my Mom that day as a completely different person.

After that diagnosis, I started having extremely horrible back pain, and I was soon diagnosed with scoliosis. After that, I started having headaches every day of the week (after seeing over 6 neurologists and 4 neurosurgeons, I still have headaches every single day!)

Over the next few years my diagnoses included: hypopituitarism (a rare hormonal condition), growth hormone deficiency, an undiagnosed hormonal condition, overactive bladder, mesodermal dysplasia (ribbon rib deformity),  hypertension, chronic sinus tachycardia, grade 1-2 heart murmur and multiple tumors in my leg, arm, auditory canal and pelvis.

The fact that I am sharing this with you right now is a miracle.

There was once a time in my life that NOBODY knew of my condition. It was my little secret. I didn’t want people to know because I didn’t want to be labeled a “freak”. I didn’t want to be ostracized or treated different than my peers. I hid everything, and it eventually took a serious toll on my health.

I developed depression and a severe eating disorder. I was a mere 84 pounds at my lowest weight. This isn’t something that is easy for me to admit, it’s only been recently that I am able to talk about it. You see, I never was overweight or anything like that. I was actually always the scrawny kid in  class.

The anorexia was all about control. I couldn’t control my NF. I couldn’t control the tumors growing in my body. I couldn’t control anything it seemed like… but I could control what I ate.

I stayed in this funk for a good 3 years, but everything changed when I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet Reggie Bibbs. If I told you the entire story you would probably be here for another solid half hour to read the rest of my journey, but I am going to keep it short and sweet.

Reggie Bibbs saved my life.

I was in such a dark place, with very scary thoughts running through my head. Reggie changed all of that for me. He made me realize that my life was worth living, and that NF didn’t have to define who I was.

Yes, it was part of me, but it didn’t have to be all of me.

Reggie gave me the courage to stand up for who I was, and who I wanted to be. And that is the reason that I am sitting here right now writing this blog post. Reggie Bibbs, you are an angel. I will be forever grateful for you!

So what am I doing now you may ask? I am going into my third year of my Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree! I am so close to being done I can almost taste it! Once I’m done, I want to be a pediatric nurse working on a medical surgical unit at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. I want to care for children who are going through some kind of illness just like I was cared for. I want to give back.

So thank you for reading this, if there is something that you would like to learn about, put it in the comments below. Thanks for reading =)

Courtney”

 

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I went to OfficeMax for office supplies today.  As Lou and I shopped, Deborah asked if we needed help with anything. She helped with finding the ink for my printer.

When it was time to check out, Deborah, was there again with a big smile. I had a chance to mention Just Ask, but didn’t have any cards with me.  Deborah, was nice enough to allow us to take a photo of her.

Thank you Deborah, for your help, and for being so kind! Office Max should be very proud of you!

Received this yesterday:

Hi Lou,
My name is Patty Hall and I’m a research director recruiting people with NF1 for a double blind, placebo based study investigating certain nutrients in the treatment of symptoms of NF1. Attached is a copy of the protocol for your consideration as a post.  I need sixty patients and the study is of no cost to participants.

Neuropathy Solutions is currently seeking 60 patients with Neurofibromatosis 1 to participate in a double blind, placebo-based study investigating the use of nutrients in the treatment of symptoms related to NF1. Study participants should be:
1. Ages 13 and older.
2. Have a diagnosis of NF 1 based on NIH criteria with two of more of the following characteristics.
a. Six or more café-au-lait macules
b. Skin fold freckling of the axilla and groin
c. Optic pathway glimoa
d. Two of more Lisch Nodules of the iris
e. Distinctive bony lesions such as dysplasia of the sphenoid wing or the long bone of the tibia.
f. Two or more neurofibromas of any type or one or more plexiform neurofibroma
g. First degree relative with NF1
3. At least four subcutaneous neurofibromas on skin exam with the following qualities; the lesion must be discrete by clinical exam and amenable to measurement with calipers with a minimum dimension of 5mm and a maximum of 20 mm.

Patients will be supplied all study supplement and receive follow up consultations for a period of six months free of charge. If interested, please call Patty Hall at (616) 826-4033 or email her at patty@terraceuticals.com.

Patty Hall, Research Director, Neuropathy Solutions

The University Of Texas, Health Science Center, is in the process of conducting Rapamycin clinical trials, to treat NF patients with tumors on the body.  I’m happy to say that I’m one of those being treated.  I feel hopeful as well as others members in my family. My mother and sisters are happy to take part in this study.  Second day in the study, and looking forward to what I believe will be a huge step in finding a cure for NF.   I also plan to give updates on any improvements I see on my tumors.

Anyone needing information about taking part in the study, stay tuned. I will have more information on who to contact in Houston, for The Rapamycin Therapy.

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It is that time of year again. The Texas NF Foundation, is making it possible for nearly 200 persons to have a great weekend at Camp For All. This weekend will be our yearly camp for persons with nf, along with family and friends. The one time most of us get to see each other. I’m looking forward to horse back riding, Zip line, which I hear is lots of fun. Fishing, petting zoo, and Lots of talking with new and old friends. Also looking forward to sharing with you photos to all who can’t make it to camp this year. Let’s talk about camp this week. What do you look forward to this weekend at Camp For All.

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Texas has been lobbying since 1997 to ensure that NF research continues to make progress. Since that time, over 200 million has been contributed to NF research programs. Within the last few years, research funds have steadily been decreasing. However, today I am proud to announce that they are “back up!” The House Appropriations Committee just ruled that another 25 million will go towards the 2010 Department of Defense NF Research program. This is a tremendous victory since last years projects only collected 10 million. That’s a 250% increase!
Thanks to all of you for writing your Representatives, It worked! And thanks to Reggie Bibbs, Sandra and Emily Parker, Dr. Slopis and Dr. Moore for taking the time to personally visit Representative Sheila Jackson Lee.
HOWEVER – The 25 MILLION IS NOT SECURED – YET. We still need YOUR HELP to SECURE THESE FUNDS! Please email, or better yet, hand write and fax a personal letter asking that our Senate approve the House Appropriations proposal of 25 million towards NF research. Thanks again, together we are making a difference!

Senator John Cornyn FAX: (202) 228 – 2856
Compose an online letter to Sen. Cornyn
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison FAX: (202) 224-0776
Compose an online letter to Sen. Hutchison