Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Just wanted to update everyone on the final tally, and to post a letter from Mr. Tim. I'm having fun at camp right now, and will try to keep you all posted on what's what in the future. As for my final total at the end of the project period, June 30, donations totaled over $25,000, with an anonymous matching donation!!! WOOHOO!!! THANK YOU ONE AND ALL!!!!

MTV has taken a look at my project, and might even cover it in a series they are creating.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gene Signing in

HEY EVERYBODY!!! I just wanted to say thank you for all the support you've given. I'm at Bay Cliff right now and I'm having loads of fun. I don't know if I'll be able to post anymore while I'm here at camp but my mom will keep you updated on me.

Again, Thank You.

Gene from BC

Some pictures of my arrival at camp.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I did it !

Gene made it safety to camp on Saturday after the last leg of his trip. Many many people were lined up with cameras, hugs, smiles & tears to greet Gene as he came through the gates of camp.

He was able to sign over and present a check for $20,801.00 to the camp director. Amazing.

Gene's family would like to let everyone know there is still time to donate and make this number even bigger still. Any funds received by June 30th will go towards this years donation. Please know, donations will still be accepted after the June 30 deadline and will go toward next years fund-raising event, whatever idea Gene comes up with for that has not yet been discovered.

We will have more pictures and information for you all soon and we (the Fletcher & Bay Cliff families) truly appreciate all of you who have helped out in anyway. From each and every one who submitted a monetary donation, to all of the clubs and individuals who helped with rest stops and pre-trek fund-raising efforts, to all of those who helped with equipment and advertising, news and so much more.

Thank you all.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Trek Pictures

Just up-loading some pictures from the trek.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 2 - Keepin' on Trekkin'

Just a short update to let you all know that Gene's Trek is going well. We're pretty much on schedule, with few snafus. We were joined today by his twin cousins, Adam and Sean Kell, from Iowa, on their bicycles. They rode about 15 miles of the route with Gene. Later in the day we were joined by elementary students Crystal, age 10, and Douglas, age 6, from Gladstone area schools. These two children rode about 5 miles, the final leg, into Marquette. The three wheelchairs Gene owns have been faring well. The greatest distance so far for one chair has been 20 miles.

A big shout-out to the Curtis Area 4-H Fishing Club (KEN-Kids Enjoying Nature). They manned the Harvey rest-stop for us, providing outstanding cookies and home-made trail mix. They had just returned from visiting Bay Cliff with a personal tour of the camp. Their leader, Sue Pann, had four members with her, Bridget, Hannah, Kris and Paige.

Drivers on the highway have been very courteous giving us wide berth. Several stopped along the way to drop a donation. Really cool was a loaded log hauler stopping on a narrow shoulder to run across the busy highway to donate $100. A big HONK to him! Overall today we raised $200 along the route, including folks who visited the various rest stops.

We're overnighting at Tourist Park in Marquette Thursday and Friday. Friday is rest day; however, SAIL (Superior Alliance for Independent Living) is sponsoring an Ability Fair where Gene will display ability art created by students of Big Bay de Noc Schools. He will also be on hand to "blog", updating with pictures from the last two days. The fair will run from 10-2, with brats and dogs provided by the Marquette Lions and Wright and Fillipis. Bink's Coca-Cola has provided an assortment of Dr Pepper and Coke products for the Trek. Dr Pepper is the "official drink of the Trek".

A few other tidbits: one couple stopped by the Harvey rest stop to drop off mardi-gras beads and a $25.00 donation for Bay Cliff. They were headed to Alabama, and usually give the beads direct to camp, but saw us along the way.

My Aunt Del and cousin Lauri, mother of the twins, are both crazy. They were in our convoy, honking, waving, making cars honk back. It was crazy!! But we had lots of fun, and it made the day a lot faster.

Well, it's 10:00 pm, and dark at the campground, so photos will be loaded up tomorrow when I'm at the Ability Fair. If you can make it down, you'll see some of the equipment and products of the labors of people with disabilities, have some fun, and visit. Soo Bakh Do will be there to make their presentation of pledges, along with Channel 10 and Channel 6.

I really want to thank the media for the great coverage they've provided this Trek. Your support has made my job so much easier, and the trip safer by keeping drivers informed of our progress. There have been some rude drivers, but the safe drivers make it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 1-What a day!!!

Wow!!! What a beautiful day today. Sunshine and light breeze all the way. I have bugs in my teeth, though. :) I'll try to upload a few pictures, but our signal here in Kiva is pretty weak.

We started out pretty much on time, leaving from the Rapid River Lions Club. But first, Frank from the Escanaba Elks Club presented me with a giant check for $1500!!! THANK YOU!!! Elks!!! And, the Red Hatters from Rapid River donated $40, the Lions donated $100, and are manning phones for the radio-thon. They've been a great help with everything. Some of my friends were on-hand to wish me well, and Channel 6 News followed me through my first rest stop, filming along the way.

The first rest stop was manned by about a dozen or so members of the GFWC of Manistique, Escanaba and Kingsford-Iron Mountain. Thank you, Miss Dorothy Hoholik, for helping organize this great group of ladies. They had enough food for an army!!! And they even gave me bunches of hugs, and sang "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" when I came into the rest top. Too cute!!

Mom took lots of pictures, so if we don't have a continuous signal, then the pictures will have to wait 'til tomorrow, sorry, guys.

Big thanks to the radio stations today for their regular updates. I hear there's lots of folks who want to help out some way. The stations have been a great help in keeping everyone informed about how they can contribute to my Trek project. If you're on the blog now, you already know how to do that!! And I thank you.

The second stop was manned by members of Boy Scout Troop 400 from Manistique. They helped Dad change out my batteries so I could continue on the rest of the way. They also walked our dogs for us. Thanks, guys!!! Thanks Linda Mason for rounding up the guys to help. One of the boys gathered $40 in pledges. Thank you! And to the troop for their contributions, too.

Our third stop was at the Trenary BP Station. We had ice cream, rested a little while inside the store (Thank you!!!), and Mom loaned her cell phone to a Belgian couple on their way to Marquette to visit their daughter. They were traveling through the midwest and their cell phone didn't work in the area. Neither does the modem I'm using, but, hey, you can't hear me now!!! :) Thank you Tim and Joy Nerius (owners of Trenary BP) for your $25 donation.

We made the Kiva Rest Area at about 4:15, about 30 minutes behind schedule. Technical difficulties earlier in the day kind of threw the time schedule off, so we're backing our schedule down by about 30 minutes tomorrow, if you're wanting to catch up with us. We're only going about 7 miles an hour, so it isn't going to be hard to find us...

We met a few nice folks at the Rest Stop who heard about me and wanted to donate. Chris from Escanaba, working on his Master's degree in developmentally challenged education, Kathy from UPCAP services, and Mrs. Thill and Mr. Van Damme from my school, stopped by. Thank you!!

We're resting for the night at one of Mom's friends who lives near the rest stop. The dogs are chasing the cats, and we're watching a kid movie marathon!!! Off to bed in a few hours, then up and at 'em in the morning.

We'll leave the Kiva Rest Stop at 10:00, and head north from there. My cousins from Iowa will meet up with us tomorrow, and continue to Marquette with me. If you'd like to jump in any time, we'd love to have you!!! Hope to see you tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Brat feed in Trenary

Today was a pretty exciting day. First I had to get up early to get ready for a radio interview on channel 680 AM which went very well. After that was finished, my dad decided to go to RRN studios and the head guy set us up with two more interviews on 97.1 FM and 600 AM. Those two went well also.

After picking up everything we needed we headed to Trenary for the Lions Club brat feed. There were about 30 members and visiters enjoying a wonderful afternoon. Below are some pictures I took while we were there.

Special thanks to King Lion Fred Burton, Secretary Bruce Hallinen, VP Clay Kotey, Tailtwister and brat chef Roy Aho and wife Jane. Bruce owns Trenary bakery and donated the buns, the bakery is home of the world famous Trenary Toast we all know and love. Other members present enjoying the fiest included Norbert Weber, oldest member, age 85, Gene Holmquist, longest term member at 55 years, Tim Vallier, Matt Rondeau, Ken Heinonen, and lionesses Kate Weber and Thelma Carlson.

Also present was Kim Strom from the Munising News who came to interview me for her article next week.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Two Days to Go!!

Phew! Lots of stuff going on around here getting everything ready. Dad and I went to Marquette this morning to pick up the second wheelchair provided by Permobil. It has lights!!! Woohoo!! It's pretty cool. Barry from Permobil was awesome making sure we have all the pieces and parts for the second chair, and for mine, too.

Mom went into Escanaba this morning to make another deposit, pick up a few things we'd forgotten, and made sure everything is in one large space to pack the trailer tomorrow.

Tomorrow, the day starts with a radio interview at WYKX 104.7 FM during Eric Adams' morning show. Then we pick up a giant check from First Bank, Brats from GFS, a trailer from Gladstone Super Lube, then head to Trenary for a brat feed from 4-6 at the Trenary Lions Club. Hope to see you all there!!!

I'm tired just thinking about.

Opening ceremonies are Wednesday at 9:00 am at the Rapid River Lions Club. Then my wheels will hit the road at 10:00 am. Follow my itinerary on the website to see where I'm going. We have some pretty cool hostesses and hosts for our rest stops along the way, and the food is going to be fantastic!

That's all for now. Check back tomorrow for more updates.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Three days to countdown!!

Well, there are only three days left to wheels hitting the road! I spent this last Thursday and Friday in Milwaukee to visit my surgeon, Dr. Lyon. He's still wearing my bracelet! He's off to Yellowstone National Park next week, and I wish him a safe journey. He did give me the thumbs up for the trek, so we're a go.

Mom and Dad spending the last days getting everything ready. Dad has built an awesome flashing light bar for the following vehicles, Mom made some rest stop signs, and finished up the bookkeeping before the trip.

Kick-off will be Wednesday at 9:00 am starting from the Rapid River Lions club. I really want to thank them for all their help in getting different groups organized, and for their upcoming Radio-thon on local radio. DJs Rick Duerson and Joe Cretens will be following my progress through phone updates. Listeners will be given opportunities to pledge through the Lions Club contact numbers announced on the radio.

Before the Trek starts, I'll be in Trenary from 4-6 Tuesday, May 16, at the Lions Club Ball field. They are sponsoring a brat feed and proceeds will go toward the Trek. Hope to see lots of you there, and you can help support the local Little League during their game that evening, too.

Keep an eye on the blog for regular daily updates and photos.

Sponsor of the Week: Little Girl, Big Heart

This is a picture of Hope Mason (top) and her sister at Christmas this last year. She is being named sponsor of the week to show that no donation is too small.

Hope's grandmother, Rhea Groleau (one of my grandma Barbara's cousins), had given her one of my bracelets. Hope asked her what it said, and what it was about. Rhea told her
about me, that I was in a wheelchair. Hope said "Grandma, that's not fair." Hope went off to her room, and came back with some loose change in the baggie that the bracelet came in and said "Grandma, can you give this to Gene for me?" There was $1.68 in that little bag. She had emptied her piggy bank for Bay Cliff, but that little bag was really filled with a lot of love.

Thank you, Hope. Your love means a lot to me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Soo Bahk Do - Kick-A-Thon

Milestones, Goals & Dreams were all made tonight as the Soo Bahk Do karate school in Marquette as they reached their goal of 40,000 kicks and punches for this week in a 7 day kick-a-thon while students collected pledges for my Trek to Bay Cliff fund raising campaign.

I was there when the students met their 40,000 goal and was able to participate in the schools milestone 1,000,000th kick and punch, a count started over 15 years ago.

counter: Stevie

Helping celebrate this historic event, Instructor Carl Vonck with the help of student Stevie keeping count, brought me to the middle of the class to throw the landmark 1,000,000th punch.

The kick a thon raised over $4,000 for Trek to BayCliff pushing my total over the goal of $10,000 for Bay Cliff Health Camp.

For more information on the Soo Bahk Do Kick a thon, contact Carl Vonck, (906) 226-4723, email Carl at, or Mike Fletcher, (906) 644-2319.

Where can you see me next?
Saturday May 23rd
Marquette Walmart
10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Monday, May 25th / Memorial Day
I will be taking a break in collecting for Bay Cliff to help with collecting donations for the "Run for Joe" memorial by entering the race & participating in the Memorial Day Parade to honor my recently Grandpa Ken who passed away on May 6th. I'll be carrying his service flag.

Saturday, May 30th
Elmer's Country Market in Escanaba
10:00am to 4:pm.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What's Next

The next leg of my trek will take him to the May Day Bazzar in Rock, MI on May 16th.
There, I will talk to attendees about my trek to Bay Cliff and collect donations.

My goal for this year is $10,000 and with 5 additional public appearances scheduled before I starts my effort to travel using my wheel chair the 103 miles from Rapid River, MI to Bay Cliff Health Camp in June, I will have already collected over $6,000. Other events are planned but not confirmed as yet. We will keep you advised as these dates and events are confirmed.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I started my day early by being the Grand Marshall at the Elk's Youth Week Parade in Escanaba, MI.
Then taking the next leg of my trek we headed to SuperOne Market where I spoke to patrons about my efforts and ultimate trip in June.
Trek Angle Becky Unger of Manistique, MI often accompanies me while I continue to collect donations to present to Bay Cliff Health Camp on June 20, 2009. Thank you Becky for all of your support.
We've added a progress thermometer on my collection efforts to both the website and the blog. We are trying to keep as up to date as possible.

We've also added a guestbook to the main site where you can write me notes if you'd like.

Thank you everyone for your generous support.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

General Federation of Women's Clubs

Yesterday I was a guest speaker a the 114th annual State Convention of the General Federation of Women's Clubs in Clare, Michigan. This was a first for me as I received a standing ovation from the members.

I made my presentation using special technology. My speech was presented on the screen via power point while I stayed visible pointing to special points of the presentation. The voice portion of the presentation was accomplished through my computer by a speech assisted program called "write out loud". This program allows me to type my thoughts and the computer will read my text and convert it to voice. The computer reads words phonetically however and I must keep this in mind and write their sounds and not their correct spelling. The power point presentation was all spelled correctly as the members read along with the speech generated by the computer.

Feeling like a celebrity, I was overwhelmed by requests for pictures and hand shaking.

You can read my speech below:
My name is Eugene Fletcher. My computer is speaking for me today. I am 14 years old. I attend Big Bay de Noc School in Garden in the U.P. I am in the 9th Grade. I carry a 3.5 G.P.A. I like to participate in as many activities as I can. In fact, Sunday night, I will be ushering our school play “Oklahoma”

I have a sister (31) and brother (29), one nephew (5) and two nieces (10 and 3), all who live in California. My family and I moved here from California in 2002. We live on my family’s heritage farm in Delta County. I am the sixth generation to live there.

My first Bay Cliff experience was in 2003 when Sams Place (Unit five) was still drafty and cold, with lots of places for mosquitoes to romp and play in the middle of the night. Two years ago, Sams was completely renovated. We now have a great room with a beautiful fireplace, and large dorm rooms for those of us who need extra help to get around. We also have a screen porch to keep the bugs out, making evenings more pleasant.

I have met a lot of great friends in the last six years, campers and counselors alike. I do not receive therapies at my school, but camp really makes up for that. I grow stronger every year because of camp. I enjoy the waterfront activities. Last year was my first try at adaptive waterskiing. It was scary, but really fun.

Last year was also my first year in the teen program. We were able to interview for camp jobs to earn camp bucks so we could buy treats and gifts from the Teen Store. My job was getting the paper every morning, and watering our memorial tree, dedicated to Mr. Brian, the Camp Maintenance manager.

Teens also have a prom every year. We went to a local church where we had a formal dinner, then back to the auditorium for the dance.

When large groups, major donors and board members visit camp, teens are asked to provide tour services to show the groups around camp and brag about all the great activities

We also had a pie sale last year. We were challenged to sell pies to the staff. I sold the most pies (over 100), and we helped make them, too. I was also honored to receive the Frank Donckers Memorial Flag award for my respect of the flag during camp ceremonies. The flag was flown over the U.S. Capitol by order of Congressman Bart Stoopack.

The volunteers and staff at Bay Cliff Health Camp help me, and kids like me, develop to our full potential. Your organization, its volunteers, and each and every one of you; are all an arm of Bay Cliff that help make our abilities all possible. On behalf of campers, past, present and future, I want to thank you.

Your generosity has kept us warm on chilly nights, and made our dorm rooms so much nicer every year. As Bay Cliff grows, so does the flock of angels that help to keep it running and in tip-top shape. You are all angels to us.

This year, I have come up with an idea to raise money for Bay Cliff by riding my wheelchair from Rapid River on northern Lake Michigan, to Big Bay, on southern Lake Superior where Bay Cliff calls home. There is still time to help in many of the planning stages, including rest stops, and an ability fair in Marquette.

Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today. I hope to see you all again soon.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Updates… since stitches were out; I have been doing ok and have been going to school. School still isn’t fun. Wait, when was it ever fun? The only fun part about it is Gym and lunch. Everything else is so not “fun.”
Anyways, my back hurts here and there but other than that I’m back to my normal sarcastic self.
Something I find scary. On Google maps, you can see a 3D image of any house. Does that make you rethink what you do in front of your window?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Stitch Free

Yesterday I had my stitches taken out. I lied about having 150, I only had three running stitches. Those hurt more than regular stitches on the way out. Each one was about six inches long. But in the end it was worth it.

My dad did ok with the lift and putting me in my chair. The worst part was on the road to and from Escanaba, Michigan.

I am still doing my stretches with my dad. They still hurt me but getting better. I’m getting ready to go in my chair for awhile.

I’m running out of things to say so I’ll end it here.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

bye bye stitches

Today I get my stitches out. I have 150 of them in me. I am very afraid to have them pulled out. But I’m sure I’ll feel a whole lot better when they are out.

The real test will be if dad can put me in my chair with the Hoyer lift by himself. I just hope I don’t fall out.

I’m still looking for Bay Cliff campers (past/present) that wants to help me raise money for camp.

I will be glad when my scribe is done helping me on my laptop. My dad is so computer dumb. He doesn’t know how to do the simplest things.

I will write more later. Until next time.


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Finally home.

I’m home and doing lots better. I was in the hospital seven days. The long 7.5 hour ride home was grueling. We had to stop about 6 times to adjust me in the seat, give me pain meds, feed me, and just stop to rest for a few minutes. The trip was pretty cold and windy, but we made it home okay. I was really hot, though, because Mom overdressed me, and I was still running a lo-grade temp.

I’m now in a hospital bed at home. I’ve been up in my chair once for about two hours. I’ll be up in my chair again later today. Dad needs to learn how to use the Hoyer lift to get me in/out of my chair when Mom goes back to work next week.

I’ve managed to get some of my homework done today. I also beat my Dad at Tiger Woods Golf. I hate sandtraps and cliffs over the ocean.

I get my stitches out next Tuesday. I think the itching will probably go away after that. The dressing isn’t as big as it used to be, so I don’t have to endure too much pain while Mom changes it every other day. Sunday is the next change. I’m sure it’ll go a lot easier and faster. When I get my 3.5” drive out, I’ll upload a picture of my cousins that visited me from Iowa last week, and my back. It’s not that gross, really.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Surgery

Feb. 19, two days after surgery:

Hi everyone. Just letting you know how my surgery for spinal fusion went. Doctor Lyon at Milwaukee Children's Hospital split me down the back from base of neck to tailbone, inserted lots of stainless steel hardware, including some rods, and straightened out my back. My scoliosis was making my Cerebral Palsy all that much worse, and I think the CP was doing the same for the scolio.

Anyway, I have stitches that look like how Grandma used to truss up a Thanksgiving turkey, and I'm all puffy in my face and hands. I had to have a few transfusions for blood loss, but they're putting a lot of liquids back in me to make sure I don't become too dehydrated. I've had two therapy sessions already, and the therapist hopes to have me sitting up later today. We'll see how that goes. It's pretty painful right now to just even lift my arms, let alone roll over with help or even to sit up.

Mom and Dad have been with me through it all, and we're even making more detailed plans for my Trek to Bay Cliff in June.

If you would like to share your story about your triumphs after surgery, just send me an email and my sister will look it all over and post it to my blog for you. You can send pictures, too, but make sure you have your parents permission if you are under 18. Send me a consent email, too, just to make sure.

I'll report back in a few days!!!


UPDATE (2/22/9)from my sister...
Gene has been moved out of recovery into a private room where he still gets therapy. Yesterday he sat up for an hour or so, this was painful but also a very good thing. Expecting some extra family company this weekend and Gene is looking forward to that too

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I don't have much to tell you about just yet but you can learn more about my journey at my main website.

I'm setting out on a 100 mile journey by wheelchair to help raise awareness and money for this amazing camp called Bay Cliff Health Camp that I attend for kids with special needs. They do so very much to help us get stronger both physically and mentally to help us lead lives we might not otherwise have had.

Watch here for news about my journey when it starts in June. I'd also like to use this place to tell you about companies and people that want to help us out along the way.

Thanks for stopping by.