Saturday, May 25, 2024

Another awesome Relay for Rachael. Thank you!

 Wow, what an amazing and exciting year for the Relay for Rachael, and we reached the goal!

I am so inspired by my runners and walkers who showed up before the sun last month and hit Highway 1 to help raise funds for my care and therapies. The positive energy and inspiration was contagious. Team Thighs on Fire came in first out of my relay teams and The Treadmill once again gave each runner on that team a new pair of shoes!
I had six full marathon runners this year, three of whom were running their first marathons! Congratulations to all!

Year after year I am in awe of the support that all of you continue to give me. I wouldn't be where I am today without you. Saying thank you doesn't seem to be enough, but I say it again, thank you to everyone who has donated and participated. It means everything…

Every dollar donated goes to my caregivers and trainers who keep me going every day. The search for caregivers has become extra hard these last few years, and I’m only as successful as the people around me. If you know of any strong and responsible caregivers please send them my way.

And the journey continues…
Thank you for BEing THE LIGHT!

More photos on our Instagram! Here!

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

14th annual relay for Rachael!

On Sunday, April 28, 2024 my runners will be hitting highway 1 in part of the Big Sur marathon for the 14th annual Relay for Rachael. Started by a group of friends after my car accident in 2010, this has been my annual fundraiser to help with my care and therapy costs. Without this annual event, I don’t know how I would be getting through my days. I am so grateful for all of my runners and for all of you who continue to support me year after year. Thank you for BEing my light!

Monday, November 13, 2023

Grief, life, and continuing on…

Annually since my accident on Halloween in 2010 I’ve posted an update here. It’s a way for me to update the people who support me year after year and also a way to check in with myself. This year I felt like I had nothing to give so it has taken me a while to post here.

With the grief of my aunt’s passing still weighing heavily on me from June 22, 2022, my brother passed away this year on June 16, 2023. 

I’ve been torn between wanting to honor him for the amazing person he was, and also wanting to acknowledge the struggle with addiction that he had been battling. He would brush me off and get upset when I would talk to him about his depression and addiction, and this has made me not want to talk about it because I didn't want to upset him, but if we never talk about it nothing is going to change. I’m sorry brother, but I feel like I need to say something.

His story is one that we are hearing far too often. The isolation and chaos of the pandemic in 2020 really put Alex into a dark place. He had since been trying to get himself out of that place. He had been doing really well the prior six months, and doing all the right things to get his life moving forward again. He changed up his living situation and realized he needed to be less isolated, he had been staying active with his men’s soccer team, backpacking and training to run in my Relay for Rachael fundraiser. He was getting out and being more social and trying to surround himself with the right people. 

The last time I saw him was two weeks before he passed away, he asked if I wanted to go down to a Big Sur softball game, a league he had played in. We had a nice drive down the coast and talked about the future, he sounded good and optimistic. Honestly, the last few years our relationship had been rocky. During the pandemic he was alone too much sitting with his own thoughts, and I had not been reaching out enough because I was caught up in my own life, dealing with Covid and caregivers, etc. I think Alex, like a lot of people was good at hiding how bad it really was. And then fentanyl came into the picture and that changed everything, a drug that is more addicting and more lethal than ever before.

Alex was smart beyond his years, creative, athletic, funny, talented in music and the arts. He had a love for animals and the outdoors. He could be tough, but soft. He supported me in my photography, and my rehab, he would come cook me delicious meals, his risotto was the best. We had a beautiful memorial in September celebrating his life. Connecting with his friends has been one of the most healing things. I may have lost a brother, but I feel that I have gained brothers and sisters. I’ve yet to use an emoji since the day he passed, grief does strange things, but I do see a path foward. My brother made me a better person and not having him by my side is another lost in my life that I will have to learn to live with.

Dealing with grief the last couple years has made me realize how much I was grieving after my accident over the loss of my able-bodied life. And now at 13 years my so-called “crashiversary” doesn’t seem as significant anymore. I now spend the anniversary of my car accident setting up an altar for Dia de los Muertos, honoring my ancestors who made me who I am, and who continue to guide me daily.

I look forward to 2024 with hope, it can’t keep going like this. After a year of feeling like I was struggling for survival every day between life crap and the struggles with finding and keeping caregivers, something has to give. I lost three caregivers this year unexpectedly, with no notice due to personal or health reasons. One of whom had been with me for six years. Because of these daily struggles i’ve had no time to focus on my photography or the gallery, or any free time in general. Already as it is living with a spinal cord injury you have very little free time. Everything takes forever. I feel like a lot of people think I just sit around and have all the time in the world which is the exact opposite of my reality. My main focus is on the necessities: eating, sleeping, bathing and getting the movement in my body that I need to stay healthy. Just these things are a full-time job. And when I am constantly dealing with new caregivers, everything takes that much longer. So I keep reminding myself to be patient and to be gentle on myself, and this too shall pass.

A huge positive this year, and the thing I am most grateful for is for my annual relay for Rachael fundraiser. This year we raised more money than ever. This keeps my life moving forward, every penny raised goes into the pockets of the people that get me up in the morning and put me to bed at night. With inflation and the cost of living going up, I am having to pay more to find the help I need. Constantly, every day I’m doing the math in my head, do I have the money to pay the people who are helping me. I am so grateful to those of you who support me year after year, words can’t express the gratitude I have for each and everyone of you. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

Thank you!

The 13th Relay for Rachael fundraiser was a huge success. Year after year I am blown away by the support I receive, I couldn’t do this life without the help from my friends and family. Every dollar raised goes into the pockets of the people who help me get through my days. My caregivers, my therapists, my trainers, they keep me moving forward. It’s a weird thing, and stressful, relying on another human to get you through your days, but knowing that I have the financial side covered for another year is a huge relief. 

My runners hit Highway 1 on Sunday, April 30th and ran their fastest or walked their longest or skipped their wierdest…the wind was blowing hard on Hurricane point but my runners still came into the finish line with smiles on their faces. It’s an awkward thing asking for help, but it makes me feel good knowing that I also inspire you. Thank you for allowing me, and inspiring me, to keep on moving.

We had so much fun at the fundraising dinner at the Carmel Valley Lodge on Friday, April 28th. Thank you again to the Lodge for hosting and to the Bitter Ginger, the Saucy Maiden and the Random Pickler for the delicious food.

And thank you again to The Treadmill in the Carmel Crossroads for gifting my winning relay team members, THE POTHOLES, each a new pair of shoes, and my marathoners each gift certificates.

Thank you!
With love and gratitude, Rachael

Monday, February 13, 2023

Relay for Rachael 2023

It’s that time again! I have 36 runners ready to hit Highway 1 on Sunday, April 30 to help raise funds for my care and therapy. They keep me going year after year. I couldn’t do it without them or the generous support of my community. Thank you for being my light. Relay for Rachael

Get your dinner tickets HERE for the annual dinner with the runners on Friday, April 28 in Carmel Valley!

Monday, October 31, 2022

12 year “crashiversary”

 It’s been a year. 

For 8 months I was looking to fill my caregiving schedule, and then my aunt passed suddenly from leukemia, she had been my constant caregiver for the passed 12 years, filling in when I couldn’t find the help I needed. Finding and keeping the care I need is a full-time job. Unfortunately, when I don’t have the help I need everything else gets put on hold, this is just the reality of my situation.

And here I am on the other side of this challenging year… and I am trying to enjoy the calm while I have it.

My therapies have been going really well. With the chaos of finding help during the pandemic it has been really nice to get back into a routine. The pool I had been going to for 10 years, Josephine Kernes Memorial Pool, closed down for 18 months, and now that they are back open they are no longer doing one hour sessions. They have cut them down to 30 minutes and that is just not enough time, especially for wheelchair users who need to get out of their chair to prevent pressure sores. It’s unfortunate that they don’t realize this, especially since they have a spinal cord injury grant for aqua therapy. I am thankful I found the Monterey Aqua Therapy Center where I started going in February 2021, they allow one hour sessions which is so beneficial for pressure relief, anxiety, insomnia, pain management, the benefits go on and on.

Buns up! This is during my session of Watsu at the Monterey Aqua Therapy Center. It feels so good!

I just finished showing a beautiful photography exhibit at my gallery by the photographer Edna Bullock that we had postponed since May 2020. Edna passed away 25 years ago but her daughter, Barbara Bullock-Wilson, now runs the family archive and it was an honor to show her photographs. My photographs are now back up in the gallery along with local photographer, Viktor Klinger. I also still have photographs up at Alta bakery in Monterey. And my 2023 fine our calendars are in! Shop here!

I came across this poem last week, another reminder to never give up. There will be the dark times and there will be the light times. Keep calm and carry on (thanks Terry)…


Unstoppable they called her

but I saw her stop

I saw her stop

many many times.


I thought she had stopped

for good

but no

she always found a way

to resurrect.

To rise again.

Not the same

never the same.

Each time a little more determined

and a little less vulnerable.

Unstoppable they said

but I think

it was in the stopping

that she found

her power.

Donna Ashworth

Monday, October 10, 2022

Erin Elizabeth Kenyon, 1957-2022

My sweet auntie passed away on June 22nd very quickly after being diagnosed with leukemia. She had been caregiving for me just a month prior. 

It still feels so unreal and I keep waiting for her to walk in my front door. She has always been my rock, in any emergency she was there. She was my buddy and we had so much fun together. One of the silver linings of my injury is getting to spend so much time with her over the past, nearly 12 years. She took such good care of me, and I know she is sending angels my way. 

When I was a child, before she had kids of her own I had made her a Mother’s Day card, the adults reminded me that she wasn’t a mother yet. That pretty much sums up our relationship. She was always more than an auntie to me, she was my second mom, my friend, my mentor…

When I moved back from attending Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara she helped me get a job at the Mitchell Group (now Sothebys Realty) photographing houses around the Monterey peninsula and when I was looking for an office/gallery space in town she was the one who found the current location of Gallery Exposed in Carmel. I look around my house and I see the curtains that she made for me, the pants she sewed up holes in, the flower arrangement she left on my table. I have a beef tenderloin in the freezer waiting for her to cook for us, she cooked it the best. 

She was beautiful, strong, funny, caring, creative, crafty and of course feisty (the aries with red hair). My heart is heavy for my cousins, Cody and Casey who lost their mom and for the grandbaby that she will never meet. Again and again I am reminded that life is short and that everything can change in a moment. Love the ones you’re with, give them a hug, tell them you love them. Until we meet again my sweet auntie, I love you so much, I will always be your sweet girl.

Auntie and Sean helping me with rehab at Zhu’s Neuro Acupuncture in 2011. 
Both now are angels in heaven.

Point Lobos, 2013

Baja Mexico, 2013

My 7th birthday party at Auntie’s house in Carmel Valley, 1989.

Pool time, 2020

Relay for Rachael, 2017

You have to love the 80s western wedding. Left to right: aunt Becky Dreher, uncle Tom Sullivan, my mom Katherine Anne McLachlan, great grandma Fern, aunt Erin, aunt Linda and grandma Dibbie. And yes, that’s my little pouty face in the front, I did not fulfill my flower girl duties...

Marin county, 2013

Auntie organizing the scavenger hunt at my 7th birthday party in Carmel Valley, 1989.

Relay for Rachael, 2022