My ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has surprise ending

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Yep, I knew it would happen eventually. I've been waiting to be asked to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge but I never thought it would come from our Australian foreign exchange student from 24 years ago – Rebecca Freeman Haines! I asked her to do the ice bucket honors. She came all the way from Australia to be with us!

In this video, I weathered a bucket of ice water dumped over my head and then challenged my neighbors at Cypress Station in North Ridgeville and my co-workers at University Hospital’s Eye Institute Reading Centers to also support this worthy cause.

Watch the video to the end to see a surprise in my ice bucket.

Also included in this video are VERY COOL celebrity challenges from around the Internet including President Barack Obama, Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James, professional ice hockey player Paul Bissonnette, “The Besties” – Brittany and Brittani, Jimmy Fallon with Rob Riggle, Horatio Sanz, Steve Higgins and the Roots.

Please take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or make a donation to http://www.alsa.org/

Monkey invasion at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital stalls

A Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital patient with the first name of Za'Nyha holds a monkey she received while in the hospital.

A Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital patient with the first name of Za'Nyha holds a monkey she received while in the hospital.

The nursing staff at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital is hoping for an invasion of cute, cuddly mocha monkeys – just in time for Christmas!

That’s because I hoped to provide each child patient who is spending their Christmas at Rainbow a free monkey to brighten their stay. Unfortunately, I may not have enough monkeys to go around.

“Monkey Mayhem” – my initiative to raise enough money for a monkey for each of the 200+ plus Rainbow patients on Christmas day has reached the half-way point – BUT time is running out. I need to place an order with the supplier by Friday to have them in time for Christmas.

Anyone can donate to the cause at MochaMonkey.NET. There is an option to purchase a monkey for yourself for $9.95 ($6 goes to Rainbow) or purchase a monkey for a patient for $9.95 and I'll deliver the monkey to Rainbow AND make a $6 donation.

Just skip a beverage or two at your favorite coffee shop and support a great cause this Christmas season.

Monkey on IV pole at Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital

Monkey on IV pole at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital

Marilyn McGrath, director of the Children’s Miracle Network at Rainbow, is pleased about this cause. “As a UH employee, Mark has come up with these adorable monkeys, which when attached to the child’s IV pole or bed will help take their mind off their stay.”

Another great way to help is to post a link back to this blog post from your Facebook page and encourage your family and friends to help. Copy and paste this link:

Monkey invasion at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital stalls

But hurry! I need to place my order for the monkeys by Friday, Dec. 16th to guarantee Christmas delivery.

For more on this story, read the Cleveland.com article and the WEWS Channel 5 News post.

Wild monkeys to invade Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland

Mocha Monkeys for Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital

Mocha Monkeys for Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital

The nursing staff at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital will soon be bracing themselves for an invasion of cute, cuddly mocha monkeys – just in time for Christmas! That's because I've decided to provide each child patient who is spending their Christmas at Rainbow a free monkey to brighten their stay.

My first visit to Rainbow was in the early eighties when I visited a teenager who had Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Her name was Betsy Baker and she was the daughter of the minister who would preside over my wedding. Betsy was a dear friend of my wife and a cherished bridesmaid at our wedding. A few years later, Betsy succumbed to CF.Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital

My other experience with Rainbow occurred when a friend of my oldest daughter – Dara Hosta – was taken there after collapsing in gym class from an unknown cause in ninth grade. Dara passed away six days later at Rainbow. Because of that experience, I became the Founding Sponsor of the Dara Hosta Olmsted Spirit 5K Race/Walk in 2000. The event has raised over $150,000.00 for college scholarships for Olmsted Falls graduates since its inception.

MochaMonkey.NETI now pass through the halls at Rainbow each day as I come to work as an Ophthalmic Photographer at University Hospitals. I witness ailing children arriving with their parents and concerned grandparents pacing the floors. It was an easy decision to make Christmas just a little more fun for the special children at Rainbow.

So here's where I need your help. Could you find it in your heart to give a monkey to a child at Rainbow this Christmas? I've set up a web site with a link where you can donate to the cause. It's at the MochaMonkey.NET. Just skip a beverage or two at your favorite coffee shop and support a great cause this Christmas season.

Mocha Monkey gets jiggy at Carnaval

The Mocha Monkey had a close encounter of the bizarre kind when he got caught up in the Carnaval parade in San Francisco's Mission district in May. As a group of dancers passed by, one of the girls nabbed MM for a quick photo. Although it was love at first sight, MM quickly came back down to earth when he was abandoned on the curb.

The  Carnaval parade is most recognized for its spectacular choreographed dancers and scantily clad women. Since 1979, Carnaval has been the main event for thousands of artists who spend hundreds of hours preparing for San Francisco's most colorful parade.

Mocha Monkey drives San Francisco cable car

The Mocha Monkey at the controls of a San Francisco cable car. Click a photo to view it larger.

During the Mocha Monkey's May trip to San Francisco, he met the conductor of one of the city's world famous cable cars. After a little “monkeying around,” the conductor allowed MM to operate the grip handle which propels the cable car.

From MM's brief cable car history lesson, he learned that San Francisco first put them in service in 1873. MM also discovered how these amazing cars actually operate.

What are your favorite places to visit in San Francisco? Please post your “Comments” below.

Mocha Monkey nearly stranded at Golden Gate Bridge

Mocha Monkey near the Golden Gate Bridge

Mocha Monkey near the Golden Gate Bridge with his new friend.

The Mocha Monkey was almost stranded overnight in a parking lot near the Golden Gate Bridge during his recent trip to San Francisco.

After meeting his new friend, Stephanie Hernandez from New Mexico (pictured here), MM went to his car to get a late dinner. As he approached the park exit, he realized a gate had been secured across the road. After further inspection, MM noticed a sign stating the lot closed at dusk. Fortunately, he was able to drive around the gate and over an extremely high curb to make his escape. The rental car took a little abuse in the process as it nearly got stuck on the curb.

Mocha Monkey meets newlyweds at the Golden Gate Bridge

Mocha Monkey with newlyweds at the Golden Gate Bridge

The Mocha Monkey met Vlad and Tanya while visiting the Golden Gate Bridge on a recent trip to San Francisco.

They became “fast friends” as they ran along the shoreline together.

Seems like everywhere MM goes, people want to hang out with the little guy!

The Mocha Monkey tries to meet President Obama

The Mocha Monkey has been doing some serious travelling lately. After visiting San Francisco and then Cleveland for my daughter's wedding – he took off for Washington, D.C. for a visit with President Obama.

Unfortunately, the President didn't know that MM was coming. MM sat outside the White House for two days before giving up.

Mocha Monkey enjoyed breakfast in Santa Cruz

The Mocha Monkey scarfed down half my Grand Slam at Denny's (at 5 a.m.!) before heading out toward San Francisco on Saturday.

We then burned a lot of “shoe leather” hiking up-and-down the streets (hills) of San Francisco. I knew the city was built on hills but I never knew how STEEP they were!

Check back often to read about other San Francisco adventures of the Mocha Monkey.