I have exciting news, we have completed our documentary family! I wanted you all to get a chance to meet them, and learn a little about all the amazing people that are involved. More complete bios are on the website, and most have their own websites which are wonderful to explore if you have the chance. So let’s get started.
Our youngest member is Luisa Diaz, who lives in Tucson, is a Leukemia survivor, has just graduated High School, and spends her time raising money and organizing events for teens with cancer. Her goal is to be a Children’s Oncologist. I had the opportunity to film her graduation, and spend a little time with her wonderful family. What a beautiful, strong, and exceptional young lady she is.
Our twenty something is a dynamic young man named Josh Sundquist, who was in the middle of a national book tour promoting his latest book when Don and I caught up with him. He is a Bone Cancer Survivor, has skiied in the Paralympics, and spends his time traveling around the country as a Keynote speaker teaching both adults and children what it takes to overcome obstacles. We were able to see a talk he gave at a high school in Seattle and the tremendous impact he made in the short 45 minutes he spoke.
Our thirty something is Paul Sibley, who is a Skin Cancer survivor that has many titles such as Triathalete, Ultramarathon Runner , high level business executive, husband, father, and fund raiser for cancer research. Paul donates a good part of the little spare time he has helping the American Cancer Society in their Race for the Cure events, as well as heading his own foundation dedicated to childrens cancers.
We actually have ( 2 ) forty somethings. The first is Leimomi Golis who is a Lymphoma survivor, works in the health care industry, is co-chairperson of the longest running cancer support group in Hawaii, and is currently taking care of her sister as she fights Breast Cancer. She is another one of those incredible people that spends a good deal of her free time raising money for cancer research or helping those fighting the battle.
Our second forty something is Anne Shimabukuro, the Vice President of Treasury for Marriott International, who happens to be a Pancreatic Cancer survivor. In addition to an extremely demanding job, she is a mother of two, and an advocate for the need to raise awareness about the deadly form of cancer she beat. She is also on the Board of Directors of Food & Friends, a support foundation that helps people that are dealing with life threatening illnesses. We will be filming her mid June during a large fundraiser in Washington DC. We’re sure looking forward to meeting her.
Our fifty something is Venus Gines, who is currently living in Houston, is a Breast Cancer survivor and a true force of will in a beautiful petite package. She has established her ” Dia de le Mujer Latina ” festivals in 30 states and counting. These festivals are days that give women in the Latino communities that can’t afford healthcare, access to Pap’s and Breast exams in an effort to catch cancers early. She includes education, eye exams, and diabetes testing all in that ” Fiesta ” atmosphere. I was fortunate enough to attend the one she held in Houston and they processed over 1000 people in that single day. Amazing !
Our sixty something is Don Fallis, a rectal cancer survivor, businessman, Ultramarathon runner, explorer, fundraiser and now home contractor. He also happens to be my life partner, and one of the main reasons this project is being done. It was his battle with the disease as well as my mothers, that spoke of the need for something like this. He even helps me when I need a second camera for filming.
We have ( 2 ) seventy somethings as well. The first is Barbara Hillary, the first African American woman to reach the North Pole on skiis, and soon to be the first African American woman to reach both poles, and that’s after surviving Lung Cancer. She is one of the sharpest and funniest people you’d ever run across. She’s part of a documentary that’s currently on the Festival circuit, is writing a book, and in her spare time, is a Keynote speaker. Don and I will be filming her in New York mid June, and I just hope we can stop laughing long enough to use the cameras.
Our second seventy something is Russell Jim, an amazing gentleman that is a leader of the Yakama people in Washington State. A Throat Cancer survivor, he spends his time leading a coalition dedicated to solving the nuclear and hazardous waste containment issues that are endangering the lands and livelihoods of the people in that area. He has served on numerous government councils and commitees, and is tireless in his effort to win this very crucial fight.
Our eighty something is Bob Ryland, a Prostate Cancer survivor who also happens to be the first African American professional tennis player. He was Arthur Ashes hero, coach to a number of high ranking tennis players, not to mention a stint as Bill Cosby’s personal trainer. He still plays every other day and works with the younger generation who dream of one day holding that New York Open tennis title. We’ll be filming Bob mid June as well, and lucky for us, it will be his ninetieth birthday bash.
Happy Birthday Bob !
Our ninety something is Wallace Froiseth who is a very shy Leukemia survivor. He was one of the famous early Hawaii longboard surfers and competed against Duke back in the heady days before World War ll. A great many things make him special, but what struck me was that he was diagnosed at 87, and rather than throwing in the towel, he threw up his hands and said. OK, let’s get this done, and immediately started on Chemo. He still works out every day, and is living life to the fullest.
Now for the funny folks. First is Mack Dryden, who is a professional comedian, writer, Keynote speaker and double cancer survivor. He first whipped Testicular cancer, then Eye Cancer, and needless to say came through with some great material. He’s been on more talk shows than I can list, wrote for Politically Incorrect, and does stand up all over the country. Don and I will be filming his performance for a crowd of about 900 cancer survivors and supporters in Connecticut later this month. I can’t wait to see him live.
Then we have Kathy Buckley, who besides being a cervical cancer survivor, and the first hearing impaired female comedian, is a gorgeous amazon standing at 6′ tall. She has an extremely quick wit and kept me on my toes all afternoon, but a heart as pure as gold. Though her resume is filled with TV shows, Broadway, and the like, her lifes work is to help children, and she spends much of her off hours raising money to help both kids with hearing disabilities and those with cancer.
No movie has a chance of really being good without a great soundtrack, and with the lineup of musicians that have come on board, this films music will be amazing. First we have the sounds of Ray Bumatai, who is the only member of the family who is not physically with us. He lost his battle with Brain Cancer, but during his remission wrote some wonderful pieces and thanks to the generosity of his wife Bree, they will be a part of our story. He was a Hawaii celebrity, who acted in TV and movies, delighted folks with his standup, and topped it all off with his music.
Then we have Tommy Davidson, who we’ll call the man of brass. He is just as tough as the man of steel, for he survived Stage 4 Testicular Cancer, eight surgeries in 10 months, and a ruptured aorta, but brass is his metal, because he can truly play the trombone. He’s a professional musician by night and an educator by day. He a who’s who in the jazz community, and beloved by his students and he’s promised us music that he guarantees will get our toes tappin’. That’s a promise that will be worth the wait.
Then we have Ida Goeckel, the lady of the Electric Bass and Breast Cancer survivor. She is addicted to music and has taken her love and used it to help others. She gathers musicians from all over the area, puts on concerts and uses the proceeds to benefit those that are in the cancer battle and need financial support. She is writing an original piece for the movie and will be using back up musicians many of which are cancer survivors. Whatever she comes up with is bound to be exceptional. Go Ida !
Finally we have a number of care givers, nurses and doctors that have added their experience to the project. Wow, what a team.
I will be giving you updates as the project progresses. Principal shooting will be complete this month, and then the editing starts. The plan is to have it ready for film festivals in the fall of 2011. As I hope you know, your input is always welcome. If you have any questions, or you have any ideas, please let me know.
Thank you also to those that have helped me locate these wonderful folks. You are my heroes.
All the Best,