Monday, December 5, 2011

Tributes to Sandi

Sandi's funeral service was sad, but beautiful. It was obvious that she touched the hearts of so many people. Her two best friends (Gigi and Kelly) and I were honored to be able to speak about her at the service. It may be the hardest thing I've ever done, but I really wanted it to be a service that honored her. I wanted to share our tributes to her with all of you, in the order that we shared in the service. We put her three favorite purses up on the podium with us... she loved those bags. And one of us was with her when she bought each one.


Why purses?

You carry things in a purse.
Sandi always tried to help others carry their burdens
The three of us were almost as close to Sandi as she was to
Jimmy, Gucci and Louis.
I am Gigi Schuyler and I love Sandi McCool
I was fortunate to become a friend of Sandi’s when Alan began working at Urological Associates with my husband. From the first time we met we just seemed to understand each other. She was the friend everyone hoped for. In only 6 years, it seems I’ve known her for a lifetime. I could tell you hundreds of stories about Sandi, but the one virtue I admire most would be her selfless devotion to others.
She believed that life offered her opportunities, not obstacles.
Soon after settling into her home and job in Dothan and meeting people at Debby’s Thursday Coffee Group, she began to question why there was no local event to raise breast cancer awareness. She had been a part of Race for the Cure in Indianapolis and
contacted The Susan G. Komen Foundation about bringing the event to Dothan. She was told that the event was exclusive to larger metropolitan areas and would not expand into smaller communities.
An Obstacle?? No. This was an opportunity to begin an annual breast cancer event in Dothan that would benefit those in the community. All proceeds would remain here in the Wiregrass area.

One evening in April of 2008, Sandi shared her dream over a bottle of wine on a friend’s back porch. The next day, one friend, Mary Alice Veale, contacted the Medical Center Foundation about sponsoring such an event and in October of 2008, Sandi’s dream, Champions of Hope, became a reality.

Four years and over a quarter of a million dollars later, my friend has accomplished her mission of helping others and making her mark on Dothan.

In her fight against breast cancer, Sandi never wanted to be in the spotlight. She wanted to help others whom she deemed “not as fortunate” as she was. She was so thankful that she didn’t have to return to work during her ongoing treatment or find people to take her to appointments. She worried about mothers who couldn’t afford to take time off from their jobs and had families to care and provide for. She worried about those who didn’t have access to early detection screenings. The proceeds from Champions of Hope will help the many people Sandi was concerned about. Because of Sandi, there are people who will benefit from Champions of Hope for generations to come. It is our job to make sure it continues to prosper.

Many would say that going to chemotherapy and radiation treatments were obstacles. Sandi went to each treatment looking her best (because she said she had to start somewhere) and with a positive attitude. This was the way her Mama, Joyce, raised her. She was taught to always work hard for what she wanted in life and to never give up.

Each time I accompanied her to a chemotherapy treatment, the staff at Dr. McAllister’s office was always amazed with her zest for life. During the treatments, which lasted an average of 2-3 hours, Sandi shared volumes of her life with me. We would talk and of course, laugh. Some of the other patients must have wondered if we were in the wrong place since we were obviously having a good time. We definitely weren’t in the wrong place…we were celebrating another day.

One day while waiting for a radiation treatment, a lady next to Sandi asked her what she was there for and of course Sandi shared her story.
The lady told her that she was undergoing radiation for breast cancer herself and had just completed her final chemo treatment. Sandi asked her if she had heard of Champions of Hope? She said she had and that she didn’t know what she would do if her cancer came back.
Another opportunity for teaching and encouragement…
Sandi told her “you wouldn’t do anything other than what you are doing right now…what choice do we have. There are so many treatment plans that can keep you going. You CAN live with cancer." I am pretty sure Sandi made a lasting impression on her and I hope she has become part of Sandi’s legacy.

Jeremiah chapter 29 verse 11 states
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It is a beautiful verse that I have heard and read many times. Many people use it for comfort and personal edification. Just by reading that ONE verse it is reasonable to see why people feel that way. However, once the preceding and proceeding verses are put together with that one verse, the take-away is MUCH different. The scripture was written by Jeremiah to the exiles from Jerusalem that were placed in Babylon. Can you imagine what exile would be like? A new place, a new culture, new languages, new foods. Sounds familiar to the place we are right now…in a world without Sandi. We are entering a new stage of our lives – one that we’ve been forced to enter and nothing that brings comfort is within reach. I believe that Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise to those people in exile. While it isn’t a promise of immediate removal from this exile, it is a promise that  God’s faithful presence is with all of us who believe in him and focus our attention on HIM…not on our loss.
In verses 12-14, the comfort in that promise is detailed. “…you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you…”

Sarah Louise McCool knew and accepted her plan from God.
Her life was a testament to the fact that we shouldn’t sit and watch our life go by, but to live each moment and take nothing for granted.

God Bless you, Sandi!
May you rest in peace!

Kelly -

I am Kelly Skinner, and I love Sandi McCool

To laugh often and love much:
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give one’s self;
To leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a
Garden patch or redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived…
This is to have succeeded. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sandi McCool succeeded in life despite her terrifying illness…
She was a beacon of hope for all of us that one day may face
similar circumstances, only aspiring to live up to the level of
dignity that she exemplified…

Even in the worst of times, and despite the fact that she never
received her only wish of one normal day, Sandi wasn’t defined
By her illness; rather she defined it on her own terms.

My friend Sandi was:

- A Grape Slushy from Sonic
- Blue Plate chicken and dumplings
- Cheetos with Mayonnaise…anything with mayonnaise
- Cherry Milkshakes
- Warm Jell-o
- Spinach from a can
- Sushi and popsicles
- Banana Pudding
- Lemon Lime Gatorade
- Crossword Puzzles and Gossip magazines
- Coffee group on Thursdays
- Aerosmith
- High Heels and Sequins
- Glittery Eye shadow and perfect fingernails
- Calla Lilies
- Ahava lotion
- Chanel perfume and Jimmy Choo purses
- Big sunglasses
- The color Pink
- A gold tag necklace

…She cherished her wedding rings, her husband Alan and her dog Chloe…not necessarily in that order…her friends, her cell phone and driving her car with the windows down and the radio loud…
She was a fashionista with a devilish grin, an infectious laugh and many charming personalities, depending on which wig she was wearing…we all remember Vegas Sandi…
She was intelligent, witty, kind and honest…she was loyal, a good listener and a great secret keeper…she was girly, she was tough…she was a force with a spirit that made her exceptional…

Many of these things may seem a little quirky, but they WERE my friend Sandi.
God Bless You Sandi; you will always be a part of me. I love and miss my friend, but I’m glad you are not hurting anymore…

Meredith -

I am Meredith Latimer, and I love Sandi McCool.

I am Alan’s younger sister. I met Sandi when I was 18, a freshman in college, and she and Alan had just begun dating. As the YOUNGER sister, I had always been used to being treated like “Alan’s little sister,” but Sandi NEVER treated me that way. From day one, she always treated me like a friend, and after she and Alan married, she never treated me like a sister-in-law, always like a sister. When I got married, she was the only person I could imagine standing next to me as my matron of honor, and when we found out that we were expecting our daughter, she was the only person that Hays and I could imagine as her godmother.

I coach a high school dance team, and Sandi loved getting to know each team and watching them dance. A few years ago when I was about 34 weeks pregnant, Sandi volunteered to help me take my team to Dance Camp at Auburn and be our Assistant Coach. She was SO excited to go. One of the traditions at camp is for all of the coaches to learn a dance and perform it for the girls, and since I wasn’t able to dance, Sandi wanted to jump right in there and do the coaches’ dance in my place. She got up there and absolutely ROCKED that dance, and as if she hadn’t already, she sealed the deal and made my dancers fall in love with her. From then on, they didn’t care if I was there, but I had to be sure to invite Sandi to everything that we did. And I can’t imagine finding a woman with better qualities to introduce those young girls to.

Since I’ve known Sandi for so long, she was there through many of my biggest life experiences. She supported me, loved me, and advised me through so many different situations, no matter how big or small. And now I am so blessed that Sandi and her personality have become a part of me. Even today, I am able to stand up here and talk to you because I can hear her telling me to “put on my big girl panties and just do it!” She’s been giving me that piece of advice for as long as I’ve known her, and I know she’s told many of you in here to put on your big girl panties, too! Sandi showed us what it means to have real strength.

I’d like to share a passage about strength.

A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape…
But a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape.
A strong woman isn’t afraid of anything…
But a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear.
A strong woman won’t let anyone get the best of her…
But a woman of strength gives the best of her to everyone.
A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids the same in the future…
But a woman of strength realizes that life’s mistakes can be God’s blessing and capitalizes on them.
A strong woman walks sure footedly…
But a woman of strength knows that God will catch her when she falls.
A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face…
But a woman of strength wears grace.
A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey…
But a woman of strength knows that it is in the journey that she will become strong.

One thing that Sandi always said when complimented on her strength was that she was only strong because we were with her all the way. So I know she would want to thank everyone for helping her to be so strong for so long.
Sandi was truly a woman of strength. If you only met her once, or you knew her very well, I know she touched your heart. And we are all blessed because of her.

I love you, Sister.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My sweet sister

My beautiful sister, Sandi, passed away yesterday at home. I have never met anyone like her... I never will again. I am honored to be able to call her my sister and my friend. While I am so glad that she is now whole and perfectly healed, the void that her earthly absence leaves will never be filled. Please keep my family, especially my brother, Alan, in your prayers.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Champions of Hope 2011

Wow. That is the only thing that I can say about Champions of Hope this year. I was so BLESSED to be there and be a part of it and be able to run the 5K. Well, I ran MOST of it, and walked a little ;-)

The vision that Sandi had has become, what I feel anyway, her ministry to those in the Wiregrass area. And what a great turnout. They raised over $100,000 to be used IN THAT AREA and the number increases every year. Now, here are some pics:

Sandi, Alan, and MA

Wesley Cook performed Friday night at the Pre-Race pasta dinner! That man is a music to my ears and my eyes :-)!

Three of my sweet sweet girls came down the night before the race and hung out with my family at Alan and Sandi's house. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to have them there. They bless my life in SO many ways and obviously Margaret Anne loves them!

My sweet Cougarettes and me. Getting ready to run for Sandi!

CeCe, Jordan, MA, Wesley Cook, Jordan, and Olivia

Me, CeCe, Olivia. Sandi, Jordan, Jordan, and Mrs. Kathy

Me and THE Wesley Cook :-)

Sandi and her sweet Momma

Me and my sister. I love her SO MUCH! I am so blessed to have her as a Sis and best friend!

CeCe and Sandi. CeCe is another one of my sweet girls who joined us the morning of the race! I am so thankful that she and her mom were able to come down and show their support!

My Momma and Daddy. Love.

Me and my hubsy

MA and her Nonna. Nonna and Grandpa were so sweet to watch MA for us during the race and they also kept her later when Hays and I went to the AU-UF game (War Eagle!).

All of the teams that participated in the race!

Me and sweet Jordan Norris

The survivors got on stage for a little pep rally. They are so inspiring.

And last but not least, thanks to all that donated to our team, the "Cougarettes Kick Breast Cancer" team was able to raise $530.00+ dollars to present during the awards ceremony. Thank you to all of you who donated and helped! Champions of Hope would not be as great as it is without people like you!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Request.

Hey All! I normally don't do these things, but this year I have been overwhelmed by the fact that several of my sweet CCHS Cougarettes want to participate in the Southeast Alabama Medical Center's Champions of Hope 5K. I have decided to start a team page for them so that they can reach their fundraising goal.
As some of you may know, Champions of Hope was born from an idea that my sister-in-law, Sandi, had when talking with some friends. She wanted a way to help women in the wiregrass area who were suffering from breast cancer. She realized that many of these women did not have the support and resources that she has and wanted to make those things available to them. You can go to to read about what they do.
My page for the race is HERE. You can donate to my personal page or Click "My Team Page" and donate to the team. The girls are REALLY excited that they are going to be able to go and we would all appreciate if you would help us reach our team goal. You can also join our team and participate in the race with us, we would love to have you!

 If you want to see pics from previous year's races, click HERE and HERE.
Thank you so much for all of your support, and please remember to keep my beautiful, strong sister-in-law, Sandi McCool, in your prayers.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Check out my Cougarettes and the CCHS Cougar Band!

They are one of the best parts of my job and I am so proud of all of their hard work!

Click this link to see part of the Cougar Band Halftime show!

Monday, August 22, 2011


Helloooo there internets! I have missed you. For some reason this summer seemed busier than when I am actually working. I think it was all from lack of routine and trying to soak up time with my sweet MA. Who is potty trained now, by the way! THAT was something that was in some ways much easier and in some ways MUCH tougher than I thought. She is still having a few issues here and there, but she lives her life in big girl panties now and it is so strange to be washing my baby girl's UNDERWEAR!
She has grown up SO fast.

I will have lots of pictures to post soon, but I just wanted to let you know we are back and ready for some blogging action! I will leave you with Margaret Anne's 3 year old portraits that I took when we were at the beach.

My cup runneth over.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Still here, folks

Hey all! We are still here and having a great summer. I just thought you guys should know! I will try to update soon, but no promises, as I am soaking up all of this precious time with my family. I hope you are all having a wonderful summer!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

In Honor of Graduation Day...

Sorry for the lack of posts, people. More issues with our home computer, busy time getting ready for the end of school and taking my dancers to camp next week, etc. BUT here I am and I have lots of pictures to blog in the next few days!
So in honor of Graduation day, I thought I would post some pictures of the tea that we had in honor of Katie (the Cougarette captain and my ONLY senior this year). I am so sad that she is leaving me, but I am so happy that she will be going on to bigger and better things at AUBURN UNIVERSITY! War Eagle!
Yummy cake

Whiteboard needed to say SOMETHING instead of being blank!

Food table

Card and gift from moi

Some of my gorgeous sweet girls!

More of my gorgeous sweet girls

Margaret Anne was learning to curtsy.

She loves these girls so much! Katie, Jordan, MA, and Olivia

All of my 2010-2011 Cougarettes and MA

Warning: Inappropriate! Margaret Anne pooted and thought it was hysterical. They were laughing at her!

Katie and Margaret Anne. Katie is also Miss Clay-Chalkville and will be competing in the Miss Alabama pageant in a few weeks. MA tells me she "wants to be a pwincess like Katie!"

Katie and me

Getting ready to watch the video that Jordan made that chronicles Katie's 3 years as a Cougarette. What a sweet video! And it was a tearjerker!


MA was fueled up on sugar and running around like a madwoman!

The tea was such a blast and I hope Katie enjoyed it! I know we all did and she will be missed for many reasons (Katie is also one of MA's favorite babysitters!).

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My hero

EVERYONE should click HERE and view this video of my amazing sister, Sandi, and her journey as she fights through Stage IV breast cancer. This really puts it all in perspective.

"Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion." Psalm 103:3-4