Dear Friends & Family,

Faith. Is it something we are born with, is it something we learn or is it a gift from God? I think it is all three. I was born with faith, I can't remember ever not having faith. I also know that I have learned to trust in my faith daily. Even through difficult times in my life such as; back surgeries (6 of them), a miscarriage, and Curt's battle with ALS, faith has been with me. Faith helps me stay focused on the positive and remain grateful for what I have. Faith is trusting that the right answer to a problem will come. Faith is waiting patiently until things get resolved and knowing that prayer can be answered in many ways. Faith is God. I have a quiet inner faith that I don't talk about openly. I trust in God everyday, every moment and He is why I can get up in the morning and be strong for Curt and our children.

In each situation, I surrender and stop resisting and stop trying to change what I cannot change. I try to stay in the moment and be fully open to the blessings we have received and those we are yet to receive. I stand in gratitude, look at where we are, how far we have come and what we've accomplished. I believe there is a plan for our lives and we just need to have faith. With faith....all things are possible.

We had an awesome Thanksgiving week. Thanks to all of you for supporting our family and our journey.

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

Thanksgving Day at Barbara's Home (Curt's Mom)
Long Beach

Ready to work?
Lake Nacimiento

Corbin & Lauryn cruising Captain Morgan
Lake Nacimiento

Corey, Jacob, Clarissa, Papa Jim, Grandma Celia, Krystal, Cayden, Andrew
Me, Curt, Lauryn & Corbin
The adults were definately out-numbered for the weekend. Luckily they are all great kids!

Being Thankful

Dear Friends & Family,

There is a calmness to a life lived in Gratitude, a quiet joy.  - Ralph H. Blum

There are many things in life that cannot coexist at the same time. For example, you can’t be hungry and full or standing still while walking or grateful and sad at the same time. Being grateful for the people and thankful for the blessings in our lives helps keep our family from being sad. I can honestly say that we experience gratefulness on a daily basis.

In honor of Thanksgiving and for this week’s update, I wanted to make a list of all the acts of kindness we’ve been shown since Curt’s illness began. I decided not to do it because if I left someone or something out, I would feel really bad. I should have kept a running list over the past year, for sure it would be a book by now.

I have always been a thankful person. Growing up in a happy home, having a happy childhood, lots of friends and many opportunities has given me the strength to face difficult situations and know that they are learning opportunities and they are making me the person I am meant to be. I would rather be the person I was than to face this ordeal with Curt, but it is out of my control. This is the hand we were dealt and I will do my best to remain positive and thankful.

In almost all of my updates I have thanked our friends and family. More than just “having” friends, our friendships have grown deeper than I ever thought possible. This is an awesome gift and only came to be when Curt was diagnosed. I can’t imagine life without our friends and family. Everyone has neighbors, but we are thankful to call our neighbors friends. They all look out for Curt and our family and we are blessed to have them so close. I am thankful for our praying friends. I am amazed by the amount of people all around the world who are praying for Curt and our family. People reach out from all across the country who have heard our story and have let us know they are praying for us.

Our children...what can I say? They are strong beyond belief. They have not used the “ALS-my dad is dying” card to check out of their responsibilities. They are each amazing, encouraging and loving. They are doing their best throughout this terrible ordeal. They love their Dad and help him a lot. They give him his shots, help him put his shoes on and keep him laughing. I am grateful for all they do.

Regarding Curt.....I am thankful he is not in pain. I am thankful he remains positive even on his difficult days. I am thankful for the dad and husband he is and the example he sets for our children. I am thankful he can laugh and we can all laugh together. I am thankful for each day we are together.

We are looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with Curt’s mom and family at her home in Long Beach. She has been busy preparing recipes that fit into Curt’s diet. More than anything we are just happy to be with family. Friday we will travel to Lake Nacimiento to spend the weekend with my parents at their lake house. The kids are each bringing friends and are looking forward to a weekend away.

Once again, thank you all for supporting us through thoughts and prayers. We appreciate each of you and wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!


Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

Ziemke & Shockey Families
Curt's 44th Birthday
February 2010
Torrance Beach - Prayer Service - March 2010

Mojave Desert - March 2010

My Thoughts by Bill Melanson

Many of us can remember exactly where we were or what we were doing when certain things happened. For older generations, it was Pearl Harbor or the JFK assassination. For others it was when John Lennon died or when the Space Shuttle blew up. All of us remember that day in September 2001. Today is the day that I remember getting the email from Cindy telling the world that Curt had been diagnosed with ALS. I remember sitting in my office at work, reading in disbelief, that one of our closest friends had a horrible disease for which I knew there was no cure. Tears streamed down my face as I thought of Curt and Cindy and those three great kids. It’s hard to believe that it was one year ago today that we all started on this journey.

Last week, Cindy recounted the last year. It was fun remembering many of the events that Carolyn and I, and our kids, got to share with the Ziemkes in the last year. One of the special memories for me was the Guys weekend to Jawbone Canyon where guys from all parts of Curt’s life – buddies he grew up with, friends from work, his “Troublemaker” buddies – all came together to be together with their friend. There were some tremendous laughs and memories from that weekend but there is an underlying sadness to that trip as that was the last weekend Curt was able to ride his motorcycle in the desert. The Prayer Service at Torrance Beach was another special memory. There was so much love shared that night as almost 100 people showed up at sunset to pray for Curt and Cindy’s safe journey to Mexico for a stem cell treatment. I was much honored to be asked to read a prayer that night. In September, Curt accompanied 8 guys for a fishing trip up in the Sierra, outside of Bishop. Camping at 9000 feet with a guy in a wheelchair would not be considered easy but Curt was a trooper and had a great weekend.

Memories of doing stuff with Curt over the last year are things that I will cherish but it is the intangible things that have truly changed me in the last year. The collective outpouring of love and friendship shown the Ziemke family has been awe-inspiring. Anyone who questions God’s love just needs to witness the unselfish giving and caring given to Curt and his family. Curt’s humility and strength are humbling. It is hard for me to complain about problems in my day or life when I look at how Curt handles his daily life. One night, Carolyn and I and Cindy and Curt went out for dinner. After dinner, Curt needed to go to the rest room. I accompanied Curt and helped him get situated in front of the urinal and unbuttoned, then re-buttoned, his pants for him. I never thought I would ever be in the position where I had to help a friend (a 44 year-old friend) button his pants after going the bathroom. I gladly did it because I love him like a brother but it was very humbling for me. I’m also quite sure that Curt would prefer that he could do mundane tasks by himself but has reluctantly resigned himself to the fact that he needs help sometimes.

We don’t know what the future is going to bring us. We pray that Curt’s illness will stabilize. I look back on 2010 and realize that it was a full year. I’ve developed some great new friendships with people I didn’t know a year ago – Curt’s brother Bill and mom Barbara, Cindy’s parents Jim and Celia, Jim Beedy, Steve-o, Darrin, and neighbors Mark and Kelly, and Larry Coyle and Debbie. We all share a great love for the Ziemkes. I’m not sure that I’d like to do 2010 over again and I’d certainly prefer if my buddy Curt wasn’t fighting this horrid disease. I do know that I am humbled by the spirit of God that has been shown by all of the friends that have come out to love and support Curt, Cindy, Clarissa, Cayden, and Corbin. I love you guys.

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving,

Bill Melanson
Bill Ziemke, Barbara Ziemke, Clarissa, Curt, Cayden & Bill Melanson
Good Year Blimp ride in May 2010

What Makes Curt Great

Dear Friends & Family,

I have always considered myself a lucky girl to be with Curt. Whether dating in high school, newlyweds or married 22 years, Curt is quite a catch! He has many great qualities that have helped make our relationship special.

He is easy-going ~ Curt is the most kick back person I have ever met. Nothing seems to faze him. People will cut him off in traffic, steal a parking space he had been waiting for, or not follow through on commitments and he will just carry on.

Always a gentleman ~ Curt is the ultimate gentleman. He holds doors open for strangers, if someone drops something he is right there to pick it up, he rarely cusses, never farts in front of people or even me, he is very hospitable and takes time to listen to people who want to talk.

He stops to smell the roses ~ not literally, but he takes the time to notice things like a cool cloud formation, leaves changing colors, someone’s new haircut, or cool new items at Costco.

He is kind to everyone ~ Curt never puts himself above others; no matter your walk of life, be it a waiter, a car wash attendant, a doctor or a co-worker, Curt treats everyone with kindness and respect.

He can fix anything ~ He has always been interested in how things work and enjoys fixing and building. Whether it’s an auto, motorcycle, boat, house, plumbing, kids’ toys, bicycles or a broken necklace, he can fix it!

He has tons of common sense ~ Common sense is truly a remarkable quality!

He’s funny ~ He’s not one to be the center of attention or the life of the party but when he spurts something out, it is always witty and clever.

He’s a lover not a fighter ~ That may sound corny, but, Curt doesn’t have a temper. In our entire 28 years of being together, we have probably argued less than a dozen times. He is truly easy going.

He is super organized & clean ~ His closet, dresser drawers, garage, and motorhome storage areas are all organized, clean and labeled. He regularly goes through stuff and if it “hasn’t been used in a year” off to Goodwill it goes. He even makes sure the labels on soda and beer cans in his garage fridge are straight. One day I came home to find the fruit drawer in the house fridge organized; everything lined up in rows, apples, oranges, etc. That’s when I started to worry about him….jk! Speaking of clean, he is a freak about hygiene and always smells great.

He is a great husband ~ He puts me first and respects me. He walks me to my car in the morning when I leave and he greets me at my car when I get home in the evening. If he sees an errand on my list he will do it for me. He puts toothpaste on my toothbrush and helps with dishes. He has never said an unkind word to me. He wakes up happy and always kisses me goodnight. He makes me feel special, always.

He is a great father ~ He listens, he hugs, he teaches, he is patient. He spends time, quality time with each of the kids. He shows them respect. He never talks down to them. He is encouraging and positive. He is the ultimate role model.

I could go on and on about how great he is. Those of you who know him already know this list. You have been fortunate, like me, to experience his kindness and wit. At some point he has helped you, encouraged you, fixed something for you or shared a laugh with you. We all know what makes Curt great!

As great as Curt is to me, I am struggling. My subconscious wants to prepare me for life without Curt. It tries to drive a wedge of separation between us. It tells me I don’t need him and I will be ok without him. I struggle constantly with my mind. I remind myself to live for today, to stay in the moment. My mind is never quiet….except when I sleep. Thank God for good, restful and peaceful sleep.

Our days are full of family and friends. The kids, their school work, and sports are keeping us busy. Things will slow down by Thanksgiving break. With all the busyness it is nice to come home Monday nights and have a meal waiting for us. Thank you to everyone who provides our family with meals. The gift cards, Honeybaked ham, and notes from our out of town friends are very touching. Thank you all!

Thanks for praying with us.


Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin

A Year of Memories

Dear Friends & Family,

It will be one year on November 11, 2010 since Curt was officially diagnosed with ALS. On one hand it seems like only yesterday that we heard the devastating news, on the other hand it seems like a lifetime ago. Over the past year we have been to countless doctors’ appointments, Curt has endured many tests, we have researched the disease, tried experimental treatments, and readied our home to be wheelchair accessible. We have spent a lot of time and money trying to treat and live with ALS. All that aside, our most important accomplishment of year #1, is that we have continued to live life at its fullest.

The other day I was thinking of all that we have done in the past year. I decided to look at my calendar and make a list. Here it is:

November 11, 2009 – November 11, 2010

Palm Springs for Thanksgiving
Christmas Harbor Cruise with lots of friends
Christmas Vacation at the lake
New Years at the Desert
Boys Trip to the Desert in January
Monster Truck Jam with the boys
Clarissa club volleyball season November-July
Cayden’s 15th Birthday Party
Our first ever Super Bowl Party
Las Vegas for Presidents Day Weekend Volleyball Tournament with Clarissa
Curt’s Big 44th Birthday Bash
Cayden’s Los Al High School volleyball team season
Clarissa’s 17th Birthday Party
March trip to the desert with the hugest group of friends ever!
Curt & his buddies Sprint Car Racing
Friday Night Lights Season of football for Corbin
A prayer service at Torrance Beach with 100 people praying for Curt
Trip to Monterrey Mexico for a stem cell treatment
Easter Dinner at our house with family
Easter Break vacation in Monterey California
Sacramento & San Francisco with Corbin’s 4th grade class
Clarissa’s Junior Prom
Memorial Day Weekend at Lake Nacimiento
Curt & Cindy’s 22nd Anniversary in Palm Springs
2 girl’s weekends in Big Bear
2 guy’s weekends, 1 in the desert, 1 fishing in Bishop
Drivers training and permit for Cayden
Volleyball Party for Clarissa’s Club team at our house
Garth Brooks Concert in Las Vegas
Visit from Curt’s brother Mike from New York
4th of July Weekend at Lake Nacimiento and then back again 3 weeks later
Clarissa to Texas in July and again in October to see Pond Family, TCU and Cowboys
A week in Oregon with family
A redecorated living room
Cayden joining Los Al JV Football Team
Friday mornings with the guys for breakfast at Adelitas - Curt
Friday mornings with 7 amazing women - Cindy
Corbin’s 11th Birthday Party
Cousins Alyson & Jeanno came to visit us for the weekend
A weekend in Palm Springs with 10 couples in an amazing house
First day of school; 5th grade, 10th grade and 12th grade
AYSO soccer for Corbin
School football team for Corbin
ALS Walk with over 90 friends!
Visit from the Pond Family from Texas and a trip to Sea World
32 parties or dinners with friends at their homes or ours on Friday & Saturday nights
1 wedding and 2 funerals

All I can say is we are totally blessed! We are blessed with friends, blessed with opportunities and blessed with a happy life. We can truly say that this past year was lived to the fullest. It was fun putting this list together and reminiscing about each activity and the special people in our lives. We could not have had such a great year without our friends and family. Thank you all for supporting us and for praying for us. We are looking forward to another great year.

We enjoyed last week with Mike, Melissa, Noelle (4) and Anna Kate (18 months) Pond from Texas. They are expecting another girl in February! We loved visiting Sea World and having them here with us. The weather was so warm we were able to spend a lot of time in the pool and sun (go Curt)!

When we visited Mike & Melissa in March on our way to Mexico, Melissa gave Curt her special Milagros Cross. A few months ago Curt found this "California Seashell Cross" and bought it for Melissa. We have been waiting for this visit so he could give it to her.  
Friday night was Krystal's brother's memorial service.
It was so touching to see Cayden's friends there to support him and Krystal. 

Once again, thank you for praying and thank you for supporting us!

Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin


Dear Friends & Family,

A few years ago my mother-in-law Barbara gave us a set of dishes that had been passed through the family. The dishes have a white background with periwinkle hydrangeas and green vine-type leaves. My favorite thing about the dishes is that they are not round, square or even rectangular. They are oval; even the bowls are oval. I love the dishes; the color, the shape and most of all the fact that they came from family. A while back I discovered that one of our dinner plates is cracked. You wouldn’t know it unless you turned the plate over and looked for the crack. From the top, the plate looks perfect and strong. But, because I know it is cracked, I handle it carefully. I don’t expose it to extreme hot or cold or put too much weight on it. I never give it to dinner guests; it is my duty to protect it and make sure it remains unbroken.

Much like our fragile dinner plate so are each of our lives, cracked but intact (so far)! This weekend I was reminded that unlike my cracked plate, there is only so much I can do to protect my family from pain.

Curt had a tough weekend physically. He was frustrated with simple tasks and it was wearing on his spirit. We figured out on Sunday that he hadn't been drinking much water the past few days and realized he was dehydrated. By Sunday evening, after drinking lots of water, he was feeling much better!

Cayden & Krystal spent Saturday afternoon visiting her 18 year old brother Jared in the hospital. He had been admitted a week earlier with a bacterial infection in his heart (he had been born with a hole in his heart and had surgery when he was 7) so his heart had always been quite fragile. That afternoon Jared was up and about, eating, talking, and feeling better. Some time in the night he suffered a stroke which led to bleeding in the brain, which led to him being brain dead. Cayden & Krystal spent all day Sunday at the hospital with her parents, meeting with doctors and then waiting for family to come and say goodbye to Jared. Krystal and her parents were holding his hands on Monday as the machines were turned off and he passed away. Please keep Krystal and her family in your prayers.

Cayden & Krystal

Clarissa had a busy weekend; Homecoming game Thursday night, "Romecoming Dance" on Friday night, and a Halloween Party on Saturday night. Along with all of that, she is still trying to figure out where she wants to go to college. 

Romecoming Dance

Corbin had fun carving pumpkins with our neighbor Kelli. He has been spending a lot of time with Mark & Kelli and we are thankful they are willing to open their home and hearts to Corbin. He had a great soccer game on Saturday and then spent the night at his friend's house. Sunday we went to the Fall Festival at his school and then home to hand out candy. He has been doing good managing school work, soccer and football.

Curt & Corbin at the Fall Festival

As for myself; often I feel like I am on the verge of cracking. It is all I can do to hold it all together. After watching Curt physically struggling all day Saturday and then Cayden emotionally struggling
(while remaining strong for Krystal) all day Sunday, and knowing that there was not much I could do for them. I want to protect my family and ease the pain. I pray all day long for strength for each of us. I want to be strong and always positive. Meanwhile we live our lives like the top of the plate (as if there is nothing wrong), there would be nothing to gain from delving into our pain and wearing it for all to see. With strength we will continue to live life to the fullest even though it is so fragile.

With love,
Cindy, Curt, Clarissa, Cayden & Corbin