Support For Christi Thomas

This blog is to help offer support to the Thomas Family and their daughter, Christi, in her battle against cancer. Please visit Christi's website at www.ChristiThomas.com to learn more. There, you'll find journals, photos and a lots of other information about this amazing child and her family.

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Friday, December 02, 2016

25 Years Together

Shayla asked if our anniversary day was one of the best five days of my entire life and I had to answer yes!  I sure married a wonderful man!  I will share some pictures BGSU Marketing took of the event/announcement and also the article they wrote to explain what happened.  My deepest thanks to my sweet students and colleagues who came out for the event.  Stepping out of the elevator and seeing that large crowd gathered was heartwarming and overwhelming.  I know I didn't thank everyone, or get to talk with everyone and I apologize for that.  Please accept my deepest thanks and gratitude!

Dr. Angela Falter Thomas ’89 Honored With Student Lounge Dedication

Dr. Angela Falter Thomas’ students are at the heart of everything she does. So it’s only appropriate that a student lounge recently named in her honor is located in the heart of BGSU’s Education Building, where she’s been a faculty member in the middle childhood education and graduate reading programs for the last eight years.

The Angela Falter Thomas, Ph.D. Student Lounge was dedicated thanks to a generous gift from her husband, Shayne Thomas, who wanted to do something very special and unique to honor their 25th wedding anniversary on Nov. 30.

“About a year ago, my husband asked me what gift I would like for our 25th anniversary,” said Falter Thomas, who earned her bachelor’s degree at BGSU and spent 20 years teaching elementary and middle school before returning to her alma mater as a faculty member. “I told him I was so blessed and didn’t need a thing, but the College of Education and Human Development could use the funds.”

Her husband immediately recognized that a named gift was an ideal way to honor her commitment to students.

“I have two loves in my life – my family and my teaching – and I think Shayne’s decision to make a donation to the College of EDHD in honor of me is the most beautiful way to combine both,” Falter Thomas said. “I love our students, and I believe this is a nice way to give back to them and to show we care.”

The commitment to BGSU runs deep in the Falter Thomas family. Daughter Shayla will be enrolling next fall as a freshman.

The Education Building’s first floor student lounge was the perfect location since so many of Falter Thomas’s students spend their time there in between classes. Falter Thomas also remembers what it was like to be a commuter student during her own pursuit of a master’s degree from Heidelberg University and later a Ph.D. from the Ohio State University.

“I hung out in a lot of lounges like that in between classes,” she said. “This gift could not be more perfect.”

Many of her students and colleagues agreed as they gathered at the naming ceremony to show their appreciation for her dedication as an associate professor of education.

“Many of the accomplishments that I have made would not be possible without Dr. Falter Thomas,” said middle childhood education student Amanda Monschein, who will graduate in May. “She pushed me. She motivated me. She was my rock. I was blessed having her as a teacher not once, but twice. Thank you for preparing us to be the best teachers we could be.”

Falter Thomas, who is one of only a handful of teachers in the U.S. to hold two national board certifications, tries hard to model best practices in everything that she does.

“My hope is that when they are new teachers and maybe don’t have the confidence just yet, they can reflect back and think ‘What did Dr. Thomas do?’ and act accordingly,” she said.

That commitment to excellence in the classroom is what propelled Falter Thomas to win the EDHD Excellence in College Teaching Award in 2015, the BGSU CMLA Professor of the Year in 2014 and be named as a finalist for the BGSU Master Teaching Award in 2013.

And now, thanks to her husband’s generous gift, her outstanding legacy as an educator at BGSU will be remembered for many years to come.


“When making our decision to give, Shayne wanted me to take stock on my life, and I kept coming back to the thought that out of everything that I have done or ever experienced, it has been because I have a teaching degree from BGSU that has truly made me happy,” Falter Thomas said. “BGSU prepared me to be a great teacher and to have this amazing career I have. Being a teacher has given me incredible satisfaction, motivation and passion for life.”








Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, twenty-five years ago today on a windy, but 60 degree day, my parents walked me down the aisle.  Father Ted Miller wore his sandals -- as we asked him to do, and he married Shayne and I in St. Stephen's Catholic Church.  We selected the Saturday after Thanksgiving because it was also when my sister, parents and grandparents had all gotten married.  

How blessed we were to be in a quaint little church, packed with friends, family and even my sweet elementary students.  At 24, I didn't fully understand the tremendous ups and downs we would experience over the next 25 years.  (Our lowest low being the cancer diagnosis and ultimate death of our daughter of which we have yet to recover.  And working so hard, making sacrifices along the way, allowed us to experience the highs of success in our professional lives.)  Through it all, we know God loves us and God is good!  

I will now take it upon myself to give two tips to those getting married today:

1.)  Cherish, adore and love each other.  Accept and deeply love your spouse as they are.  Embrace and celebrate each other, including what you may consider imperfections.  We all have them.

2.)  Marriage is a compromise.  For a strong marriage, keep it first and above all else in your decision making.  What may be best for you, may not be best for your marriage.  Give and take; have an open-mind and a caring heart.


Without a doubt, the biggest gift in my life has been my marriage to the most awesome and fabulous person I know, Shayne Thomas!  This marriage brought us the gifts of two precious children, Christi & Shayla!  Over this past year, we have celebrated our anniversary in some unique and special ways.  Today will be no different.  I will share later.  


Monday, September 19, 2016

Ten Years Ago Today......

Ten years ago this morning, in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Christi exhaled her final breaths as Shayne and I held on to her and told her what an incredible girl she was. While we were thankful that her horrific pain and suffering finally ended, we knew we'd mourn for her the rest of our lives. Nothing that I have – not the beautiful and cherished daughter, nor the beloved and adoring husband, nor my loving family, nor my amazing career, nor the marvelous travel adventures I experience – can ever make the slightest dent in the loss of my daughter. But her loss is the greater. Christi had to endure tremendous pain, constant disappointment, and ultimately she had to leave a remarkable sister, family, friends and teachers; her dreams never to be realized. Her life was taken too soon. I think about her every day and some days - usually holidays and anniversaries, are much worse than others. I often wonder what Christi would be like at 19 and if she really knew how loved, important and treasured she was.
For those of us who wear this invisible badge – the parents of dead children, our grief never ends. Over the past ten years, I've learned each person trudges along his or her own solitary path. The blight of losing a child is different for every person afflicted. I've experienced a wide range of emotions. I still sometimes struggle with sadness and anger, and find myself envious of parents who have healthy children, especially when those children don't appear to be wanted or well-taken care of. I know envy and anger are horrible emotions and ones I never experienced until Christi was diagnosed with cancer, but they still overwhelm me at times and I blink away tears trying to deal with it all. 
And although Shayla has blossomed into the most incredible, intelligent and loving 17-year old gal, she struggles too. Despite her outward appearance and decision to have a positive attitude and sunny disposition, I know things aren’t always bright on her inside. I'm thankful Shayla is still that same beautiful soul with a heart of gold who jumped into my arms, buried her head in my shoulder and sobbed ten years ago tonight after we made the ten hour drive home and told her that Christi didn't pull through this time. My heart breaks that Shayla doesn't have a sibling. Next to Christi suffering the ultimate, Shayla suffers the greatest loss. I find myself trying to shield and protect her from the pain when people talk about doing something with their sister/s, something Shayla will never be permitted to enjoy or grow old with. 
Sadly and shockingly, the survival rate for stage IV neuroblastoma when diagnosed over the age of 36 months, has not improved since Christi was diagnosed 14 years ago this month. It is still a death sentence. Last week Shayla wrote an essay and I will share a part of it: “The reality is over the past thirty years only three new drugs have been approved for use in treating childhood cancers, compared with hundreds of drugs developed for adults. This disparity results from a profound lack of funding. Pediatric cancers receive less than 1% of government funding for the NCI (National Cancer Institute) and in the private sector, pharmaceutical companies have little incentive to develop treatments for children.” Therefore, I write -- If you have a few extra dollars and find it in your heart to give, please consider donating to one of our family's favorite causes for research for pediatric cancers, Alex's Lemonade Stand. 
Ten years ago this morning I gathered Christi's things and made a social worker promise me she would not to leave Christi's lifeless little body until the funeral home workers came for her. Then we cleaned out our room at the Ronald McDonald House, donated Christi’s awesome special stroller, and drove home from Philly. I remember stopping for a bathroom break and we made ourselves buy a sandwich to split knowing we had a lot to do and needed food even though we couldn't imagine ever being hungry again. As I stood and held the door open for people coming out of the fast-food establishment, I remember thinking, "They have no idea my daughter died a couple of hours ago and I'm standing here holding the door for them, trying to smile. This is just crazy." Today, please do a random "Christi Kindness". This was something talked about at her funeral based on the fact that even though Christi was fighting a terminal beast, she would often to do things for the "sick kids" -- taking them art projects, reading them stories, or giving them drawings she made to make them happy. Despite not feeling well, as she often felt, she still wanted others to smile. Let's all try to do a random "Christi Kindness" today in honor of a brilliant little blonde with an infectious smile and laugh, and with whom I hope to reunite with this precious little soul in a much better place one day. May God watch over and bless everyone. Thank you for loving Christi – and all of us!








Sunday, August 07, 2016

Overdue Update

Again I did not realize it had been so long since I last updated so here goes:

Everything was very exciting with Shayne's campaign for Seneca County Commissioner in March.  He won his election (I think he won every town and every precinct in the county except for one which he lost by only about 8 votes.) He will take office on January 3, 2017 and I think he will do a fabulous job!  I'm so proud of him.

After earning 20 peer-reviewed publications, making 25 state and national conference presentations, and earning some awards for my teaching as a professor, I earned tenure and was promoted as a tenured professor at BGSU in May.  It was something I had worked for (and worried about) every day over the past seven years so this was a tremendous relief and joy for our whole family.  Next to my family there is nothing I love more than my teaching and I am so humbled to be a professor at BG so it was incredible to be rewarded for my work and to now be a tenured professor.

Christi would have turned 19 on May 12th.  A few days earlier, I took 18 BGSU students to study in England for ten days so on Christi's birthday my students were in an acting workshop at the Globe Theater in London.  While tears pour down my face, I just had to look at my lovely students and think that's exactly how old Christi would be and they were doing exactly what our little "theater lover" would want to be doing too so I just had to wipe away my tears and give my students my all since their moms were back in the states and I wanted to be a wonderful substitute "mom" for them while on their trip.  (Picture below: with my awesome BGSU students in England, May 2016)

One of my sweet students put together a little video clip of our trip so if you want to check it out, here is the link:  DrAngelaThomas_BGSU_England_Trip   (So if you watch the video clip, yes, indeed Shelby did see David Beckham and I have a picture of him dropping his little girl off at school.  Shayne was able to go with us on the trip and I'm in the midst of planning a return trip next summer.)

We've been blessed with an amazing summer.  Shayne and I have gone on a lot of bike rides and hikes.  We've taken in a lot of theater and have done a lot of reading.  I taught four summer courses and I've gotten ahead with all of my fall classes and some new projects I'm taking on this year at the university.


Shayla took some classes and performed in five "sold out" shows of Disney's "The Little Mermaid" the 18 & under "teen" musical up with 3B productions in Maumee.  She met new friends, learned new things, went up in a hot-air balloon, and had an absolutely wonderful summer.  Yesterday their production of "Little Mermaid" was selected as one of just two who will go to state in a few weeks so we had a very exciting day of theater and we are looking forward to their next performance.  (Seeing Shayla perform as a "tap-dancing" seagull is an absolute hoot!  Here is the video link if you'd like a little peek; Shayla is the dancing gull who accidentally loses her hat while dancing so you'll be able to find her, lol.)  Video_Clip_of_Shayla's_Tap_Dancing_Seagul_Number_Little_Mermaid_3B_Productions


We recently had Shayla's Senior pictures taken by her (and Christi's) first grade teacher.  (The sweet woman who used to come to our home, when Christi was in her class to tutor her at night.)  It's hard to believe Shayla will soon start her Senior year of high school.  Time has gone by so quickly.


Here's wishing you and yours a wonderful summer!  Take care and be well!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

I didn’t realize I hadn’t updated for so long.  Here goes:

About a week before Christmas we flew to Santiago, Chile where we spent a couple of days before boarding a Princess cruise ship for an 11-day cruise which sailed around the Cape Horn.  We were able to see adorable penguins and walk in the southernmost city in South America, commonly referred to as the “End of the World” (Ushuaia, Argentina).  We were about 1,000 miles from the South Pole.  From there we sailed back up to Buenos Aires where we disembarked and spent a few days before flying home.  Shayla did a really good job of speaking Spanish.

Shayla turns 17 tomorrow!  She had her third annual “Lemon Ball Dance Party” – a fundraiser for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Fund (pediatric cancer research).  She wanted to raise $1700 for her 17th birthday, but instead she raised just under $4,000!  We were shocked!  The ball was a blast for the kids and I must admit that Shayne and I loved it too!

Currently, Shayne is running for County Commissioner.  The election will be held on March 15th.  Living through what we have left Shayne forever changed.  He wants to give back and to serve others in our community.  He wants to leave this world better than he found it.  Shayne has been having a ball campaigning.  He goes door-to-door talking with voters and making small speeches at various events.  So far I think he’s knocked on over 1500 doors and he’s walked over 100 miles.  I must admit it’s wild to see his face on billboards around the area and to see yard signs with Shayne Thomas printed on them.  They catch me off guard as I think, “Hey!  I know that sweet guy!”  Lots of fun! 

Works is going really well for me! Once every four years, my college gives an "Excellence in Teaching" award to a faculty member. I was incredibly humbled late last summer to be nominated for this award and I quickly got all of my materials around for the submission. I was incredibly surprised and thrilled this fall when it was announced I was selected as the winner.  I was happy to get the $1,000 check and a plaque showed up in our School of Teaching & Learning's office where it will hang for the next for years. Since my arrival at BGSU as a full-time assistant professor in 2009, I've made 25 national conference presentations, published 19 peer-reviewed articles, and taught 1,326 BGSU students in 65 courses.


Thanks for checking in!  Thanks for loving Christi and all of us!