Changed by Chance…Champion by Choice » Author, Elizabeth Barker

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    April 16, 1986, 9:49 AM

    This moment in my life unraveled years of careful planning. From that day on, I was forever changed. As if I were a pinball, I bounced around haphazardly for five merciless years, from one misfortune to another. I experienced the heartbreak of burying my daughter, the joy of pregnancy with my son, and the terror of discovering a cancer that could terminate my baby and possibly end my life. Despite these adversities, I not only survived, I thrived. I learned many life lessons, but the most valuable, the one I’d like to share with you, is - that you CAN come through dark hardships to find light, love, and happiness, but only if you make the choice to do so.

    My life may have been Changed by Chance, but I became my own Champion by Choice.

Time = Money

I’ve been a Financial Advisor for over 25 years. So I am familiar with the expression “Time is Money” and how it’s applicable in life and savings. But it takes on a totally new meaning for me because it is also part of a great philanthropic benefit that my employer, RBC Wealth Management, offers to its employees.

My employer not only offers me the typical “Matching Gift” opportunity for my charitable donations to non-profits, but it also offers me an Employee Grant of $500 per year if I invest myself and my time volunteering with a charity. The requirement is simply to devote a set number of hours of volunteering with a qualified organization and viola, time becomes money.

Author Liz Barker Donation to LBBC

Liz Making Donation to LBBC

I have two pet charities due to my life altering circumstances that have touched me. The first is Living Beyond Breast Cancer an international organization that happens to be based here in Bala Cynwyd. LBBC was a lifeline for us when I was diagnosed, quite unexpectedly, at the young age of 34, with no family history, and almost 6 months pregnant with Bryan. Thankfully, with the help of a trusted family friend and oncologist, both Bryan and I were saved.

My other pet charity is The Arc Alliance, a national non-profit with numerous local chapters across the country, in honor of Lauren. Lauren was born literally gasping for breath with a fatal heart condition as a side effect of her Down Syndrome. The Arc Alliance serves individuals with all types of disabilities. Although there was much happiness for the 3 years that Lauren lived, the initial shock and the ensuing stress of medical mishaps that followed, wreaked havoc with my health.

I am convinced that my 5 years of unrelenting and heart breaking misfortunes weakened my immune system and allowed cancer to seize its opportunity to invade. Because of my past brushes with death and my present practice of yoga, I am mindful and grateful for each day. Ongoing, I am adamant about giving back to these two non-profits who helped me to successfully become a life champion.

In addition, as a result of a mystical prophecy that was made to me over 20 years ago, I have penned my memoir “Changed by Chance, My Journey of Triumph over Tragedy” that will be published September 15th. Stay tuned for more info as to when the book will be available.

To further paying it forward I have decided to offer to donate a percentage of book net profits back to these 2 charities.


Musician, Life Champion…George Dennehy

Born without Arms,
Battling to Win and to Defy the Odds,
George is an International Musical Sensation!

One of the intentions of my blog is to share stories with you about everyday Life Champions.

Well, musician George Dennehy of VA is certainly a memorable champion!

I had the pleasure of meeting George through my longtime friends, Dave and Pat Patterson. The Pattersons founded award-winning Jillian’s Café in Conshohocken to honor the memory of their daughter (their story will be another champion blog later). George has performed several times at the Café now. Just prior to his recent gig here, I was able to videotape an interview with him, as well as to videotape an amazing segment of his performance.

Sitting and talking with George about his past and present life was inspiring! He was given up for adoption in Romania because of his birth defect of no arms and the inability of his birth parents to care for him. Thankfully a wonderful American couple welcomed him, and other adopted siblings, into their home and encouraged all of their children to have ambitious goals, regardless of their histories or handicaps. And to say that George achieved, is a gross understatement! Not only is he academically educated, but George has become a self-taught, talented musician who plays several instruments, all with his feet! If you closed your eyes and listened to him sing and play his instruments, you’d have no idea that George’s dexterity is not with his hands. In fact, here’s an amazing anecdote about how he rose to fame.

George had been touring for awhile but his claim to fame came when he posted a video of himself playing the Goo Goo Dolls award winning Goo Goo Dolls song “Iris” on the web. “Iris” is the memorable song from Tom Hanks’ performance in the movie Philadelphia. After the band saw his incredible performance, they invited him to play a gig with them at Bethlehem Musikfest. After that, George’s career sky rocketed. I have attached a 1 minute video of him playing that famous song here.

George is also married and he and his wife have a baby too.

George was Changed by Chance, but became a Champion by Choice!

Namase Day 2015

Philly Area Yoga’s yoga festival, Namas Day, was held on Saturday April 18th in the WHYY Building. Over 300 yogis, vendors and musicians attended and participated in the festivities hosted by Mary and Jay.

Over a dozen teachers offered 12 workshops that day. A variety of vendors offered products and services to the health-conscious community, such as healthy snacks, massage, natural beauty products, essential oils, and clothing.

As a devoted yogi and also a long time, young breast cancer survivor, I was a volunteer that day, manning a booth for Living Beyond Breast Cancer. LBBC has a great respect for the holistic healing power of a yoga practice. We had a booth to raise awareness of organization to help those who are touched by a diagnosis of breast cancer.

And, to promote a BIG yoga event -“Yoga on the Steps”- coming up this weekend on Sunday May 17th.

LBBC’s YOTS is the biggest annual outdoor yoga festival in the city! It is held each year on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum and it attracts literally thousands of people in a massive, energetic group practice for about an hour.

If you loved Namase Day, you will love Yoga on the Steps! Please visit the website to learn more and to register for a modest $20 fee. www.lbbc.orgRegister now for Yoga on the Steps: Philadelphia.

Author Elizabeth BarkerElizabeth Barker Author Changed by Chance