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Fair weather friends

My favorite picture — the girls (You’ll see what I did there)

Shalom from Israel

Ta-Dah for the Ta Tas

Happy birthday eve Kathy, we’ll see you at Lambeau!

It seems appropriate that more than 80,000 people will be on hand tomorrow to celebrate my sister Kathy‘s birthday.

There will be beer toasts and brat fries, an F-16 flyover and a chicken dance. The whole Badger band will be at the shindig.

I’m told there will be a football game as well.

And, in the center of it all, at Lambeau Field, one of her favorite places in the world, Kathy will mark her 48 hard-fought years with her trademark grace (of character not necessarily of foot), humor, kindness and joy.

Many of us will be with her at Lambeau tomorrow, but we’d all like to take a moment now to wish her a happy birthday.

Please feel free to add your own birthday wishes…

Kathy, Molly and Mom

Thank you so much for the book talks, Badger talks and Milwaukee trips. You have truly shaped the person I am today, and I’m so grateful. Have a great birthday! U rah rah Wisconsin! Love, Molly

Kathy and mom in Hungary

Hi it’s Kathy. Laughing Kathy. With eyes of blue and lashes made of lace”…Kathy, my 2016 goal is to finish these lyrics and I have great news! Sam Winch is going to help me. Let’s celebrate in style on Saturday. Unfortunately, I don’t think the song will be finished by then. But soon. Stayed tuned…

Kathy and Vince

Kathy, I am thrilled to be spending your birthday with you at Lambeau. Let’s make it a birthday and Badger win for a special day on Saturday. We can show those Cajuns how to party. Love, Vince

Relay for life Katherine and Kathy

Happy birthday wonderful godmother and (semi) namesake. Thanks for being such an incredibly supportive aunt and fun travel buddy. This year is sure to bring more adventures and blessings. I can’t wait to celebrate this weekend with a fellow Badger. You Rah R-ock and I love you so much! Love, Katherine

Brian and Erin

Kathy, I think you are next in line for a miracle. Happy birthday, Brian

Chickens and Kathy's shower 031

Kathy, all our lives we’ve been the “little girls”. If I could find your favorite doll Angela Amy, I’d bring my doll Becky to your birthday celebration, where we’d toast to sharing closets, canopy beds, princess phones and am/fm radios with antennae so long they’ll poke out your eye. We could use a little more Shawn Cassidy right about now. Love you, JJJHigh

Kathy Keith Traveian and the mascot

Kathy, I love you as you are and I love celebrating you today and always. Happy birthday! Your husband, Keith


Dear Auntie Kathy, I hope you get better. And I hope you stay strong. I love you Auntie Kathy. Happy birthday. Love, Erin

Mom, Charlie Kathy in Egypt

One of my earliest memories of you is getting to visit you when you were living in Milwaukee. I remember eating Chinese food in your super cool apartment and being flabbergasted that you lived in such a big city, in such a tall building, so far from home. It seemed impossibly brave to me. I now live much further away, in a much bigger city, but your impossible bravery hasn’t faded at all. Over the past three decades I’ve never seen your kindness, joy or sense of humor waver despite facing adversity that would easily break the spirit of most people. Kathy, I hope you have a fun-filled weekend with family and friends. I wish I could be there. Go Badgers and Happy Birthday. We love you very much! Love, Charlie

Relay for life Kathy and Vinnie

On the eve of the first UW game day of 2016, Happy Birthday to our OB (original badger), Kathy Finley! Thank you for creating a legacy at the University of Wisconsin that continues today! You’re a constant inspiration with your keep-calm-carry-on attitude. Also, thank you for opening my life to State Street Brats bar specials…That had a profound effect on my college experience. Love, Vinnie

Kathy and I at Dave Robinson

Happy birthday Kathy and thanks for blocking the south wind for me in section 117 all these years. I’ll keep blocking the north for you. Of course, you’d celebrate your birthday at Lambeau. On Wisconsin! On Kathy! and, of course Go Pack Go! We love you.


Blinded by the light

I had a parental epiphany during a breast cancer fundraiser, and it became a metaphor for the fight against the disease.

Asked by my daughter Katherine to perform a reading, I stepped on a stage, looked out into the audience, and saw absolutely nothing but a blinding spotlight.

Rookie revelation.

Did you know this? Did you know that you can wave enthusiastically from your seat in the audience, give a thumbs up, think you made eye contact with your beloved artist and he or she won’t have seen you at all?

Good lord, I thought, 29 years as a parent, a lifetime as a fan, and I never knew this.

My sister Kathy is here tonight,” I read from my script, and then I looked up and squinted. “I think she’s here. I can’t see a thing.”

Kathy was in the crowd (front row!), which was a good thing because her brutal battle inspired the event, Based on a True Titty.

All proceeds went to the Trina Fund, founded by my friend Trina, who, though she ultimately lost her own fierce fight against the disease, left a legacy of love in the form of her fund, which provides monetary support for women to seek treatment and second opinions.

As I stood myopically on that stage, I spoke about Kathy, Trina, and many of the other women I know, including my mother in-law Mary Jane, who has been so sanguine about her diagnosis that we sometimes forget she has the disease.

All of the performers donated their time, including Trina’s daughter, Hillary Reynolds, and comedian Amy Haeussler, whose mother Julie, a breast cancer survivor, sat in the audience.

I watched them dance, sing, tell jokes, share poetry and perform sketches, and each one told a story of passionate support through their lyrics, rhymes, movement and lines.

It seems to me that having cancer is sometimes like standing in a spotlight. You aren’t always aware of the support you have, because you can’t see it. We’re all right here, though, praying, baking, donating, honoring, and sending love.

They can’t see me, but I am also giving an extended standing ovation to Pure and Weary for conceiving, producing, and hosting this great event.


A view from the stage

I took the stage for my debut, and this is what I saw. There are plenty of people out there, including my sister Kathy, her husband Keith and step-son Traveain, but I could not see them.

Ariel Atkins

Slam poet Ariel Atkins.

Atra Amy Kristen

Ta da for the Ta Tas! Comediennes and actors, Atra Asdou, Amy Haeussler and Kristen Tallon performed a sweet and funny set that honored Haeussler’s mom, Julie.

Green room photos

A couple of pre-show photos in the purple green room.

Purple green room

I’ve never been backstage before, it’s a busy place…

Green Room

…especially during the show.


Hillary performed in honor of her mom, Trina.


Jimmy Hibbard, a fellow Appleton North grad, danced a poignant tribute.

Seriously Unprepared

This hilarious scene outside a doctor’s office was performed by Seriously Unprepared.

Kathy and Me

My sister Kathy and me, post show.

The whole group

Here’s the family shot — Katherine, Keith, Kathy, Traveain. Molly, me, Donna, Vinnie.

Leah and Katherine

Brava! to hosts Pure and Weary.

Based on a True Titty

Relay for Life Round 2 — the Laughter Lap

No Fault In Our Star