Cigna Blogger / Social Media Meetup Jan 5, 2018

After the 10k race was done earlier in the morning and we had some breakfast we headed into Epcot for a bit for some fast passes we had. But I had to skip out on Soarin’ to head back to the Boardwalk area to get to the Atlantic Dance Hall for the Cigna Blogger / Social Media meet up!

A little while back I was invited (along with many other bloggers and social media folks) to attend a blogger meet up during the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. Cigna is the primary sponsor for the event and they wanted to raise some awareness of the kinds of things they do health wise for their customers (and give some appreciation to the bloggers that cover this event).

I have did a couple posts leading up to the event with information provided by Cigna – the folks in the posts were very inspirational and I am glad I was able to see the info and promote their stories.

Bindu Panapalli

Sonya Hazel

Chelby Elam

It’s great to see that the a race event you love is sponsored by a team that does good work.

I showed up to the event and took a couple photos of the welcome sign (while avoiding standing in front of it so I wouldn’t be in the way of others doing the same thing).

Note: all pictures in this post were taken by the photographer Cigna provided for the event. 

Atlantic Dance Hall – photo courtesy of Cigna


Quickly went in, introduced myself, got my name tag and a sticker that told me which team I would be on for the fun and games later. Team Donald!

They had a lovely buffet lunch set out for everyone which was very good. Tasty stuff.

Lunch – I am on the far left in the grey hoodie. Photo courtesy of Cigna


After a short wait we needed to assemble our teams at one of four game stations.

We did that and I was doing so I recognized many folks who I follow on Twitter (some of whom do the same to me).

Below is a list of some of the folks I recognized – it is not a comprehensive list and some of the people there I did not know so I will have missed them:

Be Our Guest podcast, Joyful Miles, Sparkly Runner, Run Steff Run, Weight Off my Shoulders, Elbow Glitter, The Casual Runner, RezRuns (from YouTube), Running Happily Ever After, Run All the Races, Always Running Forward (Justin Stone), Heather Runs 13.1, Half Crazy Mama, Bama Girl Runs, and many more. Sorry to those who I forgot!

We started with 4 games that we rotated through as a team – each one used to highlight various healthy living information.

First 4 games included a sugar packet toss, picking up jacks, stacking cups, and trying to bounce a ping pong ball into empty food cans (hit the healthy ones!). They were all a lot of fun to play around with and each team had a representative that did a timed run to see which team could get the most points.

After that we switched to a trivia game with health and diet questions where you received tokens for each correct answer that added towards your team’s points.

After that it was on to a second set of 4 games: rolling a ping pong ball along a tape measure and into a shot glass, block stacking on a frisbee on your head, apple stacking, and nut (as in nuts and bolts) stacking with chop sticks. Also a great deal of fun.

Next up was a music game where each team had to try to buzz in and complete a line of a song – each of the songs were then used to tie into a health / diet theme.

Once that was all done it was time to tally the scores and see how everyone did. Our team was certain we were last in the scoring based on some of the points we had seen but were stunned when we weren’t!

There was a tie for 2nd place though so we figured that is where we would be…but to our amazement we ended up winning?

We won? photo courtesy of Cigna


We got a cool little medal with Cigna on it for winning and got to have our team picture taken.

The winning team – photo courtesy of Cigna 

Next up we had full group pictures taken and then Doctors Mickey and Minnie came out for group and individual photos. Pretty rare characters to see!

Meetup crew and Doctors Mickey and Minnie – photo courtesy of Cigna


We then all lined up and got individual and fun pictures with the characters before we headed out for the day.

The big goof with Doctors Mickey and Minnie – photo courtesy of Cigna!

Great gift bag from Cigna on our way out as well – a cool little light and a great running belt bag. I didn’t use the bag on the half or full marathon but I will definitely on future races.

A great event – I am happy to have been invited to participate and have some fun with some great people!

After the event I dropped a bunch of stuff in our room and headed back into Epcot to have some more fun with the family. Very busy day!

Thanks Cigna for inviting me!!

Disney World 10k – Jan 5, 2017 – Ran with my son!

This will be another quick write up – this time for the Walt Disney World 10k run that I did with my son (11) on Jan 5th, 2018.


It was his first 10k run and he had done the 5k with the rest of the family yesterday so I knew he was going to be tired and wasn’t sure how he would handle it. But he did great!



Another early morning, very cold as well again. Yay!


I let the boy sleep as long as I could while I showered and got dressed (at least the first few layers) and then I tried to wake him. I’m not sure how good a sleep he had because when I told him it was time he thought it was time to go to bed…he recovered quickly though.


After we were both dressed we headed out to catch an event bus to the staging area. We brought more Mylar blankets and a towel that we could use as extra insulation or something to sit on while we waited to start our run.


Bundled up!


So early…and the fire is so warm!


The bus ride was uneventful and there were many people there already when we got there. It wasn’t long before we were allowed into the corrals. Corral D for us this race – one back from where we were for the 5k but at least not in the end corral.


We wandered around a bit in the corrals and stepped out a few times to use the porta-potties before finding a place to sit down on the towel we brought and huddle under the Mylar blankets for warmth.


Mylar everywhere!


As they started moving the corrals forward we stood up and got rid of the towel – we should have hung onto it for a while longer. Moving up from Corral D to the start line took quite a bit longer than it had from Corral C the day before – in reality the time probably wasn’t that long since the mini waves they were doing kept things going but in the cold weather it felt like an eternity.


I could tell my son was getting nervous including his stomach starting to feel “weird” – so I kept him talking about the run and about other stuff


Finally it was our chance to get moving.


Not a huge amount to see in the half of the race before you head into Epcot but we had fun. I let him set his own pace – he dictated when he wanted to run and when he wanted to walk. It was good to see he pushed himself without going crazy.


We entered Epcot / World Showcase between the Norway and China pavilions (which is different from the 5k which comes in between Mexico and Norway).


At this point I started filming some of the run (sun was starting to come up and World Showcase was beautiful) and taking some pictures. Some of those will be below as will be some of the Disney photographer pics.


There were definitely characters out for pictures but we decided it was too cold to stop and opted to keep moving instead of standing in lines.


After you enter World Showcase you loop through that area of Epcot and exit out the International Gateway (Epcot’s back door to the Boardwalk hotel area) and cross the bridge to run along the Boardwalk. After that area you run past the Dolphin and Swan resorts before passing Disney’s Yacht Club and Disney’s Beach Club resorts and their great pool (Stormalong Bay).


You then enter the Epcot backstage area beside International Gateway – there was some construction there as they are building a SkyWay station in that location. They spiced up the construction area with some dressed up “construction workers” who helped cheer everyone on.


After the backstage you re-enter World Showcase by the England Pavilion, pass Canada and then head toward the Fountain of Nations and Spaceship Earth. You run around Spaceship Earth and then out toward the Epcot parking lot and the finish line.


The first half of the race isn’t particularly exciting but he second half is probably the best 3 miles of scenery you could hope for on a race.




As we progressed we got beautiful light as the sun was coming up – it ended up being a great day to run (if a bit too cold).


Trying to catch Spaceship Earth on his head.


Coming up on Spaceship Earth


Spaceship Earth


Spaceship Earth


Passing Spaceship Earth – photo by runDisney


In the end, even with a few picture stops, the boy managed to push us to a faster pace than what we did on the 5k the day before. And he looked strong the whole way – super proud of him for training and pushing himself leading up to the races. The back to back races have to have worn on him but he push though strong! Good job dude!


focused on the end – photo by runDisney – watch the shoe laces!


And across the line! photo by runDisney


He did – pic courtesy of runDisney


We did it together – pic by runDisney


Thumbs up!


Jan 4 2018 – Disney World 5k – running with Heather and the kids!

Below is a quick, almost point form, race report for the Walt Disney World 5k 2018 race that I did with Heather and the kids.

Sorry if it feels rushed – we just got back a couple days ago and things have been hectic and I want to get something out while things are still relatively fresh in my head.



Up way too early but since we had such a rough day yesterday at least everyone got a pretty decent sleep.


Super cool this morning too – I believe it was below freezing and felt colder than that – it was damned chilly even for us Canadians leaving a -40 degree cold snap.


We put on pretty much all the warmest gear we had and then bundled up. We also brought along several Mylar emergency blankets that we put to good use!

The kids ready for the 5k!


All ready to go!


After a cold walk to the event bus we were able to get on a bus right before it headed out to the staging area. I am glad we did not have to wait long out in the cold for a bus!


We spent some time walking around as the crowds go bigger and we tried to stay warm.


The kids were doing well despite the cold and the very early hour – very proud of them for that.


Before too long we made our way to the starting corrals – corral C for the 5k. I am glad that the kids had done the Pro Bowl 5k last year as we were able to indicate that it was not their first 5k race and we didn’t end up in the last corral.


We ran the race essentially at our daughter’s pace – she is the youngest and we let her decide when she wanted to run and when she wanted to walk. This worked well and both kids did great.


We took some pics ourselves but did not stop for any character stops (too cold!) and got some good pics from the Disney photographers on course.


Some of the pictures are below and I have also added a quick and dirty video I put up on YouTube for the 5k – nothing fancy but I did get the kids rushing for the finish line!


Mylar everywhere!




Fountain of Nations

We did it!


After the race we got our medals and snack boxes and had a quick bit before heading to the line for the buses. For some reason the line for our hotel bus stretched all the way across the parking lot. I’m not sure what happened there but it was a chilly wait and at one point they had 3 buses stacked and loading at the same time to clear the back log – so whatever happened they dealt with it fairly quickly.


After we got on our bus we got to our room and took some long hot showers and dressed up nice and warm and headed out to have some fun at Disney Springs including lunch/supper at T-Rex which we always enjoy.


We then went back to the hotel for an early night since our son and I had to get up early again for the 10k the next morning. Going to be another cold one!

Jan 3 2018 – Travel day and race kit pickup for Walt Disney World Marathon and Dopey Challenge

Hi folks! We are back from our extended Disney World stay following the Walt Disney World Marathon and I am going to start on my race / trip report.


Our first day started way early getting the kids up before 2:30 am – I think I got about an hour sleep but at least they slept well!


I did the final load of the vehicle and we drove to the airport, parked, got all bags checked, confirmed a few things about our connecting flight (travelling through Toronto on our way down and have to do US Immigration checks there in Toronto so we wanted to make sure we knew how that would all work – especially since it seems to be different there each time we go) and then we head through security.


Nice and easy boarding onto the flight and a good flight to Toronto.


On the plane – so early but happy!

So tired!

When we got to Toronto though things went downhill fast. We only had about 1.25 hours between flights and had to do US Immigration, so time was tight but things got worse because when we got there, there was another plane sitting at our gate…


After what seemed like an eternity (but probably 15-20 minutes) we were finally assigned a new gate but ground crews had to reposition and things were going to be delayed for the luggage…Yay! Clock is ticking.


We got off the plane and made our way over to the US Immigration area to wait for our bags to pass through so that we could see a US agent and get to our flight. And we waited, and waited, and waited…we could see that our flight was starting to board and we were still stuck and couldn’t do anything.


We tried to talk to an airline agent about our flight but he was aggressively unhelpful…finally after our plane was scheduled to leave we see the flight now listed as delayed and the airline agent announces that the flight has been delayed by 20 minutes…but the times he was quoting made it sound more like 10 minutes. So now we have hope but not necessarily a lot.


Another 10 minutes later and we are finally able to pass into the line for US Immigration and relatively quickly made it through there and bolted for our flight. When we got there the skyway was already closed up but the plane was still there so they let us on, thankfully.


After a short delay the plane then took off.


Porg is strapped in and ready to go!


Porg is checking the view ready for take off!

There wasn’t another flight to Orlando scheduled that day that I could see on our carrier – if we didn’t make the connection we didn’t get to race kit pick up and we didn’t get to do the 5k race together the next morning. But we made it!


From there a relatively uneventful flight and an easy Magical Express ride to our resort for the race weekend and then onto the event bus to go get our race kits.


We could see when the bus pulled up that things were a circus – yay!


Lots of people!


First up was getting the 5k race kits for Heather and the kids and then the 10k kit for our son before heading in to get my Dopey Challenge kit.


After grabbing the kit I had to ask 3 different volunteers how to get the area for the pre-purchased merchandise area – once we got there we started to see just how crazy the runDisney merchandise area was and after getting my pre-purchased race pins we decided that we just couldn’t stand in the line to even go look at the gear. It was getting too late at this point and the kids were starving.


We did take a quick look in the building for the rest of the race expo and decided not to go down to the show floor as it just looked like a madhouse.


So basically, we bought no merchandise – that’s just crazy. They really need to do something to cut down the crowds on that first day…I hate to say it but I think the Dopey Challenge is the real issue here and I don’t think runDisney can fix the crowds on that first race expo day unless they get rid of this challenge. There are just too many people trying to get in there in such a short period of time.


Anyway – we headed back to the resort, ate some supper and then headed to Epcot to do some modifications to our annual passes before heading back to the room to crash.


Somehow in this short period our daughter managed to lose her 5k race shirt…still not sure how but at least she didn’t lose the race bib!


Next up – 5k race and some park fun!

Fighting Cancer and now the 10K at Walt Disney World Marathon – Bindu Panapalli’s inspiring story!

Today is the third in my series of inspirational stories shared by Cigna. Today’s is the story of Bindu Panapali, her fight with cancer and her hard work with Achilles International leading up to running the 10k at Disney World in January!

Cigna is the primary sponsor of the Walt Disney World Marathon event in January and they have invited me to take part in a Blogger / Social Media Meet Up over the weekend. I am super excited about that!

Hope you enjoy the article!


Bindu Panapalli, 47 years old and resident of Glen Allen, Va. near Richmond, always felt a desire to help people with cancer through research. By February 2016, she found herself at the start of 18 months of firsthand experience battling the disease through three surgeries and eight rounds of chemo – she just didn’t know it at the time.

Her journey began with a scheduled surgery to treat fibroids and a hysterectomy, leaving her bedridden. Six weeks later, persistent pain led the doctor to find a bowel obstruction and scheduled another surgery. This time, the doctor discovered ovarian cancer and it spread. Six rounds of chemotherapy, which also caused numbness in her leg hindering her ability to walk, stretched from summer into the fall. By November, the third surgery removed the rest of the cancer, but the battle still required two more rounds of chemotherapy in February 2017 before she could finally say she would feel like she’s truly recovering.

Bindu Panapalli – Fightning Cancer to running 10K

“I never thought I would get cancer,” Bindu recalled. “Even before all this, I wanted to help people with cancer as a researcher. After the diagnosis and treatment, I volunteered at the cancer treatment center every Thursday encouraging people during chemotherapy treatment. I was even on the bone marrow donor list.”

By August, she felt ready to start thinking about a return to work. She researched what her employer’s Cigna disability insurance benefits offered including the vocational coaching program, so she requested referral. That’s when she met Robin Randol, her Cigna vocational coach, who offered assistance.

“Every customer’s needs are different,” said Robin. “What she wanted was to build up her physical strength, so we talked about self-care and various strategies and tips to address fatigue and stamina. She also wanted to find a new job that matched her passion. We talked about career goals, updated her resume, and I provided help researching job leads.”

Well-educated, Bindu’s background includes nearly enough for a doctorate from India. She hopes to take her work history, education, and personal experience to help people.
“I want to help people,” said Bindu. “I want to interact with patients. Not sit in a lab anymore, but a make a real difference in people’s lives. Now, that I’ve had this experience fighting cancer, I can be even more helpful.”

Robin helped prepare her for job interviews and gave her the encouragement she’s needed to help take back her health and move closer to a job for which she can feel truly passionate.

One of the training programs Robin offered was the Cigna customer referral program with Achilles International, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities participate in athletic events. Cigna partners with organizations like Achilles International to help customers achieve their health and return to work goals by providing: access to additional rehabilitation resources including ergonomic office equipment, software, education and accommodations to help customers stay safe and be productive at work, encouragement and support, resume review and job placement assistance.

As a result of her hard work and dedication, Cigna offered Bindu the opportunity to participate in the Walt Disney World® 10K presented by Cigna on Friday, January 5th as a member of Team Cigna. She will be guided on the race course by Jonathan Prokup, Cigna’s executive sponsor of Achilles International and General Counsel for Cigna.
“I’m celebrating my 21st wedding anniversary in January at the race,” said Bindu. “When I cross that finish line, I want to raise a glass and celebrate life.”

The Cigna Customer Referral Program with Achilles International demonstrates Cigna’s promise to partner with customers “Together, All the Way” along their unique health journey. When injury or illness occurs, Cigna helps them get back on track to achieve their goals.

“For Cigna customers, participating in a race represents a healthy milestone on the road to recovery, but also independence,” said Robin. “As people gain physical strength, they also build confidence, which can positively affect all areas of your life.”

“Cancer is a part of me,” said Bindu. “It changed my life completely. Now, because of Robin, I’m back at work part time work with a new employer building towards full time. I want to thank Robin because now I can look forward.”


An amazing story! Good luck to Bindu on the Walt Disney World 10k! Maybe we will see you on the course.

Hope everyone enjoyed the article!