Julie Templin relishes the "fabulously normal years" she's spent on this earth.
Gardening, going to the movies, and hanging out with friends may be mundane to some, but not to Templin. She's cherished those moments because some of her years have been far from normal.
At age 17, doctors diagnosed Templin with leukemia and said she wouldn't survive. With the help of a bone marrow transplant from a stranger whom she would later befriend, Templin lived 10 years before needing a lung transplant.
After the successful lung transplant came the need for a kidney transplant. Sandy Greear, the bone marrow donor, didn't hesitate to offer one of her kidneys to Templin.
In between those episodes, Templin lived life to the fullest and seldom let on about her challenges. A 15-year marketing producer at WFLA-Ch. 8, Templin energetically arrived each day at the station with brown locks framing her tan, smiling face.
She once turned to a co-worker, Tana Little, and asked if Tana could cover for her next month. Why? Oh, just this little thing called a kidney transplant.
"Nobody in the department knew," Little said. "She didn't even really tell her family."
Now Templin, a 43-year-old Tampa resident, needs a second lung transplant. Her breathing has gradually declined. Gardening that normally took 30 minutes now takes four hours. She feels like she's breathing through a "tiny coffee stirrer."
She's on long-term disability while she waits for her name to move up the list, and it's a challenge to make ends meet. She needs to raise $30,000 for living expenses until she gets the transplant. Only recently did she tell her family and friends just how difficult life has become.
"You just want people to think you're normal and that nothing's wrong and you can do everything that everyone else is doing," Templin said. "It's not that I don't like to ask for help, but just not when it comes to being sick."
Whether she wants it or not, Templin is getting help. Little and her sister, Lauren Shepard, have organized a fundraiser Thursday at Tijuana Flats in South Tampa. Owner Steve Finelli will donate 10 percent of restaurant proceeds that day to Templin's National Transplant Fund. There also will be an auction, all sales of the restaurant's Just In Queso hot sauce going to Templin's fund.
It doesn't get much easier than eating a burrito and saving a life.
Little, of Orlando, Sheppard, who operates Mantra Creative ad agency, and Templin each lost her mother at a relatively early age.
"God has blessed us and we believe in paying it forward," Mayo said.
So does Templin. She hopes to recover so she can help someone else enjoy some "fabulously normal" days.
That's all I'm saying.