I’m not playing…

Two weeks ago, I wrote the most read blog our website has ever recorded in the 3 years we have been a 501c3. The title: We’re not going anywhere.

It was a bold statement of the mission of my husband and myself and our work with Empower Youth. It was and is still the focus of our every dream and our energy and efforts are still focused on being full-time on the ranch. We want to be a part of the community we serve. We want to be available to every work team that comes on the property. We want to have time to sit down and listen over a cup of coffee or some burgers to the teenager who just found out that college isn’t going to happen or to the parent who just realized their teen is failing.

Nothing. Has. Changed.  We love the students of Appalachia Ohio and we aren’t playing.

Our hearts are still fully loaded with a love that will scale mountains of defeat to see one teen be able to find placement on a welding crew when he graduates. Our hearts are so full that we will spend hours in a parking lot guiding cars to send 37 5th and 6th grade students to camp. Nothing. Has. Changed. We love the children and teens of Appalachia Ohio and we aren’t playing. Our mission is intact.

What is no longer intact is my health. My physical world has been shook. On July 3, I was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer of the gallbladder. This was found out during a very routine gallbladder surgery. For those of you who always thought that I was just a bit different– well I really am. My surgeon has seen less than five of these cases in 20 years. For those of you who are friends on facebook, you have watched me walk this out. You endured countless posts from my family caring for me and from me. Be prepared there will be more.

On Monday July 9, any remaining cancer that could be detected by microscope or human eye was removed from my body. This included part of my liver and some other little hot spots. I have been recouping at home since Thursday. I have been cut from hip bone to belly button to my sternum. Those days on the cover of Sports Illustrated are probably over. I am getting stronger everyday but recovering from two surgeries in less than two weeks definitely is a tough one.

On Tuesday July 17, I will see my surgeon for the follow up and begin chemo at some point.  Now the good news: Because I’m already a survivor of this horrific cancer, the number one cancer treatment center in the world is holding a place for me in Houston Texas. They will review my chart alongside my doctors locally and will be able to guide my care to get back to health as soon as possible. Today, a dear friend called and said that our flight expenses to Houston would be covered by her family. We were also surpised by a tshirt fundraiser by our friends Janelle and Lisa to help us with extra medical incidentals.

What I don’t know is timing. I don’t know when or what my chemo will be. I don’t know what my recovery will be like.

Other things I don’t know:

How I will feel day to day.

How much I can do at a time.

How long I can sit still.


What I do know:

My husband will be going back to work on Wednesday. I will have a dear friend from Columbus coming to stay at the ranch this Wednesday – Friday which should be a lifesaver for the first few days.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT PICNICS: Only 4 picnics left! Even though I’ve had to miss two of these, this year has been my most favorite year ever! I finally get to breathe and just love the folks we serve! Thanks for coming. This week we have an incredible band called The MakeShifts sponsored by the Bethel Library and our food is being brought to us by Elite Biomedical! DELISH!

DRIVING MISS LORI:   I have several appointments that I need to be at for parking over the next 4 weeks. I also need help taking our interns to these events. If you can help in anyway, please click on the DRIVING MISS LORI link above.


TENNIS PARKING: The ATP Tennis Tournament parking fundraiser will start on August 11 and run through August 18. Sign up here to help us park! 

Use your own email and the passcode is empyouth.

You have to sign up from a computer. The site won’t work well with a phone.

Check out this flyer for more information. This is a fun event!

tennis flyer 2018.jpg

Most importantly:

What I do know is that every time I close my eyes from another needle poke that I see a large dining hall being built that will seat 30 folks. I see country style decorations inside our pole barn house. I can even smell homemade biscuits and gravy coming out of that kitchen to greet our breakfast guests.

What I do know is that I see a small office off to the side of that dining hall that allows Scott and I to run the business end of EY without having to constantly run back and forth to our home in Batavia.

What I do know is that I see one messy bedroom full of rock and roll for my son Davis and one sweet little honeymoon bedroom for two weary lovebirds who are thrilled to be working side by side everyday with each other on mission to show every child and teen that they are valuable and have gifts and talents that this world needs.

What I do know is I see a laundry room full of dirty jeans and sweaty EY shirts that never end– and I see me– crying tears of joy that I am right where I always wanted to be.


Clermont County, Brown County, Highland County and anyone else that wants to listen: Empower Youth and the Conley Family love you. We aren’t going anywhere. We aren’t playing.

— Lori Conley, Executive Director


PS: We won’t turn this in to a daily blog of As The Cancer Sucks, so to keep up with me, please feel free to friend me on facebook. It’s pretty much a rated G facebook page except when I show pictures of my hair.

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