Like many others, I have been personally touched by cancer. I lost my maternal grandmother, Jean Halls to breast cancer and my close high school friend, Nicola McMaster lost her battle with bone cancer at the age of 17.
Since having our daughter Alivia two years ago, my wife Michelle and I have been talking about giving back in some way in order to instill the virtues of philanthropy in Alivia. We want to be positive role models for her and start teaching by example how we all can accomplish anything as long as we have faith and believe in ourselves.
We have both been blessed through God's grace with good health and a love of physical exercise and I have often considered supporting many charitable organizations through athletics but when it came time to enroll, I always backed out mainly from fear - fear of failure, fear of not raising enough, or fear of not completing the event.
At this year's Riverside Leadership Conference, I was personally touched by the video of the Pink Project. It told the story of breast cancer survivor Jenny Crittenden, the remarkable care she received from Riverside, and more specifically, the fundraising efforts of her young son Vaughn. Vaughn and Jenny helped inspire me to overcome my fear.
On September 28, 2014 I will be participating in the Ironman Chattanooga race consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride and then finishing with a full marathon of 26.2 miles of running. This will be my 5th Ironman race. Along the way, I would also hope to inspire others the way Jenny and Vaughan inspired me.
I chose to support Riverside's Tree of Life Cancer Care Fund partly because I am an employee of this wonderful organization, but mainly because 100% of all funds donated to Riverside are applied to the intended cause. Every single penny donated will be touched by a patient in need. I can think of no better organization to support in my fundraising efforts.
We all know cancer care can add up to quite a financial burden for those affected. This fund will help to support patients for care that may not be covered by insurance or other means of financial aid. It helps alleviate some of the financial worries of those affected by cancer, so they can dedicate all of their mental and physical energy to getting better and beating the disease.
The Ironman triathlon is a solitary and selfish endeavor. Training requires many hours away from family and friends in order to achieve a personal goal. This time my journey will be different. I have a mission and a cause that far exceeds my personal glory. As I set goals, follow a plan to meet those goals, and execute on my mission, I will lead by example showing my family, peers and others that anything is possible.
"Follow my fundraising and training journey as I prepare for the Ironman Chattanooga on my personal blog ( http://tri4apurpose.wordpress.com)."
Throughout this journey I will think of Jean and Nicola as well as the thousands of others whose lives have been impacted by cancer as I train many long hours to properly prepare for my event. I will also think of Jean's husband Scotty who taught me at a very young age how to ride a bike, and the joy it can bring to your life. The training and racing will be challenging, but it will pale in comparison to what those affected by cancer go through on a daily basis.
I hope to inspire others to follow suit and give to Riverside's cause so our community can continue to be blessed by the passionate care of Riverside's providers. I plan to work closely with the Riverside Foundation to help raise awareness over the next 6 months. During this time I will share my highs and lows of my journey. My goals are simple. I want people to be inspired to exercise and to give. Exercise to free your mind and give to free your soul. Please join me in helping to support our community live a fuller and richer life.