Twist Out Cancer and PiperWai- A Natural Partnership

Sarah Ribner and Jess Edelstein, the dynamic and tenacious duo behind Piperwai natural deodorant, are driven by their desire to give back and make an impact. As recent winners of ABC’s highly acclaimed show, Shark Tank, they have chosen to use their platform to raise awareness and funds for nonprofits that are making a difference in the community.  Their recent partnership with Twist Out Cancer is a natural fit as the two groups are making waves in their respective communities.

Jess and Sarah have known each other since childhood. They had a thriving lemonade stand when they were little girls, and they always dreamed of one day working together as adults. Their friendship withstood the test of time, as the two went off to college in different cities.

After graduation, Sarah took a high stress job on Wall Street.  She found herself feeling sluggish and made a conscious decision to prioritize her health. Back when she was 15, she saw how her body and mind transformed by cutting out soda and heavy sugar. Now in her twenties, she decided to change her diet, and make the conscious decision to seek out natural products for her skin and makeup. Sarah not only started to feel better, but she found that she was able to manage her stress by prioritizing self care.

Jess on the other hand, had a problem that she needed to fix. As a heavy sweater with sensitive skin, she found herself struggling to find a natural deodorant that actually worked. She started to read about all natural recipes online and decided to try it herself. She noticed fairly quickly that there was a real void in the marketplace for products that actually work. Jess created a recipe that she believed in and convinced her best friend Sarah to bring it on a relief trip  to Central and South America. Sarah was so impressed by the product’s effectiveness that she shared it with the volunteers. When Sarah returned home she decided to partner with Jess to bring this recipe to the masses.

In 2012, PiperWai was born. Sarah and Jess worked out of Jess’s kitchen to perfect the recipe. Eventually they moved to a commercial kitchen and started to sell their product locally. On a whim the ladies auditioned and eventually won Shark Tank which has transformed the company overnight.

Sarah and Jess’s passion is contagious. Not only are their customers loyal but they have taken to social media using the hashtag #piperwai,  Customers are sharing their testimonials and how their product is changing their lives. The PiperWai social media accounts promote motivating and inspiring photos that align with the mission.

Sarah and Jess firmly believe that while you can’t live in a bubble, there are healthy choices that can be made to lower your risk of illnesses and promote better well being.

 Since Shark Tank, PiperWai is committed to partnering with a charity partner every quarter. They do not just randomly offer discounts on their product, instead they choose to discount goods for the benefit of non-profits. As their charitable giving started to grow, cancer survivors and their loved ones started to notice, and have since become repeat customers.

Cancer survivors are often concerned about what they should or shouldn’t put into and on their bodies before, during and after treatment. The armpit contains many lymph nodes, and there is often a concern about putting toxic chemicals close to areas that may or may not impacted by disease. One of Piperwai’s customers found a tumor in his armpit because he was using the product which currently does not have an applicator. By design the product encourages you to touch yourself and get in touch with your body. The male customer was thankful that he found the tumor when he did.

Twist Out Cancer is honored to be the chosen charity partner throughout the month of October. Jess and Sarah were inspired by Jenna’s story and the concept of how Twist is impacting the cancer community.

During the month of October, PiperWai is donating 10% of all proceeds to Twist Out Cancer. To participate, use the code TOC10 at the checkout.

On November 29th, in honor of Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving, Twist Out Cancer and PiperWai will host the first annual Sock Hop at  WeWork with proceeds going to TOC. For more information on the event please check the website.


From Leading to Following

On Sunday November 3, I had the pleasure of returning to Montreal, Canada to run a Twist Out Cancer workshop at Le Mood, the festival of unexpected Jewish learning, arts and culture.  In partnership with Dan Hadad, Twist Out Cancer Board Chair and ROI alum, the Schusterman Foundation afforded us with the unique opportunity to present our work in a city that we used to call home nearly a decade ago.

From 2003-2005, I served as the Director of Programs at Hillel Montreal after I completed my studies at McGill University.  During my tenure, I worked with Dan who at the time was the President of Concordia’s Hillel and subsequently the Director of Programming at Centre Hillel.  Dan was vibrant, argumentative, and whip smart. His relentless desire and commitment to educate and advocate for Israel amongst Jews and non-Jews alike was particularly daunting during the wake of the second intifada. On and off campus, tensions were high.  Dan used this as an opportunity to educate, advocate and transform the community into spirited cheerleaders for the state of Israel. I was initially drawn to Dan because he was a deep thinker, provocative and curious. Within weeks of working with him on various campus initiatives, I grew to love Dan because of the capacity of his heart and his deep desire to give.
Dan not only was my colleague but he quickly became my best friend.

In 2005, when I decided to pursue a masters degree at Columbia University in New York, Dan and I still managed to see each other every few weeks in Montreal on New York.  He was always a top priority.

Upon completing my studies in New York, I spent one last summer in Montreal with Dan before heading home to Chicago to begin employment at the Anti-Defamation League, where I have worked for the last six years.  As I embarked on a new chapter back home in Chicago, Dan moved to Toronto and took a position as the Associate Director of Special Projects at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

Although there was an undeniable distance between us physically, we were still inextricably connected both professionally and personally. In our respective communities in Chicago and Toronto, we were working as  full time advocates for the Jewish people and the state of Israel. Our lives in many ways continued to be synchronized.

On December 20, 2010 the path that Dan and I were on came to a significant crossroads. At the age of 29, I was told that I had cancer. I was forced to grapple with a life threatening illness, forced to stop making plans, and forced to live in the here and now. As I retreated into the depths of my illness, down a path that was painful and frightening, I quickly realized that  I was not alone.

Dan decided to follow me- and he was relentless. He called, texted, imed, and skyped regularly. He just kept showing up.He may not have known the perfect thing to say or do, but he just kept trying.  His capacity to love and give was overwhelming.

When I entered remission and finished treatment Dan continued to follow me. He followed me through the creation of Twist Out Cancer, he followed me to Israel where I was recently married and he followed me to Montreal to attend the Le Mood Festival. It was here, back home, in Montreal that Dan felt safe enough to articulate perhaps for the first time, what it was like for him to follow and not lead.

As I stood up in front of the audience and shared my story and my twist on cancer, Dan stepped up to the mic to share his. For the first time, I heard what it was like for him to support and navigate his best friend through the overwhelming darkness, the unexpected twists and turns, and the eventual re-entry back into the light.

As I listened to him articulate how deeply he was impacted by my illness, it became suddenly clear, that it was not I that was leading, it was Dan that I was following.

Sometimes it takes coming back home to realize how far you have come.  Thank you to the Schusterman Foundation and to Le Mood for the opportunity to listen, grow, learn, and follow.

http://www.roicommunity.org/blog/leading-following

Twist Out Cancer is Growing With You.

Over the last few months we have been digging deep.

Since October 2011, we have grown exponentially and have reached over 40,000 twisters! We have taken stock and reflected on our humble beginnings and are now looking towards the future-and dreaming big.  When first conceptualized twist- our goal was to provide psycho-social support to cancer survivors. What we didn’t anticipate was that we would also be addressing the critical and often unspoken needs of caregivers and supporters.  We often hear from our community members that when a family member or friend is diagnosed, they struggle with what to do, and what to say.  Twist Out Cancer  not only provides support for cancer survivors, but it provides a necessary platform for supporters to give back in a meaningful way.

Over the last 23 months we have been listening.

While you shared- the world opened up.

We have watched your twists on cancer, witnessed your creative responses, and have made the conscious decision to grow with you.

Our mission is now more targeted, more inclusive, and more representative of the movement you helped us create.

Below TOC’s updated mission statement, history and organizational overview.

There’s a place for you here.

Join us.

 

Our Mission

Twist Out Cancer (TOC) is a support community…with a twist!

Twist Out Cancer aims to harness the power of personal connection and community to support those touched by cancer.   

Our History

Twist Out Cancer was built on the belief that when you share- the world opens up.  At the age of 29, Jenna Benn Shersher was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called grey zone lymphoma which affects less than 300 people in the United States. As a young adult facing a rare cancer, Jenna found herself increasingly isolated and alone. Instead of being victimized by the disease, Jenna made the conscious decision to find meaning in her suffering. Midway through treatment, Jenna, a dancer at heart, was isolated due to her compromised immune system.  Longing for the days when she could dance freely, she posted a video of herself twisting alone in her room to Chubby Checker.  She asked her friends to join her on her virtual dance floor, and within days, Jenna’s challenge was met by hundreds of videos from thousands of people around the world.  Jenna no longer felt alone but instead connected to and supported by a community of twisters.  When Jenna completed treatment she knew that she wanted to give back in a meaningful way. She recognized the power of sharing and the importance of creating a support community that caters to the psychosocial needs of those affected by cancer.  Thus:  Twist Out Cancer was born.

What We Do

TOC helps individuals touched by cancer to address the unique emotional needs that accompany a cancer diagnosis. TOC provides a forum through which anyone affected by cancer can share thoughts, experiences, stories, and insights, allowing for the exchange of encouragement and wisdom from one community member to another.

Those touched by cancer are invited to create pages that distinguish their “twist” on cancer.  This “twist” becomes a collection of videos, posts, songs, pictures, or other media gifted by loved ones and friends. For example, a survivor who loves to cook might ask his community to share recipes, or pictures of special dinners his loved ones have created in his honor.  This “twist” becomes a collection of videos, posts, songs, pictures, or other media gifted by loved ones and friends.  This is a personalized digital legacy that encourages individuals to share, and the community to give.

TOC, in conjunction with Northwestern University, has created a curriculum for workshops which provide those affected by cancer an opportunity to share their experiences.  Survivors engage the community in meaningful discussions and exercises that foster creativity and support.

All of TOC’s community-based programs are directly inspired by content shared on our website. We believe that it takes enormous courage and strength to share your twist on cancer and our programs aim to raise awareness, garner support, and connect those affected with an activated and empathic community.

Twist Out Cancer is a community that celebrates creativity, encourages engagement, and believes in the importance of giving back.

 

 

Brushes With Cancer- Captured And Preserved For Years To Come

Brushes With Cancer is a night exceeded all hopes and expectations. It was a night that celebrated storytelling and creativity- and a night that was centered around hope.

We are so grateful to all that participated.

Below is our program book that provides a snapshot into the survivors’ journeys and highlights the artists talent and creativity. You can also find the night captured  by the talented photographer Liesl Diesel.  In the next few days we will be releasing our video from the night- so stay tuned!

Thank you for letting us in to your worlds.

Your Stories Preserved: Brushes Program 

 

 

The Night Captured

Twist Out Cancer – Gets Big.

A few weeks ago I had the honor and privilege of meeting Ayush Maheshwari who is the founder of the I AM BIG SHOW which is a weekly web- based program that focuses on what is working in a big way.   I AM BIG focuses on what makes everyday life extraordinary. Ayush believes that there is‘ bigness’ in each one of us. The purpose of this weekly show is to bring folks from day to day life and talk about what’s working in their life- what’s working in the personal lives, what’s working with their careers’ and what’s working with their connection to the community.

I had the rare opportunity to be interviewed by Ayush for his show and blog for his website.

Check out our interview and the blog I wrote for his show.

Ayush- you are undoubtedly changing lives one story at a time.

 From the I Am Big Show Blog

 

Yes we can. Our guest Jenna Benn, at the age of 29, was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer.  One of the hardest three words one can hear in their lives is ‘You Have Cancer’. This was not part of her plan. However, she took control and empowered her life. As a result, ‘Twist Out Cancer’ (TOC) was born.

TOC is a movement today and helps survivors and their loved ones combat the feelings of isolation, loneliness, and helplessness that often accompany cancer diagnoses and treatment. In other words, Jenna wrote her own story and continues to do so. It is our honor to have Jenna on our show. The post below is from Jenna to You. Read Jenna’s story and then please tell us your own. With gratitude, Ayush.

  Writing My Own Story

When you are forced to come to terms with your own mortality at a young age, the way in which you see the world inevitably changes.

Diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer that affects less than 300 people in the United States, I realized fairly quickly that I had two options. I could either turn into a recluse and cut myself off from the rest of the world -or I could write my own story.

The need and desire to write and chronicle what I was experiencing was almost instinctual. Within days of my diagnosis I had started a blog that served as my coping mechanism and strategy for managing life with cancer.  While the rigorous treatments rendered me speechless- I found my authentic voice through writing.

As I documented my journey I started to realize that I was in a unique position to be able to raise awareness about the unique set of challenges and issues facing the young adult cancer community.

I tackled what it was like to feel betrayed by my body, the inevitable regression and dependency on my parents, and the eventual loss of my perceived femininity. In addition to these challenges, I also painfully opened up about what it feels like to lose your own fertility.

The more that I wrote- the more that I shared- the more I felt the world opened up.

I no longer felt burdened or smothered by my cancer diagnosis, but rather I felt an inexplicable sense of freedom.

Silence is what shames us- and so I was screaming.

I chose to find my voice, I chose to write my own story, and I chose to twist out cancer- because it was what was right for me. I can only hope that my choices and my story will be able to help others.

 

Our Voice, Our Narrative, Our Twists on Cancer

Over the last two years I have spent a great deal of time connecting with other cancer survivors to learn about their unique experiences in managing their illness. Some of of these survivors describe feelings of isolation, loneliness, ostracism and misunderstanding, whereas others describe unprecedented love and support.  Some survivors describe their experiences as colored by profound loss and repeated victimization where as others describe it as a journey filled with countless blessings.

What is clear, is that there is not one cancer narrative- not one coping strategy- nor one particular model patient experience we can look to to mimic or follow.  Our experiences- our narratives-our reflections on what was and what is-is so deeply personal.  And perhaps our experiences and the way we choose to describe them-are influenced by where we stand. Are we recently diagnosed- currently in treatment- recently relapsed or post treatment?   The options are endless and the words we choose  to describe our stories, can quickly change depending on where we are at.

In my case, with little to no statistics or research to explain my diagnosis and treatment regimen, I realized early on that I felt empowered by writing my own story. Writing became my primary coping mechanism for how to navigate an experience that was traumatic, chaotic, yet undeniably mine. As I felt increasingly lonely and isolated I was deeply concerned that I would eventually lose my own voice. There were times when I appeared silent, but I was really screaming. And there were times when I was screaming yet struggling to speak.

In a failed attempt to preserve the voice I once knew and once loved, I ended up by accident discovering a more authentic self.  This self was braver, more courageous, and more giving. This self was determined to raise awareness, educate and find an outlet for my creativity.

The voice that I was so desperately clinging to was no longer the voice that I needed.

And today, I have recognized that the voice I had during treatment- is no longer relevant for my here and now.

Our voices- our narratives- our twists on cancer are ever- changing.

Perhaps through writing, through art, through music, our voices then and now can and will always be preserved.

 

On April 17, 2012, Twist Out Cancer will launch “Brushes With Cancer: Pairing Artists and Survivors to Create For a Cause.” This event will celebrate survivorship and hope through art, music and storytelling.  Over the next few months, survivors will be asked to share their “Twist On Cancer,” (lessons learned, fighting strategies and new perspectives) with our online community of support. Their ‘twists’ will serve as inspiration for local and international artists to create unique pieces of art. The art will be auctioned online and in person at the Twist With An Artist Benefit taking place on April 17, 2013 in Chicago.

The Benefit
At the event, participating survivors will have the opportunity to share their Twist on Cancer, and the artists they inspire will discuss their creative processes and reveal their final works of art. All proceeds will go directly to the Twist community.

Inspirational stories of hope will be provided by 
Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer
Jonny Immerman, Founder of Immerman’s Angels

Keynote Speaker
Ethan Zohn, Two Time Cancer Survivor and Winner of Survivor Africa

Music Provided by Palter Ego
Commentary provided by Anthony Ponce, General Assignment Reporter at NBC5

Call For Submissions
Twist Out Cancer is calling upon survivors to share their twist on cancer between now and February 28, 2013.
To submit your Twist On Cancer click here.

Selected artists will have the opportunity to showcase their art online and person. The art will be displayed and auctioned at Twist Out Cancer’s annual benefit taking place in Chicago on April 17, 2013. Proceeds from the auction will go toward furthering Twist Out Cancer’s mission.

If you are interested in participating as an artist please contact Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer at Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

 

Twist Out Cancer Presents: Brushes With Cancer- Pairing Artists and Survivors to Create for a Cause

Brushes With Cancer is an evening that celebrates survivor-ship and hope through art, music and storytelling.  Over the next few months, survivors will be asked to share their “Twist On Cancer,” (lessons learned, fighting strategies and new perspectives) with our online community of support. Their ‘twists’ will serve as inspiration for local and international artists to create unique pieces of art. The art will be auctioned online and in person at the Twist With An Artist Benefit taking place on April 17, 2013 in Chicago.

The Benefit
At the event, participating survivors will have the opportunity to share their Twist on Cancer, and the artists they inspire will discuss their creative processes and reveal their final works of art. All proceeds will go directly to the Twist community.

Inspirational stories of hope will be provided by


Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer


Jonny Imerman, Founder of Imerman’s Angels

Keynote Speaker


Ethan Zohn, Two Time Cancer Survivor and Winner of Survivor Africa


Music Provided by Palter Ego

Commentary provided by Anthony Ponce, General Assignment Reporter at NBC5

Call For Submissions
Twist Out Cancer is calling upon survivors to share their twist on cancer between now and February 28, 2013.
To submit your Twist On Cancer click here.

Selected artists will have the opportunity to showcase their art online and person. The art will be displayed and auctioned at Twist Out Cancer’s annual benefit taking place in Chicago on April 17, 2013. Proceeds from the auction will go toward furthering Twist Out Cancer’s mission.

If you are interested in participating as an artist please contact Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer at Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

How Do I Get Involved:
If you are interested in joining the Twist With An Artist Host Committee or are interested in donating goods/services please contact Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

There will be 4 host committee meetings between January and April. Please note that you do not need to be in Chicago to participate.

 

Filling Your Shoes

It was June 2011.

I was finally untied, unlocked, let go- from the ward, the routine, and the heaviness of cancer treatment.

I was starting to emerge from the shadows-starting to find my rhythm- starting to find my footing.

There was only one problem- I couldn’t find my shoes.

7 months earlier, when I heard the words “you have cancer,” I unwillingly and unknowingly took off so fast-that my shoes were left behind.

Once I had completed  treatment- was given a clean bill of health-and finally released-I made it my mission to find those shoes.

I wrote about my efforts- I documented my failed attempts-and I opened up about my frustrations.

2 complete strangers- a mother and a daughter-read about my plight, and decided to create a pair of adorned flip flops that were noticeably  brighter, perfectly bedazzled- and just the right fit.

All of my failed attempts to pick up where i had left off- led me to exactly where I was supposed to be.

This pair of strangers,  gently informed me that it was superfluous to continue searching for the person I was once was, and that it was time to embrace who I had since become.

Over the last 15 months, I have been working hard to mourn my former self- and embrace who I am today.

Tonight, on September 21st, I was yet again given a new pair of shoes, destined to take me in a new direction, intended to lead me in a new dance.

Robert Piercy was a dancer. Diagnosed with Leukemia 7 years ago, he chose to find meaning in his suffering, embraced the uncertainty of his own mortality, and thereby lived differently. During this time, he noticeably held his loved ones tight, used his experiences to fuel his advocacy, and chose to dance in the rain- in the midst of a thunderstorm.

Tonight at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Celebration of Life Dinner, Robert Piercy’s family presented me with the “Dancing in the Rain Award.”

As his father gave a heartfelt speech, describing his son’s beautiful nature- all I could picture was Robert Piercy’s shoes.

They were tall, polished, and over-sized.

My feet slipped right in but I was quickly overwhelmed by the space.

When you left us, we were left with your empty space- a space that is impossible to fill- and impossible to forget.

How could I possibly fill your shoes?

How could I possibly walk in your footsteps?

And so it seems, a year later- I am still agonizing over shoes.

This time however, it is not about trying to find the shoes I left behind in December 2010, but rather it is about learning how to walk, learning how to run, and learning how to dance- in your  shoes.

They may not be a perfect fit, and I may not fully understand the road you traveled- but I assure you, it is your  shoes that will lead me to my next destination- and it is your shoes that will lead me in this dance.

With love and gratitude- may your memory always be a blessing.

And to the beautiful Pickering Family and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society- I am humbled and grateful for your honor.  Thank you for believing in me.

 

 

Transformations.

It has been quite a ride the last 18 months. Some would say it was colored by hardship and trauma, others may argue it was highlighted by triumph and strength.  Depending on where you start and where you finish,  I would argue it was and is all of the above.

There have been many transformations, many juxtapositions, many changes over the course of the last 18 months.

From tied up to untied, from the shadows to the sunlight, from sickness to health- I have seen it all.

And here- in this online space- I have captured these transformations, isolated these moments in time, portrayed these hardships and triumphs in a way that is unique, that is my own, that is at my disposal for a rainy or sunny day.

In this new phase of survivorship, cancer is mostly positioned in the chorus as opposed to center stage. She is no longer singing ballads on her own, but rather hums at a low murmur.  While I have learned to expect and accept that she may never be silent, I am also grateful that on most days she no longer overpowers.  Her role in the chorus is to highlight and support the lead, a postion that she is better suited for, and that I am more comfortable with.

My relationship with her is in a constant state of flux. There are days when I am overwhelmingly grateful for the experience, and for the new set of spectacles I have to see the world. And then- there are  days, where she tricks me into hunting for tumors in my neck and chest, and she fools me into thinking that my scar tissue is yet another mass.

And so here I am 18 months later with a new set of eyes for which to see the world, but with residual scars that lie beneath.

Perhaps I couldn’t have experienced the triumph and strength, without the hardship and trauma.

And perhaps my experience with cancer, will be yet another experience that I draw upon for my next challenge, my next hardship, my next victory.

To learn more about my transformations click here.

My Speech at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Annual Meeting

It is an honor and privilege to be here tonight- to share my story with you- and to convey to you the overwhelming gratitude I have for your tireless efforts.

On December 20, 2010, at the age of 29, I was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called Grey Zone Lymphoma that affects less than 300 people in the United States.  Because this disease is a relatively new diagnosis characterized by features of both Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I had virtually no statistics and little research about my disease. I decided that instead of being crippled by the lack of information- it was time to write my own story.

The news of my cancer diagnosis was both jarring and devastating. While it explained the months of flu like symptoms, night sweats and weight loss, I was an otherwise healthy young adult -who had always been proactive about my health.  It took a while for me to fully process the severity of my situation.

The night that I was diagnosed, I made a pat with myself that I was going to fight this disease with the same tenacity with which I wanted to live.

With the help of Northwestern’s Oncofertility Consortium, I took steps to help preserve my chances of having biological children before I started treatment and started to believe that there could be life after cancer, and that there was tremendous hope amidst the trauma.

I started an intensive chemotherapy regimen called R-Epoch on January 22nd which included a 5-6 day in-patient hospitalization where I would receive 120 hours of continuous chemotherapy every 21 days.

On May 10th, 2011-after multiple surgeries, scans,bood transfusions, and over 720 hours of intensive chemotherapy, I completed my 6th and final round of treatment.

As I headed toward the finish line- I was tested for one last time. I had contracted what could have been a fatal infection called gram negative rods that entered into my urine and my blood stream compromising my health to the extent where I was told minutes mattered. Fighting against the clock, and fighting for my life, the months of mental and physical training were drawn upon and leveraged. After spending another 4 days in the hospital, and two weeks in recovery, I started to write a new chapter.

When I finished treatment, and ended the routine of intensive checkups and surveillance-I found myself disoriented and confused about how to re-enter the world. Desperate to connect with the body that I felt increasingly disconnected from- I was determined to find an outlet that could help me strengthen and heal in the days to come.  Running became my refuge- it was my new drug. Running not only allowed me to escape from my overwhelming fears- but it allowed me to push myself in a way that reminded me that I was alive.

Overwhelmed with gratitude, and determined to pay it forward, I decided to sign up for the ½ marathon through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. I felt a particular affinity and attachment to you because you were responsible for discovering the drug Rituxan which was a key component to the chemotherapy regimen- that saved my life.

Team in training became my second family. My coaches and teammates quickly replaced my beloved medical team.  You were my team of cheerleaders- working on overdrive to bring me to yet another finish line- a finish line that would eventually lead me to my next chapter.

In less than 3 months I ran hundreds of miles, and raised over $19.000 for LLS. Since then- I have joined your advocacy committee, served as your honored hero, and premiered on our city’s buses and trains- to help spread the important work that you do.

I stand here tonight- overwhelmed with gratitude. I am grateful for your fever pitch screams and motivational speeches on Saturday mornings. I am grateful that you believed that my body and mind could handle the journey to the next finish line. And I am grateful for your commitment, research, and advocacy to rid the world of blood cancer.

I am not the hero- I am merely the fortunate recipient of your hard work.

And so tonight- I honor you. I am surrounded by a room full of heroes. And without you- I would not be here.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.