March Madness: Why I support AliveAndKickn

Don’t know about you, but my NCAA picks went down in flames! March however isn’t just about the NCAA Tournament, so let’s turn our attention to something else. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. In recognition of that, I’d like to introduce you to an organization that I support: AliveAndKickn.

I first met AliveAndKickn Founder David Dubin in fall of 2008. We were both members of the Inaugural Class of Bergen LEADS, a 10-month “learning and leadership adventure” for people who live or work in Bergen County, New Jersey (http://bergenleads.org). Dave was gregarious and opinionated. He was hard to miss. He was also a cancer survivor. I had just finished a three and a half year stint as the CEO of a cancer support organization and was at the point of overflowing with cancer stories. I tried my best to avoid him.

As members of the Alumni of Bergen LEADS, we attended a picnic with our families a few years later. It was then that I heard Dave’s cancer story as told by his wife, Robin. And I was touched. I remembered how cancer doesn’t just affect the individual, but the entire family. Robin also spoke about the hereditary nature of Dave’s cancer and what that might mean for her sons. As a mom, I got it.

It wasn’t long after that Dave told me about AliveAndKickn and how he wanted to reach out to young families to create awareness for Colorectal Cancer and Lynch Syndrome through his favorite sport, soccer. Well as a former NCAA Soccer player and a professional fundraiser, this seemed like an opportunity created for me. I wanted to help. I joined Dave and Robin and others to assist in the first AliveAndKickathon a 24-hour soccer event to raise funds and awareness for Lynch Syndrome and related cancers. The following January I joined the AliveAndKickn board.

That year (2013), I did something crazy and ran 13 Half Marathons in an effort to raise money for AliveAndKickn, simply because I was touched by the Dubin Family’s story and their passion to want to make a difference for other families. I have stayed involved partly because I have seen AliveAndKickn grow and accomplish great things, but also because in the years since, I too have become a cancer survivor. And although my breast cancer was not the hereditary type, I now understand a cancer diagnosis first hand. I understand what it feels like to hear the words “it’s cancer.” I know what it’s like to have to tell your spouse and your child. I now know what it’s like to navigate everything they’re feeling while dealing with your own emotions.

Knowledge is power and AliveAndKickn is a force. That’s why I got involved. It’s why I stay involved and ultimately why I am so glad I my attempts to avoid David Dubin were unsuccessful.

To learn more about AliveAndKickn, please visit their web site: www.AliveAndKickn.org.

And in recognition of last week’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, here are a few pictures I took on my run through Lough Key Forest Park in Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland, last August.

 

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