Why do you run for Imerman Angels?
Deep down inside I wish that I could be a caregiver mentor angel, but I’ve never had the courage to do so. I run because I can. I run with Team IA because I am so impressed by those that can open themselves up by sharing their stories and being there for another person facing cancer. I wish that I could put cancer behind me and pretend like it never happened and that it didn’t create a new normal, but I’ll never get away from it. So I make the best from the worst. I run and fundraise because it is the least that I can do for such a great organization. I am overwhelmingly impressed by the Mentor Angels, they blow my mind.
What is it about running that connects you to the mission?
The journey and the training up to and including the race reminds me of those that face cancer. Every effort is put into making sure that you remain strong and push yourself to the end. When the finish line is in sight, you can drag yourself, tired and empty, across the finish line knowing that you can finally rest. What strikes me is the fact that you are surrounded by supporters the entire race. Unless you have someone running with you the whole way, it is easy to feel alone. We need people who will join us on the path who really understand how hard the race is and who will celebrate with you as you cross the finish line.
Tell us about your connection to the Chicago Marathon?
The 2007 Chicago Marathon was my first Marathon; at the time I was running for the Young Survival Coalition which was a wonderful source of support for my wife. For those that remember, 2007 was so hot that they cancelled it midway through the race. Fortunately, I was less than a quarter mile away from the finish line, so nothing was going to stop me. I learned that day that marathons are unpredictable. The best we could do was give everything we had and try to not look surprised.
What’s your favorite race?
Chicago Marathon will always have a special place in my heart. 2013 will be my 7th Chicago Marathon and hopefully my 21st Marathon overall. I have never run a race with so much spectator support. The opportunity to run through all the different neighborhoods in Chicago is what makes this such an incredible race. It is the biggest race that I have ever run at 45,000 capacity, compared to the Stone Bridge Marathon, where I have only ran past two people, which is at 200 capacity.
What’s your favorite Team IA moment?
It is hard to pinpoint my favorite moment, but running with wings and a big pink puff on your head is always a good time. I think it is awesome when runners talk with me during the marathon about why I am wearing the wings. I actually love all the attention around the wing and wig. They laugh, point, and take pictures. Plus I get to talk about how much I love Imerman Angels.
Want to put Urlacher to shame while supporting a good cause?
LTS (Live to Support) Chicago is holding their first annual Flag Football Charity Classic on November 21st. Coed teams of 12-20 can register (early bird $375 or $425 after Nov. 7th). The winning team will earn $500 to be donated to any charity they want (Imerman Angels!), as well as $1000 for the charity they represent through the competition (east/west side).
All the info can be found through this link. Get ready to rumble!
It’s official – through the generosity of one of our cancer survivors- Chicago Blackhawk’s GM Stan Bowman – the Stanley Cup’s last public appearance will benefit Imerman Angels. For $30 anyone can purchase a ticket to have their photo taken with the cup. Tell all your friends! You can email them this link, or post it to your facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc.
I am excited to share my week with First Descents, a non-profit that offers the opportunity for cancer fighters and survivors to spend a week at camp: kayaking, horseback riding, yoga, campfires, general fun, etc. Founded by Brad Ludden, Nike pro kayaker, FD is in its 10th year! I have been invited to come and capture the week with photos for the campers and share the experience with our IA community.
This week’s camp session is located at 7W Ranch in Colorado, which is a 360 degree landscape set back away from everything: gorgeous! I met 15 new friends at the Denver airport, led by Smelly, a kayaker free spirit who is running the show for us. When she is not working with FD, she leads adventure tours in Costa Rica- how cool is that?
After designating our nicknames for the week, no legal names allowed, we piled into a short bus and headed to camp. We had a few stops along the way to acclimate to the dramatic change in altitude, which allowed us to find a huge tree house and a few scenic stops (pics below).
In our group of 15 campers, we have people from all over the country, as well as Canada, of both genders and all ages. One thing everyone has in common is cancer. Two women, LOLS and ZILLA (both 25 like me), found that they had the same rare sub-type of Hodgkins and were able to discuss their treatment plans. In IA terms: a perfect 1-on-1 match. Both are under 3 years out of treatment and are living their lives. LOLS is planning to study to be a P.A. and works as an EMT, and ZILLA, recently engaged, is working with cancer charity organizations. Both were diagnosed at stage 3 or above and beat it. Amazing.
Another story came from a woman in her 20s named CANADA: a three time survivor. She was diagnosed with childhood cancer and has continued to fight. She is a few months out of treatment and is here: healthy. I am excited to learn more about her story and the insight that she has learned through her experiences- I can already tell that she is a fighter.
Warrived at camp, met the staff, and I was surprised by a good friend: Jonny Imerman! We had a family style dinner and a campfire where we introduced ourselves. Funny awards were given out, some Chuck Norris jokes were thrown around. Jonny shared his story as a testicular cancer survivor and answered a few questions about 1-on-1 cancer support.
ESPN is here this week, covering FD as well- it is a great place to be. The backdrop here is paradise. I am excited for tomorrow when we hit the water!
Most of you already know that Imerman Angels is a national organization helping cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers all over the great United States of America. But did you know that we are expanding internationally? We have had a influx of calls, emails and online registration submissions from people all over the world.
We have had many survivors and fighters from our neighbors up north in Canada, for some time now. We always welcome the Maple Leafs with our signature hugs and high fives. However, just in the past few weeks we have had fighters, survivors and caregivers contact us from Columbia, Italy and as far away as Australia.
We are proud and honored that our mission is taking flight as people spread their Angel wings far and wide. Our main goal is to help people and that means anywhere and everywhere. From the gorgeous flowers of Bogotá, Columbia, to the Gondolas in Venice, Italy and as far away as the great Barrier Reef of Australia. Cancer had no borders and neither do we.
Needless to say, if you know anyone touched by cancer who would like to get involved – please encourage them to reach out!
Till next time, Adios, Ciao and Good Day Mates.