Our National Partnerships Director, Lisa Sanderson, is on a cross-country road trip with her daughter this month. They are spending some mother-daughter time taking in the sights with stops along the way to meet with current and future Get Your Rear in Gear partners. Lisa’s been keeping us clued in on her travels, but has been very cryptic about her destinations, sending only very obscure photos with her updates.
Read about her inspiring conversations and see if you can guess where she’s been visiting. Share your guesses in the comments. Hint: Lisa gives clues in her updates, and links in each paragraph will help identify the locations.
My Cross-Country Travels
by Lisa Sanderson, National Partnerships Director
With the wind in our hair, we arrived at our first destination. It is exciting to meet with a potential partner doing amazing things in the community. A hospital system covering an entire Midwestern state, providing well over $52.3 million dollars annually in free or discounted health services for those who cannot afford to pay. The organization recently received a grant which is specifically focused on educating community members about the importance of colon cancer screenings. A recent study of cancer patients uncovered that their primary area of service has a colon cancer rate that is higher than the national average. Whenever I have the opportunity to tell the story Get Your Rear in Gear and how we have the most inspiring volunteers ever, I hope my own excitement and enthusiasm motivates those who are listening.
After we hit the road, I took a phone call for a potential new race in 2014. I am amazed that colon cancer survivors in treatment can be so full of energy when their bodies are doing so very much work. Inspired by her focus, commitment and energy, I think we can add Oklahoma City to our list of stops for 2014. Way to go Delta!
In a city that rocks, we met with some new volunteers ready to plan a 5K for 2014. Talk about passion for Get Your Rear in Gear, as well as colon cancer education and screening! These fun, young, inspiring people have first-hand experience with the ups and downs of colon cancer, treatment, diagnosis and the loss of a loved one. Ready to make their city home of the best race yet, we talked about why young people need to know the signs and symptoms of colon cancer and how caregivers play the most critical of roles.
I was moved by the personal stories that were shared and must admit it was another moment where I experienced the ‘we’re all in this together’ feeling. Before leaving, we shared warm hugs and said our goodbyes knowing that soon enough we would be talking about t-shirts, medals, registrations and other race related stuff.
Exciting, thrilling and with so much to do, our next destination is so spectacular I didn’t think I’d be able to sleep. Rain, and lots of it, dampens our outsides but not our spirit as we set out for a meeting with Michael’s Mission, another wonderful group doing amazing things for colon cancer awareness and support. Many of us involved with the disease have seen the young patients/survivors and it blows our mind that the national screening guidelines are not below age 50. Michael’s Mission was formed in memory of Michael Soussa, diagnosed at age 30 and lost his fight at 33. Their mission is simple, improving the quality of life and treatment options for those suffering from colorectal cancer through education, research and patient support. Like Get Your Rear in Gear, Michael’s Mission partners with the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at NewYork Presbyterian Hospital. We look forward to partnering with Michael’s Mission.
The smell of cool mountain air and pine trees greeted us at our next destination. We met with Diana and Kristin, local event directors for our race in a beautiful part of the country where the Summer is filled with horse racing, hiking and outdoor activities and in the winter months skiing and snowboarding are king. By year 3, Diana and Kristin are old pros at planning a Get Your Rear in Gear race. They have invested the funds raised in their community in the Cancer Services Program in their county. The close relationship forged through this partnership with this program has also raised awareness through a variety of media outlets. This is an example of a wonderful partnership, grant money being invested to raise awareness using their partner’s local marketing initiatives. The best news we learned? This state has made colon cancer awareness and prevention, including to rural areas, a public health priority.
Another amazing stop on this inspiring trip.