Why Meg is Half Full

In January 2010, I heard the words no one ever wants to hear from her doctor. I’d been diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer called adenocarcinoma.

I had no symptoms, no previous abnormal test results and no family history of cancer. By all accounts, I was a healthy and extremely active 32-year-old….surfer, kiteboarder, cycling instructor, and scientist.

Now… I am a young adult cancer survivor.

My OB/GYN detected the abnormal cells on a regular check-up, which was then diagnosed further through biopsies. I was extremely lucky that I’d been diagnosed while the cancer was in its early stages. My team of oncologists at Johns Hopkins University was able to perform surgery to immediately remove the cancer.

The treatment and follow-ups didn’t end there. My health is closely monitored due to the aggressive nature of this type of disease. I’ve had some reoccurrence of abnormal cells in the past couple years, but I’ve been able to keep a positive outlook on the course of treatment and what lies ahead for me.

Two years ago, I decided that I wanted to get involved in an endurance event. Through my local running store, Charm City Run, I learned about Team Fight, a training team that raises money for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

I began training with the team, along with volunteering with the Cancer to 5k program, which is an amazing program that helps individuals with cancer train and run in a road race. I can’t begin to describe how wonderful the experience has been with the entire Ulman Cancer Fund organization. I feel so lucky to have connected with such amazing people and resources.  Over the past two years, I have not only been able to run my first races ever, but bring continued awareness, such as running in the coveted New York City Marathon, participating in many more triathlons, coaching the Baltimore Cancer to 5k program and even running across America with Rev3 Triathlon benefiting UCF.

Prior to joining Team Fight, I was not able to talk easily about my cancer. Meeting other people like me has given me the strength to fight this disease and speak out and share my story. In addition, it has given me the strength to swim, bike and run like I never have before.

The support, coaching and friendships are truly amazing. Being a part of the Ulman Cancer Fund has helped me to face adversity with a smile.  It has given me the support I needed and allowed me to help spread awareness about young adults fighting cancer. It’s about living life half full… The way I have always lived my life, cancer or not.

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Walking the Walk, Guest Blog by John Sunder

Walking the Walk

It is important for me to remember how she lived and not those last few days when she had gained fifteen pounds from tumor weight and could scarcely speak or know to whom she was speaking.  A tireless advocate for young people who without fail selflessly placed the needs of others before her own, my mother rarely “talked the talk” but she always “walked the walk.”  Whenever a need for a particular improvement or service emerged, rather than complain or look to another to fix the problem, she took action.  For example, when my sisters and I were in elementary school, she noticed that the playground equipment had become outdated and badly needed replacing.  Unsatisfied with the current principal’s timetable for procuring additional funding to tackle the job, she started her own capital campaign and within one year ground was broken on the new playground at Jeffers Hill Elementary.  Later, as I began looking at colleges (I am the oldest of three), a similar scenario unfolded when she walked into the Oakland Mills High School guidance office.  After deeming the paucity of information totally unacceptable, she made it her decade-long mission to transform the guidance office into an organized, student-focused center for information on college and scholarship options.  The Ulman Cancer Fund, to which my mother donated time and energy during her life, was formed out of this same desire to serve the community by identifying a void (the lack of support for young adults facing a cancer diagnosis or the diagnosis of a loved one) and then taking action to provide the necessary service.

Service is something that I grew up with.  My mother modeled it for me and she expected it of me.  Long before she received her diagnosis of colon cancer in 2007, I had been aware of the Ulman Cancer Fund.  I played soccer and basketball against Doug in high school (held my own in basketball, not so much in soccer…) and followed him to Brown University in the fall of 1996.  When I arrived on campus I looked him up in the directory — yes, there was a time when students went to college without cell phones — and gave him a call.  I was stunned to hear from his roommate that he had been diagnosed with cancer…

After Doug’s recovery, I first learned of the Ulman Cancer Fund and its mission to serve young adults victimized by this horrible disease.  I immediately knew that I needed to get involved.  My first opportunity came as a teacher and coach at Mt. Hebron High School.  I worked with Brock Yetso to raise money and awareness for the cause through a “Mile-A-Thon” that was held on the school’s track in the spring.  Now, after completing law school and beginning my new career at Venable LLP, I am looking forward to a “second act.”  I am excited to continue to serve young adults through my year of service on the Board of Young Adult Advisors and look forward to re-connecting with old friends as well as meeting new ones.  In that vein, I invite everyone to come out this Wednesday night, October 10, to Max’s in Fells Point from 6 to 8 if you are interested in finding out more about the Board’s planned activities and joining the fight against cancer.

In honor of my mother and on behalf of her loved ones (especially Ellie, Anna, Alex and Audrey — the grandchildren that she so looked forward to but never met), I am looking forward to “walking the walk” and hope that you will join in as well.  Together, we can ensure that although individual battles may be lost, in the end the war will be won.

John Sunder

BOYAA Co-Chair

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Remembering To Look Back

I had always thought of the scar on my chest as my scarlet letter. The scar that was once site of such a bad port infection that doctors used me as their  “worst case scenario” exhibit, but now it’s the scar that people most tend to think is a hickey. When my treatment ended in 2005 I didn’t want to look back. I did what I had to do to be a normal 13-year-old. I went through chemo, had blood transfusions, spinal taps, dealt with a bald head and chipmunk cheeks from steroids. When I was given the all-clear from my oncologist that was it, the cancer chapter was finished.

It wasn’t until 2008, right before I was graduating high school that it hit me; I am a cancer survivor. I never went to a support group or met other patients or survivors. I never absorbed what was going on around me. I just looked straight ahead.

In the midst of college applications I decided I was going to Montana to a cancer camp. This was completely out of my comfort zone, but I knew it was something I had to do.

It was there that it clicked. I watched as a young adult with a prosthetic leg climb a rock wall faster than me, a survivor in a wheel chair laugh hysterically when his door-prize was a jump rope, and stood by as a patient had every strand of her long hair shaved off by a beautiful bald survivor.

It was that week that I absorbed. It was that week that the scarlet letter on my chest started to transform into a badge of honor.

It’s weird how things work out sometimes….

My second day at Ulman I met a 13-year-old girl going through treatment and learned the 4K stopped at the camp I attended in Montana. I listened to a fellow survivor speak and motivate a room full of people.

I wasn’t diagnosed as a young adult, but I am a young adult and I am a cancer survivor.

I’ve never been shy or uncomfortable to share my story; I just chose to avoid the sad faces and generic remarks. Although, at times, when a stranger would congratulate me on such a hickey, I loved throwing them off.

But, here at Ulman I was reminded on my first day that everyone here gets it. Whether it’s someone in the office, a Team Fighter, a 4Ker, a volunteer…someone gets it. And when they don’t know right thing to say, there’s no generic lines because they get that sometimes saying nothing means more.

So, during my Year of Service I will not only absorb, but I will share. I will share my story, learn from others, and continue to look ahead. But this time I’m remembering to look back.

Samantha Powell

UCF Year of Service Fellow

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You’re not an aluminum girl, you’re an Iron Girl. Fight!

I’ve been fortunate to see so many ladies train for their first Iron Girl through Team Fight over the last several months. It’s made me so proud to watch many of you perfect your stroke, run faster, and get up those ugly hills! It reminded me of my first Iron Girl and all

Susie showing that hill who’s boss!

the questions and fears I had. Do I NEED to clip in? What if I can’t get to the kayak fast enough? What if I don’t make the cutoff? What if I’m not strong enough? What was I thinking to believe I could do this?!?!!?

The funny thing is that I still have these fears and insecurities. They haven’t gone away, but I no longer let them paralyze me with fear. Yet I keep them tucked away in a corner of my mind. I know they are there, ready for me to pick them back up, but I won’t. I want all those negative thoughts to sit there and watch me be better, stronger, and more in control come race day. (Hey fear! You’re not the boss of me!)

You don’t HAVE to be strong enough all by yourself. There is no ‘I” in Team FIGHT.

You’re never alone when you are a member of Team Fight!

Don’t get me wrong, I AM strong enough on my own, but the beauty of Team Fight, is that I’m never alone, and neither are you. I always either have a Team Fight brother or sister nearby believing in me.  I’ve completed several races, but never with a real purpose to fuel my fire. The Ulman Cancer Fund has changed that for me this year. Now, when I want to sleep in or cut a workout short, I force myself to recall WHY I fight. It’s what motivates me to keep moving.  I fight because I HATE cancer. I may not ever get to stand on a podium, but I’m going to give cancer a butt kicking in my own way. I know you will, too. Draw strength, close your fists tight, then get in there and show cancer what you’re made of! I often tell my Team Fight sisters, “You’re not an aluminum girl, you’re an Iron Girl. Fight!”

When I participated in my first Team Fight event in 2010, it was as part of a relay team for Half-Full 70 with Theresa Symonds and Julia Skinner. I only snatched up the swim leg because it was the part that terrified me. Makes sense, right? WRONG! That’s when I met Brian Satola. If the poor man had seen me coming, I would not have blamed him if he had wanted to run away…but he never did. EVER. I was full of doubt and fear that I couldn’t make the 50 minute swim cut off. He reassured me several (and I do mean several) times I

Team Fight + YOU = STRONGER!

could do it. I’d be fine. I’d always feel better after a tall, reassuring hug from him, but wondered, “How the heck does this guy know I’ll be okay!??!” (Don’t you hate when people know stuff you don’t know?) I chose to believe him…because I couldn’t rely on my own opinion of myself. I think that’s all I needed. And for that, I’ll be eternally grateful to Brian and Team Fight.

So the best advice I can give anyone with race morning jitters is to stay calm, close your eyes for a second, and tune in to how your legs, arms, and back have carried you this far. How they will perhaps, be pretty spent at the end of your race, but not broken. In fact, you’ll be stronger. Think about how amazing you are to be dressed in yellow and blue representing Team Fight. You KNOW these colors look good on you. You are strong, calm, confident, yet humbled to be doing something truly amazing in the name of young people everywhere fighting cancer.  Look for me if you want, I’ll be looking for you. And if you know me well enough, free hugs abound! Let me, through osmosis, take over your fears and insecurities. I once thought my broad shoulders were created to be a pro linebacker. Instead, during this amazingly blessed season in my life, they are meant to help you carry what you need to let go. Don’t forget, when you’re in the water, on your bike or running, you’ll hear me before you see me. Thank you for inspiring me every day to wake up and do the best job I can. You are all like me – you ROCK!

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Why We Fight

This summer has been a huge learning experience for me working at the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. One thing I’ve noticed, and I’m sure its been said before, is there is never a shortage of inspiration working here. If inspiration had to be bought like gas at a gas station, then working at UCF is like being a gas-free car; there has not been one moment where I’ve needed to stop and re-fuel.  (Cheesy, I know, but it’s the best I could come up with!)

In fact, everyday I find inspiration when I walk into the kitchen of our office and pass by the Why We Fight wall. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is a wall of our office that is covered by a blackboard. In a rainbow of colors, various names of those we fight for have been written. And in addition to all the chalked names, there are letters and magnets and newspaper articles and photos all coming back to why we fight. I don’t know many of these people. In fact, I know very few of these people.

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But, wait, is that true? Because even though I didn’t write it, I know the Grandpa written on the board. It could have just as easily been my hand that wrote “my future children”. And, if it weren’t already there, I would have written my Nana’s name (in pink too, just like the lipstick she loves so much!). I know not one of these names written on this wall, but I know all of them and they are Why We Fight.

On August 19th I will be participating in the Iron Girl triathlon, not for the first time, but for the first time with more people to fight for then ever before. I thought I was motivated last summer, having dedicated my triathlon to all four of my grandparents who have all faced cancer in one of its many faces, but this summer I’m finding myself surrounded by even more people to fight for and even more reasons to get out there and do my best.

I will be fighting for my grandparents, the ones who have survived the toughest battle of their lives, and those who haven’t, because they are the strongest people I know. I will be fighting for all of the names on the Why We Fight wall and for all the names that are not, because everyone should have support.  This is why I fight.

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The 4K Way

As I sat at desk #2 on intern row, I began my usual morning routine with a sip of my freshly made iced coffee (that is a must!). Then I pull up my 4K Awareness Cup spreadsheet (working at UCF has made my love for spreadsheets blossom) along with the current pending blog posts on the 4K admin website…that’s right, I am an admin :).  After I am done tallying the number of blog posts each rider has posted from the previous day, I begin to read them. All of them. It is essential that I read over all the blog posts before publishing them to the 4K website because some of the riders may forget to sensor their remarks, but finding things I need to delete or fix is very rare. Mostly, I catch myself submerged in the stories they are telling of the people they have met, the places they have seen, and the humorous moments that have taken place within their group.

Some of my favorite excerpts from the blogs…

From these days, I have learned one important thing: that independence and teamwork have their own specific time and place. Certain things, small things, we can learn to overcome on our own–in turn, this will make us stronger. Bigger problems however, will require you to use your teammates in order to overcome an obstacle that may otherwise keep one from attaining all the goals they set for themselves. Between my personal struggles and working with other teammates in their struggles, I have found this lesson to be an important one. Just when you think you’ve learned enough, you learn something new and valuable.”

More than anything this trips challenges each rider on all aspects; physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. One of the motifs of the ride and UCF is to change lives. The personal lives of these riders are changing as they overcome new challenges. This is truly a journey in every sense of the word.

“The hope lodge is where patients who live far away and are getting treatment are allowed to stay here for free which is like a hotel setting. Some of us cooked dinner while the others talked to the patients. I started to talk to a man named Bill Gregory. We talked to him about everything from his gardening, to his truck driving throughout the U.S. to his cancer. I was so inspired by him. He told us the hardest part about having cancer was seeing the kids have to fight cancer. I expected him to say chemo or something on those lines but he didn’t think about himself as much the kids. I told him I would dedicate the next day to him. When I saw how much that meant to him, he inspired me even more.”

The riders partake in multiple service opportunities along the way, many of the riders write about the connections they make with people along the way. This is the kind of thing that keeps them going each day.

“6:30 AM — Zombified riders get dressed, do chores, or just wander aimlessly until they get scolded to do something productive. Some people warm up by participating in impromptu dance parties, while others eagerly search for anything that resembles food to devour, beginning the long process of eating up to 7000 calories a day. After breakfast, morning circle inevitably starts with an unpromising role call that is always missing somebody. Riders and hosts interlock fingers and hold hands in a personal ceremony where we share who we’re riding for, reminding us why we’re purposefully awake at this ungodly hour. One rider starts our chant:

“WHERE ARE WE FROM?!”

“BALTIMORE!” all the riders yell back.

“WHERE ARE WE GOING?!”

“PORTLAND!” we scream while the hosts smile at our enthusiasm.

“EAST IS…?”

“EAST!”

“WEST IS…?”

“PORTLAND!”

“WHO ARE WE?!”

“4K!”

“WHO ARE WE?!”

“4K!”

“WHO ARE WE?!”

“4K!” we declare while the hosts are now smiling awkwardly, not knowing what to do while 26 riders won’t stop yelling in unison.

“FIVE-FOOT…”

“RADIUS!”

“BRAAAAAAAD…”

“MYREH MYREH MYREEHH MYREHMYREHMYREHMYREH.”

“DOUBLE YELLOW LINE,” we conclude. At this point, all the hosts are completely lost. We give heartfelt thanks and wish we could give back more. We say good bye, break off into riding groups of three to five people, and set off onto our next destination.”

This is by far one of the most honest posts of the entire ride, it truly is a day in the life, I highly suggest reading the full post!

Quick side-note if you haven’t read the blogs, you should! They are awesome and the riders do a great job telling their stories. http://4kforcancer.org/follow-us/

Back to the point of my blog..

Aside from the ride leaders, who get some nagging e-mails from me, a lot of the riders probably have no idea who I am. They left on their journey before I even began working at UCF, but the crazy thing is I know them. I can pretty much match any name with what ride they are on and for a lot of the committed bloggers and tweeters I feel like I am on the ride with them. Along with all of the media tracking I also had a part in creating thank you videos for all of our wonderful 4K for Cancer donors. In the videos we had the riders say a personal thank-you to their donors. The video also served to continue to spread the message of the Ulman Cancer Fund and to remind our donors how they are changing lives!

Everyday I have my hands in many different projects involving the 4K, helping wherever I can. Right now we are in the midst of interviewing applicants for the 2013 4K for Cancer. Before the process even started we created a template of the questions we would ask and the type of answers we were looking for and once again I am learning more and more about what the 4K is and what the riders experience. Of course I get lots this insight through Stephen, the program manager, who was on the ride in 2011. Last week we began these phone interviews and I find myself talking about the 4K as if I have done it a thousand times. I able to speak about not only logistical things like how everything works, if you get a free bike or not, or how long the ride is, but I also speak of what the riders do and how they are affected by the immensity of this journey. I speak of the communities they are connecting with and the people they meet.

A common phrase in this office is “it’s the 4K way” and although in many settings it is a used as comic relief I find myself living and learning “the 4K way” every day that I come in the office. “The 4K way” is more than a group of young adults raising money and riding across the country. It is a group of young adults who are learning things about themselves and the people around them, they are constantly reminded about why they are riding through the various service projects they are involved in, and they are inspiring communities across the country to join them in changing lives. They are doing more each day than most young adults and they are incredibly consumed by their mission. The perseverance and strength they show is outstanding. The things I read about each day is unbelievable, the riders show me The 4K way and I am forever grateful to be sharing this journey with them via computer!

This has also proved to be quite the recruiting tactic, because if I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the 4K before, I have now been convinced that in 2014 I will be applying for my spot on the 4K.

In the words of one of our riders

Stay inspired….

Christina, Intern #2

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The Power of a Good Coach

Throughout my athletic “career”, I’ve had the opportunity to work with all types of coaches – some good, some not so good, and one that, looking back on it, truly changed my attitude towards teamwork, sports and life.

Her name was Connie Walkwitz. She started out as my first grade gym teacher. And as early as first grade she not only taught the basic skills of fitness and health, but instilled in her pupils the importance of teamwork, the truth to the cliché phrase – “it’s not win or lose it’s how you play the game” –  and the love of the sport.

Each year in grade school, Connie was my teacher and coach. I was among the youngest seventh graders to earn a spot on her Varsity Field Hockey squad and the following year became her team captain. While I was easily coachable in skill, my attitude was a bit difficult to train. My desire for perfection on the field often led to frustration, dejection and usually several divits in the ground (which, as my penance, I always had to replace before I could depart the field).

But Connie, always one to find the goodness in everyone (even a crazy, middle school perfectionist like myself) would call me into her office, sit me down, and remind me that attitude trumps everything, working together as a team is more beautiful than scoring that perfect goal, and for every setback or mistake there is an opportunity to learn. She saw me as a whole person, not just a player. And she never gave up on me.

All of her students loved her energy and enthusiasm, in addition to her coaching tactics.  She smiled. She cheered. She hugged us. She was readily armed with a teaching point or two when our game was not up to par. She let us make mistakes and problem solve to correct them. She fostered a true team environment. She was vibrantly energetic. She never lost her temper because her team lost (even if I did). She was the eternal optimist, she embodied the Half Full mentality. Her positive attitude never once subsided.

And even when she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, lost all her hair and became increasingly weak, she continued to support her team from the sidelines for one simple reason.

She loved to coach.

When she passed away on October 31, 2000 after a valiant fight against breast cancer, the world suffered the painstaking loss of a wife, mother, teacher, and friend. But for me, the biggest loss was that future students would never have the opportunity learn from her as I did.

I never had another coach like Connie. And until recently, I had very little faith that a coach like her even existed anymore.

But when I met the Team Fight coaches, I saw that each of them had a little bit of Connie in them. They take time out of their busy professional, familial and athletic lives to coach Team Fighters through walks, runs, bikes and swims. But beyond the physical side – they coach attitude and confidence – two critical components of a successful athlete.

Like Connie, they cheer, they smile, they encourage, they teach. They show up at each practice, event and race for the same reason she did. They love to coach.

I have no doubt that every Team Fighter has at least a handful of stories about how the Team Fight coaches inspired them, supported them and changed them as an athlete – whether it was running/walking at Janelle and Jessica’s No Drop walk/runs  (on National Pina Colada Day), receiving poolside encouragement and expertise from Coach Mike, Jelly and Adam or from the workouts Matt and Shana put together and post each week to help Team Fighters improve their swim. I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet and work with all of these extraordinary coaches…and even learn a thing or two from them.

To the Janelle’s, Jessica’s, Mike’s, Jelly’s, Adams, Shana’s, and Matts of the world – my faith in coaching has been restored.

-Krissy Kraczkowsky

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Celebrating 3 Years Cancer Free!

Three years.

That’s how long ago it’s been since I had surgery to remove the cancer growing in my body.

Today, I celebrate the anniversary of my surgery, thankfully leaving me in remission for the past three years. All that time, and I can’t escape it: I was a cancer patient. There’s been a lot of pain since I was diagnosed, there’s a lot I’ve had to cope with and there’s been a lot of time mulling over what my diagnosis means to me. But there’s also a lot I’ve learned. I’ve learned why I survived.

After surviving cancer Brina (on left) studied abroad in Spain

This week, I’m working with the UCF staff to hang a wall of small 8 x 8 canvases across our office wall. Each canvas is “in memory of,” “in honor of,” or “I’m a survivor.” Each of us had the opportunity to buy a canvas and decorate it with something meaningful to us. Many people wrote the names of loved one’s that have battled the big “c.” Others wrote out their prayers to heal those currently in their fight. If you would like to join our wall, please contact me at brina@ulmanfund.org for more information.

Purchase your UCF canvas today, by contacting Brina at brina@ulmanfund.org!

For my canvas, I decided to tell me people why I became a survivor.

I survived to go skydiving. I survived to study abroad. I survived to run a 5K. I survived to gamble in Las Vegas. I survived to go to a frat party. I survived to see the Raven’s win the Superbowl. I survived to visit all 7 continents. I survived to fly first class. I survived to ride a mechanical bull. I survived to try surfing. I survived to flirt with a stranger. I survived to ride in a hot air balloon. I survived to go scuba diving. I survived to have my first legal drink. I survived to learn to play an instrument. I survived to go salsa dancing. I survived to visit a volcano. I survived to experience an earthquake. I survived to learn sign language. I survived to go on a blind date. I survived to ride a skateboard.  I survived to shop with a personal shopper. I survived to visit a drive-in movie theater. I survived to do a service project in Africa. I survived to drive cross-country. I survived to take a glass blowing class. I survived to shoot clay. I survived to finish my classic novel list. I survived to eat crabs. I survived to kayak with my dad. I survived to cook with my mom. I survived to see my sister get married. I survived to graduate college. I survived to buy a house. I survived to have a job. I survived to fall in love.

I survived to live.

-Brina

PS- My remission anniversary ironically falls on my parents’ wedding anniversary. Thank you both for supporting me throughout my life, especially today three years ago. Congratulations Mom & Dad on 30 years! I love you!

Brina (on far right) and her family enjoy a trip to Madrid, Spain

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Part Of The Team

People usually associate a curse word with the term “intern.” An intern is the office b*tch.

I’ve been the intern at UCF for the past month. And I’ve noticed something about this place: not once have I ever felt like the office b*tch. I feel like part of the team. I AM part of the team. I have a desk, my own extension line and my own personal business card. My first day consisted of being in a staff meeting and listening to all the projects swarming around the room. I was thrown in, and I actually love it.

Natalie, Christina and I have done our fair share of office clean up, inventory counting, and tedious envelope stuffing as interns. But when I think back on all those activities, we were never sitting there working these tasks alone.

Three weeks ago, we were asked to help unload the TEAM FIGHT van. And as the sky opened and the rain came, Brock stood there right next to us moving boxes, flyers and tents out of the car and up into the storage room. When Krissy asked us to create an inventory list, she was right there folding shirts and counting with us. Brian treats us to lunch, sitting with us and asking our opinion on his latest Half Full epiphany. There isn’t a day where I feel like my bosses are my bosses and I am the little minion. My voice is heard, my opinion is valued, and my thoughts become real projects.

Krissy works with UCF Intern, Christina on an inventory project.

I value how personal this office is. In May, when I nervously sat in the fishbowl of a conference room being interviewed by Brock, he asked me if I could travel anywhere, where would it be? He wanted to know me. He wanted to know my personality. In the past few weeks, I’ve watched a few others come through that conference room for interviews. And I’ve watched how every single person in the office has the opportunity to meet the potential newcomer. UCF ensures that he/she will fit with the staff, will mesh with the personalities and be able to morph with the casual flow of the office.

Too often are offices stuffy, boring and dull. Everyone walks around in bland colored suits and sits at their cubicle typing away in silence. Not here. Here you’ll find your casual color dress code with people throwing thoughts out into the open all day long. You’ll find a conference room with whiteboards covered in ideas, numbers and concepts. You’ll find your boss sitting next to you asking for your true, honest and blunt opinion.

I love working in this office. I love how I am part of the team. I love how each person is valued. And I never want this place to lose that drive.

Brina R. Furman
Summer Intern for UCF

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The 4K’s Quest to Find the True Value of Mankind

“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” – Moorish proverb

Our 2012 rides combined have traversed 22 states, traveled well over 6,000 miles, and have spent the last 35 days immersed in an experience that is unlike any other. They have climbed over mountains, crossed the Great Plains, and passed through countless corn, wheat, and soy fields.  Over the course of their travels, 4K riders have had the fortune of interacting with 1000’s of different people from all different walks of life.  Riders interact with members of the host communities that provide us with shelter, employees at restaurants from whom we ask for food donations, people from strawberry farms on the side of the road, and anyone who will talk to them.  Being exposed and living with so many people from so many backgrounds truly allows all 4K riders to learn of the true value of men and women.

I would love to add stories of the riders meeting great people or when they were helping out local charities on their off days, but my explanation would not do them justice.  Luckily for our readers, the riders have been writing about their experiences and sharing them through their blog posts on our website.  You can visit each rides page at the following web addresses:

Portland Ride- http://4kforcancer.org/follow-us/2012-baltimore-to-portland/

San Francisco Ride- http://4kforcancer.org/follow-us/2012-baltimore-to-san-francisco/

Seattle Ride- http://4kforcancer.org/follow-us/2012-baltimore-to-seattle/

Please take some time to read (and comment on) some of these amazing posts.

All three 2012 rides are more than halfway complete with their cross-country voyage.  As they travel west they will climb over the Rockies and continue to see amazing sights and meet amazing people.  The more they travel, the more clear the true value of man will become.  In the previous 10 years, and up until this point of the 2012 rides, it is almost always the case that the value of the most importance is kindness.  The 4K riders are inspired to keep cycling because they are united by the kindness of those they meet.

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