Standing on Fear : Introspections of a survivor’s ego, self-pity, anger, and surfing… on one leg

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Hurtling across the ocean toward the island of Maui, I am unsure of what awaits me at Athletes 4 Cancer’s Camp Koru. My cancer has been gone for years and I want to believe I’m over it, but I know that is impossible. So I keep pushing on to go through it, rather than try and do the impossible and get over it.

I was diagnosed with Osteogenicsarcoma or Bone Cancer at the age of 18 and spent the next three years in and out of the hospital as the cancer spread to my lungs and lymph nodes. My treatment consisted of countless rounds of chemotherapy, and surgery after surgery after surgery. Ultimately, my left leg was amputated above the knee, and then the cancer slowed and eventually stopped growing and spreading within me. At the time I was given a 30 percent chance to live through the year. I’m now going on nine years remission and am picking up steam on leading the life I want to live.

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As the plane continues it’s journey across the ocean, I find myself ignoring the fact that I am heading to a surf camp with only one leg to stand on. Ignoring this because it scares me and no matter how hard I try to pretend there isn’t, there is still a part of me that thinks maybe I won’t be able to surf. And if that is the case what am I doing on a plane heading to Maui? Better to just ignore that than prepare for it…right.

As the number of years I’ve been in remission continues to add up, I’ve tried to get back to living a more active lifestyle, like the one I led before cancer took my leg. This has been a challenge, as it is something I’ve avoided to spare myself the pain of directly experiencing what I can no longer do without my leg. That is not who I am though, I’ve never been someone who shied away from a challenge, in most cases the greater the challenge the more I gravitate towards it. Maintaining peak mental and physical strength, throughout three years of life draining cancer treatment, is a near impossible task. And as much I would like to think the moment you are done with treatment, you get all this strength back in an easy and intuitive manner, you don’t! That is why programs like Camp Koru exist.

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Many of us young cancer warriors have fought a grueling battle and won, but that battle took just about everything we have. We need a little boost to get back to grabbing life by the horns!

On the first full day of camp, myself and 14 other cancer warriors headed to the beach to see what kind of surfing chops we had. I stood on the beach, unstrapped my prosthesis, passed it off, and found the same feeling welling up inside of me that appears every time I try a new physical activity. It is a feeling of anger, sadness, and frustration that combines into a ruthless form of fearless determination. My ego is still wounded deeply by the loss of my leg. Every time I try something new my head is filled with the memories of my past, of running five minute miles, sprinting to the finish-line in cross country races, dominating pickup games of soccer and basketball and never ceasing to compete no matter how outmatched I was. These feelings used to overcome me every time I tried to do anything physical. But after fighting back death I refuse to live a life of fear.

So I hop around on the beach full of anxiety, wanting to get in the water and not wanting to at the same time. The Camp Koru staff patiently encouraged me to get in and go for it.

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Getting in the first time was the only hard part, from then on I was hooked. On the first day the surf instructors were pushing me into waves, by the end of the week I was a machine, paddling into every wave I could. My one-leggedness did little to hold me back, I made adjustments and adapted without even thinking about it. I surfed standing up on one-leg, on all fours, and found my groove with a two point, one foot and one hand form. Feeling the power of the ocean below me and knowing I had the strength to propel myself forward and join with the ocean was exhilarating and mind blowing to say the least.

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In the last year I’ve made a commitment to myself to do whatever I can to take the negative emotions cancer has left me with and turn them on their head. These are very powerful emotions, but I am realizing they don’t rule me, I can harness their power and use it for good rather than let it depress me and keep me from living the life I want. Which is where Camp Koru comes in; by giving cancer warriors the chance to do something tangible and concrete, such as learning to surf, they give us physical evidence of the abilities we still possess, no matter what cancer has ripped out of our weakened grasp. This physical evidence becomes mental strength and gives myself and other cancer warriors the ability to take all the crap cancer has left us with and use it to fertilize our minds and bodies rather than let it drag us down and hold us back.

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As I’ve touched on, the most challenging consequence of my cancer is the raw feeling of the physical loss of my leg. For a very long time I looked at my amputation strictly in terms of can’t and to be frank, there are things I used to do that I can no longer do… at least not in the same way. But does any of that really matter? Does the fact that I can’t do what I used to do mean I shouldn’t do anything moving forward? Of course not! I’ve realized turning the can’t of my amputation into a can is an ongoing and gradual process, but with Camp Koru I took some very long strides forward on this journey! The next time I start to freak out when I am going to try something new I’m going to stop and think about all the waves I caught in Maui and remember that the strength I felt then is always present within me.

I can’t thank Camp Koru and the John Wayne Cancer Foundation enough for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime and for blowing my mind! If you are a cancer warrior struggling to carry on then apply to camp!

~ Peter Greenwood, aka “Roar”
First-time Camp Koru participant in Camp 9, October 2013

2014 A4C Event Volunteer (and slightly-paid) Needs

The funds raised at our summer event series goes directly to fund our programs. As our primary source of funding, we aim to make the events amazing, but not without TONS of help! Volunteers get perks for helping out. Here are areas of event volunteer needs and a couple paid positions too.

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Summer Event Volunteers – Kiteboarding 4 Cancer and Boards of Hope

Volunteer Positions available in all the following areas: Please fill out volunteer application HERE

Registration

Race Coordination

Logistics & Setup

Parties

Volunteer Management

Athlete Lounge

Silent Auction

Boards of Hope Art Project

Sponsorship Opportunities

There are many ways for businesses to get involved including…

Event Sponsorship — Your logo, brand, and possibly product presence throughout the event — email Tonia (at) athletes4cancer.org for more info.

Silent Auction Packages — create a silent auction basket or package based on a theme, donated by your company, A4C promotes it in advance of the event. Fun!!

Slightly paid positions:  

Please fill out volunteer application and email tonia (at) athletes4cancer.org directly with resume and your interest.

Sponsorship Coordinator – Kiteboarding 4 Cancer:

  • Develop, secure and track prospective and existing sponsors: Cash sponsors for event budget and in-kind/product sponsors for prizes, raffle, and athlete packs.
  • Maintain sponsor database (we already have one too) and ensure that sponsors and partners are tracked and recognized before, during, and after event.
  • Communicate with sponsors to obtain donations for event.
  • Manage sponsor needs during event, ensuring all sponsorship agreements are met.

Estimated time involved:

  • April 10-June 10: 12 hours/week
  • June 10-July 10: 8 hours /week
  • Event weekend: July 11-13
  • July 14-Aug 1: 2-4 hours/week

Marketing Coordinator – Events:

  • Put together a marketing plan for the 12 weeks prior to each event using A4C digital marketing channels (blog, e-news, website, facebook, twitter, stayclassy, causes, etc.) that achieves the goals of increased athlete participation, spectatorship and fundraising.
  • Manage social media presence prior to, and during, event.
  • Review and measure stats on HootSuite of all social media activity.
  • Coordinate poster design for events, working with Sponsorship Coordinator to represent sponsors.

Estimated time involved:

  • April 1-July 10: 12 hours /week
  • Event weekend: July 11-13

Silent Auction Coordinator:

  • Procure in-kind donations from businesses and individuals, obtaining item/service descriptions, photos, etc.
  • Completion of donation forms and maintaining records of donated items.
  • Coordinating correspondence materials, acknowledgement letters, etc.
  • Working with other volunteers and staff to prepare for the day of the silent auction
  • Organizing auction on day of the event
  • Closing auction and facilitating item distribution

Estimated time involved:

  • May 1-June 15: 8 hours/week
  • June 15-June 15: 12 hours /week
  • Event weekend: Friday, July 13-July 15

Boards of Hope Coordinator:

  • Promote Boards of Hope to artist communities
  • Procure artwork 
  • Coordinate communication, acknowledgement letters, etc. with artists
  • Work with other volunteers and staff to prepare for the day of the silent auction
  • Organizing Boards of Hope component of auction on day of the event
  • Manage Boards of Hope during live auction and facilitate item distribution

Estimated time involved:

  • April 1-June 15: 8-10 hours/week
  • June 15-July 15: 12 hours /week
  • Event weekend: July 11-13
  • July 14-Aug. 1: 2-4 hours /week

All slightly-paid positions please complete volunteer app above and email tonia (at) athletes4cancer.org with a resume and your interest.

Are you awesome? Wanna work with other awesome people?

camp10-10.31lg-1453Athletes 4 Cancer is looking for some awesome people to be involved in our organization on different levels in our programs, operations, and fundraising events.  We are a small but growing non-profit with national awards and recognition for our young cancer survivorship program.  You must smart, engaging, and pretty much awesome!

Are you awesome?

We believe in inspiring and empowering survivors to kick-start their lives after cancer through outdoor experiences and adventures, while forming healthy peer relationships along the way.  We aim to provide an attainable platform for personal success, self-growth, and achievement through the support of a focused staff and fellow campers. The camps serve as a vehicle to channel strength, promote renewal, and fuel passion for a healthy and productive life ahead while inspiring others to do the same.

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Camp Koru Lead Counselor (Paid, part-time seasonal) Location: Oregon, Hawaii

We are seeking highly motivated individuals with leadership experience at other outdoor organizations or in public service. Previous experience in facilitating group dynamics is desired, especially experience working with the age group of 18-35. The Camp Koru Lead Counselor will help support the growth and vision of the Camp Koru program.

What the Lead Counselor does:

Leads and facilitates groups of up to 16 young adults (with staff and volunteer support) at camp in activities, discussions, and interactions, while empowering them through adventures, decision-making, and relationship development.

Qualities we seek in our Lead Counselor:

  • A great leader
  • Compassion, patience and humility
  • Ability to articulate
  • Great character, empathy, energy and commitment
  • Communication skills including active listening, thoughtful feedback, and selfless input.
  • Passion, confidence and humor are also vital to the success of our staff.
  • Physical and Emotional Stamina:

Applicants must be sufficiently fit to participate in all activities at Camp Koru and maintain energy, strength, emotional stability and focus to support and lead participants with sometimes substantial physical and emotional obstacles.

Qualifications:

  • Applicants must be a minimum of 21 years of age
  • Must hold a bachelor’s degree at minimum
  • Current adult First Aid and CPR
  • No therapeutic background is required, but preferred
  • Experience working with young adults is preferred
  • Knowledge of Google applications: Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs
  • Relevant life and work experience are preferred

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Program Coordinator (Paid, part-time) Location: Athletes 4 Cancer office in Hood River, Oregon

The Program Coordinator works with a small team at Athletes 4 Cancer to plan and execute each of our 5 Camp Koru retreats each year plus fundraising events. The Program Coordinator position is a dual role offering the unique opportunity to:

(a) Serve as a key support staff for Athletes 4 Cancer and Camp Koru operations and

(b) Work directly with our campers and camp program to help young survivors get their lives back after cancer.

Coordinating Program & Event Operations

The position involves considerable independent work as well as being an effective member of a team. Primary responsibilities are to process bills, be a key contact for camper and parent communications, healthcare provider communications, maintain participant files (digital), assist with participant information data and tracking, planning fundraising events and other duties as assigned by the Executive Director.

This position also requires assistance with trip coordination, including but not limited to: Coordinating camp staffing and volunteers, outfitters, assisting counselors with packing and unpacking for trips, arranging for camp storage and restocking supplies as needed, organizing trip binder, travel itineraries, camp schedule, and other duties. The Program Coordinator will work closely with the Executive Director and the Lead Counselor on program outreach and marketing. The Program Coordinator may serve as a substitute counselor at Camp Koru when needed.

Please refer to our website for a further understanding of our program and the people we serve:www.athletes4cancer.org

Position Qualifications:

  • * 4-year college degree
  • * Highly organized and detail-oriented.
  • * Independently identifies and implements solutions to operations challenges.
  • * Experience in business or office setting.
  • * Excellent customer service and communication skills.
  • * Knowledge of Cloud-based applications and Google applications: Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs
  • * Knowledge and understanding of social media applications, guidelines for business use and strategies: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo, WordPress
  • * Ability to work within a budget and purchase supplies and services efficiently.
  • * Patience, enthusiasm, proactive communication style, flexibility and energy are a must.
  • * Knowledge & understanding of recreation and trip coordination
  • * The ability to relate well to others and to work effectively with a variety of people.
  • * Ability to provide appropriate structure, perspective and guidance in the process of program delivery.
  • * An understanding and commitment to the goals and philosophy of Athletes 4 Cancer
  • * Valid/clean driver’s license.

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Fundraising Event Planner (Paid, Part-time seasonal) Location: Hood River or Portland, Oregon

This role requires an organized individual for 10-15 hours per week  March 15 – August 15  for our annual fundraising event Kiteboarding 4 Cancer, which takes place July 11-13, 2014. Position could possibly turn into an ongoing role. Key areas of responsibility include:

  • overseeing event planning during the 6-month fundraising season for Kiteboarding 4 Cancer
  • managing athlete, sponsor and donor relations during this time
  • supporting fundraising event efforts post-event including prize distribution, managing donor database, and other post-event communications

Qualifications:

  • experience in non-profit/fundraising desired
  • experience in project management, preferably with events
  • organization, attention to detail, discipline and follow-through
  • energetic, self-directed and assertive, but also flexible and creative
  • ability to multi-task
  • Knowledge of Cloud-based applications and Google applications: Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs
  • Knowledge and understanding of social media applications, guidelines for business use and strategies: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo, WordPress
  • strong communication skills and ability to collaborate effectively with all levels of staff and volunteers, both verbally and in writing
  • ability to confidently represent Athletes 4 Cancer and our mission as an ambassador

To apply, please email your resume and why you are awesome for one of these positions to info (at) athletes4cancer.org.

Are you awesome? Want to come work with other awesome people?

camp10-10.31lg-1453 Athletes 4 Cancer is looking for some awesome people to be involved in our organization on different levels in our programs, operations, and fundraising events.  We are a small but growing non-profit with national awards and recognition for our young cancer survivorship program.  You must smart, engaging, and pretty much awesome!

Are you awesome?

We believe in inspiring and empowering survivors to kick-start their lives after cancer through outdoor experiences and adventures, while forming healthy peer relationships along the way.  We aim to provide an attainable platform for personal success, self-growth, and achievement through the support of a focused staff and fellow campers. The camps serve as a vehicle to channel strength, promote renewal, and fuel passion for a healthy and productive life ahead while inspiring others to do the same.

camp10-awesome-10.31lg-1520

Camp Koru Lead Counselor (Paid, part-time seasonal) Location: Oregon, Hawaii

We are seeking highly motivated individuals with leadership experience at other outdoor organizations or in public service. Previous experience in facilitating group dynamics is desired, especially experience working with the age group of 18-35. The Camp Koru Lead Counselor will help support the growth and vision of the Camp Koru program.

What the Lead Counselor does:

Leads and facilitates groups of up to 16 young adults (with staff and volunteer support) at camp in activities, discussions, and interactions, while empowering them through adventures, decision-making, and relationship development.

Qualities we seek in our Lead Counselor:

  • A great leader
  • Compassion, patience and humility
  • Ability to articulate
  • Great character, empathy, energy and commitment
  • Communication skills including active listening, thoughtful feedback, and selfless input.
  • Passion, confidence and humor are also vital to the success of our staff.
  • Physical and Emotional Stamina:

Applicants must be sufficiently fit to participate in all activities at Camp Koru and maintain energy, strength, emotional stability and focus to support and lead participants with sometimes substantial physical and emotional obstacles.

Qualifications:

  • Applicants must be a minimum of 21 years of age
  • Must hold a bachelor’s degree at minimum
  • Current adult First Aid and CPR
  • No therapeutic background is required, but preferred
  • Experience working with young adults is preferred
  • Knowledge of Google applications: Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs
  • Relevant life and work experience are preferred

camp10-10.30lg-1054

Program Coordinator (Paid, part-time) Location: Athletes 4 Cancer office in Hood River, Oregon

The Program Coordinator works with a small team at Athletes 4 Cancer to plan and execute each of our 5 Camp Koru retreats each year plus fundraising events. The Program Coordinator position is a dual role offering the unique opportunity to:

(a) Serve as a key support staff for Athletes 4 Cancer and Camp Koru operations and

(b) Work directly with our campers and camp program to help young survivors get their lives back after cancer.

Coordinating Program & Event Operations

The position involves considerable independent work as well as being an effective member of a team. Primary responsibilities are to process bills, be a key contact for camper and parent communications, healthcare provider communications, maintain participant files (digital), assist with participant information data and tracking, planning fundraising events and other duties as assigned by the Executive Director.

This position also requires assistance with trip coordination, including but not limited to: Coordinating camp staffing and volunteers, outfitters, assisting counselors with packing and unpacking for trips, arranging for camp storage and restocking supplies as needed, organizing trip binder, travel itineraries, camp schedule, and other duties. The Program Coordinator will work closely with the Executive Director and the Lead Counselor on program outreach and marketing. The Program Coordinator may serve as a substitute counselor at Camp Koru when needed.

Please refer to our website for a further understanding of our program and the people we serve:www.athletes4cancer.org

Position Qualifications:

  • * 4-year college degree
  • * Highly organized and detail-oriented.
  • * Independently identifies and implements solutions to operations challenges.
  • * Experience in business or office setting.
  • * Excellent customer service and communication skills.
  • * Knowledge of Cloud-based applications and Google applications: Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs
  • * Knowledge and understanding of social media applications, guidelines for business use and strategies: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo, WordPress
  • * Ability to work within a budget and purchase supplies and services efficiently.
  • * Patience, enthusiasm, proactive communication style, flexibility and energy are a must.
  • * Knowledge & understanding of recreation and trip coordination
  • * The ability to relate well to others and to work effectively with a variety of people.
  • * Ability to provide appropriate structure, perspective and guidance in the process of program delivery.
  • * An understanding and commitment to the goals and philosophy of Athletes 4 Cancer
  • * Valid/clean driver’s license.

post-swim-HALLMAN5469

Fundraising Event Planner (Paid, Part-time seasonal) Location: Hood River or Portland, Oregon

This role requires an organized individual for 10-15 hours per week  March 15 – August 15  for our annual fundraising event Kiteboarding 4 Cancer, which takes place July 11-13, 2014. Position could possibly turn into an ongoing role. Key areas of responsibility include:

  • overseeing event planning during the 6-month fundraising season for Kiteboarding 4 Cancer
  • managing athlete, sponsor and donor relations during this time
  • supporting fundraising event efforts post-event including prize distribution, managing donor database, and other post-event communications

Qualifications:

  • experience in non-profit/fundraising desired
  • experience in project management, preferably with events
  • organization, attention to detail, discipline and follow-through
  • energetic, self-directed and assertive, but also flexible and creative
  • ability to multi-task
  • Knowledge of Cloud-based applications and Google applications: Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs
  • Knowledge and understanding of social media applications, guidelines for business use and strategies: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo, WordPress
  • strong communication skills and ability to collaborate effectively with all levels of staff and volunteers, both verbally and in writing
  • ability to confidently represent Athletes 4 Cancer and our mission as an ambassador

To apply, please email your resume and why you are awesome for one of these positions to info (at) athletes4cancer.org.

Amazing chefs (well, individuals, really) wanted for Camp Koru

You are an amazing chef who believes in whole and healthy eating as a way of life not just a trend. You know your way around gluten-free or vegan just as much as you do a fresh wild salmon or grass-fed beef from one of our local farm partners. You love food and cooking and want to share the healing properties of food with others. We want you!

Athletes 4 Cancer is seeking chefs for our week-long cancer survivorship camps – Camp Koru. Cancer survivors come to Camp Koru as a transition after treatment.  They want to find direction, self-love, and gain confidence to move forward beyond their cancer. Survival has been their focus. Now it’s time to thrive. You can learn more about Camp Koru here.

Eating well and focusing on an active healthy lifestyle is one of our goals at camp. Our camp chef plays an integral role to help achieve this goal.  We provide a healthy, realistic camp food budget because we believe in serving only the highest quality ingredients, organic, and locally-sourced if possible.  Our chefs volunteer to contribute their talents 3 meals a day for our 7 days camps.

Our head camp chef, Ahi, has set a high standard for what it takes to cook at Camp Koru. It takes not only a great chef to volunteer at Camp Koru, but a selfless individual with great character. Here are our qualifications in a Camp Koru chef:

  • must have diverse skills with food: must know gluten-free and vegan options as much as fish, pork, beef, and chicken – and without judgement.
  • must be comfortable with menu planning and utilizing multiple food resources
  • must be able to comfortably prepare and serve 3 meals a day for 7 days, for 20-24 people. No, that is not a typo.
  • must be able to work solo well and communicate need for assistance when necessary
  • must be comfortable delegating responsibility with an assistant
  • must be able to adhere to a budget
  • must be comfortable staying in rustic accommodations
  • must have empathy, patience, and compassion for people
  • must want to genuinely help people through his/her food
  • must be ok with campers showering you with gratitude after each meal
  • must put LOVE in his/her food

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Chef Ahi prepares amazing Camp Koru food with love
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Photos, clockwise from top left: 1) Our dinner view at camp! 2) This is buffet food?? 3) Lunch on the fly! 4) A happy camper enjoys Ahi’s food 5) Sometimes dinner is by candlelight

Bottom line: You put LOVE in your food and we need you! Apply online here and mail info (at) athletes4cancer.org that you are interested.

 

Amazing what is happening long after camp is over.

camp10-10.31lg-1453A huge thanks to the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, The North Face, and the many individual donors who contributed throughout 2013 to make Camp Koru a huge success. Thank you to all!!

Below is a brief graphic report on our major impact to date. We measure the impact and effectiveness of our programs by the quality of the outcomes, not the quantity. Testimonials are one of our most powerful measures, and walking the talk is even more important. When attendees of Camp Koru leave camp and integrate back into normal life, most often there is a shift in direction. About 50% of our ambassadors report that they have either volunteered in their own cancer community or played a lead role in taking action in the cancer awareness and/or survivorship arenas. Inspiring leadership, passion and philanthropy in our ambassadors’ community is one of the goals of Camp Koru. As a value we aim to nurture and strengthen long after camp, volunteerism has an impact that touches thousands more lives than just the one we served.

Thank you for your support. If you are so inspired to make more impact, we could use your help for upcoming camp programs. Please consider making a donation here.  Happy New Year & we hope to see you again in 2014!

Athletes 4 Cancer 2013 Camp KoruAthletes 4 Cancer creates life-changing experiences for young adult cancer fighters and survivors through outdoor adventure programs that challenge, support, and inspire individuals to rebuild their lives after cancer.

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Athletes 4 Cancer is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, IRS tax ID #42-1737854. We fund our event and charities solely through tax-deductible contributions from private individuals, corporations and foundations. For more information on Camp Koru and Athletes 4 Cancer, go to athletes4cancer.org.