Why They Fight: Hope NYC VIII
Sunday, November 10 2019
With 32 different men & women stepping in the ring for the first time on November 14th you can imagine there must be a lot of nerves and emotions swirling around. Excitement, fear, anticipation, hope, dread, the list goes on. They all have someone they're fighting for, they all have individual things driving them. Their lives have all been touched by cancer in some way. As fight night is approaching get an inside look as to what motivates these brave men and women who are stepping in the ring to literally knock out cancer.
When I think about the tools needed over the next 4 months of training, fundraising, and on fight night- I don’t need to look much further than the grit, endurance, commitment, determination, courage, persistence, support, and love that surrounds the cancer battles I’ve seen and continue to see. Thank you so much to those who have already poured out their support for me and this cause and let’s keep it going up until and after November 14, 2019, so we can KO the real opponent, cancer.
I have watched too many family members and friends struggle through cancer and the devastation left in its wake.
I have watched many friends participate in Haymakers for Hope to fight back against this horrible disease.
I'm fighting this year because I don't want to keep watching.
In 2015, my father and grandfather died in a 2 week period. It was a tough time, but I fought through it. Sports helped a lot. I started with triathlons, but picked up boxing last year and fell in love with it. Since 2016, I have raised money for cancer research in sports-related activities. I am proud to be a fighter for Haymakers 2019 and continue those efforts.
I signed up to fight to show myself that sometimes being uncomfortable and vulnerable can be a good thing. Who amongst us is in a family that has not been stricken by this horrific disease. No one I know anymore can say that their life hasn’t been affected in some way by it. I will be fighting for everyone who is battling, has battled or will battle this disease. Please join and support me in this fight to #KOCancer
Perhaps because of my own experience, I feel a deep sense of outrage and frustration every time I learn that someone close to me has to fight cancer themselves or that they've lost someone they love to the disease. But along with that frustration is a feeling of determination that we can always do something. We can be there to listen, to learn, to offer a welcome distraction or sometimes just to bring a box of tissues and give a hug. Or, in this instance, we can get in the ring and have a fight to raise money to build awareness, to treat patients and to look for a cure.
In November of 2016, five days after my 40th birthday, my oldest child and only daughter was diagnosed with AML Leukemia. She was nine years old. Today, I am 43 and my daughter is a healthy, active 12-year old. This is the next step of our journey and why we are going to be winners against cancer as part of Haymakers for Hope – NYC VIII.
I am fighting for everyone who has lost a loved one or has been effected by this hideous disease CANCER. In particular I am fighting for my Mother who lost her Mother to cancer at a young age of 65 and I am fighting for the legend and memory of Barry Bremen and the BREMEN family to help find a cure for this devastating disease and all the pain and suffering it leaves in its wake.
When my mom was battling cancer, she would tell me that she focused on the positive and never let herself believe for one second that she couldn't beat this disease. She said "I would tell myself, little by little, I'm beating this disease and I'm focused on getting better every day."
Through the journey with Haymakers for Hope, and in my life in general, I've taken those words to heart and I just try to get a little bit better, each and every day.
Far too often, someone that I know, or a friend of a friend, is diagnosed with cancer. It is the word we all fear, and it continues to affect the innocent lives of so many people near to us.
Ten years ago, I returned home from my freshman year at the University of Michigan with no summer plan. I applied to work as a counselor at Sunrise Day Camp, the world’s only full summer day camp for children with cancer and their siblings, completely free of charge (www.sunrisedaycamp-longisland.org). Pediatric cancer was not personal to me; it just seemed like something nice to do with my summer before moving on with the rest of my life.
Ten years later…I’m still here. At 24 years old, to the confusion of many, I left a very normal CPA career at Deloitte and became Sunrise's assistant camp director.
Over the last decade, I have met hundreds and hundreds of resilient families devastated by a cancer diagnosis that have mustered the strength to hold it all together. I have hired hundreds and hundreds of the best people I’ve ever met who work their butts off every summer to give our kids an amazing, normal summer camp experience that every child deserves, but our children truly need. I have attended more funerals than I ever thought I would in a lifetime. I have given approximately 100,000 hugs. I have cried. I have watched kids learn how to swim who never thought they would. I have had the most unique summers any twenty-something guy could ever have. Ten years later…pediatric cancer is now very very personal to me.
I am fighting and raising money because I love the 700+ kids of Sunrise Day Camp- Long Island. For the next 4 months, I am not only going to train as hard as I can to win my fight, but I am going to raise as much money as I possibly can to help Sunrise continue to fight against the horrible effects of a cancer diagnosis on a child. We will continue to give our kids and their families the life-changing summers they truly need.
I'm going to be honest...the idea of stepping into the ring was (and still is) petrifying. I'm training like hell, pushing myself to physical limits I didn't think my 34yr old body could manage and retesting what it means to be dedicated. I say all this to say something that's very obvious: this is nothing to those battling cancer.
My family, like millions of others, has been afflicted with this brutal disease. I've lost both of my grandparents on my fathers side (Charlotte and William Henry Davis) and my grandmother on my mother's side to cancer. Recently, I watched my first cousin overcome a double mastectomy with grace, determination, and spirit. I'm not alone in hoping we find a cure to cancer and this is one small contribution to the work being done by many others.
In May 2017, I lost my cousin and mentor to cancer. I had been boxing casually for the last few years and continually asked myself, "What am I fighting for?" While I was searching for meaning and purpose after losing my mentor, I learned of a charity fight to raise awareness and money for cancer.
I'm fighting for my brother, Scott. He's no longer with us, but if he were he would be my biggest fan in the audience come fight night! Scott died a little over five years ago after an 18 year battle with an incurable form of brain cancer. He is my inspiration for this fight and he is also responsible for any other crazy undertakings I might get involved with!
When I first heard about the organization and its 8th annual NYC event (shout out @ Colleen Hartigan), I immediately knew I wanted to be involved. To my late grandfather Louis Gartz, close friend Jane D'Agostino, and countless others who have been impacted by cancer - I will give everything I have to training and fighting in your honor. I've faced adversity in my life, and I will surely face adversity learning how to box in 4 months time, but the will to overcome inherent in any fight vs. cancer is a spirit well worth fighting for.
I've always wanted to participate in a fitness fundraiser, but running and marathons were never my forte. (Ironically, I'll have sprinted more in preparation for this fight than I probably have my whole life.) It wasn't until my uncle was diagnosed with salivary gland cancer that I found my purpose for fighting. Seeing him suffer made me feel powerless but I used that motivation to set a 2018 New Year’s resolution to pick up boxing and haven’t looked back since. My second encounter with cancer was with my dragon boat team when we lost our steerer, Andy; that was when I realized how fast the disease can attack and how wide its reach can be.
5 years ago I welcomed my first child into this world. Blessed, full of joy, and completely ignorant I starred at the most beautiful thing I had ever seen...my baby girl. And in that moment of pure joy, I was struck with an equally forceful emotion of fear. How could I protect her, shield her from the tragedy of our world and ensure that she live a whole and full life? I have carried this fear with me everyday for the past 5 years and it has only grown as we welcomed our 2nd daughter to the world.
We have come so far, yet still have so far to go to extinguish this horrible disease. My fight is for the future. My fight is for continued success. My fight is for perseverance. My fight is for every parent - so that they can sleep more soundly and let go of a sliver of that fear.
F*ck cancer. I've lost cousins to cancer, my aunt, family friends and more. Cancer affects just about everyone, Whether it puts you in the hospital bed or sitting in the chair beside it saying you can beat this. My grandma is fighting cancer for the 4th time. She is 87 and undefeated. I was just a kid when my my mom looked cancer in the face and knocked it into remission. Like I said, F*uck cancer. Now I get to fight for all of them.