The following is a Team LIVESTRONG story from LIVESTRONG Challenge participants Mike and CJ Walsh. There are many events you can take part in with Team LIVESTRONG. Go to our website to learn more about the run, walk, ride and tri events.
What is your name and where are you from?
Michael and CJ Walsh. We live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (about two blocks from each other)
In what event are you taking part?
LIVESTRONG Challenge Philadelphia & Austin
What is your cancer story?
We often tell folks that we?re fortunate in that we lack a compelling cancer story. Our immediate family has been blessed with good health, but that?s not to say that cancer hasn?t impacted our lives. In 2006 (after his first LIVESTRONG Challenge), Mike lost a dear friend to a glioblastoma brain tumor, the proverbial burr under his bike saddle. The same year, a close friend lost his dad to leukemia, and CJ had lost a mentor. At that point, our grandfather had succumbed to colon cancer and our grandmother was a two-time survivor. Since then, we?ve supported friends, colleagues and customers in the fight of their lives, and celebrated and supported those in the greater LIVESTRONG Community. Everyone knows someone who has fought cancer. Most know someone who lost their fight. We ride, run and fundraise to commemorate their fight, their grit and, for some, their survival. The Walsh Brothers unite people in celebrating life and hating cancer. That?s the impetus behind Team I HATE CANCER.
What made you become a part of Team LIVESTRONG?
Team I Hate Cancer is now six years in the making. Mike rode his first LIVESTRONG Challenge five years ago on a whim, seeking a long, organized ride. We grew up in a philanthropic community, so fundraising came naturally to us. We raised $2,965 (2006) our first year, then $10,985 (2007) when the LIVESTRONG Challenge still rode by the Rocky Statue in Philadelphia. When the LAF tempted CJ with Texas BBQ, we raised $16,720 (2008), then $20,350 (2009) and $25,896 (2010). Our 2011 goal is $30,000, but we?re also focused building a team beyond just two Walsh Brothers.
We believe that our generation has been called to change the world. We see an opportunity to take cancer on and improve the future for coming generations. We want to include our young adult peers in that fight. But we also just like to have fun doing it.
That?s why we approach fundraising differently. The Walsh Brothers are direct, creative and sincere. We wage an aggressive electronic media campaign. We brand our efforts through regular Facebook posts , which entice involvement, and we ask for money through emails. In 2010 and 2011, we gave each of our $100+ donors a commemorative t-shirt produced by a local company, PhillyPhaithful.com. By measuring public display of the I Hate Cancer shirt (physically wearing and posting Facebook photos of it) as well as philanthropic impact (total donors and donation value brought to LAF), we crown a Mr. or Ms. I Hate Cancer for the male and female cancer-haters of the year. We also bookend each year with two huge parties, entry to which is by a $100 donation directly to the LAF. People come by the bus load, literally.
What is your one piece of advice you would give to a cancer survivor in your situation?
The emotional adversity of losing loved ones, and watching others struggle through their own losses motivates us. Survival is the prize on which we keep our eyes. We hate cancer so that generations beyond us need worry less about it. Our gratification comes from the people that we meet, especially those who reach out to us, thank us for our efforts, and share their own experiences with cancer. We?re also humbled, mentored and graced by tremendous friends in the LIVESTRONG community who share our passion for hating cancer and rallying others. Finally, we do all of this to honor those who passed too soon and those who can?t be here to celebrate with us.
Mike and CJ Walsh
Team I Hate Cancer
LIVESTRONG Challenge Philly