If you had to pick three words to describe the nominee, what would they be?
Brave, Proactive, Teammate
How has the nominee coped with adversity in their cancer journey?
After several months of exhibiting cold and flu-like symptoms, the nominee was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) before his senior year of high school. He was treated on the Pediatric Oncology Service of the Children's Center at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Everything was immediately put on hold; he had to miss out on an entire summer of fun with his friends, driving, school, prom, and all the other "typical" high school events that most people remember for the rest of their lives. When it came time to apply to college, he was determined to achieve his goal of attending the University of Maryland. A testament to his strength and determination, he persevered with preparing for the SATs while recovering from a bone marrow transplant on the inpatient unit of Pediatric Oncology at Hopkins. Based on this enormous disruption in his teenage life, his relationship with his friends changed completely, and he considers himself to be a completely different person after his life-altering battle with cancer.
In what ways does the nominee bring the mantra of "get busy living" into their day-to-day life?
He never let his diagnosis define him or put limits on what he was capable of. Instead of putting dreams of college and adventure on hold, he spent his five months in the hospital on preparing for the SATs and filling out applications. Instead of resenting the friendships lost after entering the hospital, he took the initiative to forge lifelong bonds with other high school students in treatment, and encouraged them to take part in adventures ranging from weekend camps to running groups around the hospital. Less than a year after his bone marrow transplant, he took a chance and joined the Baltimore Cancer to 5K team, for his first 5K race. Now a sophomore at the University of Maryland, his sense of adventure and fearlessness has led him to take on the 4K for Cancer, a 4,000 mile cycling journey from Baltimore, MD to Portland, OR. Over 70 days this summer, he will cycle across America, uniting communities in the fight against cancer along the way. He is committed to raising awareness of the unique challenges that young adults face when diagnosed with cancer and of the amazing community of support that exists to make sure no young adult will face cancer alone.
What is unique about the way the nominee gets busy living?
Throughout the course of his cancer journey, the nominee has displayed independence and bravery in the navigation of his treatment and significant life decisions. His perseverance and adaptability propelled him to transform the challenges and potential barriers presented by a cancer diagnosis into opportunities for growth and personal achievement. Today, he is still completely fearless, and is cool and calm in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Any opportunity that is presented to him, whether it is going to college, running his first 5K, or biking across the country, warrants less than a minute of deliberation in his mind. After facing a life-threatening illness at such a young and pivotal age, he jumps at the chance to be a part of any adventure that may make his life and the lives of other young adult cancer survivor better.
How has the nominee impacted you directly?
The nominee joined the Cancer to 5K team in the fall of 2013, and was immediately "all in." He still faces the future with stoicism and a passionate sense of empathy and perspective. I am thrilled to have been a part of his transformation into the confident, adventurous person he is today, and I am always inspired by his ability to not just survive, but to live fearlessly.