Andrew Luck ‘12, QB#12 for Stanford Football.
Photo: David Gonzales ‘93
Eli Manning calling a time-out after one of his many run-ins with the 49ers front seven during the NFC Championship.
As a Chargers fan, Eli annoys me. As a football fan, Eli amuses me.
"The Elements of Style" by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White.
Reading this book is like getting slapped across the face repeatedly. Here was one fun gem.
This is my story on why I’m in Relay For Life at Stanford, a fundraiser and community event for the American Cancer Society. If you would like to donate to my personal campaign, do so at my personal Relay For Life page. Otherwise, enjoy the story below.
If you would like to send me a message or have any questions, message me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope is defined as feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.
For me my Relay For Life story is all about hope.
Few words are more powerful. Hope, throughout any history, big or small, was the first step to mankind’s greatest moments: from picking oneself up after a failure, the quietly personal, to putting humans on the Moon, the incredibly historic. It started with a hopeful first step; a belief that the world wasn’t good enough, that it could get better, and that it would. Fears and uncertainty stepped aside for the excitement, curiosity, and determination that came from going after something that maybe no one else had ever seen or felt. As a history student, and as someone continuously learning from my experiences, I keep finding proof that, when in doubt, give hope a chance, always. Relay For Life is one test of that belief. It’s wasn’t my first test, though. That one came very early in my life.
Cholesteatoma is as a skin cyst in the middle ear. It can grow and damage the middle ear bones and other structures, affecting hearing, balance, and possibly function of the facial muscles and brain. The cyst is dangerous, and possibly fatal, if not removed by surgery.
Not the ideal way to start off life. It took four years, and countless visits to the doctor, to find I was born prone to cholesteatoma in my right ear. I went through numerous surgeries on that ear – I’ve lost count of the number of surgeries I’ve gone through, which must be somewhere over eight– and, of more importance, I lost a significant part of my hearing in my right ear. I lost a lot to that damned recurring cyst that you might take for granted, but I never lost hope that the losses would add up to a better person down the road. I learned how to make something out of nothing and even more out of little. I got a chance to improve on my strengths, to learn from my failures, appreciate what I already had, and create opportunities from so-called challenges. So, when I came to Stanford and heard about Relay For Life, a movement dedicated to hope, I paid attention. I could understand the language. Besides, what’s more Stanford than fighting and working for one of the most valuable ideas of all?
In 1901, Jane Stanford amended Stanford University’s Founding Grant to reinforce the role of public service: “While the instruction offered must be such as will qualify the students for personal success and direct usefulness in life, they should understand that it is offered in the hope and trust that they will become thereby of greater service to the public.”
From my first moments on Stanford’s campus during Admit Weekend, I was humbled and inspired by the people I encountered, and would continue to encounter for the next four years. If there was a recurring theme to most of Stanford life, it is an enthusiastic and excited belief in the possibility of a better world. From activism, to philanthropy, to public policy, to direct service, to government work, to social entrepreneurship, and much more, Stanford at its best has been about giving hope a chance, working for a worthy dream, and leading the way to the future. During my freshman year when I first heard about Relay For Life at Stanford, and it’s mission against cancer by celebrating survivors and caregivers, remembering affected loved ones, and fighting back against the disease, I thought to myself: “Of course I want to see what this is all about. I go to Stanford!” Once I involved myself more and dug deeper into the Relay experience, I discovered a cancer-fighting cause with the ambition to dream big and the ability to enable anyone.
On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy, during his inaugural address, challenged the United States, its allies, neighbors, and enemies to unite for a lasting peace out of the Cold War, stating that: “All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”
The money donated to Relay For Life goes directly to the American Cancer Society, which is in a long drawn-out battle against cancer. Cancer will afflict one in two men, in on three women, has already affected over eleven million Americans currently alive, and will take the lives of approximately 1,500 Americans a day. The ACS has taken these numbers as motivation for their determined multi-front fight against the disease. Their vision, to eliminate cancer, is as daunting a task as can be imagined, but few organizations in the world are as hopeful, committed, and able to fight back on such a large scope. Through research, education, advocacy, and service, the ACS has funded the work of 46 Nobel Prize laureates, proven the link between smoking and cancer, improved cure rates for childhood leukemia, provided 24/7 support to cancer patients and caregivers, developed programs to promote healthier lifestyles, and much more. Relay For Life, which started out as one doctor’s 24-hour fundraiser in 1985, is now the American Cancer Society’s largest fundraiser and worldwide has raised an estimated $3 billion. Cancer is still one of the world’s biggest and most tragic diseases, but there is hope that things will continue to get better thanks to work of the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life.
My high school cross country coach, Coach McCarthy, always tapping into different ways to keep us motivated and enthusiastic, had a sharp response handy for any unsuspecting teammates who would question how much running we were going to do on a certain day. “Coach,” some unsuspecting teammate would ask, “do we have to run 10 miles today?” “No,” coach would respond, “you GET to run 10 miles!”
When it comes to Relay, I haven’t chosen to live timidly at Stanford; the mission of Relay For Life demands nothing less. Through my work as a team captain, a Team Recruitment Chair, and now Marketing Chair, I’ve become focused on one goal: help Relay For Life at Stanford raise $100,000 and turn this event into the best damn philanthropic movement on campus. Anything less and, well, that just wouldn’t be the Stanford way. It ain’t easy, but I’m sure you could figure that out already. Besides, I get to do this! It also can’t be done by one person, which is why I need your help. This Relay For Life event at Stanford, this movement for hope, has gotten better over the years and has turned me into a better person; with your help, you can help me and this event become even better.
So, where do you fit in all this? No amount of help is too big or small. I’ll make it simple. You can donate $5 to my to Relay For Life page. $5 is the minimum you can donate online, so anything you donate above that will be a blessing as far as I’m concerned. Any amount of help you contribute will be greatly appreciated. I strongly believe that all the steps, big and small, will add up to something great by that Relay For Life weekend in May. How cool could that story look? There’s only one way to find out, and it starts with a first step. I hope to see you alongside me on that journey.