Christopher is a Senior at Niagara University. In the summer of 2012 he is riding with a group of college students on a 70 day, 4000+ mile bike ride from Baltimore to Portland.
What is your connection with the cancer community?
As a sophomore in high school my father was diagnosed with cancer. I didn't really understand much about the disease until I watched him go through treatments. I watched the stress and pain it caused him, my family, and me. About a year later, on December 23, 2006, my father passed away from the disease. That loss has forever impacted my life and values. Part of the grieving process for me was to do more in college for those affected by cancer, both directly and indirectly. Being involved in Relay for Life helped spur my interest in giving more to the cancer community. I have since been involved in multiple walks, races, and fundraisers for several organizations to raise money and awareness for this cause including: American Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and Roswell Park Cancer Institute. In my involvement with these organizations, I have seen the challenges those affected with cancer face everyday.
Why are you riding the 4K for Cancer?
All my life I have said I have one real goal and that is to positively impact as many lives as I can. In 2008 it was time to start looking for colleges and I really didn’t know where I wanted to go much less what I wanted to be. I took a gamble and decided to attend Niagara University – a Catholic, Vincentian institution. When I enrolled at Niagara I had no idea what the word Vincentian meant. In fact I’m pretty sure I called it a Venetian school for a while. As my freshmen year began I learned that Vincentian comes from St. Vincent DePaul, a man who dedicated his life to community service and assisting those who are in need. Niagara has adopted those very same values and educates and instills them in every student. I have since embraced the values of the Vincentian mission. In my time at Niagara University I have been a part of hundreds of service projects. I immediately took an interest in giving back. In my freshman year, I became a representative for the Class of 2012 volunteering my time to give back and establish my legacy as someone who takes works in the community. With my father’s passing due to cancer, I have taken a special interest in the cancer cause. I have volunteered my time and energy to raise money for the American Cancer Society, playing games with cancer patients at my hometown hospital, and working with the Make-A-Wish foundation to help the wishes of children affected with cancer in Western New York. The relationships I have made through all of these services is what motivates me to continue my march toward ridding the world of this disease. In the Spring of 2011 I had the pleasure of working with a four year old, name Logan, who has Leukemia. This young boy changed my life. I worked with the university community to raise over $6,000 to send Logan and his family to Disney World as well as organizing a send off party with all his friends. I first met Logan an hour before the send off party. I had the opportunity to walk Logan around Niagara University showing him all that we had ready for the party. He was so excited. While on that walk, Logan told me about his disease but also told me he was going to bring back toys from Disney World for the kids at the hospital. That comment stopped me in my tracks. I was astonished that a four year old was most excited to come back and bring toys for the other kids affected by cancer. I wrote that comment down and stuck it on my bedroom wall. Everyday I look at Logan’s comment and try to act more selfless and give back. That is what motivates me everyday to live with the Vincentian values. That is what motivates me to travel across the country working in local communities and raising money to beat cancer.