BENEFITING: The V Foundation
EVENT DATE: Nov 05, 2017
DAYS TO GO: 134
“Don’t Give Up . . .Don’t Ever Give Up”
As I look ahead to my upcoming 60th birthday in Nov, I have decided that the greatest gift my friends can give me is to join me in making a positive impact on the world. I’ve chosen to run the New York City Marathon as a fundraiser for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. I selected the V Foundation as the beneficiary of our collective efforts very specifically and I hope that as you read on you will understand exactly why I’m so drawn to their history, mission, and the work they do.
In February of 1971, over two decades before Jim Valvano uttered the iconic quote above, I was just a 13 year old schoolboy when I was run over in a freak accident by a school bus in my Brooklyn neighborhood. Over the months that followed my parents and I were told first that I would lose my leg, then that I would never walk again, and finally that I would never participate in sports again. But thanks to the hard work and perseverance of the doctors who treated me, my leg was saved. Once that hurdle was cleared my Dad relentlessly encouraged me to stay positive, work hard, and Never Give Up. Much to my doctors’ surprise, within months I was back on my feet, walking to school and rejoining my friends to play stickball in the streets of Brooklyn. The mantra of “Don’t Give Up” never stopped resonating with me, guiding me to continue to defy my prognosis as I took up running in the 1980’s and completed 5 marathons over the next decade.
Twenty five years after my last marathon Jim Valvano’s powerful sentiment has brought me back to distance running, but this time I am running to remember those I’ve lost to cancer and honor three amazing women who inspire me daily. As I train and race I will carry with me the memories of my mother and my dear friend, mentor and big brother Steve “Scooter” Cohen. And every step I take over the next 5 months will honor my friends Helen Kestenbaum, Michelle Benaim and Melinda Bernstein, who are living, breathing personifications of Jim’s challenge to never give up. Helen is a breast cancer survivor, and Michelle and Melinda are deep in their fights against stage 4 colon (Michelle) lung (Melinda) cancer. The grit, fortitude and bravery these women display in their battles against cancer astonishes me, as does the grace with which they juggle treatment, family commitments and relationships with friends. They are Superwomen, unwilling to give up and determined to live fully despite their diagnoses, and they inspire me every day.
I am awed by the strength and perseverance these women exhibit, but furious that they have to go through the fight in the first place. So furious, in fact, that I decided that I want to do my part to help change the trajectory of cancer research. This desire brought me to the V Foundation, an organization that gives 100% of all direct donations to cutting edge cancer research. Founded by Jim Valvano and ESPN, this organization literally exists on the premise of “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up”.
I hope that you will join me by making a significant gift, whether in honor of Helen, Michelle, Melinda, or someone close to you who has fought their own battle against cancer. As Jim Valvano said, “We need your help. I need your help. We need money for research…It may save someone you love. And it's very important.”
Team V is the official endurance fundraising program for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. We are a committed team of athletes fundraising with strength and determination for the fight against cancer. Our team’s runners are fueled by the spirit of Jim Valvano and his inspiring words, “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up!”®
The V Foundation was founded by ESPN and award-winning NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano. Coach Valvano was diagnosed with cancer in 1993. When he created the Foundation, Jim knew that it was too late for research to save him, but he spent his last months alive creating a legacy of hope for others diagnosed with this debilitating disease.
In the past 24 years, The V Foundation has awarded more than $170 million to cancer research and related programs nationwide.
Jim Valvano’s “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up!”® spirit is alive now more than ever, and it is the perfect motto to carry us through the largest marathon in the world. With continued support, we will forge ahead with innovative research. Join us on Team V or support us through a donation – either way, you are making a difference and saving lives. There is not a moment to lose in the fight against cancer.