Guest post from 315K co-founder Colin LaReaux
You’ve seen the ads depicting a young child, bald, IV in arm, bravely smiling with his or her family. The child has cancer. The ad tugs at your heartstrings, you think “that poor family” and you move on with your day.
Brooke McDonald and I were those kids. Our families were those families trying to smile and lead normal lives while we children battled a deadly disease.
Brooke and I were lucky, we beat pediatric cancer, and decades later we are cancer free. But the disease left a lasting impact.
In 2014, Brooke and I took action, deciding to help kids fighting the same battle we had years earlier, rather than passively expressing dismay. We founded 315K For the Cure, an organization that has raised and donated over $75,000 to benefit local pediatric cancer patients and their families treating at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. Supported almost entirely by family and friends, our small grassroots organization donates 100% of their proceeds to benefit local families.
As Uticans, Brooke and I share an affinity for all things Utica, especially the Boilermaker- the organization’s name is a play on the area code and the 15K race. Using the Boilermaker as a platform, we began fundraising, selling t-shirts and going on group runs. We now encompass a wide array of fundraising events, usually centered around fitness and beer (two hallmarks of the Boilermaker). We’ve hosted fundraisers with Mohawk Valley Wellness and CrossFit Utica, happy hours at local bars and restaurants, golf tournaments, and we throw an annual party at the Celtic Harp the “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day Fundraiser.
Decades removed from treatment, Brooke and I haven’t forgotten how difficult the treatment process and resulting side effects, both physical and mental, can be for families undergoing the ordeal. Now with families of our own, we’ve gained a new perspective on the disease: “As a kid, I wasn’t worried, my parents put on a brave front and made me believe I had nothing to worry about. Now as a parent myself, I understand how hard it was for them, how terrified they were.”
“We haven’t done anything extraordinary. We just did something. We created an opportunity for people to help. There are so many people, especially in our area, that want to act, that want to help those families they see on TV or social media fighting cancer. 315K gives them that opportunity. At our core we are just a group of like minded individuals who get together, raise a couple bucks for families in need, and have a good time doing it.