There is perhaps no better opportunity for a person to shine brightest than when they are faced with adversity. This is something I learned at a young age after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Although I was only nine years old at the time, I was able to recognize that I did not want my cancer diagnosis to define me. Rather I planned to use this experience and the lessons I learned along the way to help shape the man I would be in the future.
My battle with cancer has without question made me a stronger person. I am now a survivor of over 10 years and I know that I have experienced more things and learned more about myself at the age of 24 than some people will in their entire life. Perhaps one of the most important lessons I learned along the way was from my mother, who was battling breast cancer during the same time I was fighting for my life. She told me to be thankful for all the people that helped our family while we were going through difficult times and to never forget how important it is to pay it forward.
Hope & Heroes was there to provide support for my family and me when we needed it most. From the information they would provide us about how to get through our treatment, to the Future Media Stars Internship program they held every year, to just being a friendly face to reach out when we needed it. I would not be the person I am today if not for the support I received from this generous organization.
This past November I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Hope & Heroes Annual Dinner. This event showcased some of the most incredible people and stories that I have ever encountered. Hope & Heroes embodies the same values that my mother installed in me at a young age, as they are always going the extra mile to pay it forward to pediatric cancer patients and their families. The world is a better place with the people at Hope & Heroes, and I can only hope that I can one day give to them as much as they have given to me, my family, and so many other lives that I know they have touched.