Professional Women Triathletes to Give back at Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon

COLUMBIA, MD – June 16, 2016 – The world’s first “female IRONMAN” won the title by default as she was the only woman in the race. That was 1979 and now there are more than 239,000 women participating in the sport of triathlon. The IRONMAN brand has been an inclusive ambassador of the sport since its beginning and has helped to propel the number of women participating in the sport through it’s Iron Girl brand. UCF Races, the organizer of the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon presented by ClearShark, is making plans to celebrate women in the sport even more at the 2016 event on August 7th.

In its 11th annual year, the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon presented by ClearShark, one of the largest women’s sprint triathlon events in the country, is inviting professionals to be a part of the race, but not actually race. There are no prize purses or elite waves here, just four women with a strong desire to give back to their hometown and women in the sport.

“One goal of integrating professional and elite women triathletes into the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon weekend is to enhance the participant experience by adding events, training opportunities and advice from experts, “ said Erica Johnson, UCF Races Co-Race Director. “But our biggest goal is to further the prominence of women in the sport and all of these women are the type of women we want to expose our participants to, both on and off the course.”

The four women committed to participating in the weekend’s events include; 20-time Ironman Finisher, Alyssa Godesky; recent pro-card holder and medical student, Emily Sherrard; local elite triathlete, Howard County School Teacher and former Iron Girl Columbia Champion, Suzy Serpico and former USA Triathlon Athlete of the Year and Columbia Triathlon course record holder, Bec Wassner, who also has close ties with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, the beneficiary of this event.

“This initiative struck a chord with me immediately,” said professional triathlete, coach and 20-time Ironman Finisher, Alyssa Godesky. “I’m passionate about propelling women already in the sport and inspiring others to get involved. This hits close to home for me.”

Along with Alyssa, participants will have the chance to meet and interact with Emily Sherrard who is recent medical school graduate, deferring her residency to pursue her dream of professionally competing in triathlons, Bec Wassner who is recently a mother of two and is now balancing a family with training and Suzy Serpico who is a full-time teacher and running her own training business while not sacrificing her own training. These testimonials of passion, perseverance and balance are all stories that women need and want to hear, and now they’ll get to right here at a local event.

A highlight event of the weekend will be a shakeout run with Bec Wassner in Centennial Park on Saturday, August 6. Other events include a panel discussion and an opportunity for autographs and one-on-one tips. In addition, all four women will be present on race day, August 7, 2016, not racing, but cheering on the more than 1500 women participating in the day’s sprint triathlon.

To learn more about all of the weekend’s events or register, visit www.ulmanfund.org/irongirl. Registration for the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon presented by ClearShark will be open through July 22, 2016.

About the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults & UCF Races

The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (ulmanfund.org) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that changes lives by creating a community of support for young adults and their loved ones impacted by cancer. Founded in 1997, the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults works at both the local and national level to ensure that all young adults impacted by cancer have a voice and the necessary resources to thrive.
UCF Races was established in 2010 to further the mission of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. UCF Races produces first class endurance events that enrich the community, celebrate the achievements of every participant and ultimately spread awareness of the young adult cancer fight.

No One Fights Alone!

If you are a caregiver of a young adult with cancer, you are a critical part of a young adult’s cancer journey. Whether you are a parent, partner or friend of a loved one with cancer, your role in the life of a young adult with cancer cannot be overlooked. In many cases, it is your tireless support that makes it possible that a young adult with cancer receives treatment and is able to manage the emotional highs and lows that a cancer diagnosis inevitably brings with it. Remember that as a caregiver of a young adult with cancer, you are not alone. Be sure to take time to honor and embrace yourself as part of the celebration of Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week!

If you or a loved one impacted by cancer need support, we’re here to help. Please reach out to cmiller@ulmanfund.org.

Fight for Fertility Preservation, Family Building and the Future

When I first began my work serving young adults living with cancer over a decade ago, getting providers to talk to young people about their future fertility, or lack of it, really was a genuine fight! Oncologists focused on saving their patient’s life or preserving it with real quality for as long as possible, were hesitant to delay treatment. Nurses, social workers and case managers, didn’t always know who to contact to help navigate the complex world of fertility preservation.

Today many of the professional organizations that the medical team members belong to endorse a direct and systematic approach to oncofertility. See below:

http://www.cancer.net/research-and-advocacy/asco-care-and-treatment-recommendations-patients/fertility-preservation

https://cjon.ons.org/cjon/20/1/fertility-preservation-cancer-treatment-options-strategies-and-resources

There are wonderful organizations focused on fertility preservation and family building through education, advocacy and grant funding. See below:

http://www.livestrong.org/we-can-help/fertility-services/

http://oncofertility.northwestern.edu/

http://www.fertileaction.org/

https://oncofertility.northwestern.edu/files/documents/cancer-friendly-adoption-agencies

 

Family Building Support

 

Fertility preservation before cancer treatment is about something much greater than freezing sperm and harvesting eggs. What we are offering is hope for survival and for the future. For some patients this hope will not include carrying their own child or having a child that is completely genetically related to them and their partner. For some this hope will come through adoption. For others it will come from a traditional pregnancy. For others, a decision to not become a parent but to focus their energy on nieces and nephews, god children or the students on their classroom, will be the way they realize this hope.

At the Ulman Cancer Fund all of our Patient Navigators are trained to assist young adults through the fertility preservation and family building process. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions, cmiller@ulmanfund.org or 410-964-0202 ext. 106

By Elizabeth Saylor, Young Adult Patient Navigator, University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center

Fight to Understand Post-Traumatic Growth

Post-traumatic growth experienced by young adult cancer patients is a topic worth talking about.

The literature in the link below reveals there are some aspects of a cancer patient’s life that may be enhanced by their cancer experience. Young adult cancer survivors often report stronger interpersonal relationships with family and friends with whom they closely shared their cancer experience. Additionally, the young adult cancer survivors report feeling more compassion for others who have suffered similar or other types of physical or emotional pain.

Read more here- http://www.simmsmanncenter.ucla.edu/index.php/resources/articles-from-the-director/finding-benefit-post-traumatic-growth-and-cancer/

By Sharon Curran, Young Adult Patient Navigator, GBMC

 

Knockout the Feeling of Social Isolation

When adolescents and young adults (AYAs) are admitted to the hospital for extended periods of time, they often feel isolated and disconnected from their peers. While inpatient for treatment, AYAs can miss out on events like prom, graduation, weddings, and other group gatherings that are considered major life milestones. Social media has made it possible to see, and even participate in, what friends and family are doing outside of the hospital. Occasionally, that can make the feeling of isolation greater. Social isolation includes more than missing out on activities. Teens and young adults can also feel socially isolated by the lack of independence that often accompanies a cancer diagnosis. While their peers are leaving the nest and starting careers, AYAs may need to move back home for more support and care. In addition, teens and young adults don’t always know what to say to their friends battling an illness. Sometimes, they say nothing and friendships can suffer. Body image challenges, such as ports or bald heads, can make people anxious about going out in public and attending social events.

The important thing to remember during the whirlwind of cancer treatment is that no two stories are exactly the same, and your cancer experience is just another piece of the puzzle that makes you unique. Adolescents and young adults, with a cancer diagnosis or without, are in a phase of transition and are usually unsure about the next steps in life. Unquestionably, a cancer diagnosis makes this phase of life more difficult. BUT REMEMBER: in the end, everyone this age is faking it and no one knows what they are doing.

Cards for when you don’t know what to say to your friend with cancer:
http://www.boredpanda.com/empathy-cards-cancer-postcards-serious-illness-emily-

Where to purchase trendy beanies: http://www.loveyourmelon.com/

“Psychosocial Aspects of Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment”: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK179872/

Life With Cancer Young Adult Support: https://www.lifewithcancer.org/young_adults.php

Stupid Cancer (online community of support): http://stupidcancer.org/

By Allie Isaacson, Young Adult Patient Navigator, Children’s National Medical Center

Fight to Become Your Own Champion- Self Advocate!

No matter where you might be in your cancer experience, newly diagnosed or 10-year survivor, self-advocacy is important!  When you are a proactive and educated patient, you can influence the quality of your life and the care you receive.  In a situation where you often feel a loss of control, advocacy can give you stability and a feeling of regaining some of that control.

Some of the things you might do include:

-Researching your disease and the treatments available

-Using reputable and reliable sources for the information you seek

-Ensuring that you understand the stage and/or grade of your cancer, as well as the impacts of treatment

-Writing out questions in advance of medical appointments (and having a family member or friend take notes, while you listen)

-Understanding your insurance coverage and how premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurances work

-Deciding if you’d like to seek a second opinion and if so, pursuing that option

-Connecting with other patients and survivors – online, at conferences, in support groups, etc.

-Creating or updating your advanced directives, power of attorney, and/or wills

Self-advocacy requires that you participate in the decision-making processes related to your care.  However, if you’re not able to fully participate or you prefer it, self-advocacy can also mean selecting a ‘team captain’ from your support network.  Advocating for yourself can often transform feelings of hopelessness and helplessness into those of hope and control.

For more information, check out:

http://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/managing-your-care/taking-charge-your-care

http://www.canceradvocacy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Self_Advocacy.pdf

By: Meghan Fitzgibbons, Young Adult Patient Navigator at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

ClearShark Named Presenting Sponsor of 2016 Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon

ClearShark Named Presenting Sponsor of 2016 Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon in Partnership with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults

COLUMBIA, MD – March 16, 2016 – The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults is proud to announce an official partnership with IT Solutions Provider, ClearShark, which includes the presenting sponsorship of the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon to take place on August 7, 2016. In addition to presenting sponsor of the August event, ClearShark will also be a featured sponsor of the Columbia Triathlon on May 15, 2016; both triathlons are organized by and benefit the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Committed to supporting the local community and particularly organizations in the cancer space, ClearShark first reached out to the Ulman Cancer Fund in the fall of 2015 and the relationship has since developed into a formal partnership.

Named the best women’s event in the Mid-Atlantic, 2016 marks the 11th year of the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon, a widely popular, sprint distance race, held in Centennial Park. This inspirational event is about empowering women toward a healthy lifestyle, and celebrating each woman’s unique journey toward the finish line. The addition of ClearShark as the presenting sponsor will increase on-course support and enhance the overall race day experience for participants.

ClearShark avidly supports local community events and activities, and it is an organizational priority to donate to local charities such as the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Becoming the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon official presenting sponsor is the most recent activity in a series of engagements in which the two organizations have joined together. In November of 2015, ClearShark participated in the Across the Bay 10K, the company’s mascot ran to raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund, donating $2 for every runner the mascot passed. ClearShark donated $5,000 as a result of this effort. Since then, staff members of the Ulman Cancer Fund have shared ways the organization changes the lives of young adults impacted by cancer with ClearShark employees and provided them the opportunity to put together chemo care bags for patients currently in treatment.

“The Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon is an inspiring event that empowers women athletes and promotes a healthy lifestyle, something we’re thrilled to be a part of,” said Brittany Wilson, Marketing Manager for ClearShark. “We’re looking forward to having employees participate in the race in addition to motivating athletes throughout the day.”

“Receiving support from ClearShark at this level is exciting for our entire organization and will directly benefit not only the athletes participating in our two triathlon events this year, but on a greater scale, will benefit the young adults and families we work with,” said Brian Satola, Chief Operating Officer of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

Registration for the 2016 Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon presented by ClearShark is open online at www.ulmanfund.org/ucfraces through July 22, 2016. All proceeds from the race benefit the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

About the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults & UCF Races
The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (ulmanfund.org) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that changes lives by creating a community of support for young adults and their loved ones impacted by cancer. Founded in 1997, the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults works at both the local and national level to ensure that all young adults impacted by cancer have a voice and the necessary resources to thrive.

UCF Races was established in 2010 to further the mission of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. UCF Races organizes the Columbia Triathlon and Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon, first class endurance events that enrich the community, celebrate the achievements of every participant and ultimately spread awareness of the young adult cancer fight.

About ClearShark
ClearShark (clearshark.com) is an IT Solutions Provider and a 2014 and 2015 Inc. 5000 company based in Hanover, Maryland. ClearShark is a team of highly experienced sales professionals who provide their expertise to deliver the best overall enterprise storage, cyber security, virtualization, high performance computing, datacenter and cloud infrastructure solutions to the federal government. ClearShark’s award-winning partnerships with industry-leading innovators ensure that their customers receive the ideal combination of products and services to exceed their mission and goals.

 

Ulman Cancer Fund to Build First-of-its-Kind House in East Baltimore

Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults to build first-of-its-kind house in East Baltimore for young adult cancer patients and families
House announcement accompanied by launch of a $3 Million Capital Campaign


BALTIMORE, MD – February 3, 2016Among an audience of more than 700 supporters, patients and corporate partners at the organization’s annual Blue Jeans & Bowties Ball, the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (UCF) announced the official launch of a $3 Million Capital Campaign and the organization’s biggest project to date – building The UCF House. The Campaign is the most ambitious fundraising initiative in the Ulman Cancer Fund’s 18-year history and includes a priority to serve an unmet need of patients in the community, providing free housing for young adult cancer patients and their families while receiving treatment in Baltimore.

“Young adult patients age out of many other facilities or don’t find critical peer support at non-age specific facilities. With treatment protocols that require them to stay near hospitals for long periods of time, housing can be crippling financially and prevents some young adults from receiving treatment at top-notch Baltimore hospitals,” said Brock Yetso, President & CEO of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. “Our organization exists to remove barriers and drive change – for years we’ve wanted to make this home away from home for young adult cancer patients and their families a reality, and now it is becoming one.”

Through a strategic collaboration with East Baltimore Development, Inc. (EBDI) UCF was able to acquire four attached row homes on East Madison Street, just north of the Johns Hopkins Hospital campus. “We’ve been welcomed into the community by EBDI and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the neighborhood’s transformation,” said Yetso.  UCF also has the support of District 45 legislators, Senator Nathaniel J. McFadden and Delegate Cory V. McCray, who are sponsoring a bond bill requesting funds for the project.  “Fostering relationships between the public and private sectors is key to addressing challenges in our city, and I am encouraged and inspired by UCF’s interest in helping to strengthen our community,” commented Delegate McCray.

Visioning sessions with medical professionals, patients, and caregivers, and planning meetings with architects and builders led to the design of a unique, comfortable, supportive, and empowering space that will include eight family suites, a gym/wellness space, a relaxation space, resource library, outdoor space in the forms of a backyard and a rooftop deck.  The UCF House will be conveniently located within blocks of Johns Hopkins and a short distance to other downtown Baltimore cancer centers.

Dr. Kenneth Cooke, Director of Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, works closely with young adult cancer patients and is supportive of UCF’s efforts to open The UCF House.  “Young adults fighting cancer face real challenges when it comes to finding affordable housing during treatment, in particular when they have to stay within a few miles of the hospital for 100 days after a bone marrow transplant.  The UCF House will meet this need and offer a place where young adults can find much needed peer support and a sense of community.”

The House will cost approximately $1 Million to build and open, and $200,000 to operate each year. UCF has embarked on a Capital Campaign to raise $3 Million with three priorities – to build the House and raise funds to operate it for the first three years, grow the organization’s endowment, and enhance existing programming for young adults and families impacted by cancer.

At the time of this announcement, the organization has reached two-thirds of the campaign goal during a “quiet phase” thanks to generous lead gifts from The Kirk Family Foundation, The Geaton and JoAnn DeCesaris Foundation, The Bradley T. MacDonald Family Foundation, and The Family of Jamie L. Roberts. Every UCF staff member has made a personal contribution to the Campaign, with total staff giving exceeding $100,000.  At the event Saturday night, when the Campaign was officially launched, an inspired audience made gifts totaling over $100,000 towards the Campaign.  The event raised well over $300,000 in proceeds.

The UCF House is expected to break ground before the close of the first quarter with a projected completion date before the end of the year.  The Capital Campaign is now public and every dollar donated will help change a life. About her family’s gift, Kellie MacDonald shared, “As a family that has personally been impacted by cancer and benefited from the great work of the Ulman Cancer Fund, we’re thrilled to support this Campaign and The UCF House.  We have a rare opportunity to be involved in a labor of love to improve our city and change the face of cancer care for young adults in Maryland. Together we can make a difference now, and I encourage others to consider joining us as we bring support and hope to patients and families fighting cancer here in Baltimore.”

To learn more about how you can make an impact, please visit www.ulmancancerfund.org/theucfhouse or contact UCF’s Development Director, Shara Boonshaft, at (410) 964-0202 x112 or shara@ulmanfund.org.

5 Questions with a 15 Time-Marathoner

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Team Fight member, Toks Fashola, will be participating in her 15th Baltimore Marathon this weekend at the Baltimore Running Festival! She is one of 30 individuals who have participated in every Baltimore Marathon to date, so we wanted to take a few minutes to recognize her for this great accomplishment and learn a few things about her as well!

1.What’s your favorite part of the Baltimore Running Festival? 

My favorite part is running in West Baltimore, around Lexington Market. I usually buy my Fish at Faidley’s and they come out and encourage us when the race begins.  When I come by towards the end,  I know that I am very close to the finish line.  :-), and that is GOOD!!!

2. Why do you participate in Team Fight? How has it become important to you? 

After my first year, Team Fight began to volunteer with Hope Lodge, I also visited some patients in the hospital, and I got to know a lot of the Team Fighters.  It is important because Cancer is a vicious disease.   Team Fight helps to keep me grounded, and it helps me to remain grateful and thankful for life and for being cancer free, even when I am upset.  The different endurance exercises that we go through in Team Fight practice are steps taken in the direction of the fight against cancer.  I know where my money is going.

3. What motivates you to keep moving after all of these years? 

No matter how difficult the event, and no matter how much the pain, I realize that it is still easier than fighting cancer. I remember boohooing when I received one of the volunteer of the year awards.  It really meant a lot to me, because that year we lost three young adults, and we visited them either at Hope Lodge or in the Hospital.  This year, the memories of Anthony BigSixthree Harvin, Dale Sanders, Nicholas O., and Troy Lewis are motivating me.  Also, the continuous fights of TJ Rufty and Darrel Henry (to name a few) will keep me moving.  And the lovely darling children from Ronald McDonald House.

4. How long do you think you’ll keep your Baltimore Marathon streak going? 

Maybe another ten years or longer?  At least until I am no longer able to run the Marathon, then I will run in other races, and I will continue to volunteer.

5.What tips do you have for people considering signing up for a marathon or other challenging endurance event? 

Just do it.  The pain that you go through during your training is a kick in the face to cancer and other debilitating diseases.  Someone will always say thank you.

Learn more about Team Fight and how you can help support the mission of the Ulman Cancer Fund by training for and participating in any fitness activity or endurance event  – anywhere in the world!

Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon to Host First Disabled Woman Triathlete

On Sunday, August 16, 2015 approximately 1800 women, ranging in age from 13 to 80, will participate in the 10th Annual Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon. Among those women will be Columbia, Maryland’s very own Defu Fekadu, the first disabled woman triathlete to participate in this race.

A Columbia, Maryland staple and an introductory triathlon for many women in the area, the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon is an inspiring women’s event on many levels, but getting a glimpse of Defu and her team at this year’s race is sure to be the most inspiring sight to see. Defu will be supported by a team of women from Athletes Serving Athletes, a non-profit organization that empowers athletes living with disabilities to train and compete in mainstream running and triathlon events. Athletes Serving Athletes (ASA) provides the assistance of able-bodied volunteers termed “Wingmen” and Defu will not only be the first disabled woman to participate in this event, but ASA will also provide for the first time, a complete team of women “Wingmen” to support her along the way.

The team consists of swimmer, Aleah Zinalabedini; biker, Melinda Peters and runner, Kerry Blackmer who will all work together with the help of their team leader, Jennifer Roussillon to assist Defu across the Iron Girl finish line. When asked about Defu and the experience so far, the ASA Wingmen each have an empowering and inspiring story of their own to share.

“Defu told me that ASA has given her a voice,” said Melinda Peters, biker wingman. “I think she is brave, not only for competing in this race but for constantly motivating and teaching others that they too can do anything they put their mind to.”

“I’m truly honored that Defu and ASA are giving me the opportunity to swim with her in this year’s Iron Girl,” said Aleah Zinalabedini, swimmer wingman. “I am consistently inspired by her beautiful smile, incredible outlook on life and ability to work through her fears with grace.”

“I’ll never forget the first time I met Defu,” said Kerry Blackmer, runner wingman. “I’m not sure that I realized then the profound impact Athletes Serving Athletes and Defu would have on my life.”

It is easy to get caught up in medals, times, awards and personal records in a race like the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon. Team Defu stands as a reminder that this race means so much more than that. This race, and anything like it that is a true test of physical strength and mental endurance, is about empowerment and finding the courage to do something that might seem impossible.

“Just like any athlete, Defu, has been training for Iron Girl. She has gone outside of her comfort zone and continues to push forward,” said Jennifer Roussillon, team leader. “Simply put, Defu is the epitome of what it means to be an Iron Girl, and I am honored and humbled to be on this journey with her.”

The 10 Year Anniversary of the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon will take place on Sunday, August 16, 2015 in and around Centennial Park in Columbia, Maryland. The race will start with the swim portion at approximately 6:50 a.m. and continue through the late morning. For more details on the event and to view results after the event, visit www.ulmanfund.org/ucfraces/ .
About the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults & UCF Races

The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (ulmanfund.org) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that changes lives by creating a community of support for young adults and their loved ones impacted by cancer. Founded in 1997, the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults works at both the local and national level to ensure that all young adults impacted by cancer have a voice and the necessary resources to thrive.
UCF Races was established in 2010 to further the mission of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. UCF Races produces first class endurance events that enrich the community, celebrate the achievements of every participant and ultimately spread awareness of the young adult cancer fight.

 

About Athletes Serving Athletes

Athletes Serving Athletes (ASA) is a non-profit organization located in Maryland that empowers athletes living with disabilities to train and compete in mainstream running and triathlon events. Most ASA athletes have very limited to no mobility and compete with the assistance of able-bodied volunteers termed “Wingmen” (men and women, young and old, fast and slow). ASA offers innovative athletic training, supportive mentor relationships, and high quality endurance events for athletes living with disabilities – all of which are free of charge to the individuals and families served. To support or learn more about ASA please visit: www.athletesservingathletes.org