Helping Those in the Midst of the Battle
Every 30 seconds in the U.S. someone is diagnosed with cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, that’s more than 1.2 million Americans each year whose lives are suddenly changed by an emotionally staggering and an expensive disease. Even with insurance, co-pays and co-insurance can be financially overwhelming, not to mention the potential income loss if someone needs to take time off work for treatment, or even loses their job.
Last November, 29-year-old Brittany Gill was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cervical cancer. A wife, mother, and avid CrossFitter, Brittany and her husband, Matthew, learned first-hand the profound impact financial support can make for those battling cancer. Before they were even able to comprehend the extent to which their lives had changed, their CrossFit community in Salem had organized a fundraiser to help with medical and living expenses. From that experience, the couple decided to start a non-profit organization to financially support, inspire and empower people diagnosed with cancer who are currently undergoing treatment.
Even as Brittany so determinedly fought cancer, she threw everything she had into getting Everyday Warrior off the ground. The non-profit was officially launched in August during the Oregon Summer Games in Bend.
Volunteer run, all the money raised goes directly to help people fighting cancer so they can focus on healing rather than be faced with a financial burden.
“We will always be committed to making sure the money we raise goes toward our mission,” Matthew said.
When Brittany died in September, Everyday Warrior suffered a huge loss but her legacy lives on.
“Her zest for life, her passion to live, was unparalleled,” said Matthew. “It’s (Everyday Warrior) my life’s mission now. Part of it is about Brittany, but it was always bigger than that. We want to make sure this organization moves beyond her passing.”
Its major fundraiser is known as the Battle Series, a four-week online competition in November where people agree to participate in one workout a week over four weeks to show their support for those fighting cancer.
Over 3,000 people signed up this year, with $110,000 raised, and Everyday Warrior is also launching a merchandise line to support its fundraising efforts.
“Our goal is, if you can’t work, don’t work. Invest your time in family and beating this disease,” Matthew explained.
To receive financial support, people must be undergoing treatment for cancer, be a CrossFitter or have an immediate family member who is a CrossFitter, be experiencing financial hardship, and ideally display the Everyday Warrior determination, passion and courage that Brittany modeled.
“We deal with it, with the suffering; we get stronger, until it isn’t that heavy anymore.” Brittany wrote in her last blog post.
Besides its fundraising efforts, Everyday Warriors plans to help people share their stories through short documentaries, and eventually support those who are fighting other diseases.
“Our biggest dream is to help all kinds of athletes (not just CrossFitters), anyone with a warrior mentality (fighting a disease),” Matthew said.
Those who knew Brittany knew her to be a passionate and talented athlete; strong on the outside but even stronger on the inside. And yet, Brittany’s real strength came from knowing what to put first.
“At the end of the day I just want to be a mom to my son, a wife to my husband, a daughter to my parents, a sister, a friend,” Brittany wrote in a blog post at the end of May. “I want to bring more joy and happiness than I take, I want to give more than I receive.”
Give more than she received is exactly what Brittany did. And through Everyday Warrior, she will keep doing it.
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Joanne can be reached at [email protected].