Saturday, March 8, 2014

We Will Find A Cure

I really should have titled this post, 'Staring Fear in the Face', because fear has been trying to block my path on many levels in recent weeks.  On September 7, 2013 I was in an accident while on a training ride.  While cycling 20+ mph a guy opened his door without looking and that brief mistake on his part has really impacted my life.  I had a big 2014 planned.  I was going to do the AR50, I was signed up for the AC100 and I planned to go sub 11:30 in a yet to be determined ironman distance triathlon. September 7th changed all of that.  Initially it was just tremendous pain in my left arm and shoulder but an odd popping in my knee I thought would pass turned out to be two tears in the meniscus of my right knee.  I have been going to physical therapy for months....first for the shoulder which is about 85% at this point and then for the knee.  I hoped PT would solve the issue but recently had to face reality that surgery was necessary.  On April 2, 2014 I will have surgery and I can only hope I one day get to run the streets and the trails again.  Running is a part of me.  I cannot imagine life without it.  That is fear #1.

Fear #2 ties to what this post is really about.  I was asked to participate in the 2014 Man & Woman of the Year campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  It is an intense 10 week campaign to raise as much money as possible to find a cure for cancer.  Technically it is a competition but in my eyes we are all competing against cancer.  If I win, that is a bonus but it is not the goal.  I hope some team comes in here and raises $1 million because that gets us closer to a cure.

I have many reasons not to join this campaign.

  • Work comes first because family comes first and my family needs me to be successful in my career.  Work is intense right now.  I am working 70 hours per week and losing ground.  It is fun and exciting though so I am not is just a reason I should run the other direction.  
  • My family is moving into a new house which is amazing but time consuming.  
  • My kids started baseball and being there for them is important to me.  
  • Oh yeah.....I am having surgery on April 2nd.....I keep forgetting about that.  Crutches for 3 weeks is not ideal.
While all of those are reasons to pass on this opportunity, they are not really a part of fear #2.  This fear ties to failing.  I lost my Dad, I lost my daughter Isabella and I watched my wife fight cancer twice.  From that came a life of endurance sports where I have raised $135,000 towards finding a cure.  I am proud of that.  That money honors promises I made to my Dad and daughter and wife.  I am also very proud of what I have accomplished as a coach for Team in Training.  I have been a marathon coach for them for many years/seasons.  I have coached hundreds, if not thousands, of amazing people across the half and full marathon finish lines.  While training for those finish lines, these very same people have raised millions of dollars to help fight cancer.  After crossing the finish lines, many of these same people went on to run more marathons and compete in triathlons and ultra distance races.  It is my legacy.  I have been a small part of building a big army of #BeatCancer warriors.

If I were hit by a bus tomorrow, I would go out on top having been successful.  That is where fear #2 comes in.  If I choose to participate in this campaign, I could fail. I could do poorly and my fear is that takes away from all the good I have done.  People won't remember the $135,000 I did raise....they will remember me for a weak performance as it pertains to Man & Woman of the Year. It may sound silly but this fear is very real and it is exactly why I committed to this campaign.

As a coach and as a Dad I always try to teach that you have to stare fear in the face and shove it aside.  How could I possibly stand behind this lesson if I didn't practice it in my own life.  I am afraid. I am not ashamed to say it.  I, Christopher Wilno, am afraid of failing. That is why I must do this.

So........I reached out to some friends I mainly have met through Team in Training as a coach and together we are going to do our very best to raise a lot of money.  We are calling this campaign We Will Find a Cure.  It is appropriate because my story led me to the doorstep of this campaign but this is about the millions touched by cancer.  It is not about 'me' it is about 'we'.  We have all had cancer affect our lives.  We all have within us the power to accomplish anything. We all have within us the power to change the world.  If we all team up together as one, we have the power to end cancer.

We have set a lofty goal of raising $250,000 in the 10 week period beginning March 22nd and ending May 31st.  I will breathe easy once we clear $50K because the ultimate goal here is to fund a research grant.  At $50,000, my Dad's name goes on the $100,000 my daughter Isabella's name goes on the grant and at $150,000 my wife's name goes on the grant.  Do I need a trophy at the end of this campaign.  Not at all.  A trophy will not bring back my father.  What I want is a grant that leads to a cure.  What I want is to exit this 10 week campaign able to look up at the sky to my father and daughter and know they were proud of my effort.  This is where we need your help.  Of course, we could use your financial support and beginning March 22nd you are welcome to donate at the We Will Find a Cure donation page.  On March 22nd we will also launch our website at  You can keep up with all we are doing by visiting the site.  We also have a Facebook page where you can join us for the journey.

Beyond a financial donation, there are many other ways to help as follows:

  • Spread the word!! The more you share our story the more likely we will hit our goal.
  • Corporate sponsorships: there are many benefits to companies that sponsor this mission. If you know any companies that might be interested, please help us get in front of them.
  • Auction items: we are trying to secure items we can auction at Charity Buzz.  If you know of any cool prizes, please let us know.  If you know celebrities that might be interested in our cause, please help us because meet and greets draw a lot of money.
  • Donation tins: If you frequent locations that would let us put up donation tins at the register, we would be grateful.  Cash can usually be matched so every penny counts.
  • T-shirts: we will be selling t-shirts that have our We Will Find a Cure logo on the front and our #BeatCancer logo on the back.
  • Have your own fundraising page: you can have your very own fundraising page that links to our team page.  Anyone that raises $250 gets a free t-shirt.  You can mail out your own letters, hold a yard sale, host restaurant fundraisers, etc, etc.
  • Virtual 5K/10K.  We will be holding a run in Los Angeles but going virtual as well.  More information is to come but your support would help get us closer to our goal.
There are many ways to join the movement but we need your help soon.  There is not time to sit on the sidelines and debate with yourself about whether to join us or not.  March 22nd is right around the corner.  The money cannot be raised until March 22nd and it all must post within the 10 week period so come join us.  We can stare fear in the face and not fail together!!!

Christopher D. Wilno

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