Success is Measured by the Impact We Make
In July 2016, when I was 16 years old, I learned I had an advanced form of brain cancer. I had no idea all the ways my life would change. Facing many medical procedures, including both brain surgery and eye surgery, losing hearing as well as sight in one of my eyes, is not what I remember most about the months after I was diagnosed with anaplastic grade III ependymoma.
I remember the voluntary kindness of friends, families, neighbors, and even strangers showed me and how it helped me find my voice, to share my story and speak out. The coming together of so many different people, all with the same goal of showing support, transformed my perspective on life, and inspired me to pay it forward.
In 2016, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted me a wish, I decided to transform my high school weight room.
Before I was diagnosed with a life-threatening terminal illness, I fought every day of my life to find peace and strength to face my painful past, due to being a victim of child abuse and bullying. I started to transform my mind and body by going to the gym to create and focus on the best version of me. The gym allowed me to shut out all the noise in my life which eventually led to finding my voice, from the help and support of my community.
Little did I realize at the time I was granted a wish and chose my wish, but just like any organization, Make a Wish had a budget per child, my wish unfortunately far exceeded Make a Wish’s budget. In 2016, I successfully launched the T.E.K. Foundation CC, Inc. The T.E.K. Foundation CC, Inc. dba Give a Child a Voice is a 501(c)3 organization working to educate children and adults about the importance of a child's voice and encourages children to speak out when faced with difficult circumstances. We are working toward putting an end to bullying, child abuse, and life-threatening childhood illnesses.
My foundation and I plan to continue to create and build resources for students, parents, educators, and communities throughout the country, so children (our future leaders) may be the best version of themselves.
Give a Child a Voice Fitness Centers
With the help of Make a Wish, Poole Anderson Construction, and many sponsors, donors, and volunteers, together we successful completed my initial wish at Millersburg Area High School. The Give a Child a Voice Fitness Center Vol. 1 was born.
Why stop at one gym? My foundation team and I decided to refurbish the gym at my rival high school - the Give a Child a Voice Fitness Center Vol. 2. Seeing the immense positive impact my foundation is having on other people’s lives is the most rewarding gift I could ever receive.
Today, after four brain surgeries, three rounds of radiation, and one round of chemo, as I battle complications - the doctors recently informed me I only have a few months left to live. Despite the circumstances, with the impending weeks I have left, I launched the Give a Child a Voice National Fitness Center Vol. 3 Give-A-Way.
The Give a Child a Voice Fitness Center Give-A-Way is my latest, and likely last, charitable project. The contest encourages students, faculty, and community members to nominate their school for a chance at winning a complete revamping of the school’s weight room. The goal is to raise $300,000 that will go toward this gym renovation, with the winner being announced in January 2020. We are currently seeking gym equipment, supplies, as well as sponsors and monetary donations.
Join the Give a Child a Voice Movement so my legacy may live on and we may help children throughout the country. Together, we will ensure children will become the authors of their stories - not our abusers, not our bullies, and not our life-threatening illnesses. Remember it is more painful to be silent than to break the silence.