Jeff Mader, CIO Sun Country and Craig Beason, Founder and CEO, Renodis created the Clays for a Cause event to bring together their passion for sporting clays, their IT communities, and their commitment to support the American Cancer Society. Intentionally held in October during Breast Cancer Awareness month, this event will support funding vital research in the area of breast cancer.
Unfortunately, Jeff and Craig are no strangers to cancer.
JEFF'S STORY (May 2020):
Early next month I will "celebrate" the two-year anniversary of my stage four cancer diagnosis. Six months earlier, I was diagnosed with stage 3 kidney cancer, but after a successful removal of the affected kidney I really thought cancer was in the rear-view mirror. In June 2018, during a routine scan, some little white dots appeared on the CT scan of my lungs. I wasn't sure what the doctor was showing me when looking at the scan results. The CT report indicated “several new bilateral lung nodules consistent with metastatic disease.” A week later a biopsy confirmed my worst fear: I was now a stage four cancer patient.
My doctor told me to stay away from the internet, which I did…for a couple hours and when I did my research, I found that the 5-year survival rate for stage 4 kidney cancer was 8%. It was clear my life was not going to progress the way I had always expected. I was crushed by the thoughts of all the things I wasn’t going to have time to do.
My family, friends, and relatives all rallied around me. A friend sent me a note with four simple points that have become the guideposts in my life. I hope they will mean as much to you as they have to me.
1. The story of your life isn’t finished being written until your life is over. This helped me realize that I still had some life ahead of me and I can add some good chapters to my life’s story.
2. You are the author of the story; others are just characters in it. It was up to me to decide on the content of the last chapters and I started to make deliberate choices about how I wanted my story to end.
3. Some of the best stories include people who overcame hardship. I started to think that maybe I can beat this or at least make sure my story is a long one.
4. Grow through and overcome obstacles and make a difference with those last chapters. I became determined to make a difference and help others in my situation. I was introduced to the American Cancer Society and have been a very active volunteer leader with that organization.
The mission of the American Cancer Society is to “Save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer.” The ACS supports people who are in the fight I am in and also provides significant funding for early stage new cancer treatments. I am hopeful that the ACS will help find a cure for my disease.
COVID-19 has decimated many of the ACS’s traditional funding activities and revenue is expected to fall by at least 35% this year. That means fewer patients and families helped and less research and development of new cancer cures. We must not let that happen. Please join me in writing a new chapter about how my friends and colleagues helped raised additional funds to fill this need. Thank you for your support.
"Everyone has a story of how cancer has affected them personally or someone close to them. My story started at the young age of five when a good friend of mine, who was the same age, was diagnosed with leukemia. Being so young, I didn't understand it other than to know he was really sick. Fortunately, he went into remission and beat it. Right after high school graduation, my grandmother was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and passed away in August of 1992 at the young age of 59. Fast forward to December of 2018, when a good friend of mine called me and told me something that I will remember forever. He said, "Craig no amount of money or success can fix your health if it fails". I had let bad habits over the years cause me to be 80+ pounds overweight. I went into my first executive physical at the Mayo Clinic in January of 2019 - and the results were humbling. I was on course to be a type II diabetic and in need of blood pressure and cholesterol medication. On January 7th of 2019, I decided to correct my course with diet and exercise by hiring a trainer and nutritionist. 19 months later, I am back on the road to living a healthy life. My Journey wasn't easy, but nowhere as difficult as fighting cancer or other health issues down the road. Now, I'm raising awareness and donations for the American Cancer Society by participating in the Fit2BeCancerFree CEO One-Day Step Challenge this past July and now co-chair for Clays for a Cause."