This is my next post for my “why I climb” series, and is one of many reasons why I’m determined to climb Kilimanjaro with Survivor Summit to fight cancer…
Today I climb for Tere Holmes and the Cancer Support Community Central Texas organization.
I had the pleasure of meeting Tere in the spring of 2011, when I was the Texas 4000 for Cancer ATLAS Ride Volunteer Coordinator. She had contacted our organization offering to help, and I jumped at the opportunity to place her group at one of our Rest Stops along the 50 mile ride from Cedar Park to Lampasas, Texas. So, we scheduled a meeting not too far from the Texas 4000 offices at Panera, and I was ready to give her and her group’s co-founder, Kate Cleary, the lowdown on everything that I needed for their group of Rest Stop volunteers to do.
When I met Tere and Kate, I was instantly greeted with warmth and kindness, and a deep sense of compassion and understanding for the cause. And Tere had this unparalleled knack for reaching out to others and networking. I like to think of her as what Malcolm Gladwell might refer to as a “connector.” In his 2000 book The Tipping Point, Gladwell describes the connector as someone in a community who knows large numbers of people, and who is in the habit of making introductions—essentially, the social equivalent of a computer network hub. The fantastic thing about connectors is that they are truly amazing individuals who know people across an array of social, cultural, professional, and economic circles, and make a habit of introducing people who work or live in different circles for the benefit of a community. That’s Tere. She knows a lot of people, she is so kind to all of them, and she has a unique way of networking with others for a good cause.
This ability enabled Tere to serve as co-founder and Executive Director for Cancer Support Community of Central Texas, a 501(c)(3) partnership between the Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club which provides support for those facing a cancer diagnosis. Tere is not only a connector, but also a breast cancer survivor, so she understands on a firsthand basis the need for this type of support system in the central Texas region.
So, Tere rounded a group of volunteers to support one of rest stops at our ATLAS Ride. It was evident at our first meeting that I didn’t need to worry at all about coordinating her rest stop; she had absolutely everything covered, down to matching CSCCT t-shirts for her volunteers. I was so happy to have her group’s help, and excited to have made such a thoughtful connection within the cancer community.
Several weeks after the ATLAS Ride, I decided to return the favor and thank Tere for her work at ATLAS; I volunteered with Tere’s group at the Flatwater Foundation’s Dam That Cancer party, a 21 mile stand-up paddle boarding event that raises money and awareness for cancer. I had a great time volunteering and getting to know Tere further. In short, I left the event that day feeling truly blessed to have crossed paths with her.
Over this past year, Tere has worked to secure the official charter for the CSCCT, launched its web site and newsletter, and has helped lead the transition from a simple idea about helping others into a full-blown organization that actively serves the cancer community. Traveling tirelessly from one city to next to get the word out, Tere doesn’t seem to slow down, and because of that, I know that CSCCT is going to do great things for many years to come.
She’s a survivor, an inspiration, and now: a donor to my cause! Thanks, Tere!
I seriously couldn’t be more grateful to have her support, as well as a reason to keep climbing. I climb for Tere Holmes, the awesome work that she’s done with CSCCT so far, and all the great things she’ll do in the future for cancer survivors, too. When I meet someone new during my journey with Survivor Summit and when I’m heading to the top of Kilimanjaro, I’ll definitely be thinking of Tere’s story to keep propelling me forward.
And speaking of the word “forward,” I’m going to stress something that Tere makes a point of saying often: remember to pay it forward today.
So, get out there, meet someone new, and make a connection for positive change.