When my father was diagnosed with acute t-cell lymphoblastic leukemia, he made it a priority to not get hung up on the details. Having to endure radiation treatments and chemotherapy sessions was just another obstacle to overcome. Being given a five percent survival rate was just a number. But most importantly, the only detail he focused on was the future, because as my father was diagnosed with leukemia my mother was five months pregnant with me. My father knew he could not leave my mother and me alone in a world that is extremely difficult for single mothers. This thought is what motivated him through the difficult times, when he was too weak to even get out of bed. But after forty-five radiation treatments and five years of chemotherapy he was finally in remission for good, and his experiences with cancer constantly remind me of the importance of family. He showed me that in the face of adversity, it is those who are closest to us that keep us motivated, even when we have to go up against terrifying odds.
My father’s experience with cancer had a large impact on my view towards family, but I believe it also helped me form and improve on my leadership abilities. This is best exemplified by my experience with the Relay For Life fundraiser, the largest fundraising event that The American Cancer Society hosts. Twenty one years after my father’s diagnosis of cancer and during my junior year of college I decided to start a Relay For Life team. Because I had no prior experience in leading a fundraising team I knew I would have to learn on the go. I initially tried to motivate my team by showing them my own fundraising abilities. I focused on raising as much money as I possibly could while giving updates to my team members on how much I raised. I accomplished this by reaching out to family and friends, informing them about how The American Cancer Society helps millions of people battle cancer.
While this tactic worked extremely well for me individually as I rose over $700 in the first month of the fundraising process, my team was not having the same success, as the remaining nine team members had only raised a combined $500 in the same time span. These results initially confused me. I was fifth individually in donations of the hundreds of people involved in the event, but as a whole my team was struggling with total donations. I felt like I was not getting the most out of my team, and that as a leader I was not succeeding. But after some time to review my team’s donations as well as a few conversations with team members I realized the problem. While I was able to have success in receiving donations from family members quite easily, my team members were not. Because my father, grandmother, cousin, and grandmother have all battled cancer, my family is extremely supportive financially of causes that benefit those who have to deal with the hardships of the disease. This was not the same with my team members, many of whom knew very little of cancer and knew no one personally who had to battle the disease.
In order to rectify this problem I knew I would have to show my teammates my passion for the cause of cancer research; simply telling them about it would not achieve the results I wanted. I had to involve them in the fundraising process and show them the importance of cancer research. To accomplish this, I encouraged my team to get more involved in the planning process of the Relay For Life event. I brought them with me to the team captain meetings where they learned various fundraising methods and became genuinely interested in the cause of cancer research. And after starting a fundraiser in the university dormitories where I collected money from eight change jars spread out through campus, I encouraged my team members to join me on the nightly donation collection process. While telling my team about the donation I received from my uncle did little to motivate them, bringing them with me on the nightly two mile journey through wind and snow showed them my determination and passion towards our Relay For Life team.
Looking back on my experience with the Relay For Life fundraiser, I know that I did many things well. I ended up finishing third individually in donations of the hundreds of people who were there that night, and my team finished in eighth place with over $1,800 in donations. While I initially struggled as a leader for my team, I was quick to make the proper adjustments necessary to get my team motivated and involved in the event. My experience with Relay For Life taught me many things about the intricacies of leadership, including when to change leadership styles and how to motivate your peers. But more important to me, the event brought me even closer to my father. While having to battle cancer is a horrific experience, Relay For Life showed me that together we can improve on cancer research and treatment. Because while twenty one years ago my father was given only a five percent chance of survival, similar patients today have nearly a fifty percent survival rate, and I know that this would not be possible without organizations like The American Cancer society and the people like my team members and I who help with the fundraising process.
Thanks for reading, all advice is appreciated.
(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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