Here’s the thing. When you get cancer as a young adult, you’re either going to end up with a bunch of teddy bears on a kid’s ward, or be surrounded by a bunch of old people who, unlike you, were going to die soon anyhow. Getting diagnosed with cancer at age 20 or 30 just totally, massively sucks. And unfortunately, 70,000 young adults get that bad news every year; theirs is the fast-growing, least-responsive-to-cure demographic in the population.
Well, ten years ago, world freestyle kayaking medalist/maniac Brad Ludden decided to take his incredible gift for adrenalin-drenched sport and kick it into high gear on behalf of those underserved folks. His charity, First Descents, offers young adults with cancer a free one-week adventure (white water kayaking, rock-climbing or mountaineering) where they can hang with people their own age who are going through the same cancer crap, be outdoors, have some fun, and reconnect with their own inner warrior.
To date, Ludden has brought more than 675 young adults, in remission to Phase 4 cancer, to 45 camps in Montana, Utah and Colorado, literally changing their lives. And he’s inspired other young athletes like Ryan Sutter to join Team FD and go to the wall to raise money for First Descents.
Sutter’s 10-10-10 Challenge involves him running 10 insanely demanding races to inspire 10,000 people to give $10 each … to celebrate the 10th anniversary of First Descents. To meet that goal, Sutter is training 700 hours, traveling 8500 miles, and climbing the equivalent of Mt. Everest 4 times this year – and inspiring other Colorado fitness nuts to do stuff like the Triple Bypass (a 120-mile bike race from Evergreen to Avon across 3 mountain passes: Squaw, at 11,140 ft.; Loveland at 11,990; and Vail at 10,560).
It’s all in the name of raising money to send young adults facing tremendous adversity to a camp named after the 100 rivers that Brad Ludden paddled down first, before anybody else believed it could be done. I love this organization so much, I can’t stand it – because it’s got all my favorite things: Colorado. Compassion. Creativity. Humor. And people willing to go to crazy insane lengths to help others.
And if you can’t get behind that, maybe you should check your own pulse! Today I’m giving $100 and asking you to forward this to 10 folks you know and see if we can’t get some What Gives traction behind this, with $10 donations that can add up to something powerful. And quite possibly, kick cancer’s ass.
To donate, click here! Or to start your own Team FD, take on an outdoor challenge, and raise some $$ for First Descents, click here!
Thank you so much for this amazing article, Betty! We are honored to be featured on What Gives 365! Such an incredible thing you’ve created. Thank you for shining the light our way!
Yes, actually i would Betty! What a great organization/article 🙂
Congratulations to First Descents on your 10th anniversary.
Thank you Betty for “WhatGives365”. How else would we ever hear about people like Brad Ludden and Ryan Sutter.
I returned to Ohio from FD Camp 45 this past Sunday and it is truely life changing. Cancer takes a lot of things away, FD gives it all back!
Thank you thank you thank you What Gives 365. This is one of the best written articles we’ve seen on First Descents.
Director of Marketing for First Descents