Thursday, April 30, 2009
This post is part of "Thankful Thursday" Go to JonnandKate's Blog. To get your own button and start your Thankful Thursday post today.
Ahhh yes, my weekly thankful thursday blog. This idea was started by my good friend Jonathan White, an amazing 15 year old battling brain cancer. You can check him out here
This week I am thankful for having met one of my best friends, Jonny Imerman. I am guessing most of you who read my blogs have heard of this fantastic organization called Imerman Angels. I met Jonny in late 2005 or early 2006. He showed up at my sister's fundraiser for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Immediately Jonny and I hit it off. At this point Imerman Angels was a very part time thing for Jonny, but he really believed in it as did I. Jonny and I bonded over many things and only realized a year later that we were both brothers in Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. He was a young adult cancer survivor. He had an amazing support system in place while he battled cancer as did I. Friends and family were abundant. The missing ingredient? The possibility of speaking to someone who had already endured what he had gone through. Nobody really understood what exactly our treatments entailed.
Personally, at the National Cancer Institute they had weekly support groups. In theory, this was a fantastic idea. We were all in clinical trials so we should have an immediate bond right? Not really as I was on the pediatric floor as an 18 year old and my meetings were with 8-18 year olds. Not a bad mix, but it seemed to me that each week, the meeting was less one person as someone lost their battle. I stopped going after 3 weeks. I needed positivity and I was not finding it here. I do not fault NCI, but I definitely needed something more. I needed hope and inspiration.
Fast forward to 2005/2006 and Jonny and I had the exact same experience. The love of family and friends was fantastic, but there was always something missing. That missing element was the ability to really bond with someone who knew about your mouth sores, your spinal taps, bed sores, nausea, inability to eat, loss of hair, having to have oatmeal baths cause of the sores on your bottom, and loss of energy. I could go on, but you get my point. A week after Jonny and I met, we had lunch at the Jefferson Tap in Chicago. This day changed my life forever. I really had the opportunity to get to know Jonny in a calm, quiet atmosphere and I realized at this moment, that I may have met the nicest, kindest, and most sincere person I had ever met. I know that when Jonny reads this he is going to laugh and probably call me a funny name, but he knows that I mean it. Jonny opened my eyes to the true meaning of altruism.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation has always said that Unity is Strength and Imerman Angels certainly embraces this concept. Where some non-profits shy away from working with other non-profits for fear of losing that fundraising dollar, Imerman Angels has not only accepted that, but embraced it. I truly believe that this is one of the reasons that we are so successful. Jonny would love for every non-profit to work in unison as would the Lance Armstrong Foundation; this is clearly not always the case in the non-profit world. In 2006, I was fortunate enough to have met Doug Ulman, then Chief Mission Officer of LAF and founder of the Ulman Cancer Fund, at a few LAF events and I immediately knew that I had to connect he and Jonny. The Lance Armstrong Foundation and Ulman Cancer Fund are amazing organizations that give back 100% to the cancer community. Doug, now CEO of LAF and Jonny immediately hit it off. Doug is a 3 time cancer survivor and he knows that Imerman Angels provides an amazing service. Our 5 year goal is for every survivor in the United States to have access to an Imerman Angel at diagnosis. Is this a lofty goal? Perhaps, but that is what goals are all about and I am confident that we will reach it. I have never been a part of an organization with more passion and fire than Imerman Angels and it all starts with the leader, Jonny Imerman.
Jonny is the type of friend who will bend over backwards for you and give up his last dollar if he can help you. He is truly a rare breed and I am more than honored to call him a friend. He is an example to us all. Everyone deals with a cancer diagnosis differently. Jonny grabbed the bull by the horns and made it his mission to make a difference in everyone's lives from day one. I can truly say that Jonny has made me a better person and made a difference in my life, I am guessing some of you can say the same. If not, pick up the phone and call him, then let me know. I guarantee you will walk away saying "wow"! Jonny just gets it, he has the compassion and smarts to realize that we all need someone to talk to. Jonny is truly one of a kind and I know this blog will make his bald head blush, but I am truly grateful to call him a friend and have him by my side. For more info, check out
Be Well, LiveSTRONG, and Keep Climbing!
Posted by Joe Schneider at 8:23 PM