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by Eliot Barnhart   |   June 26, 2020

Staying Positive with ZERO’s Heroes

The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a cloud of uncertainty over people’s lives. Jobs have been lost, summer plans have been upended, and our health care system is being pushed to its limit. We at ZERO had to adapt quickly by making the entire 2020 Run/Walk season Virtual Celebrations. Above all, we are staying positive, which sometimes is easier said than done.

So when we saw that one of our heroes, Athena Bogdanos, decided to register for the New York City fall race, we knew we had to catch up with her.

“The world doesn’t stop. We’re gonna move past this the way we moved past every event in my lifetime,” she told ZERO. “It’s tough right now, it’s scary, it’s been a rollercoaster, but you have to remember that this too will end.”

Bognanos started her journey with ZERO in 2017 after her father was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. He passed away from the disease in October of 2018, but Bogdanos and her family have participated in the run/walks in his honor ever since.

“We’ve been talking about the next walk ever since the last walk,” she said. “It became really important to us because my dad loved it. He loved the music that Jimmy Charles sang, he loved the community, and he loved knowing that he wasn’t alone.”

Due to COVID-19, Bogdanos was furloughed from her job and is currently quarantined in her apartment in New York City. She said it’s been an emotional few weeks for her, but that hasn’t dampened her spirit. In this time of crisis, she has turned her attention towards the things she cares about, such as volunteering with her loved ones.

“I signed the whole family up for ZERO’s New York City Prostate Cancer Run/Walk, we started the web page, we set our goals, and we’ve been playing around with different types of social media posts we could be putting out there. This race is really important for my family, and we want everyone to know that we think we’re gonna be okay.”

Bogdanos took it a step further when she partnered with a local New York City artist, Danielle Margiotta, to create a t-shirt fundraiser. Inspired by Bogdanos’s dad, Margiotta created a custom graphic using his profile. This fundraiser surpassed their goals and raised over $2,000 in three weeks! 

“It’s not just a t-shirt, it’s the community and we have to give people hope.”

ZERO is proud to be a community-based organization. In this time when people are self-isolated, it’s critical to remember the support systems that are out there. Bagdanos’ unstoppable positivity is a reminder of this community’s commitment to each other and to the end of prostate cancer. The ZERO family is here to provide resources to those who need it — especially now, when people are struggling to hold onto hope. One of the resources that is especially near to Athena’s heart is ZERO’s new peer-to-peer support program for caregivers, Caregiver Connector. Athena is actually one of the first to sign on and be trained as a caregiver mentor. There’s nothing she wouldn’t do for those affected by prostate cancer.

“No one wants to do this alone and no one has to do this alone,” she added

To understand more about what fuel’s Athena’s passion to work with ZERO, please check out her blog: Prostate Cancer: A Daughter’s Point of View.

And for more information about ZERO’s Caregiver Connector Program, check out this video with Athena.