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by Vanessa Petersen   |   December 20, 2018

Top 10 Moments from ZERO’s West Coast Chapter

To say 2018 has been a whirlwind would be an understatement.  When I started with ZERO back in 2016 I was the California Chapter Director with five ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk events and a blank slate of a chapter. I was the first in this position and the possibilities were wide open in how to shape the chapter. Since then, I’ve started two new ZERO Run/Walks in California while adding in the existing Pacific Northwest events in Portland and the Puget Sound as well as the Salt Lake City, UT event to my chapter.  I’ve met and spoken to countless families, each with an incredibly moving story about their loved one. I’ve spoken at Prostate Cancer support groups, done corporate awareness events with hundreds of employees, visited pharmaceutical companies to learn about their research and patient education, tabled at health fair and community events…and so much more!

There isn’t another organization doing what ZERO does in the community, so the possibilities are endless and I’m usually welcomed with open arms. The people I meet are so thankful to learn of our work and that we are fighting for them, and won’t stop until there is ZERO prostate cancer. The community is eager for awareness and opportunities to give back.

2018 was my time to reflect on the incredible community something like prostate cancer can create across four states and nine community run/walk events that make up the West Coast Chapter. As I wind down the year, I wanted to reflect on some of my top moments.

10. Survivors Thriving

I was elated when I received this picture of Paul (right) and Marty (left) modeling their ZERO Prostate Cancer survivor shirts in their cancer survivor fitness class at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU).  They participated in the Portland ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk this year and proudly wear their survivor shirts in public to spark conversation with other men about screening and awareness. I love this picture so much because it shows them making a “zero” with their hands to symbolize not only our organizations name, but their 0 PSA score!

9. PCAM in Sacramento

For the past 2 years, I, along with local Sacramento volunteers have canvassed the capital building delivering literature to each office in prostate cancer awareness month (PCAM). Here I am with Bill Doss, prostate cancer survivor and advocate, walking the halls in our state capital. We visited over 100 offices and had some great conversations with staff of our elected officials about the importance of funding prostate cancer research, getting programs to those in need and how they can get involved to support their constituents.

8. We KILTED-Up in Two Cities
One of the things I love most is collaborating with other organizations fighting for the same cause. These fine gentlemen are Jason & Justin from Kilted to Kick Cancer. Jason is a Police Officer and Justin is a Paramedic with the Fire Department. They run their own kilted non-profit in the San Francisco Bay area and offered to emcee the San Francisco ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk because they love being in front of people and finding ways to bring attention to the cause.
Here I am with a few of the 150+ members of the Northrop Grumman /Kilted Warriors Against Cancer. Scott Moore (center in blue hat) is a  Prostate Cancer survivor and has been the team captain since 2015 raising over $20,000 for ZERO. His team wears kilts at the race so I decided to join them in my own kilt! It turns heads and that’s exactly what we want when trying to get people to listen! Plus it was pretty liberating to be in a kilt all morning!

7. Iron Dan

Dan Perkins ran the Indian Wells IRONMAN 70.3 this year with Team ZERO. It was such a joy to connect with his family and friends and cheer him along on the bike & run portion of the race. It was so exciting to cheer at the finish line and see him come through wearing the Team ZERO racing gear. Dan is a superstar fundraiser and advocate for the cause and I had a blast spectating at my first triathlon event for this wonderful ZERO champion.

6. Running with Randy

This is Randy and me decked out in our ZERO gear running a race in LA. Randy runs races every weekend and has run 148 marathons in his life! He raises money for ZERO, TONS of awareness for the cause through social media and by way of a sign on his back at all his races. He’s a ball of joy and energy and we had a blast that morning running together. I come to spend a lot of time with certain advocates, Randy being one of them. He’s running with Team ZERO at the NYC Marathon, had a team at the Bakersfield Run/Walk, helps me at the LA Run/Walk and in any way I ask. I will keep running with Randy as long as he’ll have me. Next up is the Run to Remember Half Marathon in 2019!

5. Napa Valley Hits $100k!

This is Maira from Congressman Mike Thompson’s office. On the day of the race, we were $3,000 shy from hitting $100,000.  I made an ask from the stage to see if anyone can help us reach the goal and an angel stepped in. Maira had the congressman on the phone, steps to the stage and says he will personally make the donation to help us meet the goal. This event was started by three daughters who’s dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. They wanted to channel their energy and pain into something and started their own race. Now over 5 years later, partnered with ZERO, they’re raising over $100K and together we are able to give back $20,000 each year to a local foundation to support their prostate cancer initiatives.

4. Dear Scientist…

I took this picture of Chas Rodgers, prostate cancer survivor and ZERO Champion while he was speaking with a prostate cancer researcher from Pfizer. They were filming a segment called “Get Science” that was recently featured in the Boston Globe. It was incredible to see a patient face to face with a man representing a team of scientists researching the very disease he’s fighting. Chas was able to ask candid questions and hear real answers.

3. Men’s Health Month in Rialto

ZERO advocate, Mariyon Thompson (center), introduced me to the mayor of the City of Rialto earlier this year and we created an event for Men’s Health Month (June). We offered free PSA screenings thanks to the Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, I gave a presentation and the mayor presented us with a proclamation. There were announcements throughout the city, and as awareness spread, their local police department chose ZERO for their No Shave November cause and have raised over $4,500 so far!

2. National Advocacy Summit

This was our group from California at the 2018 National ZERO Advocacy Summit. We were strangers who swiftly became friends due to our common enemy – prostate cancer. We took seven meetings with our senators and elected officials in one day with our main asking being an increase in funding for the Prostate Cancer Research Program .We got word later in the year that congress passed a $10M increase, thanks to ALL advocates at the Summit. It’s amazing to see our government at work and how just a handful of voices and a world of passion can make great changes.

1. Never Forgotten

This is Team Sorenson from the Puget Sound event, our largest (by membership) and highest fundraising team. Irene’s husband was determined to attend the event, even in his wheelchair, but he passed just before the event. Their team insisted on participating and pushed his wheelchair the entire 5K in his honor. It was so touching to see the entire team come through the finish line with his wheelchair, featuring a large picture of him that they placed on the seat of the chair.