Leah Stevens is a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University. In the summer of 2019, she will be traveling with a group of college-aged students on a 49-day, 4000+ mile run from San Francisco to Boston, raising money and awareness for the Ulman Foundation.
What is your connection to the cancer community?
In February 2018, I was getting ready to graduate from the Cleveland Institute of Music. My flute auditions for graduate schools had gone well, I was finishing up my degree requirements, I was working and teaching, and I was training for the Cleveland Marathon. On February 28th, I had a high point of my flute career, soloing with the Cleveland Institute of Music orchestra. The following day, my parents broke the news to me that the reason my grandma had not attended is because she was too sick to travel, more sick than I could have ever guessed. She had been diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer. My grandmother and godmother, a second mother to me, “Grammy” was embarking on the fight of her life.
Devastated, I traveled every week between NY and Cleveland, spending all the time I could with her while she underwent intensive treatments, her health declining rapidly. I struggled to finish my degree, to practice, to run, to function. But, as a testament to her strength through her battle, I continued to train for the marathon, and I did it. Sporting a jersey with her name on in, I ran 26.2, and she was able to stream it from NY. A Cleveland news outlet even ran a story on me where I spoke of her as the strongest person I know. To her, it was my greatest gift. The next day I graduated, and soon after I returned to NY to be at her side, a time I am blessed to have been able to spend with her. We sang songs, laughed, and shared in the most special moments.
The cancer spread, and a week later, on June 26th, she passed in her home, surrounded by her loving family. I miss her more and more each day, and hope to aid in the fight against the terrible disease that took her too soon.
Why are you traveling 4,000 miles this summer with the Ulman Foundation?
Before she passed, she told me about our special bond. She told me, “Leah, when you are hurting, I am hurting. And when you are happy, I am so, so happy.” Moving forward, I am determined to heal and live happily, so that she, wherever she may be, will feel it too. It is an honor to know I will travel the country to provide support and service to young people battling cancer.
For me, this trip is a way to honor Grammy by living as my best self. She had a way of bringing people together, making them laugh until they cry. She was loving and nurturing. At 79, she was still young at heart- constantly singing, dancing, gardening, playing piano, and painting, just to name a few things. She lived her life filled with humor, a contagious positive energy, a love for everything she did, and absolutely no regrets.
The immense physical journey of a cross-country trip is representative of the battles cancer patients face each and every day. Traveling and listening to the stories of others is the best way to gain a better world view and see life from various perspectives. To embark on an adventure of such a grand scale and to connect with others in the most humanizing way is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
2019 marks the 18th year of the 4K for Cancer sending young adults on journeys across the country in an effort to inspire hope and unite communities in the fight against cancer. The 4K for Cancer is a program of the Ulman Foundation (Ulman). Interested in joining the fight? Apply to be a rider or runner a at www.4kforcancer.org!
Over 72,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer every year. Young adults (ages 15-39) face a variety of unique challenges with a cancer diagnosis including fertility preservation, social isolation, lack of insurance, delayed diagnosis, and more.
Ulman Foundation changes lives by creating a community of support for young adults, and their loved ones, impacted by cancer. With your support, Ulman is able to provide free support services and resources for the young adult cancer community including:
Cancer to 5K - a 12-week training program designed to introduce or reintroduce cancer survivors to physical activity.
Patient Navigation - a free program (onsite at cancer centers and remotely through our office) that ensures no young adult ever faces cancer alone. We provide one-on-one support & resources to young adults and their families to help them manage the cancer experience and long-term cancer survival.
Scholarships - a financial assistance program to help young adults continue their education after being affected by cancer through their own diagnosis or the diagnosis of a loved one.
Ulman House - This year Ulman will open a “home away from home” to provide free housing for young adult cancer patients, and their caregivers, in East Baltimore.
Your donation will help make these programs and our mission possible!
|Shannon Ransom||07/15/2019||$8.00||I wish I could do more. Leah, you inspire me to work hard to be a better athlete and person. One foot in front of the other!||Alicia McGinnis||07/13/2019||$60.00||All the best in your great journey!||Zsolt Bognár||07/13/2019||$15.00||Thank you for being amazing!||Lisa Rutkoske||07/13/2019||$50.00||Go girl! This donation gets you to $7k! Amazing experience for a great cause. Good luck||Venmo Request Donations $5||07/13/2019||$30.00||Tim, Lizzy, Shelby, Elisa, Rebecca, Erin||Michael Stevens||07/13/2019||$20.00||Danielle Scaduto||07/13/2019||$30.00||Rachel Shirey||07/13/2019||$15.00||Katie Clement||07/13/2019||$25.00||Ethan Usoskin||07/13/2019||$15.00||Nina Sandberg||06/20/2019||$20.00||Wishing you safe travels this summer!||Anonymous Friend||06/12/2019||$25.00||Proud of you!||Megan Anne||06/03/2019||$20.00||Truly inspiring, wishing you the best of luck||Anonymous Friend||05/26/2019||$50.00||Anonymous Friend||05/13/2019||$100.00||Debbie Borchers||05/13/2019||$100.00||Sakshi Ganesh||05/12/2019||$25.00||Amy L Rucker||05/07/2019||$25.00||Carol Jeanne Kohn||05/07/2019||$100.00||Erich Riebe||05/06/2019||$8.00||Tim Fernando||05/06/2019||$8.00||Anonymous Friend||05/06/2019||$50.00||Resilience Gives||04/08/2019||$24.00||Alexis Mitchell||04/04/2019||$10.00||Stef Yamileth||04/04/2019||$10.00||Tim Fernando||04/03/2019||$10.00||Trevor Gittelman||04/03/2019||$10.00||Diana McGlaughlin||04/02/2019||$15.00||Christine Madonia||04/01/2019||$250.00||Laura Sawyer||04/01/2019||$10.00||Christopher Neske||03/21/2019||$84.05||Congratulations on reaching your goal, Leah! So proud of and inspired by you.||Anonymous Friend||03/21/2019||$5.00||Winnie Lau||03/18/2019||$50.00||Thank you for what you’re doing you are amazing and such an inspiration! God bless you on your awesome journey!||Joanna Lau||03/18/2019||$20.00||Good luck! You are such an inspiration to me on so many levels.||Zoe Sorrell||03/17/2019||$15.00||Jeanelle Brierley||03/17/2019||$50.00||You are an inspiration! Thanks for all of your hard work!!||Jay Moon||03/17/2019||$15.00||Anna D'Egidio||03/15/2019||$20.00||Linda Wallenthin||03/15/2019||$23.00||Orla Bowie||03/14/2019||$25.00||Michael Scavetta||03/11/2019||$75.00||Leah - we are all colleagues of your dad and are so excited for your special journey ahead. Enjoy every moment of making such a difference to a great cause! Best wishes from Pam N., Diane C., Tina G., Jen C., Jess F., & K. Scavetta||Briana Cangemi||03/10/2019||$10.00||KRISTEN MADONIA||03/08/2019||$40.00||Happy birthday lele. Love you always❤||Joshua Smith||03/08/2019||$50.00||David Stevens||03/08/2019||$230.00||Happy 23rd Birthday, dearest Leah! I wake up every day hoping to be half the person you are. I go to bed each night saying, "Maybe tomorrow..." Also, thank you to the overwhelming outpouring of love and support from everyone and notably my 2nd family from Herricks - administrators, teachers, students, and parents alike!||Phoebe Robertson||03/08/2019||$23.00||Happy birthday, Leah <3 Thankful for your bright light and incredible courage.||Kathleen Miller||03/08/2019||$23.00||Way to go Leah for such a worthy cause. Loved reading the story behind it, and your connection to Grammy.||Linda Hershfield||03/08/2019||$50.00||All grandmas are very proud of you! Thank you for being such a strong woman! (From Maxx’s Grandma)||Lauren Zubovic||03/06/2019||$100.00||In honor of my mother, great uncle, and cousin who fought until the very end.||Jake Niehl||03/06/2019||$40.00||Go kick some ass Leah!||Tracey Schaper||03/06/2019||$50.00||You are beautiful in every way!! You Grammy would tell me that whenever I saw her. Boy is she smiling!!||Linda McElroy||03/06/2019||$20.00||For all the people living in hope...||Deirdre Kenny||03/06/2019||$25.00||Anthony Rutkowski||03/06/2019||$40.00||Best of luck on this amazing journey you are taking. Love, The Rutkowski Family||Alpha Phi Omega Epsilon Nu Chapter||03/06/2019||$44.65||Lynda Maniscalco||03/06/2019||$25.00||Good luck Leah! You are such an inspiration.||Judy Fischer||03/04/2019||$23.00||Grammy would be proud of you!||Kathleen Kolba||03/04/2019||$23.00||Happy Birthday!||Stevens Leah||03/02/2019||$72.00||Dear Leah, We at the circulation desk want to wish you good luck and will be thinking of you as you travel across the United States for this great cause! I'm sure grandma is watching and is extremely proud of you as she always was. xo||Sam Calzone||02/28/2019||$10.00||Maxx Vogelsberg||02/28/2019||$10.00||Diana McLaughin||02/28/2019||$5.00||Maria Beltavski||02/28/2019||$5.00||Molly Wise||02/28/2019||$10.00||Ben Smelser||02/28/2019||$10.00||Michael Stevens||02/28/2019||$10.00||Indigo Fischer||02/28/2019||$5.00||Jackie Bartling-John||02/28/2019||$10.00||Rebecca Willett||02/28/2019||$5.00||Grace Burns||02/28/2019||$5.00||Jessica Niemiec||02/28/2019||$10.00||Rebecca Benjamin||02/28/2019||$5.00||Holly Alper||02/28/2019||$5.00||Valli Mani||02/28/2019||$5.00||Beth Hillman||02/26/2019||$40.00||In honor of my grandmother who has beaten cancer, and to those who have fought til the very end! To anyone battling cancer - we are all with you: you are so strong, so brave, so courageous and so loved! Leah what you're doing is so amazing! So brave, so kind and unbelievable! You've got this! Keep training, keep up the great work!||Alexandra Stewart||02/26/2019||$30.00||Best of luck on your journey! You’re amazing!!||Danielle and Joe Scaduto||02/24/2019||$25.00||Nishi Tiwari||02/20/2019||$40.00||Mark Carr||02/18/2019||$5.00||Ali Konnerth||02/15/2019||$10.00||Admired you in HS, still think you are amazing! Loved your Grammy and seeing her at concerts! She made the music department just as much as you did!||Resilience Gives||02/15/2019||$24.00||Resilience Gives||02/15/2019||$8.00||Anonymous Friend||02/15/2019||$10.00||childhood cancer survivor :) thanks for fighting the fight!||Erich Riebe||02/14/2019||$10.00||Hair dye!||Bob Riebe||02/14/2019||$10.00||Yoy can keep the haiku but i definitely need to see some HOTpink hair..||Tim Fernando||02/14/2019||$10.00||❤️❤️❤️||Patricia Bryan||02/14/2019||$50.00||Love you Leah!!!! Go change the world!||Michael Stevens||02/14/2019||$104.00||Don't tell mom||Nick Evans||02/14/2019||$5.00||Keep at it!!||Anonymous Friend||02/14/2019||$50.00||Just do it to piss off your daddio!||Bonfire||02/14/2019||$123.30||Theresa Riebe||02/12/2019||$40.00||10 carrots from Gracie, 10 cans of fancy feast from Patches, 10 cans of Friskies from Boo and 10 temptation treats from Yogi. Meow/Thump||Theresa Riebe||02/12/2019||$60.00||Best of Luck to you Leah, You got this! Thank you so much for doing this. xoxo Love, Lloyd and Theresa||Concetta Stevens||02/07/2019||$500.00||With pride and admiration We support your cause . Leah, every step you take is a tribute to Grammy and a step towards your healing. We love you so!||Mary Jane Stevens||02/02/2019||$100.00||God bless you for sharing your kind and caring heart with others. You are truly one very special young woman!||Pattie Piccinini||01/30/2019||$100.00||GO LEAH!!||Keneil Soni||01/21/2019||$50.00||Good luck!!||Katie Davidson||01/19/2019||$20.00||Kevin Gerity||01/19/2019||$100.00||Best wishes, Leah!||Anonymous Friend||01/18/2019||$100.00||Your "Gammy" was such a special person. She was such a great friend to me. I know she is thrilled that you are doing this, Leah. God Bless you!||Robin Barkan||01/17/2019||$25.00||Best of luck, Leah!! Love Robin, Rachel, Jake, and Shayna||Catherine Marchesano||01/15/2019||$100.00||So proud of you...wishing you a safe and fun journey :) Cathy & Mike Marchesano||Shawna Irish||01/13/2019||$20.00||Way to go, Leah! You are amazing! Enjoy the adventure!||Jacie Lee||01/13/2019||$50.00||Dear Leah, Thanks for inspiring us! God bless! All the best for your incredible journey! The Song Family||Jo-Ann Carhart||01/13/2019||$25.00||Good luck with the run. We think of Gloria all of the time and miss her a bunch.||Maria Pirgousis||01/09/2019||$20.00||Best of luck to you||Gloria Madonia||01/08/2019||$100.00||GOOD LUCK LEAH. Love you. Xoxoxo||Nichole Greene||01/08/2019||$50.00||Cindy Worms||01/07/2019||$100.00||Michael Berg||01/07/2019||$50.00||Good luck, Leah! Love, The Berg Family||Terri Kern||01/06/2019||$20.00||Christopher Neske||01/06/2019||$100.00||Glenn Heckinger||01/05/2019||$100.00||Proud to know you, Leah... your selflessness is no surprise. You are an inspiration to us all!||Anonymous Friend||01/05/2019||$50.00||Jocelyn, Ally & Steph Chiu||01/03/2019||$35.00||Go Leah! We love what you’re doing and can’t wait to hear about your progress this summer.||Mark Bligh||01/03/2019||$40.00||Bravo, Leah! Good luck!||Anonymous Friend||01/02/2019||$50.00||All best wishes on your journey!||Joan Alia||01/01/2019||$20.00||Great story Leah, keep making a difference!||Yesenia Santana||01/01/2019||$100.00||Good luck ! Your dad wake up every to fullfill kids life with laugh and happiness. He is one of my kids all-time favorite teacher. You should be so proud to have an amazing human being as a dad. From Eduardo and Alejandro Santana||Nicholas Quan||01/01/2019||$50.00||Good luck on your amazing journey, Leah!!!! You rock!||Catalin Wong||01/01/2019||$50.00||Dear Leah, what you are doing is such an inspiration to me. After going through what you have gone through, it is very brave and considerate of you to do what you are doing. I hope you continue to be the inspiring person you are!||Beth Wolpert||12/31/2018||$20.00||Go Leah!||Lori Rasul||12/31/2018||$50.00||Wishing you the best, Leah! You’re an amazing person! Good luck. Love, The Rasul family||Blake Sabolboro||12/31/2018||$20.00||May a cure be found soon !||Lisa Kantanas||12/31/2018||$100.00||Keep being an amazing human!!!||Parul Vishal||12/31/2018||$100.00||So proud of you Leah God bless you may you be successful in your endeavor, your Hrandma must be very proud of you.||Leonard Apicella||12/29/2018||$100.00||Marta Daly||12/26/2018||$50.00||Leah, your courage and dedication are an inspiration! Best wishes for this amazing journey! From, The Daly Family||Jane Goldschlager||12/22/2018||$50.00||Supporting you, Leah. Make sure your father buys you cool and expensive gear - I like Patagonia. xojane||Ann Marie Yu||12/22/2018||$100.00||Wishing you all the best on your journey Leah Love The Marcoline family||Vicky Vayias||12/22/2018||$100.00||Best of luck to you from the Vayias Family.||Francine LaSala||12/21/2018||$50.00||Best of luck from Maddie and Jules, who both count your dad as one of their all-time favorite teachers! (Their mom too.)||Norka Fuertes||12/21/2018||$150.00||God Bless you on your journey Leah||Brian Yuen||12/21/2018||$50.00||as a fellow CMU alumni and endurance athlete, we gladly support the Stevens' family. Have a safe journey||Fino Celano||12/21/2018||$50.00||Good luck on this remarkable journey. Congratulations on your commitment to this most worthy cause.||Julie Fegan||12/20/2018||$50.00||I work with your dad, and wish you the best of luck on this tremendously meaningful journey!||Patricia Fruda||12/20/2018||$50.00||Best of luck on this incredible journey!||Jodie Ruggiano||12/20/2018||$100.00||Mark Su||12/20/2018||$100.00||This is an amazing cause. Good luck, Leah!||Melissa Blady||12/20/2018||$50.00||You are doing an amazing, wonderful, truly remarkable thing! Bravo to you! Good Luck||Ronni Stuart||12/20/2018||$30.00||Best wishes||Anonymous Friend||12/20/2018||$100.00||Good luck! Make sure your dad buys you good running shoes.||Kathleen Kolba||12/18/2018||$75.00||Good Luck Leah! This is quite an adventure and wonderful cause||Andrea Somma||12/18/2018||$100.00||This will be an amazing journey! Lots of luck to you!!!||Maryanne Janus||12/17/2018||$100.00||Leah Stevens||12/13/2018||$100.00|