Katie Varela is a sophomore student at Tacoma Community College, finishing up her Pre-Nursing AA degree. 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 Baltimore, raising money and awareness for the Ulman Foundation.
What is your connection to the cancer community?
When I was in elementary school, I started writing with my mom's aunt named Isla. She is from Scotland so I had only met her a couple of times in person, but we wrote back and forth for about 3-5 years. As a kid, her letters meant a lot and they were always something I could look forward to. As time went by, her cancer spread throughout her body and she passed away. That was the first loss of a family member I had ever experienced. Although it was sad that my pen-pal was taken from cancer, her husband (My Mom's uncle) Pat continued the writing and we have been sending letters to each other ever since.
I have also known a few teammates specifically from my wrestling and track team who have both suffered from lymphoma, which took their athletic abilities away during the process of chemo. This was hard for them because teenage years are confusing, and having a sports team and athletic abilities allows for an escape and with my teammates having cancer, that was taken away from them.
When I was 16, I volunteered at Mary Bridge Children's hospital. Most of the kids admitted into the inpatient unit and Intensive care had cancer. As a volunteer, I helped out whenever I could. This would include coloring with the kids in their rooms, providing support for their parents and young siblings, or just providing a smile in a time of hurt. This experience impacted me because I learned so much and felt so touched by these families who were in the midst of deep struggle. My experience volunteering with these kids was a life changing experience.
Why are you traveling 4,000 miles this summer with the Ulman Foundation?
In the summer of 2019, I will be traveling 4,000 miles with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young adults to provide a community of hope and inspiration to young adults, their families, and anyone else who is or has been impacted by the struggles of cancer. Running has always provided a sense of healing and escape for me. If I can use that to journey across America with 90 other young adults to raise awareness and make an impact on the cancer community, it would mean everything in the world.
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!
|Kerry Butler||08/03/2019||$50.00||Good luck with these last miles Katie. Well done to you and all the team. Amazing achievement and what an adventure!||Anonymous Friend||07/25/2019||$10.00||Santa Clause hint: spider||Anonymous Friend||07/18/2019||$30.00||Pam Sias||06/25/2019||$100.00||Go Katie!||Leslie Tolzin||05/05/2019||$150.00||Emily Fichtner||04/13/2019||$150.00||Liz Franz||04/05/2019||$250.00||So proud of you supporting this cause. Thank you||Tara Rodriguez||04/01/2019||$40.00||From Grandma!||Tara Rodriguez||04/01/2019||$50.00||From the Lemanu Family!||Tanya Wanchena||04/01/2019||$200.00||Kates, we are so proud of you. We love you so much and are truly inspired by all you are doing to raise money for cancer. All our love sweetness! Auntie Tanya, Mel, Ryon, Haleigh am Makenzie xoxoxo||Mark Ordonez||03/29/2019||$50.00||U can do it :) what you are doing is an amazing thing. I’m happy for you and I wish you the best of luck!||Lee Jackson||03/15/2019||$1,000.00||Go Katie Go!||Kim Buckhalter||02/22/2019||$100.00||Bonfire||02/14/2019||$37.80||Kathryn Varela||02/07/2019||$1,100.00||Dog walking/Sitting and work donations :)||Sandra Sims||01/08/2019||$50.00||Judy Varela||01/07/2019||$50.00||Mona Gavin||01/07/2019||$100.00||My Little Stud Muffin Cousin, You are such an inspiration and we are SO proud of you for taking on this selfless challenge. We are making our donation in honor of Michael's Dad and my Sister, who are currently fighting cancer. We know you'll do great! We wish you a safe journey, God's speed...and no blisters. All our love, Mike and Mona||Kathy Imahara||01/02/2019||$100.00||Go Katie, we love you! Kathy, Jeff and Aiko||Ed Varela||12/31/2018||$300.00||From Dad and Jacki. We love you very much and so proud of you!||Anonymous Friend||11/28/2018||$5.00||Because every little amount adds up to big dreams.||Anonymous Friend||11/27/2018||$50.00||Giving Tuesday donation||Addie Bjornson||11/02/2018||$18.00||I am so happy I know you. Stay safe out there!||Anonymous Friend||11/01/2018||$200.00||Achieve your goals, embrace all opportunities life offers you, make a change in the world. You’re here to do something great for others and that’s why I look up to you. Do whatever it takes and I’ll stand by you on that. You have my full support.||Savannah Liddell||10/24/2018||$50.00||Katie I love you to pieces and I'm so excited for you to be participating in this event. My family and I consider you one of us too and we want to show you our support! We're making the donation in honor of my dad's mom, Donna Liddell. I know that she'd be cheering you on too if she could see you! I love you girl and good luck!!||Linda Lambert||10/24/2018||$50.00||You go Katie! I’m so proud of you for taking action. When I was diagnosed 2 years ago with cancer it was really difficult for me, Madeline & our family. Go kick cancer in the butt!||Bradley Fullwood||09/05/2018||$200.00||I’ve been trying to help you reach some goals since you were a freshman, why stop now. I know you’re gonna do awesome.||Tara Rodriguez||08/07/2018||$100.00||You inspire me and I love you.||Kathryn Varela||07/09/2018||$100.00|