Follow Erin’s Journey: Dam That Cancer!

Erin Hood, SPIbelt’s International Sales Manager (pictured furthest on the left), is no stranger to the emotional stress that one must undergo when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer. As someone who has had not one, but both parents diagnosed with cancer, Erin knows all too well the kind of emotional support that is needed. Now in her 4th year, Erin raises money for The Flatwater Foundation’s annual event, Dam That Cancer which provides access to mental and physical therapies to patients and families dealing with cancer diagnosis. On June 9, Erin (and 70 others!) will stand-up paddle board 21 miles on the Colorado River to raise money for The Flatwater Foundation services. In addition to the money raised by Erin and the other paddlers, SPIbelt will donate a portion of all proceeds from our Dam That Cancer Waterproof SPIbelt to The Flatwater Foundation. 1. What inspired you to paddle and raise money for Dam that Cancer? I was introduced to the DTC paddle its first year thru friends I met in the emerging SUP community in Austin. I went to the event, learned what it was all about, and knew I wanted to be a part of it the next year – 2014 will be my 4th year to paddle. When I was about five (I’m now 35) my Dad was diagnosed with cancer (I don’t remember what kind – Melanoma or lymphatic…) and the Dr’s said – “he’s not coming home”. So my Mom, with 4 kids and a teaching degree, went back to school to get her CPA to put herself in a better financial position as caretaker. With thanks and joy, my Dad DID come home. And he’s been cancer free since then! Just moments after the good news, my Mom was diagnosed with cancer. She battled multiple diagnosis from them until we lost her in 1997, leukemia being her last battle. My Dad is an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), and is an educator training counselors for school systems and private practice. I know he and my Mom spent time working with mental health services as a tool for them and our family to survive what we were going through. I think they did a beautiful job. I felt like a normal kid with normal things going on. Looking back, it was quite a wild ride. In talks with my Dad, he’s often mentioned the tremendous help therapy was for him, during his diagnosis and during his loss. I wonder if he weren’t already a part of that professional community, would it have been part of our survival during all of that. In supporting The Flatwater Foundation, I hope to provide more opportunity for therapy to become part of helping a family get through diagnosis and treatment without the additional financial burden. Being on the water for this event makes for quite a day. With 70+ people, each one feeling and thinking something similar, yet different – you’re bound to have the opportunity for a variety of conversations. Some paddle in solitude, some as social butterflies, and some just right in the middle. 21 miles requires some work, for sure. The physical challenge eloquently seems to eventually marry in with the emotional commitment to our memories and that energy is evident at the end of it all – SO JOIN US AT HULA HUT to share that energy! 2. What are you doing to train for the paddle? To train, I’m doing my regular Crossfit 2x week (thank you Crossfit Central!), running, walking, swimming, and will start getting in 1 2-hour paddle a week up until the event. So that’s about 8 hours of training a week, which I typically maintain year round. Some of this training is open to the public and FREE – so come out and join us! Participate in a FREE workout: 3. What are your fundraising goals for this great cause? How can people follow your fundraising efforts as well as donate? My goal is $2,000. My fundraising page shows my progress, and is where you can donate too! I’m also donating 10% of any of my art sales from now thru the paddle to the Foundation. You can also come out to the after party at Hula Hut, June 9th 5pm-9pm, which makes for a fun night with great people! To donate, click here! Or you may purchase a Dam That Cancer Waterproof SPIbelt in which all proceeds go to The Flatwater Foundation.