Live for Today is a nonprofit started locally here in Jacksonville. After making contact through various cancer fundraiser events from around the city, the founders of the organization came to life. Todd Blake, Katie Pearsall and Kaitlyn Ash are the three founding members who all share a similar passion.
Each has battled or is still battling some form of cancer, and with their joint life experiences and similar outlooks, they wanted to find a way to help others being affected by this disease.
The rest is history.
After numerous hours of brainstorming and compiling ideas, the three decided that a life goal of theirs would be to create a nonprofit targeted toward young adult cancer. Not only has their goal been reached, but it has completely exceeded their expectations.
No cancer is good cancer. Live for Today caters to those ages who may not get to enjoy the benefits of a cancer support group. Other cancer groups like Make a Wish and Dreams Come True place their main focus on childhood cancer. Once a child hits the age of 18, they lose that opportunity to mingle with a group of individuals who are going through similar hardships in life.
Being diagnosed with a life threatening illness at any age is a horrible thing, but, as a young person there are unique challenges.
“Most young people have a sense of invincibility. I myself was one of them,” said Blake. “For most young adults, we have no reason to consider our longevity, especially in the short term. Death and disease is simply not on our radar.”
Besides the emotional aspects, the financial burdens as a young adult with cancer can also be very devastating.
With around 25-30 current members a part of Live for Today, the organization offers member activities every six weeks, which have included a cooking class at TPC Sawgrass, exploring the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens, and even adventuring on a Ghost Tour in St. Augustine. When a young adult is diagnosed with cancer, life can become very routine. These activities help ensure that members are living every day to its fullest potential. The organization has also started offering a Healthy Living program. After the effects of chemotherapy, radiation and transplants, the human body has taken quite a beating. This program is designed to create new opportunities for members to start living healthy again through the introduction of different exercise classes and nutrition 101.
Aside from the group meet-ups and healthy living, Live for Today offers Life Adventures to its members who are currently undergoing treatment or have been out of treatment for one year. Anything from learning to fly a plane to a surf trip in Costa Rica, these experiences are nothing short of extraordinary.
The founders of Live for Today make it very clear that this organization isn’t intended to be a sad support group. The members get to know each other on a personal level, and many end up becoming great friends.
“They’ve impacted me and I’ve impacted them. That’s the point – it’s a natural support system,” Blake said. “It’s so easy to relate to other young adults with cancer because of our similar experiences and shared outlook on life.”
With friendship also comes some heartache. Approximately one out of three cancer patients pass away from their disease, and losing members of Live for Today is something that unfortunately occurs.
“No matter what I experience with these other cancer patients, I grow with every visit,” said Blake. “I feel these moments are the fulfilling and meaningful living I’ve been seeking.”
Hope seems to be a central theme among the members of Live for Today. The fact is, these young adults have cancer. Live for Today is able to focus on things besides the disease, and provide that sense of hope that may otherwise seem unreachable to young adults with cancer. The group allows members to have something to look forward to other than just hospital visits.
The founders plan to take Live for Today nationwide, and help as many young adults as possible to make their lives just a little bit easier.
For more information on Live for Today, visit www.live-for-today.org.