Communications Studies at the University of Kansas
Funny (of course)
Hero is a very strong word. To me, a hero is a first responder on 9/11 or the men and women serving our country in our armed forces here and abroad. I pray every day for those individuals and their families. Role models or mentors are individuals that help shape your life and how you approach it. But a hero is a person that stands tall with courage while facing insurmountable odds.
If there is one hero that I have known in my life, it would be my beautiful wife, Sara. At the age of 31, she was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. She was healthy, active woman who used to run and was a never-smoker. Yet on July 23, 2010, she was diagnosed with the most stigmatized disease and the number one cancer killer, killing more people every year than the next four highest cancers combined. For 2 ½ years, Sara stood up with great courage and strength to fight her disease while at the same do what she could to bring awareness about lung cancer so that others may hopefully learn.
Sara is a hero to me for she knew what the percentages said about her mortality, yet she refused to accept them. She beat the percentages living 2 ½ years after her diagnosis because she stood tall with courage and accepted her fight.
Besides spiders, snakes and heights? One of my greatest fears is never understanding the meaning of the word “satisfaction”. If one pushes constantly to do more and more, then one never gets a chance to look back and revel in their accomplishments. They will never be satisfied. However, if one accepts satisfaction after small victories, then what have they missed by not pushing farther or harder? What could they have accomplished if they didn’t accept satisfaction so early? That is a fear that drives me to do more every day for lung cancer awareness and for people with intellectual disabilities, but to also take some time to reflect upon what has been accomplished.
If you had 10 minutes to talk to anyone, who would it be and what would you ask them?
If I had 10 minutes to talk to anyone, for me, there is only one answer: my wife, Sara. I wouldn’t ask her anything. I would, instead, tell her, “Thank you. Thank you for the time, no matter how short it was, that we had together, loving each other. Thank you for being my compass and my inspiration. Thank you for teaching what love is and how to love. Thank you, honey. I love you forever.”
- LUNGevity Foundation – volunteer, advocate, fundraiser
- Stormont Vail Cancer Center Patient/Caregiver Advisory Council – active member
- Civitan Club of Topeka – Board of Directors
- Topeka South Rotary – active member
- Midland Care – volunteer
- Stormont Vail – volunteer for media relations
- Sales & Marketing Executives of Topeka – active member
“John has demonstrated his leadership capabilities throughout his career path, his community service and his personal commitment to leaving a legacy for his spouse Sara. His involvement professionally at Sheltered Living and Sales and Marketing Executives, his community support and leadership in Topeka South Rotary, Civitan Club of Topeka, Midland Care and Stormont Vail Cancer Center Patient/Caregiver Advisory Council make John an outstanding example of how to make a meaningful difference and impact in Topeka.”
- Marlou Wegener, Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation