My name is Mark, and I am holding a fundraiser to help Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation move one step closer to finding a cure for all children with cancer! Throughout my adult life, I have spent my time training. Whether it is in the classroom, in the gym, or out on the trails, I have consistently strived to learn and grow in mind, body and spirit. I have challenged myself in many ways, and with each achievement, I found myself looking for another opportunity to test my strength and resolve.
On May 2nd, 2015, my nephew, Max “IronMax” Cassano, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and on that day my life and the lives’ of my family members were changed forever. We chose to join in the fight against childhood cancer, and Alex’s Lemonade Stand has been the organization through which we continue this fight. While IronMax was in treatment, my family held lemonade stands throughout the year to help raise money for ALSF. While he is now out of treatment, my family continues to proudly serve lemonade to our community each year to help enlist others to join in the fight alongside us. It has become one of our most favorite traditions! The treatment was a success, and Max made a full recovery. He is now living life to fullest with his parents and his little sister. It is without question that he is my inspiration for this challenge.
I have competed in many races. I have concurred 5ks and marathons, obstacle races and personal records, and now I have my sights set on the greatest challenge yet. On May 29th, 2021, I will be running the Everest Marathon, the highest marathon in the world. The journey to Everest will be long, and it will take more strength and determination from me than any challenge I have faced before. The adventure begins with an 11-day hike up the mountainside, leaving from Lukla in Nepal, and finishing at the Everest Basecamp. As we traverse through the Himalayas, we will be stopping at various villages and teashops along the path so that my fellow runners and I can acclimatize to the high altitude. I will traverse 50 kilometers (Over 31 miles) to the start of the race, ascending 2,565 meters (Over 8,400 feet) along the way. The race begins at Everest Basecamp, which stands at 5,365 meters (Over 17,600 feet) in elevation, and flows down the historical route to Mount Everest pioneered by the late Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary.
Over the next year, I will embark on a journey of growth. I plan to train hard and track my progress on my social media accounts. To join in on this journey, I invite you to follow me on Instagram and Twitter @markinggrowth. My hope is to use these platforms to share my story, and the methods I use to help myself grow, with anyone who wishes to grow alongside me. This challenge will be my toughest one yet, and no matter how difficult it proves to be, it is nothing in comparison to what my nephew and thousands of children around the world face every day in their fight against cancer.
It is my hope that I can use this effort to raise awareness of the need for additional research, and possibly inspire others to contribute, in whatever way they can. Any amount helps, every effort matters. Thank you in advance for everything and anything you can offer! From this day forward, I run for the kids. From this day forward, I grow so that I can continue to help in whatever way I can. Come grow with me, and together, we can make a difference!