Adventure Project

Philip Nicholson

Kickin' It Back in Gear

When asked for his bio on his Adventure Project application, this humble 18-year-old hero wrote the paragraph below. A lifelong soccer player and on his high school's varsity team his junior and senior year, this high achieving athlete and student wound up caught in a different kind of net a year ago, one no kid should have to face. The Adventure Project aims to help him reclaim what his battle with cancer took away.

His story: "This is a weird thing to write and I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to write about. If it’s about my illness, I don’t think my story is too dissimilar from other cancer survivors and patients. I was diagnosed with T-cell ALL (T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia) back in September 2017 and with the support of my friends and family made it through intensive chemo, starting maintenance June 15, 2018. Like with other cancer patients, treatment has been rough and while I’m nowhere near the shape I used to be in, which has negatively impacted my self-confidence, I think I’ve become closer to some people than I otherwise would have and I’m grateful for that. I guess that is my story."

His short-term athletic goal: "To be fit enough to play soccer again."

His long-term athletic goal: "To be comfortable with my body again. Healthy enough to do all the activities I used to be fit enough to do."

Personal Motto: He doesn't have one (yet). So we're giving him one until he does. It matches the young man we've been fortunate enough to get to know: "Infuse your life with action. Don't wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope."

 


Brittany Alvarado

Focused on Fitness

She’s 25 years old, passionate about soccer, people and living her best life. She’s “always looking for a new adventure” as she pursues a career as a videographer. She’s also a thyroid cancer survivor, diagnosed her junior year in college. A relentless, hard-working, high-achieving athlete in school she now aims for fitness that will allow her to “consistently work out with different movements.”

Her story:  "It was just after I finished my junior year of college, I started to notice something was off about me. My whole life I had been a healthy athlete, who was always leading the way when it came to fitness. I was a complete sports junkie. That wasn’t the case anymore. I could barely wake up at 12pm and even if I got an insane amount of sleep, I still wanted to sleep more. I didn’t understand. So after things didn’t change and I was becoming more noticeably moody and tired, I went to get my yearly physical to see what was up. My blood work came back with my thyroid levels all out of wack, which is where the rollercoaster began...

"To this day, though I am cancer free, my body still isn't the same. I have to take medication every day for the rest of my life to make up for not having a thyroid. Monthly blood work is the new norm too and I hate needles. I had to get three eye surgeries due to Graves' eye disease, which pushed my eyes outward. ...There are days of mood swings and roller coasters. Things that came so easily to me now take major motivation to do. It's all a part of my new life after cancer, but every day I remember that going through this gives me a bigger platform.

"I am living the dream right now and cancer will not stop me. I say my life is forever changed because it is. No, my body will never feel 'normal,' but I will never stop fighting a good fight. I will never ever change who I am. I just want to make people smile. I want to make people better and I fully intend on doing that day in and day out. Love and courage beat cancer."

Her Goal: "Building a healthy body. Would love to be part of a sport like kickboxing or boxing or CrossFit"

Personal Motto: "Believe (I have it tattooed on my wrist). If you believe in something and truly want it, you can achieve it."

To learn more about Brittany, click here.


Lacey Henderson

Bringing It!

Take 10 parts tenacity, add in equal portions of talent, optimism and heart then top it off with a joke, an endless smile and the kind of wisdom you’re left with when you shake off a particularly life-threatening form of cancer and you’ve got 28-year-old Paralympian Lacey Henderson. She is fun, formidable, a fighter and a giver ...a perennial optimist and a role model for all who meet her.

Her story: "At the age of 9 years old, I was diagnosed with a soft tissue cancer called Synovial Sarcoma. After failed chemotherapy trials, I opted for the amputation above my right knee in order to be an active kid again. Once I was 'back on two feet,' I was unstoppable. Playing sports from volleyball and soccer to finding the world of competitive cheerleading and a career that lasted through high school and into college with an athletic scholarship (University of Denver, Division 1). After University, I attempted the pole vault on a dare and fell in love with a new sport. From there, I started sprinting and long jumping as they are the only two events in my category. I quickly rose to the top rankings in the world. In 2013, I first learned to long jump, and in that same year, broke a 17-year American Record and made my first World Championship team. Since then, I have made the 2015 World Championship team and the 2016 Paralympic team. My athletic adventure continues, hopefully, through 2020 for the Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo."

Her Goal: "This year, I want a PB (personal best) and new AR (American Record) as well as to be one of the few women in history (only four so far) to break the 4-meter mark (current PB is 3.94m)"

Personal Motto: "Excellence is the difference between where I am and where I am going."

To learn more about Lacey, click here.


Giacomo Brancato

Undefeatable.

When high school junior standout athlete Giacomo Brancato walked into the Mission Training Center in January 2015 with his basketball coach just weeks after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and only days before his first round of chemo, something rather gigantic shifted. Hope, aligned with guts, determination and talent, met the inspiration and practical tools needed to get past this devil. Giacomo trained at the Center while he fought the torturous effects of the treatment needed to save his life. His mom attended nutrition classes to learn how to feed his fight.

Giacomo continues to work out at the Center, augmenting his daily practices for the Varsity high school baseball and basketball he plays. He’s strong. He’s confident. He’s back. Last winter he earned first-team All-FCIAC honors in basketball and went on to play for a high school state championship in baseball. Next year he will attend Fairfield University where he was recruited to play D-1 baseball. For more about Giacomo, click here.