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July 31, 2009

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July 31, 2009

First Descents was an amazing esperience for all attending lending to continued reflection and positive life changes for all. FD brings together young adult cancer survivors with others who have been through a similar life threatening disease and gives them a place to connect and not feel alone, face fears of descending whitewater rapids (and of illness), and be in nature to heal on the emotional, mental and Spiritaul levels, in a supportive, kind, fun and playful atmosphere. I saw many volunteers give so much to others over the week-it was awesome!!!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

bringing healing to the participants through increased confidence in themselves and in facing fears of river kayaking which translates to decreasing life fears

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

raise more funds and increase marketing to invite more young adults cancer survivors, and expand the camps to more diverse sports to draw in even more young adult cancer survivors.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

witnessing the kindness, giving, compassion, nonjudgment and deep connections among attendees and volunteers

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

fun, spontaneous, giving, kind,creative, compassionate, supportive and nonjudgmental

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Increase marketing to get the word out to all young adults with cancer that there is a free amazing healing opportunity for them to attend if wanted and offer the camps year round in amazing venues. Would also cater/cook to each ones food preferences

Ways to make it better...

we had air conditioning in our facility and slept better as the temps were in the 90's and hot!

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

lack of funds to pay fully for particpants to come and other expenses

One thing I'd also say is that...

The experience changed my life forever and I know it positively enhanced the lives of the attnedees, who went home with pride and confidence in acheiving a new skill, and feelings of connection and support from others who understand them.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 30, 2009

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July 30, 2009

I took my First Descent in June 2008, and it was an experience that would forever change my life. In August 2004, at 32 years of age, my carefree world as I knew it was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. For the next 7 months, I battled this disease with every ounce of strength I had. I easily coasted through my treatments and surgeries never imagining that the period following my cancer treatment would be so difficult. For months afterwards, I struggled to find my “new normal”. I felt that I had missed out on so much as I watched my friends around me move up in their careers, get married, and have children. I often felt I had no one to turn to, no person who would understand how I really felt. And then there was the constant fear of mortality... In June 2008, I boarded a plane to a First Descents camp in Montana with many reservations. To my surprise, my reluctant decision to attend was one of the the best decisions I ever made! For the first time since I was diagnosed, I did not feel different or pitied. I was challenged to do things that I thought I could never do. I learned the true beauty of humankind through the volunteers I met. I took a little piece from each camper that to this day continues to inspire me. Most importantly, I learned to love myself again. I returned home happy, empowered, and part of a whole new family. Thanks in grand part to First Descents, I was finally able to close my "cancer" chapter. No more pity parties for me!! I have since completed a half-marathon, learned how to snow ski, continued my travels, and returned to the "social scene". My wonderful medical team in Miami may have cured me physically, but First Descents mended my battered heart and soul.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

how many FD campers I have met who have been so profoundly impacted by their experience at First Descents.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the family I have gained. I still turn to many of my FD friends for support. Although months may pass before I see them again, we pick up right where we left off.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

selfless, caring, loving, simply amazing... I regained my faith in people after my first FD camp...

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

serve thousands in the neediest and mostly forgotten population of cancer survivors - the young adults...

Ways to make it better...

I could see my FD family more often!

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

fundraising and creating awareness.

One thing I'd also say is that...

Brad Ludden and Corey Nielsen, the founder and cofounder of First Descents, are two of the most amazing people I have ever met. I thank God everyday for sending these two beautiful angels my way...

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 30, 2009

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July 30, 2009

First Descents was amazing experience. I was able to conquer my fears, meet new people, and do things I never thought was possible. It allowed me to focus on things other than my cancer. But, it also allowed me to joke about cancer with people who understood where I was coming from. I believe that FD is one of the best things that I have ever done. I am lucky to have been able to participate in such a great program.

Photos

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

myself. I believe it allowed me to learn things about myself that might not have been possible else where.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

try and have more camps. I believe every young adult that has or has had cancer should go to this camp.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

learning about myself and that I can push myself farther than I thought possible. It also taught me to appreciate what I have because it could be taken away before you know it.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

fabulous. The staff and volunteers were so generous, patient and understanding. I felt that they all were genuinely enjoying themselves and definitely believed in what they were doing.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

widen that amount of people that it served. FD could also have longer camps...which I know I would love.

Ways to make it better...

I don't think it could have been better. It exceeded my expectations.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

the costs that it takes to put the camp together. I feel like if they were able to have more money they could help more people with travel stipends and with having more camps throughout the year and the US.

One thing I'd also say is that...

I had an unbelievable experience and I feel so lucky to be a part of the FD family. I now tell anyone who will listen that FD has made a big impact in my life.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 30, 2009

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July 30, 2009

First Descents has a unique offering of adventure which bring together young adults. Together we face our fears and take on bigger challenges each day. Without the forces walls of a therapy room or hospital, the conversations naturally occur. The friendships are life-long and the new found confidence is amazing. First Descents is the best thing to come from my cancer experience. FD offers well structured programs, with highly qualified staff. The amount of care put into our safety is amazing. Thank you FD!!!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the faces of my peers

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

love my job

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the friends I made

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

respsible and curious

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

provide more detailed one on one intruction

Ways to make it better...

I could go every week of the year

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

recruitment

One thing I'd also say is that...

having a staff that balances fun and safety is important

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 29, 2009

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July 29, 2009

I had the idea to start First Descents in 1999. After working on it for 2 years and with the help of many people, we were able to scrape together our first camp. It was then we realized we had something. Kayaking had deeply impacted my life and I believed it could do the same or more for others in need. It did. The participants who attend FD seize every opportunity we present and face the challenge of kayaking head on. By doing so, they are proving they aren't fragile because of their cancer, they're still in control of their life and they meet friends that become family.

Photos

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

selfless and giving

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

provide adventure therapy free of charge to thousands of young adults with cancer around the world

Ways to make it better...

it never ended

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

meeting the growing demand for the programs

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 28, 2009

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July 28, 2009

It was amazing to see what happened when two of my worlds collided. The experience was surreal as I met people whose passion for nature was shared with people who truly understand the need to live for the moment. I saw one group inspired because the other group showed them that there was nothing wrong with living life for the moment. I saw the other group inspired by being shown how. It was the first time in my life I was able to be with survivors, face to face, in a place that encouraged deep conversation.

Photos

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

getting back in touch with the two most important parts of my life: surviving cancer, and being in the mountains.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

open minded. I've met few people that can have a discussion about cancer without feeling awkward. Having them be so open minded helped me be more open.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

do more than the ACS, Livestrong foundation, and Susan G. Komen put together. A lean staff, and direct effect on cancer survivors makes it the most efficient program of which I know.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 28, 2009

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July 28, 2009

I recently returned from my second camp. Cancer is many things but two things that come to mind are that it is limiting and it is a betrayal. I face physical limitations, such as fatigue and poor balance, that limit my world compared to before being diagnosed. Others may have lost their fertility, limbs or bear other physical and emotional scars. Beyond that, cancer is a betrayal; our body is literally killing itself and acts in ways that defy sense. First Descents is the anti-dote to all of this. While there are many things I can't do compared to my pre-cancer self, one thing I can do is kayak. And to learn something that requires physical exertion and balance, has given me a newfound confidence that is difficult to explain. While my physicians prevented me from dying (for which I am incredibly grateful), FD helped teach me how to live.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

in the way that it connects young adult survivors.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Focus on getting more first time campers. It's a great experience and my biggest hope is that I would be rejected in the future because there's too much demand from people who haven't done this before.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the personal growth that came from conquering a physical challenge.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Amazing.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

expand its outreach program.

Ways to make it better...

better diversity in terms of age and gender. The camps tend to have more alot more females than males. I wouldn't blame FD for that (I don't think men apply as frequently as women).

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

outreach. Young adult survivors tend to fall through the cracks of most cancer centers since they're such a small group. There's isn't an infrastructure out there for FD to tap into to get its word out.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 27, 2009

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July 27, 2009

Seeing firsthand the approach that First Descents takes to young adult cancer, via kayaking as adventure therapy, has revolutionized my thinking on how an organization can use adventure sports to give back and how effective that gift can be to each and every participant and volunteer!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the enthusiasm and support of past participants for First Descents.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

try to bring this experience to as many people as possible.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the relationships that I have been able to develop.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

world class instructors, proffessionals, and humanitarians.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change 1,000,000 lives

Ways to make it better...

I would have been able to give a million dollars.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

fundraising for the future growth of the organization.

One thing I'd also say is that...

the word needs to get out, it will get out eventually and you could be a part of that! Join the cause!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

July 27, 2009

more

July 27, 2009

This was my second full week experience with First Descents (FD). As a returning camper to their adult cancer survivors kayak camp, I expected nothing but a memorable experience - and I was not disappointed! FD provides adults with both a physical and emotional experience by connecting them with other adult survivors in a comfortable environment. Between the kayaking, the food, staff/volunteer support, and the sharing of personal triumphs and struggles - you almost forget it cost your health to attend. By connecting with more survivors and mixing in an activity that some of us would never have encountered on our own, FD has created the perfect blend for adults to rejuvenate and inspire.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the responses and connections of each person that attends an FD camp. FD has stretched out to a level where non-cancer effected individual take note and wish they could experience what FD camps provide.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the connection with other adult cancer survivors. Hearing stories and sharing experience enriches each attendance to these camps, making priceless moments with friends we all keep.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

experienced, inspirational, and unforgettable. There truly is not enough that can be said of those that volunteer their talents and time to all of us attending a first descents kayaking camp. These individuals are the very definition of selfless.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

reach so many other adult survivors. FD concentrates on kayaking and recently added a rock climbing. Adult cancer survivors could be offered a wide array of outdoor activities that suit their interests and lifestyles if FD could fiscally handle expansion.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

July 27, 2009

more

July 27, 2009

I recently returned from my first week with First Descents. It was life changing! I met some of the most amazing people in my life that week, campers and staff included. I loved the adventure of kayaking but mostly enjoyed being surrounded by people filled with strength, courage and an abundent willingess to live life to the fullest. FD creates an atmosphere that is unrivaled! The Ludden family is amazing for creating this opportunity for young cancer survivors and I hope to do my best to assist them in furthering their efforts and to continue to experience First Descents for years to come!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

every aspect of my life since I have returned home!

More feedback...

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

incredibly generouse and caring individuals with an overwhelming love of life!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

positively effect the lives of so many more young cancer survivors! Change their lives for the better and give them the little extra boost we all need once in a while

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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