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Gilda's Club Middle Tennessee Nashville Gilda Radnor

Volunteer for Life

By Chuck Beard, volunteer

This year, if my math doesn’t fail me, marks my sixth year as a running coach for Gilda’s Gang. I don’t consider myself a coach or a runner so saying that out loud or writing that here feels funny to me. I’m just a regular guy who likes to jog to clear my head and do fun things to test my spirit and inspire others. The journey to find Gilda’s Club back in the tail end of 2010 encapsulates both of those things to the max.

In the Fall of 2010, I completed my first and last Ironman experience. In the middle of my Ironman training, I decided to do a little fundraising for several individuals and non-profits. I didn’t share the fact that I was fundraising with any of the people I was giving the money to in the end so I could surprise them and also make sure I accomplished my goal of finishing. Nearly sixteen and a half hours later, I crossed the finish line.

Upon my return home to Nashville, I took a check over to Gilda’s Club. I didn’t know anyone there personally, but I had researched it because I lost my grandfather, my best friend, Pop Monie Beard, to a form of cancer when I was in college and Gilda Radner was a huge inspiration to me growing up. Her book, It’s Always Something, is one of my all-time favorites. Anyways, I took a check made out to Gilda’s Club and the lady working the desk told me to wait one second before I left and that I couldn’t just hand over a check without meeting everyone in the building. So that lady took me upstairs and promptly introduced me to Sandy Towers and Deb Sandvik. The following is the dialogue that I remember happening next:

Deb: “So you’re a running expert?”
Me: “I wouldn’t say that. I’m more of a jogger.”
Deb: “So you’re a running expert?”
Me: “I don’t like to run, but I like to finish.”
Deb: “Would you consider helping our Gilda’s Gang fundraising team as a running coach this year?” (she went on to explain the schedule, commitment, and history of Gilda’s Gang before letting me answer).
Me: “Sounds like fun.”
Deb: “See you next month then. I’ll send you an email.”

I walked out of the red door with a huge smile on my face, knowing I had met some really great people and a place that I wanted to know and love more. I came back to the Gilda’s Gang kickoff the next month and introduced myself and haven’t stopped running with Gilda’s Gang since.

Gilda’s Club and Gilda’s Gang, to me, are two of the absolute best things that Nashville has to offer at a time and place when it offers more positivity and great things than any other city in the world. I look forward to every Saturday training day so that I can hear member minutes and jog beside some of the most courageous and inspiring people I’ve ever encountered, all for a tremendous cause and mission.

I always encourage everyone I meet who has been affected by cancer, via a personal fight or through a relative or friend’s battle, to get involved with Gilda’s Club however it fits into their worlds. You will find all of the support you need to get through the day in a better way than you would without them, for sure. It continues to amaze me how blessed I’ve been to be associated with Gilda’s Club and Gilda’s Gang and everyone involved behind that beautiful red door.

This month Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee is highlighting a few of our wonderful volunteers. We could not provide the many types of free cancer support that we do without the many individuals who donate their time to us. Know that your support enables our volunteers to provide the 100+ monthly activities at our Clubhouse. Please consider a gift to ensure these activities continue to grow in 2016.