To the team at Andesa, Aidan Dunion wasn’t just any 4-year old. He was the son of Patrick and Tara Dunion, and we journeyed alongside our colleague’s family as Aidan was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) – an inoperable tumor on the brain which affects nervous-system functions.
We admired Aidan’s and the family’s courage as they battled the disease which ultimately took Aidan’s life in August 2014. We mourned and were inspired to know Aidan’s earthly end was just the beginning of an inspiration to raise awareness of childhood cancer. Aidan was a big-time fan of Superhero’s; and from such struggle and passion, the organization Aidan’s Avengers was launched.
Despite my being overweight, out-of-shape and having only run one previous 5K event in my life, when Aidan’s Avengers announced it was going to sponsor a 5K fundraiser, I was all in.
I have always valued the importance of setting goals in business. A couple of reflections on goals:
1) Using the SMART acronym can be an effective framework for establishing goals. My objective was to “Complete a 5K to raise awareness for childhood cancer on October 3, 2015.” Was that SMART? Wait – don’t answer that. Was that a SMART goal is a better question?
- Specific – a written and clearly-defined goal – My goal answered what, why and when.
- Measurable – Goals should be quantifiable to have tangible evidence you have achieved the objective. My goal had both a distance and time measurement.
- Achievable – Goals should be realistic and defined well enough so you can accomplish them. You must possess the knowledge and ability needed to achieve the goal. Having previously completed one 5K in my life, I believed I had the wherewithal to repeat the feat, and the time to train in order to do so.
- Results-focused – The outcome of this goal is to raise awareness of childhood cancer. Aidan’s Avengers already does that. Hopefully, my telling this story contributes to their result.
- Time-bound – Goals should be linked to a timeframe. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t move the due date and train longer – October 3rd was the deadline.
2) Research indicates by writing down your goals and sharing them with colleagues and friends, you improve your chances of success. Perhaps just the simple act of wanting to be accountable for the objective and a desire to not disappoint someone else provides the necessary motivation. Perhaps sharing my objective provided additional purpose or a larger sense of meaning to the effort. Perhaps I just wanted sympathy from my wife when I was sore from training. Whatever the reason, I did feel more motivated and accountable for the goal once I had shared it with a couple of individuals. I was also blessed by the advice and encouragement I received from those with whom I had shared my goal.
3) If the goal is worthy, setbacks and inconveniences will not prevent you from achieving the goal. The goal itself can be self-motivating. There were several times during my training regimen I wanted to stop. “This is stupid – just write a check,” I thought. But then my thoughts turned towards Aidan – his spirit, his struggle. I could do this – I have to do this for Aidan. On the morning of the race, Hurricane Joaquin brought rain and cold temperatures to the region. For an experienced runner, the conditions were something they had trained for and were prepared to handle. For a novice like me, it provided another excuse or obstacle. But then, my inner voice, inspired by Aidan – his spirit – his struggle – told me I could do this.
“Complete a 5K to raise awareness for childhood cancer on October 3, 2015.” CHECK.
And while the 5K event helped jog my memory about the importance of goal setting, this story isn’t ultimately about me. This blog accomplishes my objective of raising awareness for childhood cancer – the heart of Aidan’s Avengers ministry and Aidan’s lasting legacy. A couple of quick talking points:
- 1 in 5 children in the U.S. diagnosed with cancer will NOT survive
- Today, 46 CHILDREN will be diagnosed with CANCER and 7 will LOSE their fight
- In the past 20 years only 2 NEW cancer drugs have been approved specifically for PEDIATRIC cancer.
- Approximately 300 children are diagnosed with DIPG each year. Unfortunately, the prognosis for DIPG children remains VERY POOR.
You have a chance to help make a difference. Please consider donating to Aidan’s Avengers at https://aidansavengers.com/donate/