Fighting Cancer Worldwide
Since 2012

About The History of E.R.I.C.

E.R.I.C. was co-founded in 2012 by two friends, Jim Gerencser and Cassandra Palo, after cancer affected their lives simultaneously when Jim’s son, Eric and Cassandra’s mother, Mary Lea, were both diagnosed with cancer. Eric was first diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was eight years old. He was an athletic child, who loved playing hockey but began struggling with his balance a lot, then experienced headaches and then vomiting followed suit. After endless visits to the doctor and symptoms worsening, the diagnosis was a brain tumor. Surgery removed most of it and after a few weeks, Eric was up and running again.

Two years later though, the tumor grew back, and a second surgery resulted in paralysis on Eric’s left side. With a new doctor, timely medical check-ups, physical therapy and a lot of research learning about cancer, Eric made great progress regaining 90% of his mobility and eventually got into the best shape of his life. Looking back, Eric believed being so physically fit helped him fight his next recurring battle. In April 2012, at 19 years of age, Eric was diagnosed with stage 2 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) Burkitt’s, a destructive cancer that mainly strikes young people. The chemotherapy treatment was very aggressive and greatly challenged his then weakened immune system. What followed was months of spinal taps, multiple blood transfusions, constant vomiting, loss of appetite and long terrifying weeks of hospital stays. The struggle and emotional toil seemed unending for the entire family after nearly a decade of hardships and temporary triumphs.

Thankfully, Eric’s cancer was caught early enough each time and did not spread further, and by the end of 2012 Eric’s cancer officially went into remission. Today Eric is in his 30s, healthy and active, leading the family business and living his life on his term! Around the same time, Cassandra’s mother, Mary Lea, who had been diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma only a few months prior, had died from pneumonia caused by the cancer. Unfortunately, her cancer was not caught early enough for treatment to be effective and the cancer spread all over, including her lungs.

As so many unfortunately know, cancer is an emotionally, physically and spiritually difficult fight that no one should endure, let alone a child. And the families of cancer patients experience every moment of the disease second hand, feeling helpless, frustrated and scared at their own inability to get rid of the cancer. For Jim and Cassandra, they drew on the support of family and friends, and especially the ultimate frisbee community.

What they soon discovered is that cancer stories stressing the importance of early cancer detection for survival are surprisingly rare. Jim and Cassandra wanted to honor Mary Lea’s and Eric’s journey by offering a platform to give others hope and tools in fighting this disease. Recognizing the value of education and being physically fit to help fight disease, they viewed the sport of Ultimate as a perfect vehicle to share information about cancer prevention, engage in physical activity and teach youth positive communication skills to speak up if something felt wrong.

In the ensuing decade E.R.I.C. went on to educate over 200,000 school aged children across the country using a school based model. We would partner with a PE program at a school, and teach a day of disc skills along our “Speak Up” message of being body aware, and speaking up when something is wrong! We took the message on the road in 2016-17 visiting 22 different cities for a week at a time. Thanks to our talented coaches and presenters we were able to reach thousands of children with a message of hope and empowerment!

As E.R.I.C. turned 10 years old, we asked ourselves, what’s the next step? How can we truly make a difference to prevent cancer death? The answer lay in the incredible network of people from all over the world that we had met through frisbee. We learned that people around the world had very limited access to cancer education and as a result many did not know about the importance of early recognition. So we decided to do something about it!

We now have chapters in Uganda, Colombia, and Venezuela with more to come soon! We focus on teaching basic cancer literacy and self screening techniques, in particular the Breast Self Exam. Our chapters work tirelessly to reach out to their communities with multi-faceted and situationally appropriate methods.

Board Of Directors

Jim Gerencser

Jim is the Founder and Past President of Nationwide Auto Services, one of the largest OEM, VPC, and OES service companies in the country helping auto manufacturers around the world. While serving as President of Nationwide Auto Services, Inc., Jim founded Early Recognition Is Critical (E.R.I.C.), a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) cancer education organization which teaches youth to be active, body aware, and to speak up when something is wrong with their body. He currently serves on the Executive Board for E.R.I.C., and is active in numerous philanthropic activities around the world.

Eric Gerencser

Eric Gerencser is a Survivor of three incidences of childhood cancer and both the inspiration and the namesake for Early Recognition Is Critical. He currently serves on the E.R.I.C. Board of Directors and is the President of Nationwide Auto Services.

Laura Gerencser

Laura obtained her bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She is an Assistant Project Manager at L.S. Brinker, and a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Laura has been a volunteer for E.R.I.C. since its inception in 2012. In her free time, she enjoys playing Ultimate, a sport she has been involved with since playing on the UT Austin’s Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team.

Carman Kobza

Carman Kobza is the creator of India’s first viable Breast Health Education & Digital Screening program. Born and raised between the Czech and German immigrant settled farming communities of Praha and Freyburg, Texas, Carman led an international executive career with travels to over 80 countries. He then founded a women’s focused digital diagnostics company in Bangalore in 2015. With an efficient yet personalized “We Come to You” approach, Carman exerts full passion to end an unconscionable world affliction – Needless Breast Cancer. LadyBWell – THE BREAST HEALTH PEOPLE launched to rapidly expand the reach and impact by offering a welcoming, certified & de-stigmatized women’s health experience to developing countries worldwide.

Eric Waite

Eric Waite is the Executive Vice President of The Talent Corporation in the Dallas/Ft Worth area and is a Personnel/Staffing expert. He has volunteered for a number of community-based organizations, including E.R.I.C. Like many of the E.R.I.C. Board and staff members, he feels a calling to volunteer for groups that support cancer prevention and the best-available treatments due to losing a close family member to the disease.

Florentino Ramirez

Florentino is an attorney practicing in international transactions and as outside corporate counsel. His practice also involves all aspects of doing business abroad with a focus in Latin American and Spain. He directs the firm’s immigration practice, where focus areas include employment and investment immigration. Among his business clients, Florentino has represented various non-profit organizations in the US and abroad.

Florentino was elected to the Board of Directors for the State Bar of Texas where he served from 2013 –2016. He was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Texas Bar Foundation from 2016 – 2022, serving as its Chair in 2019-2020. He has also served as Secretary/Treasurer and Member of the Board of Directors of the Dallas Bar Association, as well as the Board of Directors of the Dallas Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Our Team Members

Kevin Petit-Scantling

Athletic Coordinator

Jamie Bennett

Program Manager

James Yeager

International Director

Lisa Smith


Tomas Valk

Social Media

Our Partnership with LadyBWell

Go to our Partner, Lady Be Well’s website and learn more about self breast examination for early detection of breast cancer.

THE BRACELET: Crafted with care by a team of individuals on the autism spectrum, adds another beautiful element to ERIC’s, in partnership with LadyBWell, ultimate goal of providing low-tech cancer recognition tools. This bracelet is made to assist women in reducing preventable breast cancer deaths. The beads are specifically chosen to show the size of lumps to feel for during a self breast examination.

Current Events

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