Welcome to the very first ERIC blog post. Henceforth this platform will play host to ideas, technological spotlights, and personal interest stories all intersecting with the topic of cancer and cancer education. Our goal with this blog is to educate you, our audience, and engage in continued and meaningful conversation about cancer. We’ve decided to take to this space in order to reach a larger audience, as well as share the happenings of ERIC; including ways we plan to reach out to communities in the future. If you like what you see or, more importantly, if you ever have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. We have a Screen Up initiative to assist any who are looking to schedule a cancer screening in their area. It is no inconvenience or distraction of our time to serve you in whatever way possible. In fact, that is why we’re here. Cancer can be scary, but with the right support and right information you can learn to prevent and protect yourself.
For our first article we wanted to give a big heya to Jim Gerencser, ERIC’s CEO (Chief Excitement Officer). If you’ve never met Jim then you’ve heard all about him. He’s a tall man, with a heart to match, and a booming baritone that can be heard a mile off. Always a contributor to the positive energy in a room, Jim has found a way to involve himself in many communities, and now he finds himself leading a company with a mission he feels truly passionate about.
ERIC (Early. Recognition. Is. Critical.) began in the late 2000’s when Jim’s son was diagnosed with Cancer. Jim and his son, Eric, to which the foundation ERIC is named after, along with the rest of the Gerencser family, fought and won in their fight against cancer only to have it come back a few years later. Fortunately, Eric and the Gerencser’s fought and won once again and left with a story to tell and a purpose to share. In their victory, they discovered just how lucky they were to have had their victorious outcome. For many, they found out, it doesn’t turn out so well. Early Recognition, Jim found out then, was the key to survival in many cases. And so, he started a now lifetime mission to inform as many as he can about the simple ways to prevent cancer. ERIC was born.
Jim is an industrious man.
When I said he involves himself in everything he does, I mean it. Jim had been a passionate Ultimate Frisbee player and spent years integrating himself into the community. Between his new life’s purpose to educate youth about cancer, and his long storied love of ultimate frisbee, he found the means to expand. ERIC kicked off with onsite, hands-on clinics instructing youth about cancer best practices, and teaching them how to play the great game of ultimate frisbee. Jim knew that if he could pair the very serious topic of cancer with something engaging and community driven as Ultimate Frisbee, then he could truly start reaching the masses. For the next 6 years he and his group of professional ultimate frisbee players hosted over 2,000 clinics across the United States. It was, for Jim, something he would never forget.
As Covid hit, ERIC was going through a transition. The financial feasibility of contracting ultimate coaches and coordinating with local communities was becoming unsustainable, and more importantly, the ERIC model was not optimizing the ways ERIC could inform and educate. As the country waited indoors in lockdown Jim, along with his new ERIC team, planned how they could pivot and expand their reach. This came in many different forms. They still wanted to collaborate with frisbee teams and communities across the country through their Speak Up program, but now they had a different focus: Screen Up. Screen up was designed by the ERIC team to connect people across the country with free cancer screening. They partnered with findhelp.org to empower their search and with it, their reach encompassed far more than athletes on a field.
Through this change they decided to include Disc Golf in their targets for marketing and collaboration. They organized a hole-in-one challenge at one of the largest disc golf tournaments in the country. With a $25,000.00 grand prize, all of the pro disc golfers were eager to participate. Paul Mcbeth, of which The Paul McBeth Foundation is named after, saw ERIC’s efforts and informed Jim of the opportunity presented to his foundation to build a disc golf course in Uganda. They extended a hand of partnership and ERIC took it. At the time of this blog’s publication ERIC is in Uganda, spreading the message of cancer education and informing the populous of how to get tested. Not bad for a man who ten years ago was just a car guy.
Jim wants to fight cancer in all its forms, he also has an immense desire to do good, period. We’re lucky to have him. All this to say that we at ERIC, just like our fearless leader, desire to serve the community. Please reach out to us if you need anything at all.
Now a short interview with the man, the myth, the legend himself: Jim! He agreed to answer our interview spotlight questions. See his answers down below and check out our spotlights of other interviewees in future editions of this blog. Tell us how he answered!
(1) What fictional character do you wish existed in real life?
Superman: he flies, he fights crime, and he’s a good guy
(2) What advice would you give yourself five years ago?
Be patient with everybody and everything
(3) Given the opportunity to live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
(4) What’s an old wives tale, myth, or motto that you’ve never forgotten?
Buy low, sell high; collect early, pay late
(5) What do you hope comes to pass in a hundred years?
The end of cancer, hate, and greed