When Derrick Vandiver’s grandmother lost her battle against cancer three years ago, her struggle inspired him to search for meaning and purpose from his loss. He began wearing a pink bracelet in her honor, but he wanted to do more.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping others and wanted to put something together for a cause that’s important to me and could also benefit the community,” he said.
The Carrollton resident came up with an idea to blend his passion for CrossFit fitness training with his desire to make a difference, and “Oct-ROW-ber” was born.
Dean and Laurin Plummer, owners of Villa Rica’s CrossFit Iron Rail, supported the idea and agreed to host the fundraiser to bring much-needed funds to Tanner Foundation’s Mammogram Assistance Fund.
“The CrossFit community is incredibly close and is known for helping local communities through fitness-based fundraisers,” Vandiver said. “I wanted to make it simple enough for anyone to be able to participate in, so that’s why we chose rowing.”
Oct-ROW-ber made its debut in October 2018. Each participant paid a fee to row, with a goal of rowing 268,670 meters, representing the estimated number of breast cancer diagnoses last year. They also sold T-shirts and held a raffle to raise funds for mammograms.
“This was no easy goal and came with plenty of callused hands and sore backsides, but the support we received and funds raised were well worth every minute,” said Vandiver. Providing support for the Mammogram Assistance Fund was his personal mission. Several members of his family fought cancer, including Grandma Jan, who underwent a double mastectomy.
After 18 years in remission, cancer returned in her bones.
Her death served as his clarion call — he wanted to give others the tools to fight the disease. He also wanted people in west Georgia and east Alabama to have access to quality medical care.
Tracie Vandiver, a certified medical assistant for Comprehensive Breast Care Center, part of Tanner Medical Group and Derrick Vandiver’s mother, directed him to Tanner Foundation.
“After learning of a non-profit which funds similar services to those who may not be able to afford care, I knew I’d found my cause,” he said.
Through generous community donations, Tanner Foundation’s Mammogram Assistance Fund ensures that men and women get life-saving breast cancer screenings.
Through this experience, Vandiver found the purpose he sought by bringing life-saving options to those who need it most. While it was hard work, he said that he was proud to help make a difference.
He encourages others to do the same.
“It can be daunting when you look at a fundraising event as a whole, but the best thing you can do is just get started,” he said. “Everyone has something they can contribute.”