For today’s post, we wanted to share with you all a truly unique fundraising idea. Read on!
I recently had two friends who were diagnosed with cancer, one of whom is currently undergoing an arduous series of chemotherapy treatments. I learned about The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Team In Training program from a friend who participated last year, and decided that this would be an ideal way to honor my friends, promote a worthwhile effort aimed at battling a variety of cancers that strike without warning, and contribute to my own mental and physical wellbeing.
To honor the mental and physical endurance required by my friends and their families as they battle these illnesses, I decided to test my own endurance by signing up for the Big Kahuna ½ Ironman Triathlon taking place in Santa Cruz this coming September. I’ve never participated in an endurance event of any type before, but am willing to face the challenge of completing this event with the same stout determination that my friends have in winning their own personal battles against the illnesses affecting them – together we will all cross the finish line.
I must admit that of the major hurdles facing me as I prepare for my event – open water swimming, cycling, running, and fundraising – the latter was by far the most daunting. I was asked at the introductory meeting to think about the kinds of activities that I like to do, and to think about innovative ways to parlay my interests into fundraising opportunities. Initially (and for many days thereafter) I came up with nothing. After reflecting on my dilemma for about a week it finally came to me: Crush Some Heads!
As an oceanographer, I’ll be participating in a research cruise this August to the Endeavor Segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge: a seafloor spreading center in the Pacific Ocean bounded by hundreds of miles of underwater mountains and extinct volcanoes. The sunlit waters at the surface provide little sustenance to those inhabitants facing extremely challenging conditions far below in the dark and freezing abyss, and I visualize this sort of bleak dichotomy as analogous to the stark boundary cancer patients and their families transition through when they discover they are facing a life-threatening disease.
Hope, however, springs forth from the seafloor. Despite the almost freezing temperatures and complete darkness two miles down, superheated water discharges from the seafloor as shimmering springs and geysers that appear to be “smoking.” Astonishingly, entire ecosystems manage to thrive using chemical energy gleaned from the hot water circulating through the ocean crust. These remarkable ecosystems defy all odds of survival by adapting to their unique environment and relying on each other for survival. Similarly, we can be the springs or geysers in the abyss for those facing devastating illnesses by providing the support that they themselves need to survive, and also to thrive.
On our research expedition, we will be using the tethered remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason II to study how these springs and geysers work. We will be sending the ROV two miles below the surface of the ocean to make measurements and deploy scientific instruments on the seafloor. The pressure of the overlying column of water is truly astounding – roughly 4,000 pounds per square inch (psi), as compared to the 14 psi exerted on the surface of the earth by the overlying atmosphere. The effect this pressure has on objects containing void space (like Styrofoam) is truly crushing! The air within the Styrofoam is squeezed out when an item is sent to the seafloor, resulting in a miniaturized and deformed replica of the original object.
As part of my fundraising efforts, I’m providing Styrofoam cups and heads (like those seen in wig shops) for people to decorate and annotate using permanent markers. I will attach these objects to the ROV where they will be sent to the seafloor, and I’ll log the precise location, depth, and Jason II dive number for reference (which will also be logged on the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution web site), and return the objects to my donors when I’m back on land. These small souvenirs are extremely unique and rare, and symbolize the unrelenting power of life to thrive despite seemingly overwhelming odds.
Help Crush Cancer! Crush some Heads! Visit www.hutnak.net/TNT