Thank you for five butt-kicking years

Andrea Shepherd and fatherIt began with bracelets.

I was searching for colon cancer awareness bracelets for my July 2010 wedding as a way to show support for my dad, who was terminally ill with colon cancer.

Up popped the name: Colon Cancer Prevention Project. I contacted them right away.

And while my dad passed away before my wedding, he was there in spirit. It’s all because of him – and those blue rubber bracelets that connected me to the Project – that the last 6 years of my life have centered on the fight to end colon cancer.

The Colon Cancer Prevention Project has been my therapy, my healing, my passion, and a big part of my heart since my dad’s passing. I have been honored to be its Executive Director these past 5 years.

So it’s bittersweet to share with you that as of July 8, I will be leaving this position. You can bet your butt I’ll continue to support this organization, but not in this role.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Colon Cancer Prevention Project. It is stronger than ever, with myriad programs reaching as many as 1.4 million people with colon cancer education in March alone. Our staff has grown to six talented folks, from just one, and we have seen at least an 800% increase in volunteer hours in the last several years. Colon cancer incidence and mortality are down by at least 23% each in Kentucky – setting a national standard.

We are blue bracelets, and so much more.

My faith is important to me, and I prayed for a long time before making this decision. I will be taking on an awesome opportunity at KentuckyOne Health’s Foundation that will allow me to focus on fundraising and communications for a great cause that helps Kentuckians stay healthy and live longer lives, as well as spend more time with my boys (Liam, 3 months, and Julian, 2.5 years). I’m excited about the future.

Thank you, friends. Thank you for your patience with me as I learned the ropes 5 years ago as a newbie to the non-profit world. Thank you for your mentorship, for sharing your stories with me, for being adventurous as we tested new events and programs, and for celebrating when we got it right. Thank you for making the Project what it is today, what it’s been these last 12 years, and what it will be tomorrow.

And thank you, dad, for teaching me the importance of asking questions, listening to rock ‘n’ roll, and getting a timely colon cancer screening. You are at the root of all I do in this effort.

I truly believe the Colon Cancer Prevention Project is one of the best places to work, volunteer, and donate. And on that note…we’re hiring 🙂

Thank you for five butt-kicking years.