2014 NYC Marathon with Team FD

CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU to the 2014 NYC Marathon Team!
Eileen Aptman
Mike & Stacey Buckley (aka Clicks and Nickels)
Carson Christman
Liz DeVito
Jay Eichberg
Karen Green (aka Kare Bear)
Josh Gurland
Kim Imel (aka Kool Aid)
Nick Isbrandtsen
Peter Kneute
Clifford Mendelson
Jeff Mihm
Deb Newman
Mark Schwaiger (aka Ultra Chili)
This year’s team brought so much passion to the event, and truly embodied the Out Living It mantra we hold so dear. There were bedazzled TeamFD NYC Marathon hoodies, hand-made signs, new nicknames were donned, and a crew of FD family cheered everyone on at Mile 22! The team has raised almost $50,000 for First Descents and they are still going! [Click here to see their progress and make a donation to their team goal]. Our ever-bright alumn, Sunshine, graciously hosted a cheering squad at her apartment and gave us the following report:
“Sunday was the BIG gift of the weekend.  The 22nd Mile cheer stop was very well-attended and seemed to come in great help for friends and family of runners to relieve themselves from the cold.  It was so great to meet all the loving, supportive people who make up the extended FD / Movember families.  Guests were overwhelmed by the strength and courage it took our runners to make it to mile 22 with heads held high and feet still moving.  We made it our JOB to send a message of YOU GOT THIS love, to every runner we could!!  A couple folks were moved to tears watching the brave faces of both the strong and the weary as they motored down 120th  street. I will never forget running a half mile with Kool-Aid (Congrats Woman!!)  My heart is full knowing the Snap Jacks and Rabbit Girl made the THIRD time the REAL CHARM!!  Nickels and Clicks Killed it.  Ultra Chili- hands down some serious power there, man…he bowled us over with his energy at mile 22. Peter rocked it and took in the love at our cheer stop.  Hooker went by like the FLASH!  Laura was all smiles after so many miles. Really a magical day.  THANK YOU!!!!  We couldn’t have done it without Broccoli’s giant stache on a stick and all the horns and pom poms and spirit!!
I am so proud to be a part of this community. It was an INCREDIBLE adventure.
Congrats to all of our runners, and many thanks to those who stood in the cold wind, screaming their heads off!  Love you all so much!!!”
– Sunshine


Team FD – Ironman Maryland

Many of you probably know about triathlons and specifically the Ironman distance triathlon. For those that don’t, it is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run raced back to back within a 17 hour deadline. The most famous of the Ironman events is the Hawaiian Ironman, which is the World Championship and televised every year. To get to Hawaii, there are Ironman qualifying races around the world.

This past weekend, I participated in one located in Cambridge, Maryland. I’ve spent my life being very active, always outside and enjoy anything competitive. Somehow, I found my way to triathlon. Sport in general has given me so much through the years. It’s helped me realize not only what I’m capable of but also who I am. When you’re training for an Ironman race, there’s a lot of time spent in your own head! Triathlon has give so much to me and I realized it was time to utilize the very sport that has kept me challenged, empowered and focused through the hard times into something that can potentially help others. Last year I started racing Ironman and using it as a platform to help raise money for First Descents – a program that helps keep young adults with cancer challenged, empowered and focused! What a great fit. In light of this partnership, I was asked to provide a race recap – something I’ve never done before so here goes…..

The day started out cool and crisp with no winds. This is something every triathlete hopes for as it provides for a smooth swim and calm bike. At 7am, 2000 athletes started their day swimming in the bay. Unfortunately, whether it was a long course or stronger than anticipated currents, our times were off by an average of 5 minutes. Not what anyone doing a triathlon wants but at least we were all in it together. From there it was onto the bike. For those that haven’t traveled to Cambridge, the landscape is pancake flat with lots of agriculture – specifically corn and chickens. Flat may sound good when racing 112 but it puts the added stress on your back from not changing positions due to lack of hills to climb. The bike started out nice and calm but by mile 30 the winds picked up. For those that can train outside, learning to power through the wind is a huge advantage. For me, due to working a full time job and have full time kids , all of my biking was done in the wee hours of the morning in my basement on my trainer. Not what I recommend for the race but is recommended if you want to see your family! Sadly, my training left me short of power and my bike time was off. I had many bad thoughts going through my head and was thinking this might be the last Ironman because I felt I didn’t have “it” anymore. Then came the run. This was my 7th never run well. Truth be told, half the time in the run….I’m not running, I’m walking.

On a lighter note, instead of a top 10 Ironman memories list, I have a top 5 list to share with you:

5. Do not blow your nose into the wind

4. Do not bike near anyone blowing their nose in the wind (or doing anything else for that matter.

3. Chicken production farms smell horrible

2. Do not give up – good things may be around the corner

1. First Descents is an amazing organization, it’s campers a true inspiration and it was an honor to race on your behalf.


-Britt Mccormick


You can read more about Britt’s challenge HERE and either donate or get inspired to do a challenge of your own!

photo 2 (7) photo 1 (10)photo 3 (9)


We were so honored to be featured on Good Day NY this morning, August 7th, 2014. Two of our incredible alumni, Tara Page and FD board member Rochelle Shoretz took the time to talk about First Descents and how it has impacted their lives in such a positive way. Thank you to them, and Good Day NY for spreading the word about First Descents and how fighters, survivors, donors, and volunteers can get involved! See the interview by clicking on the photo below.

Good day new york

2013 Climb-a-thon: Mission Accomplished!

Team First Descents 4th Annual Climb-a-thon Recap

What a year for our Team First Descents Climb-a-thon! We partnered with 19 climbing gyms across the country and had more than 360 climbers participate this year. From New York City, where Survivor winner Ethan Zohn came out to support our efforts, to Los Angeles, CA where the stars of The Buried Life climbed toward our goal of 70,000 vertical feet, we felt and saw so much support and love for First Descents and we couldn’t be more grateful. We also had the wonderful support of Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill who fueled our climbers with their delicious snacks at our Boulder, CO location.

With everyone’s efforts, the climbers who participated climbed well over 70,000 vertical feet and we raised $24,500. That is enough money to send 24 more participants on the adventure of a lifetime: a First Descents program.  We also couldn’t have had such a successful event without all of our incredible volunteers. So thank you to everyone who came out!

As FD continues to grow and our support continues to expand across the country, we are so excited to see where this organization is headed. If you are interested in participating in another Team First Descents event, and paying it forward, head to our Team First Descents page and register today. Don’t forget that you have the option of joining one of our core events, or creating a unique challenge for yourself.

Be sure to head to our Facebook page to see the awesome pics from Climb-a-thon 2013!

Challenge ON!


Ryan and Team FD at the NYC Marathon, 11/7/10

Last weekend, Team First Descents captain Ryan Sutter completed the final event in his six month-long “10-10-10 Challenge,” and achieved his goal of raising $100,000 for the work of FD.  On a sun-drenched Sunday, with Brad Ludden, Ethan Zohn and a crew of spirited FD campers at his side, Ryan took on the New York City Marathon, finishing in VERY respectable 3:20:39.  For Ryan, it was the crowning accomplishment of an unparalleled year of training, challenge and triumph.

It’s impossible for us to express how profoundly we appreciate what Ryan has done to promote and help fund First Descents programming; what he has done this year truly defies description, and the depth of our gratitude is so vast that mere words don’t suffice.  Ryan, from the bottom of our hearts, we love you and are so proud that you have embraced our cause.

The Fire Fighter Combat Challenge, 8/28/10

Just to put Ryan’s achievement into perspective, here is a final summary of each of the events he competed in, along with his finishing times.  Read ’em and weep!

11/7/2010: New York City Marathon, New York, NY (3:20:39)

10/17/2010: Rock n Roll Denver Half Marathon, Denver, CO (1:33:14, 162 out of 9139)

10/9/2010: 24 Hours of Moab, Duo Category. Moab, UT (7 laps each, 14th place)

9/12/2010: Nautica Malibu Triathlon, Spt. Distance. Malibu, CA (1:38:26, 47th out of 1524)

9/11/2010:Nautica Malibu Triathlon, Int. Distance. Malibu, CA (2:24:39, 88th out of 1085)

8/28/2010: SCOTT Fire Fighter Combat Challenge, Vail, CO (2 min 33 seconds)

8/14/2010: Leadville 100, Leadville, CO (8:31:05, 65th Overall)

7/25/2010: Ford Ironman Lake Placid, Lake Placid, NY (11:06:37, 351st Overall)

7/17/2010: XTERRA Mountain Championships, Beaver Creek, CO (2:46:03, 3rd in Category)

7/4/2010: Fire Cracker 50 Mtn Bike Race, Breckenridge, CO (4:33:57, 97th Overall)

6/5/2010 & 6/6/2010: Teva Mountain Games Ultimate Mountain Challenge, Vail, CO (2nd Place)

5/31/2010: Bolder Boulder, Boulder, CO (41:36, 852 place out of 50,000 plus)

At the Leadville 100, 8/14/10

We were so fortunate that Ryan, through his friendship with Brad, decided to devote so much time, effort and energy to First Descents.  Here’s Ryan, in his own words, on how FD changed him from his very first contact with our campers:

In April of 2008, I attended the Second Annual First Descents Charity Ball and Fundraiser, while my wife stayed home recovering from a hard pregnancy and the birth of our first child, Max.  It was at that Ball that I first made contact with the “campers” as they are known, the young adults who have attended the First Descents Adventure Camps.  I saw first hand the impact that FD had on their lives.  I listened to the stories they told as they spoke of their exhaustive battles against illness, the effects on their bodies, families, lives and dignity.  I laughed at their jokes and admired their will.  I held back tears as they spoke to the fear of dying and appreciated their courage as they justified their fears in the remembrance of fallen friends.  I left that night affected in ways that I did not anticipate.  I was not discouraged or afraid, depressed or angry.  I was inspired.  I had found a cause that touched my heart.  I wanted to do more.

Ryan, you have done more than you could possibly know.


Blink, and you might miss some of the insane achievements of our Team FD members.  In fact, we can hardly keep up with them ourselves.  But just so everyone is clear, we’d like to point out the following bits of awesomeness:

Last weekend, Team FD members Brent Goldstein, Gary Morris and Eric Brooks participated in the  Shenandoah 100 mountain bike race near Harrisonburg, Virginia.  And in case you were wondering, this race is 100 miles of mountain biking with over 13,000 feet of climbs.  No biggie, right? Here they are, pre-dawn before the race, and crossing the finish line together.  GO TEAM FD!!

Brent, Gary and Eric getting ready to ride

Crossing the finish line at Shenandoah - WOOT!

Although we don’t have the photographic evidence to prove it, Team FD racer Kevin Carter came in 11th place overall at Shenandoah in a time of 7 hours and 51 minutes.  He was the highest ranking amateur and he beat many sponsored pros.  That’s the way, Kevin!

Elsewhere in the Team FD Universe, also last weekend, Mike Lamond, Mike “Leadman” McHargue, Nick McHargue and Derrick “H-Town” Huner rode in the 24 Hours of Leadville mountain bike race in Leadville, Colorado.  These studs took the second place team overall with 14 laps completed, with each lap consisting of  17.75 miles with over 2,000 feet of climbing per lap.

Mike, Mike, Nick and Derrick at Leadville

They did it!!

Meanwhile, Jess Horton rode solo for Team FD, and came in 6th individually as a solo-rider at the 24 Hours of Leadville after riding 8 laps (142 solo miles) and over 17,000 feet of climbs.  Not too shabby.  And to top it all off, the local media even covered the shenanigans, thus helping spread the word about First Descents.

Nice work, Jesse!

As always, we are forever grateful to the gutsy members of Team FD for the funds and awareness which they raise for our cause – not to mention being completely blown away by their sheer athleticism.


We’re doing our best not to get too full of ourselves, but the fact is it’s been an incredible stretch for First Descents.  Team FD and the entire program are popping up in blogs, magazines and newspapers from coast to coast.  To quote our fearless leader, it’s totally sick.

Ryan Sutter continues to drum up amazing press for us with his 10-10-10 challenge, and recently a wire story covering his exploits was picked up by the Washington and San Francisco Examiners, as well as Newstimes.com.  It just never gets old.

We also earned a mention from Colorado-based foodie Claire Walter over at her blog, where she reviewed the culinary magic at the FD fundraiser at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch a few weeks back.  Check out the photos of the night’s cuisine at your own risk!


The good people at Highcountry Living also gave us a nice shout-out recently.

Publications large and small – we love you all and can’t thank you enough for shining a light on what we do.


First Descents is all about people pushing themselves to conquer seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  We witness this phenomenon at every single camp, watching young adult cancer survivors tackle challenges that most people  – regardless of whether or not they’ve dealt with a life-threatening diagnosis – would never even dream of taking on.

But we also see this phenomenon at work in the incredible efforts of those who wear the First Descents jersey while participating in distance runs, biking events, triathlons, you name it.

Look at Brent go!!

Last week, along with Team FD guru Ryan Sutter and a band of other determined and slightly crazy fellow riders, Brent Goldstein, chairman of the FD Board of Directors, participated in the Leadville 100, climbing 100 miles of moutainous trails, reaching virtually unimaginable elevations.  Brent first rode the Leadville 100 in 2007, after accepting a challenge from his best friend and former FD Executive Director, the late Allan Goldberg.  Since his inaugural ride, Brent has pushed himself year after year to improve his race times as well as his over-all level of fitness.  We’ve watched him grow stronger and more confident each time he rides, and we were thrilled to cheer him on along the route and at the finish line this year.

OMG!! Look at those climbs!!

Brent, in characteristic fashion, took a quick minute to recover from the ride, and then sat down to reflect at length on his experence at Leadville.  Reading his words, it doesn’t take long to appreciate the magnitude of the challenge he has taken on every year for the last four years.  What we love the most about Brent, though, is his drive to keep on pedalling up those mountains year after year, always striving to beat his own records, all the while representing the mission of First Descents.

We like to think that the fabulous people who suit up for Team FD are motivated in some measure by the courage and determination of our campers.  But when we consider achievements like Brent’s, we like to think that the inspiration flows both ways.


Mary, christening her wheels in the Pacific

Mary Hughes, physical therapist, has just set out to do something extraordinary, all in the name of raising funds and awareness for First Descents.  This past Thursday, she packed up her car and set off, with her mother in tow, to begin a cross-country bike ride spanning 4,000+ miles along the northern border of the United States from Anacortes, WA to Bar Harbor, ME.  That’s right: this gutsy young woman is going to ride her bicycle from one end of the country to the other, with only her mother for support!  What she will hopefully come to realize, though, is that she has countless supporters who are cheering her on and thanking her for what she is doing.

Mary was moved to set off on this remarkable adventure after learning about FD’s work and the challenges faced by the  under-served young adult cancer population which we target.  She’d always wanted to bike cross-country, and decided to take this opportunity – and several months out of her life – to saddle up and pedal for FD.

You can follow Mary’s trek here, and we know she’ll be checking in regularly along the way, sharing inspiration as she winds her way from Washington to Maine.

May the road rise to meet you, Mary!  We will be the wind at your back!