Jennifer Goodman Linn, a friend to many and an inspiration to all, passed a couple of days ago. Jen bravely battled a rare cancer (sarcoma) for the better part of a decade. She not only fought for her own health, but she used her skills, ability and life force to raise millions of dollars to fund research for those, like herself, who suffered from so-called orphan cancers. Cycle for Survival, Jen’s charity, lives on under the leadership of the world-class Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. And she lives on in all those she touched, like me. There are many ways to honor Jen, my small tribute includes re-posting an essay I did about her from a while ago. What a woman. What a life. May you rest in peace, Jen.
A couple of years ago, I volunteered to help with the annual fundraiser for New Alternatives for Children (NAC) a wonderful charity in NYC, which works with profoundly disabled kids and their families. Month by month, as we organized the gala (gathering donations, collecting items for the silent auction, selling tickets, etc. etc.) the name “Jen Goodman Linn” kept coming up. Somehow she was able to orchestrate awesome items and donations for the event. At the time, she was working for Nickelodeon, the children’s television network. However, as I came to know her story and meet in her person, I realized that was just one small piece in the tapestry of her life.
Jen is one of the most incredible people I have ever met. I don’t know her well, but she has impressed me beyond words. You can read more about her story at www.youfearless.com, but she was diagnosed with a rare cancer about 6 years ago, soon after she was married. She has battled numerous bouts of sarcoma, surgeries and chemotherapy. But through it all, she has not only maintained a remarkably positive attitude, but she has harnessed her energy, marketing expertise, and vast network of loved ones and colleagues to establish a stunning charity Cycle for Survival. Cycle for Survival uses the familiar fundraising model of having volunteers organize teams for fundraising purposes. The spinning events are held at Equinox health clubs in NYC and elsewhere—the fundraiser just continues to grow and grow, and I understand they will be launching efforts in California this year! Working through Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, she has led the charge to raise millions of dollars to fund research for so-called orphan cancers like hers. Her charity gets money in and out the door, to expert researchers, so that they can quickly study new options for these devastating diseases. In Jen’s case, Cycle for Survival has actually funded research on treatments that she has used in her own battles.
Jen has received many accolades for her spirit (She was just awarded the Energizer “Keep Going” Award), ingenuity and dedication to turning her personal struggles into a “good” for others. Her mantra is about looking at what is possible if we set fear aside. I visit Jen’s blog to read her brave, honest words about how she is doing and good news about the charity. I yearn to glean just a little bit of courage from this breathtaking role model.