Lately I've found myself being easily irritated by people. Whether it's by the bad guys I hear about in the news or the slow walkers in front of me or the people serving me coffee who are a little less than polite, I can't help but be affected. This turns me into a big grouch and feeling quite a bit disappointed in people as a kind.
But every now and then I'll come across a story that hugs my heart. It takes me through the full spectrum of emotions until finally it leaves me with a revived faith in humanity.
Today's story is important. It put me in a hopeful mood, and it should for you too.
Ant is one of my good friends who is always there to lend a hand. He's the first person I call when there's something wrong with my bike, and it's evident he's altruistic and neighbourly to everyone. So when I heard about what Ant was planning on doing next February, I wasn't very surprised.
You see, last June, Ant lost his best friend to what was a long and well fought battle with brain cancer. This is where the story comes in:
"George was my best mate. Our story began at school, when, at the age of 12, he joined myself and seven other boys at the start of a journey that took place in the middle of a park just outside London with nothing but ballet and deer.
Here Ant speaks of White Lodge of the Royal Ballet School.
"Just before our eighteenth birthday, George was diagnosed with a brain tumour. At the time, as young fit ballet dancers, ready to put into practice the years of training and embark on a professional career, this was hard to believe.
"With the diagnosis, came the treatment. It wasn't until I saw George with staples in his head that I truly realized how serious his illness was, and even with my youthful optimism I began to understand that he might not be okay. However, this did not seem to deter George.
"George and Kelly started dating a year after George joined the school. They were childhood sweethearts. Throughout his treatment, Kelly, along with his parents, were his rock. I never identified George with cancer. Even with all the operations and treatment that came with battling cancer, he always had something else important that was shaping his life."
George later went to study at the University of Birmingham to pursue a degree in sports science and continued living his life as normal. George and Kelly eventually got married. They finished their studies and lived together in their own house. He lived his life the way he wanted too, while dealing with his ongoing treatments in this relentless battle. However, in spite of this, Ant recalls that they barely ever even spoke about the cancer.
"This was George, a down to earth, dry humoured warrior. A true gentleman that inspired us all. If George had been part of your life, you were a lucky guy. He is the best guy I've known and I'm sure many would agree with me."
June 14th, 2016, at 26 years old, George passed away. After an 8 year battle, the cancer took over. But it wouldn't be fair to say that George lost. He got the most out of his life, that's for certain. And less than 20% of people having brain tumours live longer than 5 years, following the diagnosis.
"Brain Tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer. Despite these facts, only 1.37% of the UK's national spent on research into cancer is on Brain Tumours. So much more money and awareness is needed to at least begin to catch up with developments that are happening in other diseases."
In February of this year, an idea came into works. Ant and Kelly, George's lovely and spirited wife who I've been lucky to meet a couple of times, have decided to climb Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro in February 2018. The purpose being to raise money for the Brain Tumour Charity and honouring the strong will and ambition of George.
The foundation behind this trip, now entitled the George Grant Superman Fund, is a continuation of George's fundraising efforts for the Brain Tumour Charity. His comrades in Northern Ballet have paid tribute to him in a performance, where the merchandise sales have gone towards this charity. It is a supporter group dedicated to raising funds for the Brain Tumour Charity. This money will then go towards advancing the research for brain cancer, raising awareness, supporting the families, and ultimately helping win the battle.
The trek up Kilimanjaro is daunting and of a highly physical level. Perhaps neither had realized exactly how difficult the challenge would be. But even after the frightening research and the gruelling training they will have before them, the two are very committed. Out of respect and love to George and his legacy, they go forth with Kili Trek 2018.
Please, following the appropriate links below, I encourage you to read the story, perhaps even reach out to Ant and Kelly. Every donation, no matter how big or how small, and every sharing and message spreading initiative, will support them and go towards the Brain Tumour Charity, and will be greatly appreciated.
** Thank you to Ant and Kelly for their story!