Jeff Keith's Road to Survivorship

 

December

1974

12 year-old Jeff breaks knee-cap playing hockey. Doctors discover he has a malignant tumor in his knee (Osteogenic Sarcoma). Jeff's right leg is amputated above-the-knee, and he begins 18 months of chemotherapy at Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston.

 

 



February

1975

Jeff's parents take him skiing six weeks after the operation that removed his leg.

 

 

July

1976

Jeff completes his chemotherapy treatment, and he begins his journey back to life as a teenager.

 

 

June

1980

Jeff captains the Varsity Ski Team with childhood friend, Matt Vossler and is the goalie for the lacrosse team. Jeff graduates from Fairfield College Preparatory in Fairfield, CT where, despite the loss of his right leg, he is a standout athlete. Matt Vossler and Jeff matriculate to Boston College where they are roommates for 4 years.

 

 

June

1981

At Boston College, Jeff plays goalie on the lacrosse team. Canadian runner and hero, Terry Fox, dies on Jeff's 19th birthday. Terry attempted to run across Canada on a prosthetic leg but was unable to complete the run. Jeff quietly commits to finishing Terry's journey and begins a three year training period.

 

 

June

1984

Jeff and Matt graduate from Boston College. Jeff, Matt, Dave Keith (Jeff's brother), and three friends organize "Run Jeff Run," Jeff's run across America. Jeff begins his 3,300 mile run at Fanueil Hall in Boston. His friend, Ted Kennedy Jr., runs the first 6 miles with him. 

 

 

February

1985

Jeff completes his run in Marina del Rey, California, raising an estimated $1 million. He averaged 17 miles per day and became the first amputee to make the cross-country journey. Along his route, he visited cancer centers and schools, and he spoke to children and teenagers.

 

 

March

1985

Jeff visits the White House where President Ronald Reagan presents him with the Courage Award, the American Cancer Society's highest honor. Jeff is offered a full scholarship to the MBA program at USC. He immerses himself in studying and competitive swimming. He befriends numerous 1984 Olympic swimmers including Rowdy Gaines, Steve Lundquist, Sippy Woodhead, and Craig Beardsley.

 

 

July

1987

Jeff and Matt Vossler organize their second non-profit, Swim Across the Sound, an open water swim for local cancer groups in Fairfield, CT.  Swimmers from the 1984 Olympics participate in the effort. 

 

 

March

1992

Jeff and Matt organize their third non-profit, Swim Across America, and continue their efforts to raise funds for cancer survivors and patients through athletic events.

 

 

July

1992

Jeff and Matt organize and participate in the first ever relay swim from Nantuckett to Cape Cod, a 26 mile route that featured 12 Olympic swimmers including Summer Sanders, Jenny Thompson, Janel Jorgensen, and Rowdy Gaines. Jeff's childhood friend, Hugh Curran, introduces him to Mr. and Mrs. Pirini on the beach in Cape Cod after the swim. The Pirini family had just endowed the Pirini Quality of Life Clinic at Dana Farber. This was the first survivor clinic in the US. Hugh convinced Matt and Jeff to begin funding survivorship programs.

 


1992-2004 Jeff, Matt, and over 1000 volunteers grow and expand Swim Across America events across the country.  Matt and Jeff name Olympic swimmer Janel Jorgensen as Executive Director of SAA, and Janel takes the helm in 2004.
       

 

 

December

2004

Jeff visits the Dana Farber Institute's Pirini Clinic as a patient. He learns the chemotherapy drugs he took as a child, and the cancer itself, pose a risk to his health today and in the future. Jeff decides Connecticut should have a Survivor clinic.

 

 

January

2005

Jeff Keith, Matt Vossler, John Ragland, and Dave Keith organize the fourth non-profit for the team, the Connecticut Challenge, a charity bike ride to fund survivor services in Connecticut.

 

 

August

2005

The Connecticut Challenge raises over $500,000 in its inaugural year to fund survivorship programs in Connecticut.

 

 

October

2006

CT Challenge opens the first clinic for adult cancer survivors in Connecticut, The Connecticut Challenge Survivorship Clinic at Yale Cancer Center. CT Challenge begins funding the Hero's Clinic at Yale Cancer Center, the first clinic in the state for survivors of childhood cancers

 

 

May

2007

CT Challenge begins to sponsor annual survivorship symposium and continuing medical education for medical professionals to increase awareness of issues surrounding survivorship.

 

 

March

2008

CT Challenge funds four important research studies that aim to improve the quality of life among survivors.

 

 

May

2009

The Connecticut Challenge announces the formation of the Connecticut Challenge Survivorship Network, linking survivorship programs and resources across the state, with survivors who need services in their local communities.  

 

 

 

September

2009


Jeff decides to follow his life's passion full-time. He resigns his position as a high-yield bond salesman, so he can focus all his professional efforts on directing the CT Challenge.

 

 

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