Updated: Oct 28, 2022
I wanted to thank everyone that was al able to attend and support our SoCal U-Jam 10-Year Anniversary Event - United For the Fight. It was an amazing experience from beginning to end, and it would not have been possible without you. Because of you and your incredible support, we have been able to raise $3245 (as of October 28, 2022), and we are not done fundraising yet. There is still one more week left for breast cancer awareness month, and this campaign will also continue through until October 31st to continue getting as much as we can for cancer research at the City of Hope. The replay for this event is available, and you can still watch, share, and donate to our cause at this link below:
We chose to donate to cancer research at the City of Hope for multiple reasons.
There is no cure for cancer.
People that have stage IV cancer will be on treatment indefinitely until there is a cure. Once a treatment is no longer effective, a cancer patient must find another treatment that is effective or they will perish. Funding into cancer research helps develop new forms of treatment.
Historically, this is who and what we have donated to at our previous SoCal Love & Unity breast cancer fundraising events.
History of This Event
SoCal U-Jam just started about 10 years ago with the first U-Jam Fitness instructors and classes starting in Corona, CA. In one year, the instructor team grew to about ten instructors, and U-Jam started to grow with more classes being offered in the Inland Empire, Orange County and LA County. Being a small team, we all knew each and supported each one's journey in becoming an instructor. We soon learned that one of the instructors, Charlene Chao, was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and needed all the support that she can get. Since I (Jeremy Ramos) took over her classes at UFC Corona, it was suggested to hold a fundraiser at her home gym. For this event, we brought all the U-Jam Fitness instructors from across SoCal together to unite for this cause, and they were all wanting to see what they could do to help. During the event itself, we were all shocked when Charlene showed up in her current condition. Barely able to move and talk, she was able to sit through the event with her boyfriend, Dean, addressing all the students to describe the day-to-day life of what she was going through in her battle. The event was a success in what we were able to accomplish, and it was a great symbol of what it means to unite for a purpose. Unofficially, I identified this event to be the SoCal U-Jam one year anniversary, and it served as the inspiration for our upcoming anniversary events.
For our two year anniversary, I wanted to enhance the experience that we had from the fundraising event we had the previous year. SoCal U-Jam has also grown exponentially, and we had to identify a venue that could host people from Riverside County, Orange County, LA County, San Diego County, Coachella Valley, the High Desert and more to attend the event. We also established a new name to represent who we are, SoCal Love & Unity, to always remind what it is that we're trying to do and what we're trying to represent. As for even more incredible news, Charlene Chao also went into remission earlier in the year, and I wanted to show that uniting together for this fight can truly make a difference. With the use of a community gym in Orange County, and a touch of media production that highlighted Charlene's battle, no left that gym without a tear on their face.
I also have to admit that there were two years when we did not come together for this cause. The 3rd and 4th year events didn't happen, and looking back now, it was a very personal reason why I wasn't able to put forth the energy to organize these events. Those years did allow me to fully understand what it's like to have someone close to you go through cancer, as it was a period of time when I experienced my brother's fight and eventual loss to brain cancer. One of the hardest parts that I will never be able to reconcile was my brother's wish to keep others in the dark about his condition, and that I honored that wish.
The following year was going to be our 5th-year anniversary, and now with a larger group of U-Jam instructors and a highly energetic education team in SoCal to really help bring things together, it was time to see if we can continue a trend that began as a huge part of our identity. I remember reconnecting with Charlene Chao to do a follow up interview and create another video to share. At this point of time, she already beat cancer twice, and during our conversation, we did talk about my brother and his loss to brain cancer. The biggest memory I have during our talk was her saying, "So now you understand." That reply really hit home, and as much as I was able to create an emotional and inspiring video for our 2-year anniversary event, I truly was not able to empathize until now. I never released that video of the second interview as I felt that the work I put in didn't do it justice, but perhaps I'll take another shot at it soon.
With new growth in SoCal came new realities in that we have multiple instructors and students that are survivors of cancer or have had someone very close to them fight cancer. My hope is that these events will not only be able to raise funds, but to also continue to serve as a symbol of what can happen when people come together for a cause. We continued these events for the next three years until a major global event happened.
When covid-19 hit in 2020, I knew it would've been unfathomable to organize another SoCal Love & Unity anniversary event. While we did do more unique things to fundraise and bring awareness to breast cancer through virtual classes, multiple small in-person classes, or even an epic vacation trip that turned into a fundraising event, it still didn't capture the full essence of what we have done pre-covid. I believe that for this reason and more, the 10-Year SoCal event feels even more special. It was the first time when a lot of people were able to come together for an event like this in three years, it was out 10-year anniversary, and at a collaborative and united standpoint, we were able to concert our resources and connections in more ways than before to make this a positive and uplifting experience for many.
I look forward to seeing what we can do for our anniversary events in the future. We have learned a lot in the last few years through setting up multiple events and figuring how to solve new challenges. Every little step brings our capabilities higher, and now being an official non-profit organization in this endeavor, it opens a lot more avenues to make a difference. We also believe that collaborating with others can make an even bigger impact, and this year has shown that in a big way.