Lansing, Michigan October 10, 2013 Lesscancer.org (Next Generation Choices Foundation) was honored in Michigans Senate by Senator Bert Johnson.
Below is what Less Cancer Founder Bill Couzens had to say on the floor.
Michigan Senate, Lansing Michigan October 10, 2013
Thank you Senator Johnson.
My name is Bill Couzens, I am the founder of Next Generation Choices Foundation also known as Lesscancer.org.
Lesscancer.org was founded 10 years ago. We are a 501(c)( 3) public charity.
The vision and mission for the organization is focused on less cancer. Less incidences of cancer.
Since Richard Nixon launched the War on Cancer in 1971 we have suffered untold incidences of cancer and spent billions of dollars on research.
We live in a time when cancer has become so commonplace that the news of new cases seems almost expected.
Today, we have more cancer not less and some sharp increases in pediatric blood and brain cancers.
The National Institute of Health tells us that this year more than 1 million Americans and more than 10 million people worldwide are expected to be diagnosed with cancer, a disease commonly believed to be preventable.
Only 5–10 percent of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90–95 percent have their roots in the environment and lifestyle.
Science has shown us the many influences of the environment on our health; for instance asthma.
For example, among children ages 5 to 17, asthma is the leading cause of school absences from a chronic illness.
It accounts for an annual loss of more than 14 million school days per year.
Growing up, I never heard of asthma, but now it’s the new normal.
Like so many illnesses, evidence tells us that cancer too has its roots in environment and lifestyle.
With informed choices we can make all the difference.
Raising awareness for that today we have here Suzi Tobias who was the visionary for the Less Cancer Bike to Mackinac in honor of her best friend Aileen O’Brien Graef who recently died of breast cancer.
On July 20, 2013, Suzi Tobias, David Toutant and Jim Weitzmann all of whom are here today, set out from Port Huron, Michigan, on a 300-mile, two-day bike ride to draw attention to cancer prevention.
My small role was as chief cheerleader and supporter, but we had an amazing team of people that included leadership on the ground from John Kretzschmar, Trudy Weitzmann and the boundless enthusiasm of Janice Lovchuk. Janice is here today as well.
And then there were others who met us along the way to ride with us, including Barrie Fires, who created amazing graphics for the ride, and Suzi’s brother Dan Schaitberger, who joined in toward the end and were there to follow Suzi, David and Jim across the finish line.
Other critical supporters were Kerrie Barno, Martha Fruhauf and Coleman Rogers, Jon Witz, Alexis Glendening, Miles O’Brien and Larry Fisher.
In reflecting on the epic Lesscancer.org bike ride from Port Huron to Mackinac, I was reminded by reporter Alison Rose Levy, who asked, “How did this bike ride change your life? How did this touch your heart, move you ….What did this do for you, Bill?”
The bike ride certainly did move me in a way I had not expected.
But what really caught me off guard was when we would get stopped by someone or a group of people, and down the road there would be yet more people, and they would say, “Hey, are you the Less Cancer people?
We are really grateful for everything you’re doing” or “I wanted to follow you to show my support” or “My wife is sick and I just want to thank you for all you’re doing.”
As I traveled the trail north, I was moved by the miracles, the stories and the people who found their way to us. For 300 miles, we would be traveling through farmland and open space and then I would come upon a lone thumbs-up from a man standing in the back of a pickup…then a little way down the road, a honking horn and a cheer of “Go Less Cancer!”
People could track the Less Cancer cyclists online from a GPS device that the Bayview Port Huron-Mackinac racing officials had given us. Because of the tracker, people could tell when we were coming their way, and there are no words to describe the faces of the people on their lawns and front porches waving to us.
Now mind you while this was all going on we had over 100,000 people following us on the social networks.
I am here today to thank all of you and Michigan a state we all love, thank you for your support of our very worthy mission to bring prevention to the forefront.
I am here today to thank all the Lesscancer heroes that made this happen and for Suzi Tobias whose vision it was for this bike ride and who had the leadership to make it happen. Also, special thanks to Bayview Yacht Club for their support in making Lesscancer.org a community initiative, it has been a privilege to have their support.
Please support us next year and hope you will participate.