Author of the Uplifting Cancer Survival Guide, The C Card and Me, Fins it Forward to Swim with Sharks
Ali Gilmore is determined to be more than a story about beating the odds of late stage cancer survival. She wants to inspire people to face their fears and enjoy life now, regardless of what obstacles come their way, and to get her point across she's willing to face one of her worst fears of all time.
It started by Ali pledging to donate $1 for each copy sold of The C Card and Me, in February to Fin Forward, a San Diego based non-profit program spear headed by Brandon Bethea, who lost his mother to cancer back in 2007. Then, caught up in the moment, she upped the ante by stating, "If we reach the donation goal of $90,000 by March 1st, then I'll sign up for one of the next shark encounters." No small proclamation for a woman who was recently quoted as saying she's so afraid of sharks she looks twice before getting into the bathtub.
Ali added, "It's true, I said it and I meant it, which means it's probably high time I faced this ridiculous, 'Jaws' induced fear."
Fin Forward is a shark-diving program for cancer survivors that came to fruition when Brandon followed through on his mother's unrealized dream to visit Australia. It was there, under 60 feet of water that he had his "Aha" moment and decided to dedicate himself to making this life affirming experience available to others and to help cancer survivors kick start their second lease on life. In 2009, Brandon took the plunge, left his home near Tampa and moved San Diego to launch the program.
"In addition to being one of the most common 'bucket list' items, shark diving can also have therapeutic benefits and act as a catalyst for change. It's about embracing life and moving forward." said Brandon. "Both our stories are about facing fears and making the most of life in the here and now. It's a natural pairing and to me, simple math: The C Card and Me + Fin Forward = Here sharky sharky..." Ali added.
While sharks are their main focus, Fin Forward also offers other marine-based encounters with dolphins, rays, and whales. S.C.U.B.A. certification is not required for most trips, and they have encounters available to accommodate most levels of physical fitness, aquatic experience, and comfort with sharks. Brandon also dreams of one day taking Fin Forward beyond the cage and soaring to even greater heights through partnership with Sir Richard Branson.
Ali consistently donates proceeds from her book and merchandise sales to non-profit organizations that support prevention, treatment and/or recovery from cancer. She tends to focus on the non-profits that aren't quite big enough to make a blip on the radar yet, but in her words, "hold great value and promise."
When asked what she'll do if they surpass the donation goal of $90,000, Ali responded, "What better way to celebrate than by inviting one of this month's donation participants to join us?"
Find out more at: The C Card and Me website.
About Ali Gilmore
Ali Gilmore is a freelance photographer, singer/songwriter, geek and author of The C Card and Me - How I beat stage IV cancer (to a pulp). Originally from Seattle, Washington, she now resides in the coastal town of Oceanside, California.
Discover more about Ali at: http://www.aligilmore.com