Keynote Speaker at Lacuna Loft Gala

by Aerial Donovan, Program Director at GRYT Health

I had the honor of being the keynote speaker a couple weeks ago at the Lacuna Loft Moon Walk Gala. It was an inaugural fundraising event meant to raise funds for the young adult cancer resources non-profit, Lacuna Loft. It ended up being much more.

Like GRYT Health, Lacuna Loft has an online presence. Most of their programs take place through Zoom, an online video platform or through their website. Participants sign up for their respective program, whether that be a writing workshop, book club, creative workshop, etc., then get online to connect with others like them. Lacuna Loft creates a supportive environment where no matter your location, your only limitation is the ability to get online.

I have had the sincere pleasure of not only leading some workshops, but participating in a few as well. For both survivors and caregivers, the people that get online to socialize through a “Brady Brunch” screen view is much more intimate than you might imagine. The stories that float through conversation are an amazing reflection of all the hard work, CEO and Founder, Mallory Casperson has put into it.

Representatives from Hopelab, GRYT Health, and Lacuna Loft

This is why Lacuna Loft’s in person event was so special. The face of your typical support group is changing. The reach of these online organizations, such as Lacuna Loft, GRYT Health, Hopelab (an organization that has an awesome mindfulness chatbot for young adult cancer survivors) is growing. So is the voice of the community of young adult survivors and caregivers. It’s gotten louder. We’ve thrown out the limitations of a brick and mortar building and have no intention of going back. Which made this in person event so much more than a stiff and boring fundraiser.

The walls were lined with paintings from young adult survivors and caregivers, a reflection of what their journey has meant to them. On colorful 12 x 12 canvases, upon reflection you were submersed in their pain, healing, isolation. It included a piece from a GRYT team member, a beautiful echo of her journey (which I proudly now own!).

The audience at the Gala included program participants, project lead of Vivibot at Hopelab, Cure magazine, board members, and a host of supportive Lacuna Loft cheerleaders. I didn’t know a better way to describe the people they were impacting by their generous time and donations other than pointing out some of the program participants in the crowd. The face of what young adult cancer looks like. It’s my friend, Bryan, from Atlanta who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 25. And my friend, Mary Clare, who is getting ready to have a bone marrow transplant from relapsed AML. Or event chair, and two time cancer survivor, Kelly who was diagnosed in college and had to juggle fertility preservation with normal exams. They’re more than statistics on a page which is why the mission of Lacuna Loft, GRYT and Hopelab are all so important.

I encourage you to check them all out. You’ll be inspired just like I am by the force of change they’re bringing.

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