A New Chapter for RAI Supporters

December 11, 2015

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Twelve years ago, my brother and your dear friend – Colin O’Donoghue – was diagnosed with aggressive head and neck cancer at the young age of 26 years old. Colin was a teacher, a wrestling coach at St. Edwards, and he was working towards his Master’s in Education. Like many other young adults diagnosed with cancer, Colin was underinsured. Because of this, friends and family – many of you – rallied to show support for Colin by joining together for an event, which then grew into a larger fundraising effort, and eventually established Rise Above It (RAI) – a nonprofit committed to supporting young adults affected by cancer and to the broader movement in Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology (AYAO).

Thanks to your support of RAI, Colin was able to pursue Clinical Trials after being told there were no more treatment options for his condition. Despite the eventual outcome, Colin lived each day with courage, a fighting spirit, and with hope that he would overcome the dreadful disease. Because of you, Colin was empowered to live life on his terms; he enjoyed many adventures post diagnosis that otherwise would not have been possible.

This August marked the 10-year anniversary of Colin’s passing (8/1/2005). Over the past decade, the collective effort known as Rise Above It has contributed in many meaningful ways, most notably in the individual lives of many who unfortunately found themselves in similar situations to Colin. Rise Above It has also played an important leadership role in the larger AYAO community.

It is with mixed emotions and a heavy heart that I write this update. With input from RAI’s loyal volunteers, and with unanimous approval from RAI’s Board of Directors, we have decided bring RAI’s efforts as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to a close.

Despite this decision, I urge you to continue to support the fight against cancer, specifically cancer in young adults. There are many great organizations and resources committed to improving the lives, and ultimately health outcomes, for young adults living with and surviving cancer.

Colin’s legacy in this fight lives on through First Descents (FD), a nonprofit organization that provides life-changing outdoor adventures for young adults impacted by cancer. Please visit http://support.firstdescents.org/RAI to show your continued support. You can also join the FD Rise Above It team and create your own personal fundraising effort!

Most importantly, Colin’s spirit lives on through each of you… through the many laughs and smiles inspired in memory of Colin. Thank you for all you have done to support Colin, Rise Above It, and my family. I am forever grateful.


Ryan O’Donoghue

12th Annual RAI Super Bowl Benefit

This was RAI's final Super Bowl Benefit. Huge thanks to all who made it possible over the years!!!

--- Click here to learn about Sponsorship Opportunities and Benefits! ---

Date:  Sunday, February 1, 2015 (Super Bowl Sunday)

Time:  5:00p.m. (EST) until close

Location:  The Ironwood Cafe688 Dover Center Rd, Cleveland, OH 44145


  • $40 at the door
  • Complimentary Beer, Wine and Food Buffet: Chili & Nacho Station, "Hodge Podge Station", Burgers, Brats, Dogs, Boneless Wings & BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders
  • Chance to win Door Prizes
  • Super Bowl squares, with winners paid at the end of each quarter *

2014 Colin O’Donoghue Legacy Invitational

Nearly golfers gathered on a beautiful day at Sweetbriar Golf Club on September 27th to once again demonstrate their support in the fight against adolescent and young adult cancer. It was another fantastic day of golf, games and fun. The day was made possible with tremendous support from our many sponsors, committee chairs, volunteers, and golfers... for this we are eternally grateful! Additionally, we had an exciting new addition this year: Woody Roseland joined RAI friends and supporters as this year's guest speaker! Visit www.woodyroseland.com to learn more about this inspiring young survivor!

We thank each and every person and organization that helped make this event another success for RAI, with special thanks to our sponsors:






Click here to view photos from the event!


11th Annual Super Bowl Benefit!

The 2014 RAI Super Bowl Benefit was another successful event for Rise Above It (RAI) as we changed locations this year to the Ironwood Café in Westlake, Ohio and continued to see an amazing turnout of friends, family and supporters!  All in all, we raised more than $12,000 in funds to HELP FIGHT CANCER!

Once again, the event was marked by a tremendous outpouring of support from sponsors, including: The Rogers Group, Steam Fire, Custom Fundraising Solutions, Virtual DJ, TRG, as well as Arizona Cardinals’ punter and Bay Village native, Dave Zastudil, The funds raised during the 2014 RAI Super Bowl Benefit will be used primarily to support First Descents, an organization which offers young adult cancer fighters and survivors a free outdoor adventure experience designed to empower them to climb, paddle and surf beyond their diagnosis, defy their cancer, reclaim their lives and connect with others doing the same.

We thank each and every person and organization that helped make this event another success for RAI, with special thanks again to our sponsors, volunteers, friends and contributors.

What initially began as a party amongst close friends, designed to support our close friend and continued inspiration - Colin O'Donoghue - has grown into a well-established organization that supports a movement in the world of Adolescent & Young Adult Oncology (AYAO). The fight against adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer has gained tremendous momentum, much in part due to the support of RAI and its committed supporters!

----- EVENT SPONSORS -----


CFS Home             

Date:  Sunday, February 2, 2014 (Super Bowl Sunday)

Time:  3:00p.m. (EST) until close

Location:  The Ironwood Cafe688 Dover Center Rd, Cleveland, OH 44145


  • $30 at the door
  • Complimentary Food Buffet: Chili & Nacho Station, "Hodge Podge Station", Burgers, Brats, Dogs, Boneless Wings & BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders
  • Amazing Door Prizes - announced at end of 1st Quarter, halftime and end of 3rd Quarter *
  • $500 Grand Prize announced at Halftime! **
  • Super Bowl squares, with winners paid at the end of each quarter *
  • Guest Bartending tips will go to RAI

*  Winners MUST BE PRESENT to win Door Prizes and Squares

** Grand Prize winner DOES NOT  NEED TO BE PRESENT

Proud Sponsor of 2013 Critical Mass Conference

Rise Above It (RAI) was a proud sponsor the Critical Mass 2013 Annual Conference.

Included below is an update from Critical Mass CEO, Heidi Adams:

Hello, everyone!

Connecting the Dots 2013 is over, but I want to take the time to thank you for making Cleveland a memorable experience. As we welcomed old friends and met new ones, it was a great reminder that, together, we have the ability to shape and redefine the way forward for the young adult cancer community.

There were many “firsts” at this meeting, showing the vibrancy and progress in the AYA (adolescent and young adult) movement. In an exciting pre-conference gathering, representatives from most of the NCI cooperative groups came together at the invitation of Critical Mass and the AYA Committees of SWOG and COG for the first-ever intergroup meeting to discuss AYA research priorities and avenues for intergroup collaboration. 

Kicking off the conference, representatives from the Institute of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute reported out on their milestone AYA meetings from earlier this year, giving us a first look at how policy and research priorities are shaping up moving forward.

Diem Brown's inspiring keynote reminded us why we were all there: both in outlining the challenges unique to young people with cancer, and in embodying their spirit in meeting those challenges.

We had a stellar pool of abstract submissions, with an afternoon of robust oral presentations and the first AYA research awards, given by the Steven G. AYA Cancer Fund. And we were proud to host the awarding of the first National Center of Excellence designations by Change It Back.

We took a candid look at some of the obstacles and solutions for developing AYA programs. And, finally, we explored the impact of the Affordable Care Act on young adults, with an up-to-the-minute presentation from Joanna Morales of Triage Cancer and an interactive case study exercise to help attendees put newfound knowledge into practice.

We’ll be posting many of the presentations on the Critical Mass website in days to come. In the meantime, check out my recent blog post at triagecancer.com, where I wrote about Critical Mass’ big vision for a shared patient resource platform, a National Young Adult Cancer Registry, and the need for us to walk forward together as a community to achieve it. Your commitment to our shared vision and the important work that each of you do every day will significantly improve the lives of adolescents and young adults (AYAs) now, and for years to come.

So, as we head into this Thanksgiving Day holiday, know that I am thankful for all of you, for the work we have done to reach this point, and for the possibilities of where we will go in the future. 

Thank you!

Heidi Adams