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