COLUMBUS, Ohio - For one Ohio State rower in particular, the feat hits home. Recently recognized as a Columbus pacesetter with the American Cancer Society Making Strides against Breast Cancer walk, Erika Benford lost her mother, Susie Benford, to breast cancer nearly a year ago.
"A pacesetter is someone who goes above and beyond for the cause," Cindy Groeniger, an affiliate of the American Cancer Society, said. "Volunteers must raise a minimum of $2,000 to earn the title."
Benford did that, and more. The rower raised an estimated total of $4,500 last October, which topped all Columbus participants and Groeniger was happy to bestow praises on the junior's behalf.
"She was great," Groeniger said. "Her enthusiasm was phenomenal, and I really enjoyed the time I was able to spend with her. You could tell she was very passionate about her cause and I know that stems from the loss of her mother. I thought she was just wonderful."
"Not only was it inspiring to see how motivated everyone was to raise money, but it personally made me feel very supported since breast cancer hits very close to home for me," Benford said.
Behind all her commitment, Benford is equally modest, quick to share the credit.
"The rowing team was extremely excited to participate in this year's Making Strides walk," Benford said. "This was our first time volunteering for this organization and it is a volunteer project we hope to continue. I am very excited to be on a team of such amazing and giving girls."
The team decided to take a different approach to fundraising during this past fall, splitting the roster into separate fundraising groups.
"Half of the team raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma's Light the Night walk (which took place in early October), and the other half raised money for the American Cancer Society's Making Strides against Breast Cancer walk," Benford said. "Combined, the teams raised nearly $10,000, which is absolutely amazing."
The team's outstanding work ethic and motivation to succeed is clear, but its willingness to help others stands above all the rest.
"We spend most of our time on the water or in the weight room, striving to achieve our ultimate goal of being the best boat and team we can be," Benford said. "But the heart of our team is much bigger than our physical strength."