Up and Ready

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The Get Up 8 Foundation is dedicated to community, service and caring.

By CARA ALANA

There is a Japanese proverb, “nanakorobi yaoki” (literally: seven falls, eight getting up), that exemplifies resilience and how character plays into how an individual reacts in times of crisis.

This proverb is woven into Japanese culture including work, education, health, athletics and in martial arts. It means no matter how many times one gets knocked down, one always gets up.

The Get Up 8 Foundation was formed by a small group of friends who believed in the importance of a strong, well-supported community. The nonprofit funds development opportunities to help underserved individuals, families and groups in the community who have fallen on hard times and need assistance to overcome their challenges.

It is not just about the financial assistance, they also help on a personal level by inspiring individuals to move beyond feeling helpless to a place of empowerment. Get Up 8 also offers opportunities for those who wish to have a positive impact and be a part of something bigger by helping others in need.

Having a medical crisis is difficult as one navigates the healthcare world while experiencing new emotions of fear, anxiety and helplessness. Oftentimes the feelings of being alone in their challenges are overwhelming and having someone lean in and care makes all the difference in the world. Get Up 8 strives to be a part of that difference by providing funds and caring support. They also provide the opportunity to make big differences in the lives of those who are in desperate need of hope by volunteering time or fundraising efforts.

Alex Tung had leukemia in 2014 and is now in remission after chemotherapy.

It all began with Ben Tran in 2012. At the young age of 36, He had a left hemispheric stroke that left him paralyzed on the right side of his body. He had to relearn how to walk, learn to write with his left hand, and work with balance, coordination and motor skill issues.

Get Up 8 helped raise funds for Ben’s medical expenses. As he was recovering in the hospital, friend and Get Up 8 supporter Alex Tung visited him to help keep his spirits up while being involved with fundraising efforts to assist Ben. That personal touch made a big difference and Ben was so thankful for how Alex was there as a support system during his recovery.

In 2014, Alex was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a fast-growing form of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Chemotherapy was ordered immediately to treat the aggressive type of leukemia. Alex was treated with four stages of chemotherapy and was a part of a clinical trial that used umbilical cord blood transplantation.

During this time Ben was doing much better in his recovery from his stroke and the roles switched as Ben became the support system to Alex in his fight against leukemia. Ben visited Alex regularly in the hospital and helped raise funds for Alex. Today Alex is in remission.

The story of how Ben and Alex helped each other is a part of the Get Up 8 fabric. They raise funds and rally to help their current grant recipient, and later this person feels the calling to help others in their times of need.

Recipients are selected through the Get Up 8’s grant application process. Once a grant application is submitted, a board member (representing fields such as law, medicine, marketing, education and more) is assigned to each applicant. The potential grant recipient is contacted by the board member to learn more about their unique situation and needs. The board discusses possible grant recipients and makes decisions on who they can help.

Get Up 8 members (including board members) all volunteer their time. Get Up 8’s goal is to help as many individuals in need as they can, and recipients are of all nationalities. Grant applications can be filled out on Get Up 8’s website at ​www.getup8.org​.

To help raise funds, Get Up 8 has various events throughout the year. Camaraderie, competition and compassion are the hallmarks of “The Race” every year. This fun-filled family event, which celebrates the tradition of outrigger paddling with grueling 400-yard sprints, raises funds for a grant recipient. Over 200 paddlers participate in “The Race” with five-person teams and 25 medals up for grabs in five divisions (men, women, coed, kids, uniform) with all levels of experience welcome to participate.

The annual Jamie Pajo Outrigger Race, held at the Long Beach Marine Stadium, is one of the main fundraising events for the Get Up 8 Foundation.

This year, “The Race” is called the sixth annual Jamie Pajo Outrigger Race. It honors the life of Jamie Pajo, who passed away at 32 years of age from complications during a surgery he needed because of an enlarged heart. The event will be held on April 21 at the Long Beach Marine Stadium in Long Beach. Go to www.getup8.com​ for more information about registration and practices.

Current challenges facing Get Up 8 are that they are almost maxed out with their current circle of supporters and they rely solely on word of mouth and social media to advertise. Get Up 8 Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization and all donations are tax-deductible.

Board Director Ryan Okita said, “Get Up 8 was created to change lives and has the responsibility to do great work in which all of our supporters can be proud of making possible.”

A powerful method to help those in need and to bring awareness is to check out Get Up 8’s registry at ​www.registry8.org​. With the goal of utilizing crowdfunding campaigns, a network of family and friends can set gifting goals with no platform fee. One can read about the challenges of different individuals who are in need and donate to them. Like a wedding or baby registry, items are listed that people need.

When a project reaches their financial goal, Get Up 8 ships the item to the individual. There is no minimum donation and every dollar makes a big difference. During the holidays, the registry does a Snow Angels campaign that provides a holiday with gifts for those who would have gone without.

Besides directly providing financial assistance to grant recipients in need, Get Up 8 has a goal of building resources in different communities around the world. They will provide seed money to help with startup costs, step-by-step instructions and materials to host Get Up 8’s premier event, “The Auction,” for any community. “The Auction” incorporates dinner, entertainment, and prizes such as Disneyland annual passes, large-screen televisions and MacBooks.

By expanding into new regions and investing in leaders who passionately wish to make a difference, Get Up 8 will continue to make a positive impact globally.

A recent recipient of “The Auction” was Krissy Kobata. At 25, Krissy was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a condition where bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells. She found out she needed a bone marrow transplant but discovered that being of mixed heritage, Japanese and Caucasian, finding a bone marrow donor would be challenging.

Her family was devastated when her father and brother were not matches. After ten years awaiting a transplant, her condition had digressed to a point where she could not wait any longer for the ideal donor. Her medical team chose a partially matched unrelated donor and she underwent a new procedure called a haploidentical transplant (half-match transplant). On March 11, Krissy celebrated 100 days post-transplant and is recovering nicely.

Jessi Lopez lost a leg as a result of a 2016 traffic accident. Get Up 8 assisted with medical costs and a prosthetic leg.

Another grant recipient of “The Auction” was Jessi Lopez. In 2016, 29-year old Jessi was on his way to work on his motorcycle when he was hit by a truck. After numerous reconstructive surgeries, he made the extremely difficult decision with his family to amputate his left leg below the knee.

Get Up 8 raised funds to assist with medical costs and a prosthetic leg so that he could run and play with his son and live an active lifestyle. Jessi returned to work, got married to his devoted fiance, and has a new baby girl. He also inspires others around the world who are facing difficult decisions regarding the amputation process and supports them through their challenges.

These are just some of the people who saw a life transformation because of a helping hand. Like the Japanese proverb that serves as the inspiration for their name, Get Up 8 helps those to persevere through their challenges and to always get back up and stay up.

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