Today, in honor of #GivingTuesday, SFTL is honored to introduce you to Celia Schieffelin. When her family was profoundly impacted by cancer, she found a way to get involved and make a positive difference through the Dolphins Cancer Challenge. In February 2016, the Dolphins will host this annual event where fundraising participants will fight cancer by participating in a 5K walk/run or by choosing from six different cycling rides ending at the stadium; capped off by a fun event and concert.
What inspired you to get involved in the Dolphins Cancer Challenge?
When I was a freshman I knew I wanted to be involved on campus, whether it be a club or Greek life, but wasn’t sure which would be right for me. When I got a school-wide email about the DCC, I signed up immediately. My mom had been battling cancer for three years and I felt fundraising would be a good way to add my contribution to finding a cure. Little did I know that this “involvement” would turn into a life long commitment to not only the cause, but to supporting the doctors and researchers at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and finding a group of people who understood what I was going through.
What is your role in the Challenge this year?
My first year I fundraised $45,000 alone and rode 13 miles with two friends. The next year I put together a team of 35 of our closest friends and family and we all rode 30 miles and raised $130,000 together on Team Barb. This year I was given the opportunity to represent the entire undergraduate portion of the University of Miami with the goal of recruiting and fundraising as much as possible. I will also be heading my team from last year, Team Barb, in memory of my mom. My goal this year for both teams is $100,000 each.
What is your fund raising goal?
My personal goal this year is $5,000. Just because it says $5,000 doesn’t mean I won’t try to exceed that, I’ll always try to push further!
You have a lot of leadership responsibility. Does your age ever get in the way of your being taken seriously?
Yes, definitely, and Sylvester and the Dolphins acknowledge this. Between being 20 and having a heavy course load, Sylvester and the Dolphins have been so incredibly helpful in assisting me when contacting vendors or making reservations (hotels, bikes, busses, etc). A lot of this comes down to me not having a lot of free time or the resources, but there are always established professionals on stand by to help me with any bumps in the road.
How do you inspire others?
I feel I inspire others indirectly. I’ve worked for years on how to cope with my mom battling cancer, and in turn, my mom taught me to never let adversity define me. By staying true to this life lesson, I think I’ve become a living example of how to overcome and conquer this sort of situation. Or maybe it’s just that I’m a good example of how to overcome adversity no matter how bad the situation is? I’m just proof that with love and the right people by your side, you can overcome any situation and break all boundaries.
When you are having an off day, how do you get your game face on?
For cancer patients, there are no off days. No patient, especially my mother, would ever wake up and say “Chemo today? Nope, I don’t feel like it”. Everyday they wake up with the cards they’ve been dealt and they fight, so I can guarantee whatever has thrown me off is no where near as hard as what they deal with. My mom was always a fighter, she would still wake up early and make me breakfast every day before high school regardless of what chemo pump was attached to her or the surgery she had planned for the next day, I just remember this and it’s enough to push me through.
What do you consider to be the biggest confidence booster? Confidence buster?
My biggest booster is when people want to get involved. My only hope that by sharing my message and my story -because it makes me so uncomfortable and I don’t want people thinking I’m just asking for money or pity- is that people can understand what I went through and will be just as motivated to help. When people want to join or donate, I know I did a good job in conveying my message, plus then my support system grows even bigger! A buster is and will always be when people or vendors don’t care that this is for a good cause. Maybe it’s just because it makes total sense to me to dedicate time and money to this cause because I’ve experienced it first-hand, but nothing takes the wind from my sails than someone telling me “No” or shutting me down for (what seems like) no good reason.
You’re involved in a huge number of things. How do you balance it all? How do you prioritize?
Family comes first, always. And by family I mean my closest friends and then my actual blood relatives, aka my family by choice. These people are my support system, they still take care of me and will always have my back. Then I try to prioritize schoolwork/career, then I let everything else fall into place. From being so involved in so many things, I’ve learned that it’s important to know your limit. I try to not be overinvolved in too many things at once anymore because I’d rather be able to dedicate 100% of my attention to a few projects I’m passionate about than 20% attention to five different things at once.
What does it mean to you to be “Fit to Lead?”
Being fit to lead is someone who trusts herself enough to delegate to those they have empowered to be successful. By understanding those who you surround yourself with, then as a leader you are best able to not only set them up for success, but also yourself. It’s important to remember that people have their own strengths, weaknesses, and adversity they’re working to overcome; by being selfless and strong you will be fit to lead.
Please give us the information for donating or otherwise getting involved.
My donation page 🙂 http://haku.ly/78e4b2