If you were to ask me what I planned to do after college graduation, I would’ve said “backpack Europe with my best friends for two months, move to Colorado or Arizona to become the ultimate weekend warrior, and begin my career as an electrical engineer.”
That was the plan in 1999. However, after a week’s worth of headaches prior to college graduation I went on an unexpected detour. I graduated college on a Sunday in May 1999, had plans to depart for Europe on Tuesday, but on Monday the headaches were worse than ever. My dad and I went to the ER at Saint Mary’s where I was conclusively diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a racquetball. I was 23 years old.
Over the next two and a half years I underwent 3 craniotomies, experienced massive seizure complications, had to relearn how to walk, talk, and tie my shoes, endured chemotherapy to the brain for 12 months, followed by a year of social reintegration.
But since the ordeal began I immediately realized that the way out of the woods was through “community.” The people who were there for me in the hospital, throughout treatment, and into remission were my heroes. This journey was no longer about me. My reason for fighting and maintaining perspective was because of them.
In 2002, at the end of the dot-com recession I met the owner of a start-up company. He took me under his wing and that’s when my career in sales, marketing and business development began. I would put the company on the map as an industry leader in the business of sports.
Fast forward 10 years since remission began, I founded My Hometown Heroes, Inc. in 2010 to celebrate the decade milestone of being cancer free and trained to compete in Ironman Canada with the goal of raising $10,000. I crossed the finish line at Ironman Canada in less than 12 hours, we exceeded our fundraising goal, and we would award our first scholarship in 2011.
My Hometown Heroes is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and our mission is to help bridge the gap between cancer and college, one scholarship at a time. Toward the end of 2015, I left my corporate job to go ALL-IN in to build the foundation, which also was the year I became a member of NCET.
Brian Anderson of Granite Construction Supply and Sign Shop is a board member of My Hometown Heroes. He is also a cancer survivor who campaigned that we should host a fundraising poker tournament and in 2021 we launched our first Ante Up for College Scholarships poker tournament.
On Saturday, Nov. 18, we will be hosting our 3rd annual poker tournament at the Club Cal Neva on the second floor next to the sports book. During tournament play the Nevada Wolf Pack football game and the Formula 1 Race in Las Vegas can be viewed on the big screens.
We will have plenty of food and lots of fun.
Individual player buy-in is $125. Table sponsorships begin at $1,500, and with the Full House sponsorship level of $2,500 you not only get a table for 10 but you also sponsor a My Hometown Heroes scholarship recipient. That means you have the privilege to contact a MHH scholarship recipient and be the first to inform them about their award you sponsored.
To Ante Up and to help make the next scholarship dream come true, visit: https://myhometownheroes.kindful.com/e/3rd-annual-ante-up-for-college-scholarships
NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. More info at www.NCET.org.
Danny Heinsohn is the founder and executive director at My Hometown Heroes (myhometownheroes.org). He has been a proud member of NCET since 2015. Danny has an unquenchable thirst for adventure and remains the ultimate weekend warrior through trail running, mountain biking, hiking and backpacking.