I was a moraler for last year's Hope Express and when I signed up, I had no idea what to expect. I just knew that I wanted to do more to help raise awareness for THON and pediatric cancer than I was doing at the time with my local PSU chapter. My motivation for the cause comes from my younger cousin, John Matthew. In 1997, at the age of 3, John was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. I was 14 years old and I had no real concept of the prognosis for his diagnosis, nor did I realize that this would be the single most important event to influence my life. At the time of his diagnosis, on the outside, he was a fun-loving, smart, witty, little boy, so I didn't realize how bad it was because he was still "normal". As the months passed, he started to lose his ability to clearly speak, he became weak, and it all hit me. It was devastating. Why John? Why so young? Why an inoperable, malignant tumor? These were the questions that went through my head. John went through radiation and chemotherapy treatments and he seemed better. He shaved his head and commented, "I look funny." He still had his sense of humor! His speech and movement got better, so I thought, he will pull through this. The MRI showed a shrunken tumor, not NO tumor, but his body couldn't handle anymore treatment. John eventually lost his battle on August 20, 1998, three months shy of becoming 5 years old. I have never experienced a loss like this and to go through seeing a child's body weaken day after day for over a year was heart-breaking. As much as John suffered, he never questioned any of it. He was SO brave and he trusted his parents and doctors. His strength and bravery have gotten me through difficult struggles in life, got me through college, help me now in graduate school, and will always be with me as I strive to achieve my goals. My mentality is that what I go through is minimal and cannot compare to what John experienced. I do not believe that any child should have to go through what John did, which is why I am very passionate about raising awareness about pediatric tumors and cancer in hopes of one day finding lifelong treatments. Being a part of Hope Express this past year was nothing short of incredible. It's not everyday that you can come together with complete strangers who have such love and passion for a common cause. Following the extreme team for 22 hours, being able to see their ups and downs, and witnessing them as they finished their final miles was so amazing that I decided in the car ride that I wanted to run next year. I have never run in my life, but that day, in the wee hours of the night (and very likely delirious from the lack of sleep), I made that decision. Since then, I have been pushing myself and if I am lucky enough to be chosen to run in Hope Express 2013, I will run in memory of my brave cousin, John Matt.