Stay Positive was founded in 2013, my second year as a student at Butler; however, its history began several years before.
My name is Eric Day, and I am a two-time brain cancer survivor. I am a recent graduate from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, where I earned a degree in Organizational Communications and Leadership. During my time at Butler, I began a student organization called Stay Positive, whose story you are about to learn. The Stay Positive movement caught on, and now I am also the Founder and President of Stay Positive, a not-for-profit organization, that donates one hundred percent of its proceeds to cancer patients through help paying for treatment, scholarships, and more.
Stay Positive was founded in 2013, my second year as a student at Butler; however, its history began several years before. In 2010, and at nineteen years old, my freshman year of college at Indiana State was cut short when I was diagnosed with brain cancer just three months into classes. During my first bout with cancer, I spent 23 days in the hospital, of which, 21 I spent in a coma. I had a feeding and breathing tube and overcame a stroke that left me completely paralyzed on the left side. Despite these challenges, I re-enrolled in classes at Indiana State the following spring and returned to a normal life. The following fall, the week before finals, I learned that the cancer had relapsed. I left classes at Indiana State and moved to Jill’s House, a Ronald McDonald House in Bloomington, IN for young cancer patients and their families, in order to receive proton radiation treatment.
Initially, I was frustrated, in pain, and upset. I had overcome so much before and was mentally and physically worn down. That’s when I met another Jill’s House resident, little Allison. Allison was a six-year-old girl receiving treatment for a rare cancer, perimenigeal aveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. She would spend her mornings with me, receiving proton radiation therapy, and at night, receive additional chemotherapy treatment. We became each other’s best friends and biggest supporters throughout our treatments. I couldn’t help but notice something special about Allison. Despite her situation, she always had a contagious smile and a bubbly personality, and cancer was not going to take that away from her. Every day with Allison was a better day. It was from her, I learned that the only thing we can control in life is our attitude.
After two years of treatment, I beat brain cancer. I was free to go home, and with the encouragement of Allison, I would be attending Butler University, my dream school. While I was excited to be through treatments and resume a normal life, I did not want to leave little Allison. It was one of the hardest days of my life. As we parted, Allison handed me a piece of paper. The note simply read: “Stay positive, Allison.”
When I arrived on campus at Butler University in 2012, Allison’s words stuck with me, and I wanted everyone to hear it. Inspired by Allison and her note, I made blue wristbands that on one side, read “Stay Positive,” and the other “G3,” standing for Give God Glory. I made 50 wristbands to hand out to my new friends at Butler, hopeing that the story would make its way around campus. That’s when I connected with Erik Fromm, a Butler basketball player whose father was battling cancer. The wristband was just what he needed as he and his family was going through a difficult time. He helped me hand out wristbands and involved other student athletes in spreading the Stay Positive story. Before I knew it, we were out of wristbands and I saw that this could really turn in to something.
I wanted to do more with the Stay Positive message to help others face their struggles, whether big or small, and along the way, I wanted to help other cancer patients. That is when the Stay Positive student organization formed as an official University club in 2013. Today, Stay Positive enters its fourth year as a formal student organization with student leaders and faculty sponsors, who have helped develop Stay Positive and its support in all fifty states and in 13 countries. The Stay Positive Butler Chapter continues to sell wristbands, and has expanded its merchandise to t-shirts, car decals, golf tees, headbands, and a Children’s book I wrote, called “Stay Positive”. The organization hosts various fundraisers throughout the year, such as 5Ks and “Stay Positive Day” at a home Butler Men’s basketball game each year. Our future goals include funding scholarships for cancer patients and forming other Stay Positive collegiate chapters.
Stay Positive has also continued to grow through social media. Outreach via social media and other forms of communication have been key to support for our mission. Professional athletes, student athletes, coaches at all levels, corporations, and more have shown their support for Stay Positive and help us continue spreading its message. From a tweet, to wearing a Stay Positive band, to a shout-out in a Twitter bio, to a donation, every bit of support helps Stay Positive assist cancer patients.
The Stay Positive message is not just one for cancer patients; it’s for everyone. Each person faces their own challenges. Whether it’s illness of yourself or a loved one, divorce, loss of a friend, or simply a bad day, challenges of all sizes will happen in life. However, you have the opportunity to make the decision that your circumstances will not control you. The one thing you do have control over is your attitude. It’s never too late to achieve your goals and conquer your challenges. If you give up, you’re not just limiting yourself, but it can have an impact on others around you and those who are cheering you on. Stay Positive is a universal message to which we can all relate.
To learn more about Stay Positive and what we are doing, follow us on Twitter at @PositiveBands. You may also visit the organization’s website, www.staypositivebands.org, for more information.
And don’t forget, the only disability in life is a negative attitude.