NAI Hallmark Partners intern, Todd Blake, has a very unique perspective on life. Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in fall 2009 just one month into his freshman year at University of Florida, Todd’s life clearly took a very unexpected turn. The graduate of Ponte Vedra’s Nease High School took 56 IB credits with him to college and essentially entered as a junior. But his diagnosis required withdrawing from college and multiple rounds of treatments over 4 remissions and relapses.
“When I look at Todd I simply can’t have a bad day,” says Hallmark COO Dave Auchter. “He is an inspiration to our entire team, a brilliant young guy with integrity in spades and a very bright future in real estate.”
Today Todd is in remission and benefiting from ongoing care at the Mayo Clinic where his wife (Maja) of less than a year works in cancer research. This August, Todd will complete his degree from The University of Florida where he has been a correspondent student maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Todd has also elected to submit an optional honors thesis project where he will offer a comprehensive study of Downtown Jacksonville and the role a vibrant urban center plays into the health of a community. The thesis gives Todd the likelihood of graduating summa cum laude. At Hallmark, Todd provides support across the business and has spearheaded the complex configuration, implementation and training of a new Client Relationship Management (CRM) platform.
“I’m a constant learner and the exposure to real estate I’ve gotten through Hallmark from brokerage best practices to property management to development has been invaluable,” says Todd. “My personal experiences have shaped my aspirations and I strive to live that perspective both professionally and in my charitable work.”
During his own struggle with cancer, Todd identified a gap in services to young adult cancer patients between the ages 18-35. In August of 2011, he founded Live for Today Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Jacksonville, FL that helps young adults with cancer. The foundation’s programs create adventure, encourage new experiences, uplift through support, and inspire a healthy lifestyle for young adults battling cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States – almost 8 times the total number of pediatric cancers. Cancer interrupts school, relationships, careers, getting married, and having children. Live for Today Foundation empowers young adults with cancer to focusing on living, not cancer.
Todd summarizes, “When I was in treatment, friends and family always asked me, ‘How can we help?’ or ‘What can we do?’ I didn’t always have an answer for them. But, the community came together and found amazing opportunities for me to experience. Looking back, the best gifts were those that helped me to get out and live.”
To donate to the Live for Today Foundation, please visit live-for-today.org. Donations can be both financial and service oriented. Frequently donated experiences include tickets to events, stays in second homes, private charters or any other unique experience you might uniquely be able to provide to lift the spirits of a young cancer patient.