Benjamin Lundin is a member of the Kidney Cancer Association’s Patient & Caregiver Advisory Council.
What motivated you to get involved with the KCA?
Ever since high school, I’ve been a pretty active runner. I’ve run dozens of races over the years including a few half marathons and a full marathon in 2017. Once COVID-19 swept across the world and everything began to shut down, I began running every single day, mostly out of boredom. I was training for an Ironman at the time and when my race was cancelled in May I just kept running and running. This went on for 6 or 7 months until about November of 2020 when I thought it would be a fun idea to run 30 miles for my 30th birthday in January 2021. I tossed the idea around in my head for a few weeks during some of my longer runs in the woods and thought it would be a cool idea to do it as a fundraiser.
Growing up, kidney cancer had a devastating impact on me and my family. My father battled the disease for 2+ years and eventually passed away from it in August 2004 when my brother and I were just kids. Needless to say, kidney cancer was the first cause that popped into my head when I thought about my 30 mile fundraiser. I did some web browsing and found the KCA, saw what the organization stood for, who it represented, and the impact that it had; then saw that I could create my own “Strong Alone” fundraiser directly on the website and it took off from there. In about three weeks of fundraising, I generated nearly $9,000 across more than 120 donations and thankfully finished my 30-mile run all in one piece!
A few weeks later, I saw that the KCA was inviting new members to join the Patient and Caregiver Advisory Council and thought it would be a great way to maintain my relationship with the organization over the long-term. I applied, was ultimately accepted, and within days I participated in the KidneyCan Spring Advocacy Days in March of 2021, meeting with the offices of my federal representatives to advocate for kidney cancer funding in the federal budget. It all happened so fast and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity!
What are you excited to bring to the organization?
From an early age, I always wanted to get involved with a non-profit. My father was very active in his local Rotary Club and I remember going to all sorts of different local events that he and his Club would put together, from parades to local fundraisers and more. My grandmother was also super invested in the local historical society and we would always go to different events with her, so community service and non-profit advocacy was a pretty big component of my youth.
As I got older, my priorities shifted and I kind of drifted away from service as I focused more so on earning my degrees, moving around the world, experiencing new cultures/jobs/people, and ultimately establishing my career. I pretty much started my career in fundraising for a non-profit in Washington, D.C., which kind of got the gears turning in my head.
I am pretty excited about bringing my diverse experience in service and non-profit fundraising to the KCA. But more importantly, I am most excited about sharing my story and relationship with kidney cancer to help those that may find it valuable. Over much of the past 15 years I found my experience difficult to share as I didn’t think many people could relate. But my fundraiser in January of 2021 taught me just how valuable stories like mine can be, not only to help reach fundraising goals, but also to provide a gateway for others to open up about similarly challenging experiences, which can help us all gain valuable perspective in learning how to overcome difficult obstacles ourselves.
How do you hope to see the KCA grow?
I hope to help the KCA grow its brand online through organic content in order to better connect it to its core constituency: those actively fighting kidney cancer in need of support. Whether it be financial support for research, fundraising support for community members championing its cause, or emotional support for family, friends and loved ones, I want to help solidify the KCA’s place as a go to support tool for those in the kidney cancer community.
I think our personal stories and relationship with kidney cancer all deserve a platform because every single story can touch someone’s life in a materially impactful way. I want to help the KCA propel those personal stories to new heights and to a wider audience.
What is your favorite travel destination?
In my 20’s I spent a considerable amount of time living abroad. I lived in Madrid, Spain; Santiago, Chile; Geneva, Switzerland; and Edinburgh, Scotland for periods of time ranging from 1 month to 1 year. I was kind of a vagabond for a few years working all sorts of different jobs and I fortunately got to travel to 15+ countries.
So far my favorite place was Chile. There is just so much natural diversity there, from deserts to mountains to vast coast lines, etc. In one day you can go hiking in the Andes mountains and in less than a two-hour drive you can go surfing on the Pacific coast. I would love to head out to Southeast Asia once COVID is gone and do some surfing, somewhere like Indonesia would be perfect.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I live a super active lifestyle and I am working out every single day. I am of course an avid runner, but I also really enjoy biking, swimming, golf, poker and yoga.
In 2020 with all the COVID shutdowns, I spent most of my time outdoors. In the summer I taught myself how to fly fish which was really fun. And in the winter I spent pretty much every weekend between December through March on the ski slopes in Vermont and New Hampshire. Also in May of this year I’m heading to the Dominican Republic where I will learn how to kite surf!
Moving forward I really want to get into rock climbing and martial arts or boxing. I’ve dabbled with each in the past and the technical aspects really appeal to me. I am just a super high-energy person and I think my truest joy in life is learning new things.