A father’s cancer, a son’s mission.
When his father was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, Mark Garza felt the impact of a diagnosis firsthand. Seeking support, he was shocked at the cost of therapy and realized there was a lack of care for thousands of people that were going through similar experiences. Mark understood the importance of and benefits that therapy could provide during such an emotionally and financially trying time, and he knew that something should, and could, be done to help.
In 2010, he teamed up with The LIVESTRONG Foundation to fill the void for a streamlined process that would provide families in need with financial assistance to access long-term help. To raise the funds necessary to launch this program, Mark put together a “PR stunt” called Dam That Cancer in June 2010; the mission was to raise awareness and support for the cause: free mental health services for families coping with cancer diagnosis and treatment. Dam That Cancer brought together 15 of Mark’s friends to stand up paddle board a 21-mile stretch of water on Lake Austin, raising over $32,000 for LIVESTRONG and the cause.
Soon after, Mark decided to dedicate his life to helping others get access to the much-needed mental health support. He then founded The Flatwater Foundation as a non-profit to support his mission to provide access to mental health services for those affected by cancer. Each year Tyler’s Dam That Cancer’s impact grows significantly, evident with a total amount of over $260,000 raised in 2014’s fifth installment, quickly approaching a total raise of $1,000,000.
In addition to this event, The Flatwater Foundation produces other non-traditional events, partnerships in the fitness and health community, and relationships in the mental health community to make sure people see the importance of mental health when coping with a diagnosis.