Bianca Roman of San Diego has an adventurous spirit, exploring the world from Machu Picchu in Peru to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
But her recent climb of Mount Kilimanjaro served a greater purpose than just another goal to cross off her bucket list — she climbed to raise money for the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Inspired by a visit to St. Jude and the loss of a beloved aunt to cancer, Bianca set three personal fundraising goals: to walk the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer in San Diego with family and friends, climb Mount Kilimanjaro and run a half-marathon — all within a few weeks of each other.
“Fundraising was easier than I thought,” Roman said. “It took around three months to raise the money.”
Bianca was first introduced to St. Jude in 2009. In 2015, she attended the St. Jude Promesa y Esperanza Seminar as part of her project with Univision Communications, where she serves as the Promotions & Digital Coordinator for San Diego’s Spanish language radio stations KLQV and KLNV. The seminar helps Spanish-language radio stations conduct radiothons to raise funds and awareness for St. Jude.
“I was so inspired by my visit to St. Jude and really wanted others to know that every little bit counts. I wanted to keep the momentum going,” she said. “No child should ever have to experience going through cancer.”
Bianca Roman (wearing glasses) and her colleagues at Univision.
After her visit to St. Jude, Roman was confronted with a family tragedy when her aunt, Carmelita Vazquez, lost her own battle with cancer.
“I started fundraising in memory of my aunt and for the children of St. Jude,” she said. “I also wanted to personally challenge myself and others to open their hearts for St. Jude. The struggle that families go through while seeing a loved one suffer is difficult.”
She said the most daunting of the three goals was her climb of Mount Kilimanjaro with her younger brother, Andres. During the eight-day climb, she experienced altitude sickness, and was afraid she wouldn’t be able to finish.
However, she said she reflected on why she had chosen to do it in the first place.
“Remembering my aunt and the children inspired me to finish,” she said.
In the end, Bianca met all three of her goals and raised more than $5,000 for St. Jude.
Bianca said she hopes her fundraising efforts will continue to inspire others to reach out to those in need of support.
“Whether it’s a hug, your presence as a friend, or donation to a good cause, we can all be part of the experience to help those who need it most.”