Connecting the Lobo Cancer Challenge community
Welcome to our Ambassadors for 2021! You can get to know them here.
All of our Ambassadors have demonstrated commitment and leadership in bringing their friends, family and community together in the fight against cancer. They have a passion for helping others. Now, as a Lobo Cancer Challenge Ambassador, they can take their support for fellow New Mexicans in their cancer journey to another level; building relationships on behalf of the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center, providing encouragement, and educating others on the importance of cancer research.
“I am honored to be an Ambassador for the Lobo Cancer Challenge this year. Cancer has affected so many loved ones in my life, and I hope to bring more awareness on how amazing the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center is through this challenge.
Like so many others, I too have lost so many loved ones to cancer and feel that I could write a novel on the amazing accomplishments they all have done while alive. Their story, like so many others, is embedded in our souls because of cancer; which is why the Lobo Cancer Challenge is important to me.
I hope to connect and bring awareness to the UNMCCC (UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center) through movement, and embrace life while trying to help others or encourage others. Running has been a huge part of my life as I have competed in high school, college and at the Olympic Trials, yet this simple movement can be a natural joy to all who just put one foot in front of the other.
“Which is why it brings me great esteem to participate and spread awareness for the 2021 Lobo Cancer Challenge.”
Why Mariah supports the Lobo Cancer Challenge:
“I am a proud 3 time Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Survivor!”
“It means a lot to me to give back to patients in need, as a Nurse and fellow patient. I have continued to maintain an active lifestyle in dance and other various activities and I encourage health and balance in all aspects.”
Elyse first participated in the Lobo Cancer Challenge in 2018 as Captain for the Riders for Racks team. She was diagnosed in September of 2017 with Stage 2 invasive breast cancer and treated at The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Elyse says she was so fortunate to get treatment at UNM. “How lucky we are as New Mexicans to have a place like the UNM Cancer Center,” she says. “I think in such a small state there’s not always the best access to care and I think the UNM Cancer Center fills such an important gap, being an academic research institution devoted specifically to cancer care.”
“I can’t imagine a better place than the UNM Cancer Center to do that, not just because of the quality of the facility and the staff — but also they’re just wonderful and caring. And listened to me cry and hugged me when I was having a hard time. It was such a reassuring and comforting place to be in a really crummy time in life and so I want to do everything I can to make sure other people in the state have that opportunity.”
“I’m riding to try to make sure that everyone in New Mexico has access to the same great care that I received at the UNM Cancer Center.”
“The Lobo Cancer Challenge is a small and fun way for me to try to give back to an institution that has played an important role in my life. I’m here today with my family because of my amazing team at the UNM Cancer Center!”
Elyse Eckart and family hiking atop Sandia Crest for the 2020 virtual Lobo Cancer Challenge
Elaine rides her bike
in San Diego
for the 2020 virtual
Lobo Cancer Challenge
Elaine Fero Gronberg
“How does a California native and resident become a Lobo Cancer Challenge participant? Well, I’ve been following my brother Matt’s lead since I was born... Matt’s just a year older than I am and growing up I considered him my very best friend. Together we were competitive pair figure skaters, runners, skiers, hikers, and at some point we both became cyclists.”
“I didn’t follow him, however, into medicine. My brother Matt became Dr. Matthew Fero, and is now an Oncologist at the UNM Cancer Center! In 2017, when Matt asked me to join his ‘Heme Team’ for the inaugural Lobo Cancer Challenge I couldn’t say no.”
“This time it wasn’t just to follow Matt’s lead, but because I believe that everyone should do what they can to help people fighting cancer, to help fund research, and to always help in their community, whether that community be local, national or global. I may live a few states away, but I’m not too far away to see the importance of New Mexicans having a comprehensive cancer center right in their own state.”
“Since I’m not in the medical field, a cancer researcher, a doctor or nurse, I’m thrilled that there is a way for me to help...by raising money and encouraging others to do the same. Over and over again I tell people that 100% of their donations go directly to patient care and research.”
“This is so important! The UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center is making the very most of every dollar we donate, and I proudly support them!”
Dakotah is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and she is Water Flows Together people born for Black Sheep people. She has over a decade of experience in Indigenous community wellness planning. She participated in the UNM Lobo Cancer Challenge for the first time last year and was the team captain of the Cancer Health Equity Team. She enjoys time outside with her dogs and listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and music.
“The Lobo Cancer Challenge is important to me because cancer is the leading cause of death among indigenous peoples in New Mexico and funds raised from this event will provide much-needed support to our indigenous relatives who seek care at The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center.”
“I'm honored to be selected as an ambassador for the 2021 Lobo Cancer Challenge. As an advocate for cancer health equity, I honor my relatives who are cancer survivors or have passed from cancer. My hope is that more indigenous peoples participate in cancer screenings to reduce their risk of cancer and inspire each other to live healthier.”
Laura Niel and the Spokettes
ride in the 2020 virtual Lobo Cancer Challenge
“When my cycling team, the New Mexico Spokettes, found out about the inaugural Lobo Cancer Challenge in 2017, we knew we wanted to participate as we are passionate about cycling and fighting cancer. I volunteered to be a team captain then and have continued in that role ever since. I am honored to be an ambassador this year.”
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of my mom's death from cancer. The Lobo Cancer Challenge is an opportunity to remember and honor our family and friends who are no longer with us due to cancer and to support our family and friends fighting cancer.”
“My team rides in memory of our teammate Kathy Thompson who passed away from cancer just before the 2019 Lobo Cancer Challenge. For our virtual challenge last year, many of us rode 70 miles in recognition of and gratitude for Kathy's time here. My twin brother was diagnosed with cancer last year, and I am hopeful our efforts will fund research that will help him and everyone fighting cancer. I am so thankful for the great medical teams providing care and doing research at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center. These efforts lead to more survivors. The Lobo Cancer Challenge is a great time to celebrate them.”
“Cancer changes many lives. The Lobo Cancer Challenge is a way to fight back against cancer and support our community. One of my favorite quotes is the African proverb,
‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’
Let's go together and make a difference.”
Laura leads the Spokettes on a ride through the Bosque in the inaugural 2017 Lobo Cancer Challenge
Colleen and Marilee Petranovich at the 2018 Lobo Cancer Challenge
“The Lobo Cancer Challenge has always held a special place in my heart. When my Mom was first diagnosed with cancer, we were filled with uncertainty as to how our lives would change. Amidst this uncertainty, one constant was a tradition my Mom and I shared of going on a bike ride along the Bosque the night before a chemo treatment. My Mom succumbed to cancer a year and a half ago, making these memories of pre-chemo bike rides all the more special to me.”
“My Mom always called riding on the Bosque her ‘happy place’ and we know she’ll be riding along with us in spirit this year as we compete in the Lobo Cancer Challenge.”
“My family and I will be participating in our fourth year of the Lobo Cancer Challenge as Team Petranovich to honor my greatly missed Mom, all those affected by Cancer, and to benefit the amazing UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center. We are forever grateful for the amazing team that took care of my Mom and that supported our family throughout this difficult time, and consider it an honor to be able to give back to this amazing organization.”
Kyle Stepp has participated as a bike-riding fundraiser in every Lobo Cancer Challenge since the first. Kyle rides for the kids! Donations to Kyle go to support the Children’s Cancer Research Fund at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center. It’s a natural fit, as he loves to be outside in New Mexico, and he draws on his own experience with cancer to encourage others. To learn more about Kyle’s lifelong journey with UNM Cancer Comprehensive Center, visit here!
Among his many efforts in support of those dealing with cancer, Kyle is the Board of Directors President for Camp Enchantment, which is held every summer in the Manzano Mountains. It provides fun, friendship, and community for pediatric cancer patients and survivors ages 7-17 in a safe and beautiful natural setting.
One of Kyle's areas of focus for Camp Enchantment’s Board of Directors is to build community partnerships. Three years ago, Kyle partnered with Marble Brewery to create the “Love Beer, Hate Cancer” fundraiser for Camp Enchantment, which has led to thousands of dollars raised and hundreds of influencers supporting their mission.
In an interview with iHeart Radio, Kyle explained that he spent three and a half years being treated at UNM Children’s Hospital for Stage IV Bone Cancer, which was diagnosed in his freshman year of high school. Doctors declared Kyle cured of the disease at age 17.
“Through that journey, I found my purpose,” Kyle said. “I healed by being able to visit the other kids. My inspiration came from my friends during our battle together, because I believe that no child should ever fight alone, and I felt healing through helping others.”
Kyle was selected to be the commencement speaker at his graduation from The University of New Mexico in 2016.
“Turn your tragedy into your triumph. Those are the words I try to live by,” he said in his address.
“Use your adversity to help others make this world a better place.”
“Every statistic says I shouldn't be here. I know that I'm here for a reason and a purpose and I don't want to waste a single moment.”
Kyle found his passion in the midst of the hardest time of his life and is dedicated to making sure no child ever fights cancer alone. He has been a National Ambassador for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, Sunshine Kids Foundation, and others.
Kyle currently serves as a Cause Partnerships Manager for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN Hospitals) national headquarters. In this role, he is a consultant for the eleven member Children’s Hospitals on the growth of CMN Hospitals national programs (Dance Marathon, Extra Life and Play Yellow) in their markets and manages CMN Hospitals national partnerships with Columbia Sportswear, Nekter Juice Bar and Red Bull!
“This will be the third year I have participated in the Lobo Cancer Challenge. Every year, this event continues to get better and better. I am in awe of how the Lobo Cancer Challenge continues to bring the community together. I’ve been able to train and enjoy this event with my family and friends... as well as include my colleagues from all over the United States.”
“I am in awe of how hard the cancer patients work every day to get better, which is my inspiration to push myself in raising funds for UNM Cancer Center. One of the greatest gifts of the Lobo Cancer Challenge is that 100% of the funds stay right here in New Mexico. I run in honor of so many family members and friends who have been diagnosed with cancer, and will continue to spread my motivation as much as I possibly can.”
“To be asked to be a Lobo Cancer Challenge Ambassador is such an honor and I am so excited to continue to pay it forward, all for the love of cancer patients.”
Clent Wilson at the 2019 Lobo Cancer Challenge
riding with Team SolAero Tech
Clent has participated in every year of the Lobo Cancer Challenge, starting in 2017, riding with his team of co-workers from SolAero Technologies.
He says, “I have lost too many friends, family members, and unfortunately just lost two more people this month to cancer.”
“I ride for those who we have lost and those who are still fighting. I pray that someday we will be able to look back and say this is the day that we found a cure for cancer!”
“Thanks to the Lobo Cancer Challenge team!!!”
Clent’s enthusiasm is great energy for the inaugural 2017 Lobo Cancer Challenge
with thanks to our...
- Alma Aguilar
- Dr. Matthew Fero
- Marcos Paz
- Kaitlin Petranovich
- Deanna Rhodes
- Joshua Rogers
- Kyle Stepp
- Ruth Ann Tibbetts
- Andrea Trujillo
2020 Youth Representative
- Tyler Jenson
- Connor Adams
- Marilee Petranovich
- Mueez Rehman
- Maggie Smith
- Mike Westphal