September 11, 2013 - By Ana Cordera
Review Staff Writer
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and causes the most deaths. Brian Thomas, a 34-year-old Lake Orion native, is battling it. Described by a friend as outgoing and invigorating, Thomas has run from Michigan to Florida two times all while fundraising for charity. Not only did he run twice, but the second time, he ran with a team called the "Road Warriors" that included two boys whom he advised and trained for four years.
Thomas mentored them along the way, requiring them to have good grades and be involved in school.
"They had to finish high school, they had to have 2.0s or above GPAs," he said. "They had to be on the track team and the cross country team for all four years."
Thomas, who taught eighth-grade science, also founded a mentoring program for middle-school boys called the Bridge.
"We do weekly activities with [the boys] outside the classroom. We don't really put a lot of emphasis on their grades or behavior," Thomas said.
All of these efforts led Thomas to win the Dwyer award for Excellence in Education in the middle school category in 2010. The award is given to outstanding teachers in Palm Beach County.
After years of teaching and mentoring his students, Thomas had to leave his job in the spring to undergo treatment.
"Some days I'm done at eleven o'clock," he said. "I don't even want to talk nor have my eyes open because it hurts so bad."
Despite the side effects Thomas feels, he said the hope and support that everybody has for him keeps him going. He called the support uplifting and said he is thankful for everyone who has helped him.
"There are so many people out there that have been quietly paying attention to the good work I've done my whole life especially from Lake Orion," Thomas said. "It has been a lot of help from the emotional and spiritual sides to [the] financial [side.]"
Kim Kimball, a family friend, who also helps organize fundraisers for Thomas said the community has been very supportive. She, along with others, organized an all-day fundraiser Wednesday Sept. 11 at Buffalo Wild Wings on Lapeer Road.
"I hope that we can help Brian to pay for his treatment, but I also hope that Brian and his family know how important they are to everybody here," she said.
Twenty percent of all purchases with a certificate will be going toward his recovery. The certificate can be found on Thomas' website: http://www.warriorbtcancerbeatdown.com/. Likewise, the website offers a chance to donate money as well as items for an online auction.
Thomas said he hopes to live for many more years.
"I want to get to the next adventure," he said. "I've got stuff to do."