Carlson Executive MBA (CEMBA) alum Matt Clark will never forget the day his classmate and friend, Mark Thurbush, walked into their classroom and announced his discovery of a very aggressive form of lymphoma.
"We're all sitting there waiting for class to start, complaining about homework and kids and how to find balance, and Mark walks in and says, 'I have cancer,'" said Clark. It was a moment Clark will never forget and the beginning of his journey to raise money for his friend as well as for cancer awareness.
Clark, a client manager at U.S. Bank, has earned a spot in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's 2013 Man & Woman of the Year competition. He is one of six nominees for Man of the Year. "Some of these guys are local celebrities," Clark said. "I've got my work cut out for me, but I'm up to the challenge. I want to take Mark's story and the stories of others battling this disease and raise as much money as we can."
To win the title of Man of the Year, Clark must earn the most votes by May 17 - each dollar he raises counts as a vote.
Clark and Thurbush met in the photo line on their first day of the CEMBA program. After exchanging pleasantries, they discovered a shared love of their native Chicago - both Cubs fans and both lovers of the city. It didn't take long for the pleasantries to blossom into a lasting friendship.
"We would work on accounting and operations class homework together, and compare notes as married, MBA students," said Clark. "Mark helped me in my job search and was a mentor and friend as I looked for a new role after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008."
Clark and Thurbush weren't the only two to develop a deep friendship, their entire CEMBA cohort banded together to develop a close-knit community and build trust amongst each other. Clark recalls how Thurbush always pushed his CEMBA classmates to be prepared, listen more, and ask better questions, all of which built their ability to get things done.
"Our class is known for how connected we've remained," said Clark. "Part of that is due to going through major life events together like we experienced with Mark."
Paying It Forward: Raising $50,000
Clark has already forayed into fundraising for cancer (along with his CEMBA classmates). When Thurbush was initially diagnosed with an aggressive form of lymphoma, a group of CEMBA students banded together to raise $30,000 in his honor. This time around, Clark upped the ante, with a goal of raising $50,000 by the campaign's end.
"All of us are blessed. Our CEMBA class was blessed," said Clark. "Paying it forward is our opportunity to pave the way for others so that they won't have to endure the battles we've had to endure. Mark won. Paying it forward will allow those that are battling to win, too."
The campaign takes place from March 7 to May 17, culminating with a Grand Finale Gala on May 17 at the graves|601 hotel in Minneapolis.