My name is Floyd Korzan. I'm 14 years old and live with my family in Mitchell, South Dakota. I attend the local middle school where I volunteer at the library and work on a robotics program. I like to eat pizza, watch movies, and spend time with my family. I'm a pretty normal teenager, with one possible exception... I'm relentless!
Back 2012, my life changed forever. My dad, who also doubles as my hero, my mentor, and the very soul of our family, collapsed while hiking in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Doctors diagnosed my dad with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), which is one of the most dreaded diseases on earth.
I was devastated. It hit me hard to think this great man, never too tired after work to read and re-read me The Carrot Seed when I was a little boy and hike in the mountains together as I got older, was mortal. I stayed right by his bedside in the leukemia ward of the hospital and watched round-after-round of chemotherapy destroy his body. And then my dad rallied and got better! I was never so happy in all my life. It was just like old times.
When the disease came back in 2014, doctors explained that the only thing more deadly than leukemia is relapsed leukemia. There were five more rounds of chemotherapy and months in the hospital for my dad. I watched my mother (if my dad is the soul of our family, my mom is the heart) suffer in silence. I remember blinking back tears at my desk in school and wondering why is this happening to us?
Finally a bone marrow biopsy confirmed that my dad was officially in complete remission (again). We went hiking on the Bear Creek Trail in Telluride, Colorado to celebrate. I remember the night sky was so beautiful up in those mountains. It was as if I could reach out and touch the stars. My life has always been a series of adventures with my dad. Things slowly returned to normal. And then the nightmare started all over again...
A routine blood draw in 2017 showed that my dad's platelet count had collapsed (a sign of blood cancer) and a biopsy of his bone marrow confirmed our worst fears. Words cannot even begin to describe the hurt. It felt like someone ripped my heart out of my chest. Doctors said my dad had months to live and that more chemotherapy would probably be pointless.
There was one defining moment in all that misery that changed my mindset and changed my life. I remember asking my dad, "How can you suffer this much and still be strong?" I'll never forget his answer... "Floyd, there may come a time in your life when the only one left who believes in you, is you.You have to will yourself forward. You have to be relentless." My dad was relentless! He told the doctors he wanted to go all-in and pursue a high risk stem-cell transplant.
We watched his favorite relentless movies - Hoosiers and Lone Survivor over-and-over again to prepare for his transplant. I prayed like I've never prayed for anything in all my life. On July 17, 2017 my dad had a stem-cell transplant from a sibling match (my dad's sister, Margaret, is his guardian angel) at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
The transplant was successful and the donor's new immune system inside my dad's body attacked and destroyed all the leukemia cells. Over two years after his transplant, my dad is cancer-free and getting stronger every day. My mom is happy again. And we're back on track with pizza and a movie on Friday nights!
This whole experience got me thinking... what would happen if everybody was relentless in overcoming challenges and obstacles in their lives? What if everyone was relentless in pursuing their purpose and chasing their dreams? Wouldn't the world be a better place? And then I began to wonder if it would help to inspire people if I had the courage to share my own relentless story.
But then I began to doubt myself. I'm only 14 years old, what would I know about life? I get nervous speaking in front of people. I'm not rich or powerful or famous. People might not believe in me. But then I remembered what dad said about believing in myself and being relentless... and then I got goosebumps... and it was game on!
With my dad's blessing, I started this Relentless Pledge effort to change the world. The organization is non-profit. Our mission has two parts (1) to inspire people to live life to the limit, to dare, to dream big, and (2) to be relentless in battling challenges and overcoming obstacles.
We're rolling up our sleeves and working to achieve that mission by giving relentless wristbands to cancer patients in my home state of South Dakota, and all across America. The relentless wristband will serve as a constant reminder to those who are struggling with serious illness to have hope in their darkest hours, to have courage, and to never, ever give up the fight.
We're also giving relentless wristbands to recognize and honor local heroes in communities across South Dakota, and all across America. Firefighters, police officers and other first-responders who risk their lives to protect and serve our communities, Servicemen and women who fight for our freedoms, doctors, nurses, teachers, and many others who get up every day and work tirelessly to make our community a better place.
You can help support our mission. Take the Relentless Pledge and make a commitment to be relentless in your life. Get yourself a relentless wristband. Your wristband will help you to live your pledge to be relentless in pursuing your dreams and overcoming obstacles.
Together, you and I can be the change we hope to see in the world.
I pledge to be the change I hope to see in the world. To lead by example. To leave it all out on the field. To go all-in. To follow my heart. To pursue my purpose. To chase my dreams. To live life to the limit every minute of every day. To risk. To dare. To be bold. I pledge to be Relentless!
Important Note: If you would prefer to order your relentless wristbands by mailing a check please include a note with your payment indicating how many wristbands you would like to order (Example: 5 Wristbands X $5.00 = $25.00). For every 2 wristbands you order, you will receive 1 free wristband to share with family and friends. Please mail your order to: Relentless Pledge, 700 South Duff Street, Mitchell, SD 57301.
This is my story but it's also my siblings' story (my father has been fighting cancer for half of the time my 15 year old sister, Alexis, and I have been alive on this planet), my neighbor's story, or somebody's story who lives across the country or around the world. It could just as easily have been your story here. Everybody has their own personal story about a family member, a friend, a neighbor who has battled cancer or some other health crisis, or a chronic illness that caused them to struggle every day. Let's not forget there are also local heroes right here in our own community. Firefighters and police officers that put their lives on the line every time an emergency call comes in, teachers and librarians that serve as mentors to our young people, and so many others who get up every day and work relentlessly to make our community a better place and our world a better place. Everybody needs to be inspired. Everybody needs to have hope. Everybody needs to have courage. Everybody needs to be relentless. This is not just my relentless story. This is OUR relentless story!