• December 1st, 2020

Nick Hayes is an Honors student who exemplifies what it means to be a learned scholar—a critical and creative thinker, an ethical and empathetic citizen and a collaborative and inclusive leader. He has spent the year inspired by his brother’s journey with a brain tumor. “The brain tumor recovery process is long and arduous, full of highs and lows, progress and setbacks. Watching my brother tackle all of these challenges imbued me with a desire to do something to let brain tumor survivors know they are not alone,” says Hayes.

Hayes planned to organize an ultramarathon fundraiser for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (PBTF). But, like many aspects of our lives that we took for granted, Nick’s philanthropic plans changed with the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic—no ultramarathon. Nick has been able to keep a grounded perspective given the devastating toll of the virus. He is optimistic about the future of his fundraiser within safety guidelines: “I absolutely plan on reinvigorating this fundraiser and participating in an ultramarathon, hopefully in the fall of 2021.”


Why an ultramarathon? An ultramarathon is defined as a running race longer than 26 miles. And Nick knew this kind of feat would catch attention: “I have always been a fan of physical challenges and running an ultramarathon has been on my bucket-list. Because of the extreme nature of ultramarathons, they naturally attract media coverage and are publicized on local, national, and sometimes even international scales. Participating in an ultramarathon primes me to share my fundraiser with not just my home community, but anyone who hears about the race from across the nation.”

There are several ways to support Nick’s plans once the ultramarathon resumes: sharing information with loved ones, donating to PBTF, pledging per mile support, sending caring messages to patients—and of course participating.


However, Nick has not let his giving spirit falter during the pandemic. He spent the summer finding a way to blend his experience with Tide Talks and love for TEDx which supports “ideas worth spreading.” Nick applied to become a TEDx licensee, and after a thorough process, he received an official TEDxUniversityofAlabama license to hold a TEDx event at The Capstone.


“The purpose of TEDx is to provoke conversations that matter. Its goal is to spark conversation, connection, and community,” says Nick. Connection and community are especially needed this time of social distancing and isolation—TEDx at the University can be a conduit for community.


Students can become involved with this initiative on campus by nominating speakers or attending the events. “Students should participate because listening to, critically analyzing, and engaging with crucial dialogues is always a great first step towards manifesting positive change in our world,” said Nick. “Participation means advancing these crucial missions that ultimately improve our community and the lives of its residents.”


To become involved in TEDxUniversityofAlabama—students, faculty, staff and community members can nominate or self-nominate here. The event is slated for March 2021, and more details will be shared about participation and attendance as the date approaches.


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