Third annual iBelieve event inspires Syracuse community

iBelieve event inspires Syracuse community

Third annual event by cancer foundation seeks to unite and inspire community
Published: April 30, 2018


Hands reach up and stretch first forward, then to each side, then backward, fingers seeking the ceiling. A crowd of about 200 people teeters on their toes as they are then asked to raise one foot off the ground – arms still skyward.

“This event is for you,” says Bryan Morgan, dynamic health and fitness coach. “Once the body connects with the mind, it’s amazing what we can do.”

The iBelieve event is a fundraiser in Syracuse for the Maureen’s Hope Foundation. The foundation was formed in 2004 after founder Susan Bertrand’s sister Maureen died at 31, in 2003, after losing a battle with cancer.

“I believe we are all born into this world given the capacity to love, thrive and to be resilient,” said Bertrand. “Happiness takes work and I chose happiness.”

The April 29th event was the third annual iBelieve event put on by the foundation. These events serve to raise money for the foundation, inspire the community and give hope to people facing battles with life-altering diseases.

“Maureen’s Hope allows us to see that there is a future worth living,” said Tim Conners. Conners is a blind cancer survivor and author of “It’s Impossible Until You Do It: Succeeding in the Face of Adversity,” who recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

This year’s event featured several speakers, performances of dance and music, wine, ice cream and a raffle.

Speakers included Dr. Kaushal Nanavati of Upstate Cancer Center, Syracuse Chiefs general manager Jason Smorol, leadership coach Ralph Simone, LeMoyne student-athlete and cancer survivor Jack Sheridan, and the owners of Laci’s Tapas Bar, Laura Serway and Cindy Seymour.

Though the event raises money for cancer survivors and cancer-related initiatives, both Morgan and Bertrand were firm in impressing on the audience that the event was for everyone, as a community.

Discussing everything from community building to healthy living made the event accessible for the entire audience.

Bertrand also took the stage briefly, to tell the story of her sister Maureen and talk about the work the foundation does around the community.

“I started the foundation out of grief and anger,” said Bertrand. “But also love, so much love.”