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Cancer fighter wants to use ASU education to help others

Grant Crim has goal of opening nonprofit that makes difference in lives of children undergoing cancer treatment

ASU student Grant Crim
August 14, 2017

Editor's note: This is part of a series of profiles of fall 2017 incoming ASU students.

Grant Crim has fought cancer his whole life. Diagnosed with a brain tumor that left him partially blind when he was only 2 years old, his experiences left him with a deep desire to help others.

His goal in life? Plan, open and successfully run a nonprofit organization that makes a difference for children facing battles similar to his.

Crim has a plan to get there, and that plan is an Arizona State University education. Read on to find out why the organizational leadership major brims with Sun Devil spirit.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: Growing up on the Oregon coast, I always thought I would attend Oregon State University. Because of ongoing health issues due to a lifelong battle with a recurring brain tumor and residual effects, along with my resulting vision impairment, I opted to attend our local community college for the first two years instead.

That left me searching for a school to transfer to, and ASU’s online program stood out for a few reasons. 1) It would allow me the time flexibility to continue my volunteer activities with the American Cancer Society, which often require traveling out of town. 2) Using technology that has great accessibility features is a more effective way of learning for me with my vision impairment. 3) My good friend Anna Wales (who is quite possibly the most enthusiastic Sun Devil fan I have ever known in my life) convinced me that it was the most incredible school in existence, and I should go!  So far I think she’s right!

Q: What drew you to your major?  

A: My experiences in life left me with a deep desire to help others so I started out studying sociology. That evolved to wanting to have the more well-rounded education organizational leadership could provide, that would allow me to combine some aspects of human behavior with the opportunity to learn things like resource management, which will help me realize my dream of opening my own nonprofit organization, Ohana’s Hope, a home-away-from-home for families whose children are seeking cancer treatment. 

I will still be studying sociology, but as a minor. I also feel that these classes will help me hone my leadership skills for use in my regional and global volunteer roles with the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.

Q: What are you most excited to experience your first semester?  

A: I hope this doesn’t make me sound like a total nerd, but I am most excited to start learning. I am so passionate about achieving my dream that I cannot wait to learn all I can to help me achieve it faster. I also can’t wait to root for a school I am actually attending during football season! (Laughs)

Q: What do you like to brag about to friends about ASU?  

A: ASU is the Number 1 school in the country for innovation, and a high percentage of graduates receive job offers soon after graduation.

Q: What talents and skills are you bringing to the ASU community?  

A: I am someone who often plays devil’s advocate and can see all sides of an issue. This tends to be a skill that comes in handy when presenting new and innovative thoughts or ideas to the leadership teams I work with, and enables me to overcome the “but it’s always been done this way” mentality. Being truly open-minded, reasonable and willing to compromise to create the best possible outcome is a skill I feel is lacking for many people in our world today. “My way or the highway” is not an effective strategy.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show (streaming is fine) right now?  

A: “Game of Thrones.” It’s a story that is somewhat indicative of life in the real world, where the good guy doesn’t always win every battle, but where the persistence of those who are true of heart will eventually win the day. (At least I hope they win the day!)

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your college years?  

A: Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I truly hope to gain the knowledge and skills I will need to plan, open and successfully run my nonprofit organization so I can make a difference for these children who are facing similar battles I did through their surgeries, radiation treatments, chemotherapy sessions and, most importantly, to give them the holistic support that will enable them to overcome all of the financial, emotional, social and educational challenges they will face because of that journey.  We want to help them learn to “live,” not just to “survive.”

Q: What’s one interesting fact about yourself that only your friends know?

A: I have an obsession with Winnie the Pooh and proudly go by the nickname Poohk to all of those in my inner circle. When I was born, my lung collapsed and doctors all thought I would die. A Winnie the Pooh stuffed toy that played music from his honeypot was the only thing that calmed me when I was agitated on the ventilator, and the nurses frequently pressed it to slow my respirations and heart rate. From there, it pretty much spiraled out of control to having every Pooh movie known to man and hauling all things Pooh to every chemotherapy session. Meeting Pooh Bear was also my Make-a-Wish trip, and I can’t see something Winnie the Pooh without smiling.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem in our world, what would you choose?

A: I hope this doesn’t sound selfish, but I would use it to open Ohana’s Hope (when I have the necessary education and skills to do so). I truly believe that my family’s strong encouragement to continue to think of others regardless of what I was going through, and to continue to plan for my education as if someday I would be well, are things that many kids in treatment don’t get from their families. 

When you are suffering a life-threatening illness, often families will give the child whatever they want and not push them to excel despite their trials.  However, that is not something that will benefit the child in the long term. Giving children the world is not necessarily just a problem of sick children, it is a problem that can give children an unrealistic view of what to expect as adults. What will benefit them is learning respect, perseverance, kindness, a good work ethic and how to overcome any obstacles they face, to enable them to live the best possible life they can for whatever life we all have left on this Earth. There is a quote that I love to come back to and live by that was the epitome of my best friend’s life, before she lost it to osteosarcoma.  “Your life is your message to the world; make sure it’s inspiring.”

Q: Predictions on the final score for this year’s Territorial Cup game?

A: I predict the final score will be somewhere around 53-47 because the Sun Devils will obviously come out on top!  

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