Wakeland High School junior Piper Byers recently became old enough to drive a car. More importantly, she dreamed up, developed and is hosting a free event to aid recovering cancer patients and survivors.
“It’s kind of been a crazy process,” Byers said. “I didn’t know what I was in for when I started this, I just knew what the end goal looked like.”
Last year, Byers took a sports marketing class through her high school. From there, she qualified to interview for a class called sports management, which she then entered. This class allows her to intern off campus for two class periods.
“It’s really cool, and I don’t think a lot of people get to do this in high school,” she said. “I think the whole program is just really special.”
She has been interning with EXOS, a national company dedicated to wellness and training. The Frisco facility, housed by FieldhouseUSA, is EXOS’ fourth facility to open. The staff trains a significant number of elite and professional athletes, as well as top high school and college sports programs, according to the EXOS website.
“I’ve had a really great team at EXOS,” Byers said. “They’ve been really helpful and they’ve gone out of their way to try to make this happen.”
Byers’ mentor encouraged and challenged her to come up with an event or program. Byers decided to develop a program she calls REGAIN. While the only thing set in stone for REGAIN is today’s event, Byers said she hopes to see it become a long-term program.
Part of her inspiration to tailor a program toward cancer patients and survivors is derived from her personal experience. A woman she lovingly describes as her “second mom” passed away from cancer about a year ago. Byers was devastated.
Now, around a year later, Byers is doing her part to take a stand against cancer and help those afflicted by it.
“I’ve always just had a feeling about cancer and that I need to be doing something involved with cancer,” she said.
Her vision for the REGAIN event is an educational experience that provides attendees with knowledge and practices they can take home. It will involve physical therapy, a group workout and an emphasis on nutrition. Her goal is to help survivors and recovery patients regain their physical, emotional and nutritional well-being in conjunction with the staff at EXOS.
After she came up with the idea, Byers entered into a two-month season of research. She had to look up health concerns for recovering cancer patients and tailor workouts to them. She had to consider age groups, who to invite and what transportation would be involved.
“There was a lot of trial and error and having to find out what works and what doesn’t really quickly. I think I kind of had to grow up a little fast,” Byers said. “It took me a little while to realize that this is a very serious thing and I need to know what I am doing for this to work.”
The event kicked off at 9 a.m. today with a full spread of food and a meet and greet at Fieldhouse USA, 6155 Sports Village Road #400. Byers said seven men and women are slated to participate. The event is free to participants, in part due to the volunteer efforts of EXOS staff. REGAIN ended at 1 p.m. after covering nutrition, Functional Movement System Training and a group workout.
Byers doesn’t plan to stop after the event. While she said she is unsure about what to major in at college, she does know one thing:
“I know that I love to help people,” she said. “That’s the only thing I’m completely sure about.”