Episode 6: Zionna Hanson from Barbells for Boobs

When her best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 26, Zionna Hanson realized that there are serious problems in the way breast cancer is diagnosed and treated. The minimum screening age is typically 40 (far later than many women develop breast cancer) and long-term mental, physical, and emotional care is virtually nonexistent. Z founded Barbells for Boobs to advocate to redefine the standard of care in breast health and improving quality of life post diagnosis.

Answering the Call...

Zionna Hanson is a healer. Through an “eclectic” upbringing filled with adversity, soul, and a whole lot of love, Z embarked on a career path that was anything but standard. Through stints as a massage therapist, pharmacy tech, gogo dancer, and Crossfit gym owner (she even tried landscaping for a day!), the constant has been finding ways to care for and provide healing for those around her. 

In 2009, when Z learned of her best friend Cecy’s breast cancer diagnosis at age 26, her world was upended. She was appalled at the lack of breast cancer awareness among women, herself included. Clearly, if the medical establishment only begins breast cancer screening for women 40 and above, yet her friend and so many other women were contracting the disease at far younger ages, something would have to change. 

Z rallied her community and organized a weightlifting event to raise money to support Cecy through her treatment. When Cecy refused the money and asked that Z use the funds raised to help others struggling with breast cancer, Barbells for Boobs was born. From that moment on, it was full-speed ahead, and Barbells for Boobs evolved from a fledgling organization with no long-term plan, to a lean, innovative organization (that’s extremely well-branded) out to revolutionize the long-term standard of breast cancer care in the United States. 

“In the social sector, we get so caught up with numbers sometimes, and impact, and variety of impact that we sometimes undermine the quality of the impact. Quality to me has become the most important and not the quantity. Where for a long time, I really focused on the quantity. And I think that it was after losing my sister, what I realized, we had done so much work in early detection, like provided over 50,000 procedures, done all this transformative work in the screening deficit in our country. And I was like, I haven't met one person. I don't know anybody I've helped. I lost my sister to breast cancer. Once you have that aha wake up moment for me, it was more important than ever to know the people I was helping. And that's when Barbells for Boobs transformed for me.” - Zionna Hanson

Disrupting the breast cancer sector hasn’t come easy. Barbells for Boobs has had its fair share of challenges, and plenty of ups and downs along the way, but an unrelenting tenacity, resilience, clear values, and willingness to “ask for forgiveness instead of permission” have driven some incredible success over the past 12 years.

“I think that your why has to be so strong and if your why isn't strong, then it's not real.  I think that it's, if you don't want to quit every day, your why isn't strong enough,  I definitely want to quit every single day. It's hard. It's work is hard. There's,  I always tell people you're, you're investing in other people every single day. But for me, this is our investment. This is proof of our work is the people that we get to serve that to me is bigger than anything….
This is what I was put on this earth to do. This is mine. And no matter how much I try to deviate from it.” - Zionna Hanson

Z’s humility and passion really shines through in Cause and Purpose Episode 6, and there are tons of great (and actionable!) insights to glean from our conversation. We hope you enjoy it!

Key Questions and Takeaways:

  • Your "Why" needs to be deep-seated and iron-clad if you want to be successful tackling major social issues.
  • Investment in strong brand and storytelling is crucial to long-term success.
  • Recurring donations can be a crucial source of sustainable revenue, especially through adversity.
  • If you think you want to start a new nonprofit organization, it's important to see what organizations are already out there and partner with them if possible.

Support

Zionna

's Work:

Join us in improving the lives of women impacted by breast cancer. The average amount of resources a woman receives at Barbells for Boobs is five a month. Every $20 raised funds one resource. The average cost to support one woman a month is $120. Please consider supporting us as a fundraiser or with a recurring monthly donation!

Learn More About Barbells for Boobs

Episode Transcript:

CAUSE & PURPOSE - EPISODE 6 - ZIONNA HANSON, BARBELLS FOR BOOBS


[MUSIC]


ZIONNA HANSON 

In the social sector, we get so caught up with numbers sometimes, and impact, and variety of impact that we sometimes undermine the quality of the impact. Quality to me has become the most important and not the quantity. Where for a long time, I really focused on the quantity. And I think that it was after losing my sister, what I realized, we had done so much work in early detection, like provided over 50,000 procedures, done all this transformative work in the screening deficit in our country. And I was like, I haven't met one person. I don't know anybody I've helped. I lost my sister to breast cancer. Once you have that aha wake up moment for me, it was more important than ever to know the people I was helping. And that's when Barbells for Boobs transformed for me.


MIKE SPEAR: Welcome to Cause & Purpose, the show about the leaders, innovators, and change agents working on the front-lines to solve some of the world’s greatest social challenges. 


I’m Mike Spear, and today’s guest is the Founder and Chief Mission Officer of Barbells for Boobs, Zionna Hanson. This is really a special episode for me. Z and I have been friends for many years - we’ve done webinars, presented at conferences, and I’ve always admired her organization’s rapid success and irreverent take on a cause that has more than its fair share of established brands.


Barbells for Boobs is a breast cancer organization focused on early detection and providing resources for survivors to thrive after diagnosis and treatment - all through the lens of physical, mental, and emotional fitness. Inspired by her best friend’s breast cancer diagnosis at age 26, Z sprang into action and Barbells for Boobs was born… Enjoy the episode.


MIKE SPEAR 

So I was looking forward to this for a while, just because we've spoken together before we did a webinar, we did a thing at Dreamforce. Always love teaming up with you. I feel like we actually have a few things in common in terms of how we got into the social sector. I think we both had a little bit around about. I look at my own perspective on the social sector. Like,  I have this like white, upper middle class, like average dudes sort of that's how I entered the world. And I feel like you actually had the opposite experience. So they asked you about this, but what was he like as like a little girl? Like where do you get your start? We're starting from the beginning. Oh my gosh. Okay. What Long Beach was it?


ZIONNA HANSON 

Oh, yes, I'm from Long Beach California. So I have a really, I want to say unique upbringing and I think that we'll call it eclectic. I grew up in the desert until I was about eight years old and had a pretty typical, like pretty actually awesome childhood. Like my dad was the coach to all of our little league teams, like there were five of us, so my mom, my mom was Mexican. My dad is white white, but very soulful. So had a, had a little culture, lots of culture in him,  so a little swag. I know that my father's dream, he always says that if he could redo life, you want it to be a college basketball coach. So that's, his passion was basketball. And I really think that he was striving to build his own basketball team with our little clan. So there's two boys, three girls, and I was, I was the youngest for about five years and then my little sister came along and basically ruined that for me.


Like desert rats,  played in the dirt all day long and everything typical that you can think of, of growing up in the desert is pretty much what it is. And, and then my dad decided to live his truth and left my mom when I was eight years old and left her for a really close family friend. It definitely, I think that that was a really pivotal time in my life. My dad had a really heavy drinking problem. My mom was a stay-at-home mom. I was really close with her really typical childhood. And then that kind of just shocked us and,  I'm sure very hard for my father to admit that he was in love with somebody else and ripped up our family. And I think that my mom just didn't know how to handle such heavy news and such heartbreak.


My mom kind of went on a path of heroin and, and drugs and just kind of disappeared and didn't want to be a part of our lives. And then my dad with this new woman she had three kids and so he moved us out to Long Beach and it took him about a year to get us all. But I remember he asked us all, she came to visit us one day and he asked us all to write on a piece of paper who we wanted to stay with mom or dad. And he wanted us to write it on a piece of paper. Cause we were all so close that he genuinely wanted to know where we wanted to be and not like to raise our hand or not say, I want to be with mom or dad. He was like, write it down. So I know where you want to be. And I was the only one that wrote my dad. And so I was shipped off to my dad by myself. And I lived with my dad without my other siblings for about a year and they slowly trickled in. And then after that, my mom, she was, she was fighting for custody for all of us. And then eventually it was like, I don't want Z I'll fight for the other kids. And then it was like, I don't want Mike and Shirley and I'll fight for Sondra and Vance. And then eventually she just didn't show up for court. And so my dad wanted custody of all of us. And that's how we ended up in Long Beach.


So grew up in, in the, on the West side of Long Beach, with all of us five kids, our step-mom had three kids. There were eight of us in a two bedroom house that had a back house and just got exposed to such cool stuff in Long Beach that the desert doesn't bring. My brother was the quarterback for Long Beach poly. So while our, our complexion, wasn't a normal complexion in the neighborhood. Even though my mom's Mexican,  you look at me, I'm white with green, green eyes and blonde hair. She always said that people thought she was my nanny, but whatever I am half Mexican.  so we had a lot of respect in the neighborhood because my brother was a quarterback, but it was definitely an interesting place to grow up. Our neighbors were Samoan. I didn't know what Samoan were. So like being educated on all the different mommy is so diverse. I mean, from a culture perspective, so many different cultures that it was just really intriguing to me to grow up there and get to know things other than,  and where I grew up. It was mainly white and a few black families that, of course my dad was best friends with all of them. And we got hated on a lot from that and bad. My dad was always just very, very like,  people are people and you get a love everybody, by the time I was 15, I was out of the house.


I was, my dad was drinking, had gotten to a place where I just, maybe just didn't feel safe in my house anymore. And so I slept on my brother's couch and he charged me a hundred dollars a month when I was 16 years old. And so really like my brother, my older sister kind of raised me from then. So from 15 on and just kind of took me under the wings. We took on our little sister, so she was about nine. And so all of us got a house together. So there were five of us while I was in high school. Everyone called us the party of five. And then eventually everyone kind of went to college or my sister had a baby. She took my little sister. So I was left alone my senior year. And our neighbors across the street had a motorhome in their backyard. So they offered me to live there for my senior year in high school. So I lived in a motor home that last year to get myself through high school. And then I moved to Seattle for massage school.


MIKE SPEAR 

I had an instinct that might've been some adversity, but I had no idea.


ZIONNA HANSON:

That's like really surface level of Z growing up and running around.


MIKE SPEAR: 

I mean, I don't want to paint everyone with the same brush, but it would have been very easy to go down a negative path like in life. Like what do you, what do you think about your personality or your the influence of adults and friends and family around you that like made the difference for you where you got yourself through high school?


ZIONNA HANSON 

I think that my older siblings were really influential. For me, my brother started his own landscaping company when he was 16. This is the best lesson in life. This should tell everyone where I come from. And like really who raised me and how I turned out the way I did. So my oldest brother kind of like a father figure to me at this point, I asked him I needed to borrow $2,500. Someone crashed my car, long story. I needed $2,500 to get this other car that I had to put a deposit down or I said, lose a deposit. And so out of urgency, I asked my brother to borrow $2,500 and he looked at me and he's like, what are you doing on Saturday? I was like, Oh, nothing. And he's like, okay, well be ready at 6:30 AM and wear comfortable clothes.


I said, okay, no problem got ready. And he had me go on one of his routes, his landscaping routes and mow lawns. And so I mowed lawns all day and it was the hardest, like I can remember the pain to this day. Like it was the hardest labor's day of my life. And we got back home and he wrote me a check for $2,500. And he said, I just wanted you to know how hard I work for my money. And I was like, wow, that next day I went down to school or what that next Monday I went and got a school loan and I paid him back because I was like, I'd rather not be in debt with you ever, ever again. I'm never borrowing money. So I have good credit with my oldest brother.


MIKE SPEAR 

I do so many things that connect with, I know about Barbells for Boobs.  This is another area I think we connect is like, there was no direct career path for me to like the social sector. Like, yeah, I was in the film industry for awhile. I did journalism. I played poker for a little bit, and then I discovered Classy and that was kind of like my turn into the sector. Like what were some of the careers that you've had?


ZIONNA HANSON

And the sector really has a direct path. Right. And so I think now maybe more people are aware of the sector and going to school now for it. But  you look back 20 years ago when I was getting out of high school there, wasn't like, non-profit, wasn't this like, Oh, go. I always wanted to help people the way I help people. My career was when I went to massage school, so I knew I was going to have to put myself through college. And I knew my oldest brother was not going to help me.


I was also a pharmacy technician. I worked at a pharmacy from the time I was 14, like delivering medicine. And so I became I was a pharmacy tech, but I knew on a pharmacy type salary, I wouldn't be able to afford college and work 40 hours a week. So I was like, what kind of job could I have where I could still help people maybe work 20 hours a week, but make the same amount of money. And so massage was kind of like the answer. And I was always fascinated with healing. People like that was always my fascination. And so in pharmacy, I kind of had this idea of, okay, you can give people medicine and then they feel better afterwards. And then it was like, Oh, you can massage. You can touch people. And then they feel better afterwards.


And so I always was in awe of the outcome of making people feel better. And you had these different tactics. And so throughout my life I still practice massage too to this date. I love it so much. It's meditating for me. It's something that I'll always do. But then I got,  I became a bartender and the same outcome, like, okay, you serve people drinks and they leave your bar happier or feel better. And there's some type of therapy in there. Little go-go dancing in the middle of there somewhere. I then I found CrossFit.


And that was again, okay. I can coach somebody and give them physical activity, and then they leave the gym feeling better. And so everything I've always done in my career, going into building Barbells for Boobs, the outcome was always, I want to make people better. I want them to feel better. I want to heal them in a sense. So it just scaled differently. So it, with massaging, it was one-on-one,  and in pharmacy was one-on-one in CrossFit and coaching a CrossFit class. It was like, well, how I can help 12 people at once and building Barbells for Boobs, you can kind of look at that. We get to heal people by the hundreds,  and it's such a cool evolution. And that's why I think massaging is still really important to me is because it grounds me back to just healing one person at a time. And it makes me think more clearly. And it really does ground me and helps me become better at Barbells for Boobs.


MIKE SPEAR 

That interesting. I think a lot about working locally versus globally,  there's things you can do at a macro level and sort of hundreds of thousands of people, but it's, it's, you don't have the same emotional attachment, even though your impact is so much greater, potentially like if you're so disconnected from it, but to be able to work one-on-one with somebody it's a much different experience.


ZIONNA HANSON 

Totally, I think in the social sector, we get so caught up with numbers sometimes and impact and variety of impact that we sometimes undermine the quality of the impact. Quality to me has become the most important and not the quantity where for a long time, I was really, really focused on the quantity and more recently. And I think that it was after losing my sister. I, what I realized I had never, we had done so much work in early detection, like provided over 50,000 procedures, done all this transformative work in, in the screening deficit in our country. And I was like, I haven't met one person. I don't know anybody I've helped. I lost my sister breast cancer. Once you have that aha wake up moment for me, it was more important than ever to know the people I was helping. And that's when Barbells for Boobs transformed for me.


MIKE SPEAR 

I want to get to this stuff, but I also want to kind of deconstruct the journey a bit more. This is out there in the world already, but give us, give us the founding story.


ZIONNA HANSON 

Founding story of Barbells for Boobs. So 2009, I was building my CrossFit gym in Lake forest, California. Dedicated my life to it so much that I was living in the gym because let's all face it. There's not a lot of money in running a CrossFit gym. And me and my partner, we, we lived in our gym. That's how dedicated we were took showers at the 24 hour fitness down the street. I was probably like nine months into it. And I received an email from my best friend saying that 10 days prior, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. And it really shocked me because I was 29.


She was 27 actually at the time that she was diagnosed, she was 26. When she found her lump. Like my heart just dropped because I was like breast cancer happens at 40. What that also tells me even to this day is I was uneducated about breast cancer that this world around us that tells us that breast cancer happens after 40. I was a victim to that stat,  breast cancer doesn't happen. And the unfortunate fact is one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. And 7% of those women will be under 40. And so my friend now was a part of this really small stat. I was shocked and not really knowing what to do to support her. I just like, okay, well my community kind of came together and they're like, Oh, like let's do something.


I want to challenge myself. If Ceci can get through cancer and do all this stuff, I'm not only going to challenge myself. And I'm asking my friends and we're going to raise money and we're gonna raise money for her. I told her what we were doing. And she's like, that's awesome. Like, I'm not saying don't do a fundraiser, but I don't need the financial support. So we did this fundraiser and afterwards we went to a bar and one of the participants was like, Hey, we just did Barbells for Boobs. And I was like,


We just did Barbells for Boobs and something about it just clicked for me. And I said, do you mind if I use that? And that's really where Barbells ruse is born. And we raised $2,000. I saw Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit the next week and he matched it. So we had $4,000 and my best friend Ceci didn't take it. She was like, go help other people. And that's the founding story. And so through her selflessness and through,  a few pitchers of beer Barbells for Boobs was born. 


MIKE SPEAR 

That's interesting. Cause I knew the founding story.  I've known that story for years. I didn't realize that that first fundraiser was for assessing was like for medical expenses or whatever for her. Where'd you go from like, just trying to support your friend to like, Hey, this is something we want to turn into an organization, potentially


ZIONNA HANSON

A light bulb moment for me. I actually had a few in the very beginning, number one, it was Ceci asked for me to help others. So that was kind of like, okay, well I have to do something serious with this $4,000. So I started doing some research and I found there was a lot of gaps in the screening process for young women just in our country in general. And so I was kind of amazed by that in a way. And the other thing was at that time, one of my coaches at my gym, her cousin was a freelance photographer and found a lump on her breast. And she was like 32 and couldn't afford the services. She couldn't afford the biopsy. And that was like a sign from the universe And so her screening was a first screening we paid for and our board actually paid for that because we utilize the first $4,000 to get our non-profit status and hired an attorney. We did it all correctly. And so we didn't have any money. We have no money in the bank now, how do we do this? Like, what do we do? Awesome. And so our board put some money together and and, and the craziest part was we called the, the, the center where she ate was getting the screening and they were willing to negotiate with us because we were a nonprofit where they wouldn't negotiate with the patient. And that was another, like, what is wrong with the system? Like, why can't you, can't why can't you just help people? And the entire board, just chipped in and paid for it. And so that was a really big, that was the aha moment of, Oh, wow. Like this is a problem. And since he's not the only story and says he had insurance, so she didn't actually have a problem.


I was just, she was Ceci is the, the, the fire for me on sassy story was when she went in originally for her screening, six months prior, they denied her screening saying she was too young. And that was really what set me off to say, well, what's happening with young women? Why are they rejecting young women? Like you went in with a lump and they told you, you were too young for a screening. And then didn't give you a screen. Like, what is this? Like, I felt like our healthcare system failed her and I, at the same time in working in this very proactive way. And my life's journey has been helping people and healing them. Isn't that what our healthcare system is supposed to do and why didn't they do that? So yeah, there was a few aha moments in that. 


MIKE SPEAR 

I think that's where some of the best organizations come from is that like the personal experience, firsthand experience with this there's something not right or harder. And then how do I solve that?


ZIONNA HANSON

Oh yeah, you're a problem. That's like, you're a problem solver as in the non-profit sector. That's all you're doing. You're seeing problems and you're doing your best to articulate a solution.


MIKE SPEAR 

I know Barbells has evolved a lot over the years, but what was the primary mission? Like the first, like, this is what Barbells is today?


ZIONNA HANSON 

For me, it was ensuring that everyone had a right to know that they were living with breast cancer. So that idea that my friend was, had breast cancer and she didn't know. And so that's what really we set forth was ensuring that regardless of your age, gender, creed insurance status, that you could get screening and get access to it, early detection screening.


MIKE SPEAR 

Peer to peer fundraising, and now it's more or less mainstream, but at that time it was 2009, Barbells for Boobs. That first event was basically peer to peer fundraising.


ZIONNA HANSON 

In 2010 CrossFit picked up my story and kind of shared it with the community. And after they shared it, everyone came out, came up to me. I was reaching out to us and was like, how do we get involved? How do we get involved? And I didn't know what peer to peer fundraising was at that time. And everyone was giving us $35 because they wanted the Barbells for Boobs shirt. And we had, I think the first year, 5,000 people registered, we raised like $300,000. I was like, wow, what did I just,  like, what is this? So then you have the funds. And then I was completely lost. I was like, what do I do? I was like, Oh, now what? And that's when people ask me what that are like, want to start a nonprofit. And they're like, what's, what's your first piece of advice. Have a plan, know the problem, make sure no one else is trying to solve that problem. If you find somebody trying to solve that problem, call them, see how you can help them solve the problem. If no one in the world is solving this one problem, have a plan that's for money.



MIKE SPEAR 

You raised the four grand, you spent the four grand. You're out of money. You’ve got the 300. It's like, what do we do? So those were all small donors. Those were all 30, $35. That really brings me to the core of what I'm getting at here is like you do, you've made most of your revenue, especially in the early days off of those small donations. What has that meant for the growth of the organization to have that broader base of support, all the sort of human capital, the community aspect to it. And how did you engage with those people? And thank them with like a tiny team in a way that like made sense. And they wanted to like stick around and be a part of it.


ZIONNA HANSON

So it's so important to have, I feel that type of funding where if you lost a donor, it doesn't collapse any of your programs. So we've been really fortunate to have a consistent database of really great,  small givers, a large amount of small divers. And that was the first year I was in such shock that so many people felt my fire in the story of Ceci and knew that she was done wrong. Right. And so it was like the idea that you guys just heard my Ceci story. And then we also pushed out a video. And this is where marketing, marketing, your storytelling, your story so important. I give a lot of credit to the CrossFit community. Cause if it wasn't for the CrossFit community, it wouldn't have reached so many people overnight. So the minute that CrossFit released our story, I think it was October 2010. Overnight, we raised like $62,000. And then I had like 2000, 132 emails in my inbox. It went from like I was grinding and I was fighting and advocating to like, wow, people are just as angry as me. And like people believe in this problem. And they, I have now an army that wants to support this problem. And so that to me was just like, how do I think these people? Oh my God, Sally in Texas, that's like emailing me every two weeks. And so the only tangible way I thought about helping me or thanking them was meeting them. And so the next year we set off and did a tour across the country and go to, we went and visited as many people, as many CrossFit gyms as we could in 30 days, I think we had like 23 gyms all the way across the country.


MIKE SPEAR 

And that wasn't a fundraising thing that was literally you wanted to thank people.


ZIONNA HANSON 

I just wanted to thank everybody.. It was incredible. Still to this day, people are, when is the tour coming back? And I grew like,  the first year it was, we rented a sprinter van. I don't think we ate for few days, but we brought a DJ and, I was like, I just want to have a party and have fun and like, and make this ugly thing that we're trying to fix fun, you know? And, and, and along the way, you meet survivors and you meet people that have been impacted by breast cancer and they're sharing their stories, but we just try to make it the funnest live, just saying that was happening in October. And so we did the tour, I think, six more years to the point where we had motorhomes and, people are so amped when the motor home showed up.


MIKE SPEAR

You sort of, you started to mention marketing which is always overlooked in the social sector for better, for worse. Some organizations only have to worry about it, but in general, I think it's a very undervalued thing. You've, you've always been great at marketing. And in particular I felt the brand has always been very strong breast cancer is one of those things where at least as an outsider, I guess to me, it seems like it's very saturated with organizations trying to impact that cause and whatever that way is. And for the casual donor, who's like, I want to get involved in breast cancer. It strikes me that would be very difficult to know how to pick the right organization. And your brand stands apart. How has that, how have you invested in the brand and how has that made a difference for you?


ZIONNA HANSON 

I feel like that's what connects people and that's what makes people want to be a part of something is a story. And that's how we're all connected is through a story. And because regardless if you're going to listen to my story or to  Karen story or to anybody's story, it's, you have to kind of feel that you can fix the problem that we're trying to solve, you know? And so I think that we did a really good job in investing in PR video production and get making sure we always had a camera following us around, especially when we were on tour. I mean, we had people commit to,  six weeks on the road with us and not only an investment in dollars, but people's time.


And, and they were so inspired by what we were doing that a lot of, sometimes people were just like, I don't care. Just give me a camera and I'll, I'll come and just pay for my room and board for the six weeks and I'll come and enroll with you guys. And so we always made sure we had a camera following us around. We always made sure that we were asking people to share their story and, and listening for those stories. But as far as the brand from a look and feel I interviewed so many survivors before I put Barbells for Boobs out in the world, because I wanted to hear from them what it felt like to have cancer, right. So I don't, I've never had breast cancer. So I don't know what it feels like. And the just I got from those interviews is really still what exists in our brand right now is a lot of women wish that breast cancer was black because it's not this pretty pink cancer.


And they've lost so many friends to it that they would rather honor the darkness of it than the light. And they hate the ribbon. They think that the ribbon has robbed them of something and there's a lot of conspiracies to the ribbon. And so if you really look at our brand we don't use a ribbon. We use a circle because I feel like Barbells for Boobs is really worried about the cycle of life and making sure that we're just bringing life into what you're going through specifically. And we use a lot of black and again, you start building this brand, not knowing what's ahead and again, you know understanding that death is a part of breast cancer, and we want to make sure that that was relevant in our brand. 


MIKE SPEAR 

You brought up a couple of interesting points. I just want to touch on,  with having this broad base of supporters, having a storytelling, be a part of it, you really invited your community in to be a part of Barbells and feel like they have a stakeholdership in it.  drawing me doing the interviews with survivors and stuff like that. And I've also noticed that on your website, now you can download like the color schemes, download the pictures. Like, how was it, what do you play with, with, with preserving, like the integrity of the brand that you've established versus like giving it up for others to use and be a part of, and make it their own.


ZIONNA HANSON 

Honestly for us, it was more about I'd rather give permission and let more people share their story of Barbells for Boobs, then protect it because we protected in a way of,  we, we are very conservative on who we work with and who we partner with at a, at a headquarter level, but how the community wants to represent Barbells for Boobs is up to them. Like I tell owners that all the time, I'm like, Hey, you hosting a Barbells for Boobs event in your community. I honestly don't care what it looks like. Just have fun. And like, as long as you're saying it's Barbells for Boobs and you understand what your community is giving back to. We've never been like, we, we tried to kind of control that. It's like, there's 3000 events happening. You guys, how are we going to control this?


And there's some things that you just have to be like, really, like, does it matter as long as we, as an organization, give them the tools to keep the brand as consistent as possible. And that's why I know you just said, let's just give it to them because they're, they're actually the ones in the trenches doing all the work to raise the money. Why wouldn't we give them our assets, they're part of our company. And so you kind of almost w if they trust us so that so much that they're putting on an event in their own community and raising money for us, we have to trust them with our brand. 


MIKE SPEAR 

You seem like you're very much and ask for forgiveness and not permission kind of person, which is, which is rare. It's like, it's unique in the nonprofit sector. Everybody's like, so concerned about not to say should be reckless, but concerned about their board is going to say getting approval for different things, not angering donors for like,  some perceived misuse of whatever,  it seems very central to who you are as a leader and the spirit of Barbells for Boobs. How have you used that? Has it ever like blown up in your face?


ZIONNA HANSON

Oh, yes. It's so hard because, we're asked to solve these massive issues, right? Asked to solve these massive issues with all this red tape in our hands, tied behind our back. And there comes a point where you just kind of have to say, it. And you have to, there's nobody that has the intuition, like a founder, nobody. And I've asked for forgiveness and it's been where I had so much belief and vision that I was like, Z, this matters so much that if in the out, if the outcome is they kick you off of Barbells for Boobs is worth it. Honestly, here's how I make decisions. This is honestly the secret disease decision-making would Ceci be mad at me? Would Ceci be proud with this? And if I can go to sleep and say, could I tell Ceci when she'd be proud of this, then I'm then I make the decision. Probably not the boss. I'm not advising everybody, but, when you take risks and you have to like, think about your board and what you need to bring to your boards, and what do you not. iI've been very lucky to have some board chairs where they're like XE, as long as you're hitting your numbers, I don't care how you get there, do what you need to do to hit those numbers. And so I think that that's when I was the most innovative, innovative leader was when I had a board chair that was like, I trust you. I trust. You're not going to make a decision. That's going to compromise organization. Sometimes you might have to,  think abstractly. And,  if you need to ask me for something, go ahead and ask me, but I trust you to do the right thing. And so I think at the end, if you can say, I did the right thing, then I'm okay with it, okay, with the decision.


MIKE SPEAR 

When you say, would Ceci be proud?  I don’t imagine you're going to call Ceci in the morning and be like, Hey, what'd you think about this? She's representative of having a strong mission and core values and vision for the organization. Whenever I do any, any sort of work with, with a client or whoever I just want to check in on like that ethos and like either create it if it's not there or redevelop it, or to make sure like, that's dialed in, like, doesn't matter, what do, because social media, or like a giving Tuesday, it doesn't matter. Like as long as you put it through that lens of what the core values are,  the rest is just communication, right? You don't wanna, like, you wanna have good communication with the board with any of your stakeholders, but I feel like as long as you're putting it through those values, like you should be okay. 


ZIONNA HANSON 

Yup. 100%. And, and honestly, Ceci you've now kind of had a little sneak peek and in my upbringing and Ceci was very integral in my upbringing and was the one friend that really taught me what unconditional love was. And people always ask me, like, what's the most proud thing that Barbells for Boobs? Is that like, what's, what are you most proud of, of Barbells for Boobs? And the thing I'm most proud of is that Ceci is still my best friend, 11 years later, like that's still my ride or die. And like, so I haven't lost the vision of Ceci and what she represents in my life and the gift that she gave me, which was unconditional love. And so I just try to pay that forward to everyone.


MIKE SPEAR 

BFB HAS BEEN TIED TO CROSSFIT SINCE THE OUTSET. HAVE YOU FELT PRESSURE TO GROW BEYOND THAT? 


ZIONNA HANSON

A little bit. Yeah. I think that that's the challenge of Barbells for Boobs.  I've had a lot of pressure to change the name. I've had a lot of pressure to expand at a CrossFit. And, and I think that what I've learned the most is I don't really care about that. I did for a while. And I, and I did in the very beginning of this idea of grow, grow, grow. Get bigger, more, more impact, impact, impact.


Grow the numbers because we were growing at such a rapid pace for years, six years, we were doubling our revenue every single year. And so having that pressure every year to double, and then the year you don't and you drop it's like, Oh, failure. And so I, I was so hard on myself that you kind of lose why you start, because you're now so worried about the, that I don't care anymore about. I care about again, the quality now. And right now we're, we're serving 200 women pretty much every day. I mean, our women are we're, so we're probably engaged with, are the women we serve probably about 20% of them every single day right now. I guess, not that I don't care about growing, but I care about staying true to what it is that we do and staying in our lane and not trying to be something that we're not. And so if we can replicate what we're doing in cycling and have a full-on community and support and coaching and, and programming, and now that we're what we're doing in breast cancer, cause it's obviously evolved. We haven't gotten there yet. It's obviously evolved, but you know what we're doing today in breast cancer, I think that it could be replicated in different communities, in different fitness communities. And we'll see you in the next decade, how we can kind of copy and paste.


MIKE SPEAR

I’ve seen a trend, where innovative organizations begin with one issue - early screenings and “the right to know” - and evolve - primarily to add resources around the core mission to ensure program success.  In many ways, this forces them to redefine who they are as an organization. Tell me about the RAD Program.


ZIONNA HANSON

Yeah, so the RAD program, it stands for resources after diagnosis. And the mission of the RAD program is to provide the tools to women impacted by breast cancer to move daily. And so a few things happened at Barbells for Boobs in order for the RAD program to really be born. So you're doing the right to know program, which was providing funding for early detection services. We were doing this at a national level. We had funding in 23 States. We had a partnership with Avon foundation, all this amazing stuff. Cause we've always been a small team, very grassroots team. And I don't know if anybody knows this, but the Avon foundation dissolved in 2017. And so you're talking about a $40 million machine that we were partnered with that could mobilize our funding really easily and save us a lot of time and resources was gone. And so we didn't have this big partner anymore in that space. And then also we were, we were kind of at the same time, seeing some impact from the affordable care act where now people are mandated to have insurance.


So now that the problem wasn't, I don't have insurance, the problem was I don't have enough money for my deductible. So there is still obviously huge screening deficits. But when we were granting money to to a clinic or to a hospital and they couldn't utilize, our funding was almost working like as an insurance or, and so they would use, now this person has insurance. Now they have a deductible. Well, we can't pay the deductible. We have to pay the medical provider, not the person. So long story short was we started seeing refunds come back from our grants. And my board was like, if everyone has insurance, do we still exist? Can you solve that problem? And so that was on my mind. And at the same time, my sister was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. And so all of that kind of collided within a year.

And we also just had,  since inception meeting survivors on the road and listening to their story and, and always being a part of the aftermath of breast cancer, but not doing any work in that capacity. So we started saying like, okay, we're doing all this great work and early detection. What about once they get diagnosed? What are we doing? And,  women will call and say, yeah, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And my coach told me to call you. And I'm like, that's awesome. Like,   like, that's great, we'll send you a shirt. Like that was like my only solution. Like, we'll send you a Barbells for Boobs shirt. Cool. And I started saying like, well, we're only half, we're only doing half the work. Like we're kind of, half-assed in this.


We need to complete the circle. Cool. So if we look at half of the circle is early detection, the other half is yeah. After detection, what are we doing on that dark side of the circles? Like almost like black and white. And of course my sister getting diagnosed was really, really what, whatlit the fire. And so my sister was 43,  just diagnosed too late, had already spread to her bones and her lungs. And so I just was getting to a place where I was like, this is I, I went actually to the president of Avon foundation at the time. And this was when I found out that they were dissolving, I literally ran to the bathroom and threw up, threw up when I found out, because I don't think people understand what a machine like that was doing for breast cancer and how disgusting it was that they're going to be dissolved.


And so I went to her and I said, what are we supposed to be doing? Like, it's that time when you're, when you're in your, the work. Right. You're so in the trenches and you finally have to ask yourself, am I doing what we're meant to do? Or am I just doing what we're supposed to do? What everybody's been telling me I'm doing and I'm doing it so great. When I really looked at the landscape of early detection, I was like, I feel like I'm beating myself up, it's a black hole. I don't really, I feel the impact. I don't really understand what we're doing. And when I really sat down, I said, what are we meant to do in breast cancer? And if it took us 10 years to get to what we were meant to be doing, I'm okay with that.


And so when I really looked at the landscape of fit this in breast cancer and what, and our community were telling us that their doctors were saying of don't pick up more than three pounds, don't do a pushup. And, and then I'm in the chemo chair with my sister and hearing it directly from her medical team. I'm just like, I'm seeing women five years out of treatment, still having hot flashes, five years out of treatment, still having the scars and still dealing with it and still having the, the depression that breast cancer brings. Nobody realizes that once you're done with treatment and you ring the bell, that you have breast cancer for the rest of your life and not, not maybe an active cancer, but it's there. The scars are there every day, the side effects, especially depending on what type of breast cancer you get.


So I started the momentum. I started building what this RAD program could be. And then my sister passed away in April of 18. You try to listen to the university, try to listen for signs and then you just, you have to make a decision. And this wasn't a decision. I asked permission for my board.  It wasn't like, Hey, we're, we're changing direction. I just told him, this is now what we're doing. If they didn't want to be a part of how Barbells removes was evolving and growing and changing, they are more than welcome to leave. And again, would Ceci be okay with this. And here's the beautiful part about what we do now is Ceci is a part of our programs. And I'm finally helping my friend that was so reluctant to take the freaking money in the beginning. She's a part of our programs now. And so like, if the board wasn't okay with it, I was like, I'll start a new organization. What do you need me to do? 


Right now we're still, we still support early detection. So we still have a good screen. We still navigate women to early detection services. We don't fund them currently. But we still have a national network of early detection, resources and information. And we are building a really special we're piloting a program next year. For early detection, that's going to be more of a youth program and more providing information to the at-risk youth on fitness and breast cancer. And making sure that young girls know that you can get breast cancer at 26.


MIKE SPEAR

How has it gone since you launched the RAD program and what are you hearing back from the participants in terms of how it's impacting them?


ZIONNA HANSON 

I can’t even talk about it. I mean, to go from running impact where again, you're just chasing numbers and it's cool to get your grant reports back and see all the impact and the numbers and the people you're serving and for a man to get text messages from people that,  you, you get help every day to get packages from them, for them to meet your son and really be a part of like your why. And it's, I can't even describe what we do now. It's something you have to feel, you have to be a part of the programs. And, and I think that it's, it's kind of like when people ask, like, what's CrossFit, it's like, well, somebody's gotta feel like it's a feeling it's notI can't describe it.


MIKE SPEAR 

How are you reporting back the metrics? I mean, I know those are,  the numbers, aren't the end all be all right. But how do you think of impact now?


ZIONNA HANSON 

If I can get a woman to work out. And so it's really up to them and I put that pressure on them too. So the biggest metric we track right now is workouts logged. And so we track every single workout that our women do.  I just, I tell them all the time, all of them always ask, like,  we want to help our bus routes. How do we help drag your workout log?We got into our system. That's how you help. Because it's really important because right now it's , for us to change the standard of care. And for oncologist to say, yes, work out, yes, you can pick up a barbell. Yes, you can run. Yes. You can do a pushup. We need to show that number one, women can do high intensity training after breast cancer. And so by, as logging, that metric was the most important one this year for us to log. So our annual goal right now is 30,000 workouts logged for a full year with the current participants that we have. And so if we can get that metric that's that to us is the most important for us to start kind of moving the needle and in fitness, after physical activity, after breast cancer.


MIKE SPEAR 

Yeah. I know this is sort of a newer program, but, what would it mean if, if encouraging fitness and exercise and making, lifting okay after treatment. If the medical sector accepts this as like, what should be the normal? Like, what would that mean to you guys?


ZIONNA HANSON

I mean, that's the dream, right? That's the vision is your oncologist is like, yeah, call Barbells removes, they'll get you all set up and hooked up.  like they'll, they'll show you how to get back into, into, because the ultimate dream here for me is when you get diagnosed with breast cancer, you have this entire medical team, oncologist, radiologists, all these, all these people, and then you're done. And then they say, this is your new normal, go figure it out. And there's really no care team after that. And so our goal is to kind of be that new care team. really having a head coach in charge of your health. We have a coach that programs specifically in the goal is, is right now we're onboarding a group of professionals where if we need to outsource like nutrition or psychology or physical therapy that we have some specialists that we work with, that, that we can now kind of have a care team for the women, for the rest of their lives to say, Hey, since physical therapy is not a protocol, post-mastectomy I'm not angry about that at all. How about we make sure that you have that and you get that until that is a protocol until we can change that. And so those are some of the like key standards of care that we want to change. And we're far from that, that's kind of almost secondary, like the improve, the quality of life is our priority right now, which I think you move your body, you can start feeling better. If you haven't read untamed, it's a great book.


She has this idea of how do you solve big social problems? It's kind of like a river. And so she's like,  you get your, you have people that are pushing people into a river and they're getting stuck into a river. So,  the idea of a social social sector is we pull people out of the river. We rescue them,  get them out of the river. So I kind of feel like that's our improve the quality of life. We're getting them out of the river. But if we don't figure, go back to the top, see who's pushing people in and solve the root cause of the problem. Then we're failing the entire system. Right. And so our us going to the top and figuring it out because pushing women into not really pushing him into cancer, but who's pushing them into like, not feeling better. Like why aren't they feeling better? It's the medical team. And so it's us saying, we need to change the mindset and the industry standard on what to do with physical activity afterwards. And as a medical professional, I want to establish a bridge between the medical professional team and the fitness professional community. 


I think that your why has to be so strong and if your why isn't strong, then it's not real.  I think that it's, if you don't want to quit every day, your why isn't strong enough,  I definitely want to quit every single day. It's hard. It's work is hard. There's,  I always tell people you're, you're investing in other people every single day. But for me, this is our investment. This is proof of our work is the people that we get to serve that to me is bigger than anything.


But yeah, your why has to really stand out. And I wish to God that I had that this wasn't my, why I pray all the time. Breast cancer is not a blessing. I'm not happy about this work. I do. I hate it. I hate breast cancer. I hate the color pink, and I've tried to walk away after I had to like, be over it. I don't want to come here. I was just like, I'm done. I'm gonna go back to massage.  I'm going to build a massage bar. I could go do anything. Right. I can, I can consult. I can go write a book. I can't. I can't, because this is my prophecy. This is what I was put on this earth to do. This is mine. And no matter how much I try to deviate from it, it's like, nice try.


And that's true. I have resigned as a CEO, after my sister passed away and I was having a rough day and I, one day I just decided to leave the board. And I was building my massage practice and my first patient was a breast cancer survivor that morning. And I think that it's kind of like this thing where like you just have to listen to the universe and as much as you want to have your own life and do your own thing, as much as I in my head, I'm like, I'll just go build my own practice, my own wellness center. And maybe I'll give free treatment to breast cancer survivor,  like the, in my own little cuckoo head. Because it's hard to run an organization. And people don't realize that it's not about just raising money.


It's building a team building and culture building trust continuing to do it year over year and coming up with a new strategy year over year so that you get that $50 donor every single year. That's a challenge. And I think the only resiliency is you have to be meant to do this. There's literally, this is like, I've got to find, I found my calling at the age of 29 through trauma and devastation. And my only job is to bring light in this world. And for whatever reason, I have no idea. I'm hopeful to find out soon it's through breast cancer and I've just accepted it. And I'm here. What do you want today?


MIKE SPEAR

I mean, you're, you're still so positive and lit up and energized about this stuff. What are the little bright spots? Like the things that happened in the course of your work that really just keep you energized and keep moving.


ZIONNA HANSON 

My team, the people I get to work with. The people that I surround myself with. They're just awesome. My son. My son knows what breast cancer is. He's eight and he's autistic, you know? And he works out with our survivors every day and teaching my son that you know about my work and about women and women's health. That's probably the best part of my day. And he knows it. Punzel wears pink.  He calls me Punzel. And I hate pink, you know? And it's so funny that this is the work I do, but yeah, my team, I, gosh, I, I get excited to come in here every day. I love it. It's just cool. Cause we gotta be positive. Right? Not every day, not every moment am I like, there's stuff around like, Oh my gosh. Like, well, and you, and you really deal with some real stuff.  Legal stuff. And you really have finance and accounting stuff and big decisions to make and you have to make cuts and hires and make really hard decisions. Those are hard days,  when you have to do those things. But for the most part, we have a real, we don't take anything too serious here. We're kind of just like, this is good. This is all right. And our team, they bring out the joy in me.


MIKE SPEAR 

Awesome. How has fundraising been this year?


ZIONNA HANSON:

We're hitting our goals by 200% right now, which is insane during a pandemic. But that just kind of shows, I think the strength in our community and people believe in what we're doing and our, our future.


MIKE SPEAR

What’s next for Barbells for Boobs?


ZIONNA HANSON:

It's going to be about telling your story correctly. And we haven't  told the full story of our bolster Booz. I haven't shared my sister's story. I haven't shared kind of the evolution in the cycle of why we're doing what we're doing now. And so I think it will be time next year for us to really dig in and invest in a really bigger story, a way that we can really share the projections of our work and really the impact of our work and what it's doing. We really will now have a full year of true impact from our RAD program. And we're getting just amazing testimonials right now, a lot of qualitative work happening here. So I think that we just need to hunker down the spring spring time and really produce a really good new story kind of who is Barbells for Boobs.


MIKE SPEAR: 

Do you know what your donor retention rate is? This is totally random and it's fine if you don't.


ZIONNA HANSON

I don't, I haven't looked at it. I know that we've had a pretty consistent, probably around 80% retention the last three years.


MIKE SPEAR 

That's huge according to industry standards, but it's not surprising. That's kind of what I was expecting you to say just the way,  so many organizations are very worried about,  donor burnout and things like that. And I'm always telling people like, just make sure your interactions are value, add and make sure you're aligning the mission, work with the fundraising work. And if you do that, they should really be compassionate for them and they should really stick around. You guys have been super successful at that. It seems like. 


ZIONNA HANSON

Yeah. We're more successful at it now, now that our programs are actually doing the thing that, there's an idea of. I know what it feels like to pick up a barbell and I know what it does for my own healing. If I can help a woman pick up a barbell now, like the message of what Barbells removes does now means more to our donor than ever. I think there was some empathy to like, I can help a woman get a screening, but I can help a woman put a barbell in her hands. There's a commonality there that they understand of what a barbell does for themselves. And if I can give that to another person going through cancer, yeah. Let's do that.


MIKE SPEAR 

What's next for Barbells for Boobs? I know the RAD program and having the program for, for younger women to make sure they know they should get screened. You also mentioned to me,  potentially building a for-profit arm, like where, where do you see going with Barbells? What are the next,  one, three, five, 10 years?


ZIONNA HANSON

Yeah. I know that we want to be the world's largest global educators in physical activity after breast cancer. That's one of our, our big visions. We kind of want to be the place where everyone comes and knows, and almost like that. Oh, like, you need to go to California. Cause  they're doing some cool stuff about rush reviews, you know? Like anybody in the world gets diagnosed with breast cancer. Like, Oh man, this spot in California is doing some really cool stuff. But I think that we had a kind of this week, this year has been made you question your vision big time, because you're set on this path and you think that you're doing these great things. And then you realize there's a lot of problems still in our country when it comes to race, privilege all that stuff.


And so, we were challenged during a lot of that stuff with, after Mr. Floyd and the civil unrest that happened this past year we were definitely kind of question our diversity rate within our community and how are we reaching more women of color. That really kind of started me saying, how do I, especially because I'm from the neighborhood,  so I take that stuff to heart. We are moving Barbells to Boobs to the neighborhood I grew up in. And so for me, I can't solve it until I can solve it in my own community. So for me, I'm like, if I'm on a really dig deeper and deeper into my roots and deeper into helping and serving a wider population, I to start, I grew up, I have to know what's happening with my community. And I want to show little girls in my community. You can come from here and, and do great things and build great things and do good that it doesn't, it's not all ugly. It's this, isn't the end of the life of your life. There's this there's hope here. And so that's, that's one of my big initiatives again, when I'm probably not going to ask for permission. I’m going to ask for forgiveness. But again, I'm like Ceci would be so proud of that. We're both from the West side girls. I grew up in a neighborhood where there's not a Starbucks, there's not a target. There's not it's not a neighborhood where companies go in and invest their, their, their money or invest their, their product in. And so I want to bring this to my neighborhood first and really start digging deeper into that, that topic. And, you know black women have the highest mortality rate in breast cancer and not to say that I'm going to solve that problem, but I think that physical activity can really support an after diagnosis just wellness, you know? And so and, and with that, doing a for-profit side to where the community can come and be a part of it. And, for if we are having different modalities of a wellness, so not only a gym, but maybe like a wellness center with different modalities, acupuncture and massage therapy and all my roots stuff, maybe I'll have a bar there and I'll be slinging some drinks.


I don't know that I want an entire campus,  where it's in the hood. And we're really talking to people that are struggling in that capacity and, and where I'm from is a lot of people where I grew up and they've made it out and they've been successful. And I hope that we can have a really good, big community that supports people that want to give back to the neighborhood I grew up in. So that's kind of like forefront, cause my RAD program is just rolling, it's going to just organically grow. You kind of just, sometimes you have to just let it do what it's going to do. Can't control it too much. You know? I have a great team that runs it. And now I have to kind of think about the bigger problems that are happening in the world and how do we contribute? How we, how, how do we do that, but stay in our lane, right? How am I, how am I doing it, but staying in the lane of breast cancer. 


MIKE SPEAR

That's a great vision. So outside of your mission, something you're not going to get involved in. What do you think is the most important, cause at this point that humanity can be working towards?


ZIONNA HANSON

Yourself. Working on yourself. You are the biggest cause. And so I think that that's the best thing you can be doing right now for the world is looking in the mirror, figuring yourself out, working on your own mental health showing up as the best version of yourself. I think that the more that people can work on themselves and being better human beings, the world would be better.


MIKE SPEAR 

You sort of expressed how breast cancer sort of found you,  and you saw this need and you took action on it. What advice would you give to other potential founders of organizations when they see something that they want to change, how do they spring into action lead? 


ZIONNA HANSON

Don't do it. Stop. Be careful what you wish for. Be careful. The grass is not greener. I think that I always tell people like, figure out what you want to do, like understand the problem you want to solve, because that's really what it is. I've been contacted by so many people have things they want to do and, and understand the problem and, and see, is there anyone fixing it already? And if they are, you're better off collaborating, I'm a huge fan of collaboration then trying to rebuild it. And I think that there's enough nonprofits in the world. There's enough organizations in the social sector. I don't think that there's some problem that hasn't been thought about of being solved and not to say that we can't be innovative and do our own thing. And  I, I definitely want to advocate for that, but saving time and saving people's energy and dollars, figuring out if there's somebody already doing it and co-taught to them, like you don't even want to talk to me as a, like, non-profit, I guess I would consider myself a master of nonprofits.


Now it's not really fail everyday sometimes, but go talk to the person that's doing. The thing that you want to do that kind of looks like the thing that you want to do. Email them, like call them, do something and reach out to them and talk to them. I mean, that's what I would say. Don't do it or find a nonprofit and go work for them and really understand how a non-profit works. The social sector works. It's different.


MIKE SPEAR

We've known each other a while, but even talking to you now and listening to the podcast that you put out. You really do seem to have grown in that way and become very grounded and are self-assured and understand who you are. But I, I think it's a Testament to the hard work you put in to the journey you've been on, for sure.


ZIONNA HANSON 

Yeah. I think grief will do that. Loss will do that. Loss makes you go so inside.


MIKE SPEAR 

Last question. This is your, is your big softball for the day. How can people support you in your work?


ZIONNA HANSON

I love that. Fundraise, honestly. I mean, everyone has an opportunity to do something every single year, right? And so to support Barbells for Boobs fundraise, it means so much to organizations. Just start a page, ask friends, family members, everyone, everyone has been impacted by breast cancer. One in eight women will be diagnosed in their lifetime. So you think about eight women,  and just think about that stat. I mean, we all have probably eight very close women to us. Fundraising is a way that you get to share this message and continue to talk about this. That's the biggest problem statement one and eight. That's all I that's all I have to say.  This is impacting our moms, our wives, our sisters, our cousins fundraising is the best way that you can be an advocate for breast cancer, for Barbells, for boobs in the work that we're doing.


And, and a lot of times like fundraising means it's you put a challenge on, you do a workout, you do something physically challenging to get back to Barbells removes, and we reward you with really cool rewards, like a sure, a hoodie, a Yeti, a barbell, get with it. So you can go to barbell shrubs that org and create an account and fundraise and literally click take action, because that's what it's about. So take action. You can fundraise, you can join the heartbeat. So that's our recurring campaign. So $20 a month is what we ask. And we're probably going to be doing some really fun things with our recurring gifts. So taking action in that and, and being a part of what we do every single month. So you can get really an insight on life after breast cancer. Really, it's not what you think.


You think of one of breast cancer and it's not, it's something totally different and it's so inspiring and fun and dark and crazy and rewarding. And I think that people need this everyday in their life. You're like you're so positive and energetic. I'm around people that have been through cancer all day long. If there is not a reason for me to get my butt up and be thankful, I don't know what else is. And so if you get to be a part of Barbells for Boobs and by joining our fundraising initiatives, our recurring giving our being a one-time donor, we're going to give you a little bit, get a little bit of that gift every time we send you something, right? And so that's the inspiration of how lucky we are to be alive and not sick.


MIKE SPEAR 

When you're ready to hang out with the Barbells 50 years from now, what would you like to look back and have done with their career in the social sector? What would you like to have accomplished at that point?


ZIONNA HANSON

Ooh, I think that the thing that would be that I would consider the biggest accomplishment, let's say my deathbed is at Barbells for Boobs is still around and still doing great work and still helping women every day. Because this work is so hard. It's so easy to fail one year in, year out to fail one month and you can be out in the social sector. To create a legacy and make sure that it's still there and it's still impact on my deathbed. That would be an accomplishment.


MIKE SPEAR

Anything else you want to add or anything I should have asked?


ZIONNA HANSON 

Sometimes I leave out the storyline on think people, their hearts drop. I think that, we always talk about what would make us proud or what would we feel accomplished in our work. Right. I think that the thing I'm the most proud of in my life,  is that I have a wonderful relationship with my mom and dad. And so I reconnected with my mom three years ago and my father is sober now. And so I think that that's been the biggest character building for me is accepting people for who they are and what they've done, and like taking them in for the day,  like today's a new day and still my parents, like the people that gave me life. They're just people, they're humans, they mess up. But for me, I have a solid relationship with both of them is something that helps me and my leadership every day. I feel complete.


[MUSIC]


MIKE SPEAR: Well, I think that’s a great place for us to leave it. Thank you very much for listening, and a huge thank you to our guest, Zionna Hanson. If you want to learn more about their work, check out Barbellsforboobs.org.


As always, we’ll include some additional context, show notes, and links to ways you can get involved on our own website, at Cause and Purpose.com. 


We love hearing from you as well, so if you have any questions, comments, or guests you’d like to hear from, please leave us a comment or two through the website.


We hope you enjoyed this interview, and will join us again next time when our guest will be Maggie Doyne. Maggie is the Founder of BlinkNow, a children’s home and school in the Kopila Valley in Nepal. BlinkNow was founded when Maggie, fresh out of high school, traveled to Nepal and began to see firsthand the struggle of Nepalese children, many of whom were orphaned in the wake of the Nepalese civil war. It’s a great story and you definitely don’t want to miss it.


Cause & Purpose is a production of Moonshot.co. On behalf of myself, Z, and our entire team, we thank you for listening.


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More about

Zionna

:

Zionna Hanson is the founder and Chief Mission Officer at Barbells for Boobs, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, striving to redefine the standard of care in breast health and improve quality of life post diagnosis. BFB provides education on the significant benefits of fitness and support to access responsible and safe fitness instruction for those directly impacted by breast cancer.‍

Credits:

Cause & Purpose is a production of Moonshot.co
Postproduction by Lisa Gray of Sound Mind Productions
Original Music by Justin Klump of Podcast Music and Sound

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Cause & Purpose Podcast

Moonshot.co is home to Cause & Purpose, a podcast about leaders in the social impact sector. Hear their stories, successes, failures, and lessons-learned from lives spent in the trenches, tackling the world’s most important challenges.

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