by Bridget Kulla
Gregory Trayer, James Hardie National Account Manager, Home Depot,
Location: Orange County, California
Greg Trayer in between National Baseball Hall of Fame first baseman Rod Carew and Chairman of the Angels Dennis Kuhl during Club 29, part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light The Night Walk at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Calif.
From the age of 22, Gregory Trayer knew that helping others living with and surviving cancer—in some shape or form—would always be a part of his life.
It was 2002 and a monumental year for him.
“I graduated college from the University of Massachusetts, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and I moved to New Jersey to start working for James Hardie,” Trayer says.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer, I thought, ‘Why me?’” Trayer says.
But after a few weeks of feeling defeated, Greg’s competitive spirit kicked into high gear. He’s always been athletic, in-shape and played college water polo.
“There came a point where I knew I was going to beat this.” Trayer says. “Not if, but when.”
And he was right; after about eight months of chemotherapy, his cancer went into remission just after accepting his first job out of college with James Hardie.
Surviving cancer is not fleeting; it’s something that has stuck with Trayer since his diagnosis. Since then, he’s felt a strong drive to do something for the cause. That same year, he started a fundraising team called Trayer’s Troop. From then to now, the group has raised over $275,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), a major supporter of blood cancers such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
During their first year fundraising, the troop joined in the Light the Night Walk, something they continue to participate in each year, and raised $1,200.
Greg Trayer with Trayer’s Troop at Light the Night.
But something in Trayer made him want to do more than the annual walk with his team. “My wife helped me pinpoint it: I’d host an annual water polo tournament in my hometown of Reading, PA,” Trayer says.
A few years later, he had gathered up his college water polo teammates, secured a location, and started the first of many summer tournaments, helping to raise money for blood cancer research. This year marked their 11th annual tournament, and to date the event has raised $150,000 for LLS.
In 2014, Trayer was nominated for Man of the Year, an LLS competition to raise funds for blood cancer research. “Every week, we hosted a new event, from charity poker to community little league games,” Trayer says. In 10 weeks, Trayer’s Troop raised $105,000, winning the title and a huge sense of pride.
Fundraising for cancer research has become a part of who Trayer is, and he loves that it’s become a part his family’s life, too. “My three kids are each involved and even hosted their own Man-of-the-Year events this year, a garage sale and a lemonade stand,” Trayer says. “They understand that we’re helping people with cancer, and they get excited to help.”
James Hardie also understands the importance of standing behind a cause; their matching program will match any donation from James Hardie employees up to $5,000. “Everyone has a cause in his or her life, and this is an amazing company perk,” Trayer says.
It all comes down to the desire to help and making it happen, and Trayer appreciates that his family, his Troop, and James Hardie stand behind him the entire way.
September is Leukemia and Lymphoma awareness month, check out the local Light the Night Walk in your area to walk for the cause.