Cory Van Dyke

Cory Van Dyke

My world was turned upside down on Christmas Eve 2018 when my Dad suddenly passed away. My biggest supporter and #1 Fan was gone just like that. It left me feeling alone, confused, and feeling like I had no one around me who truly understood what I was going through.

Over the next year, I returned to college and trudged through life in the beginning stages of my grief journey. That all changed when I was invited in January 2020 to Comfort Zone Camp's Young Adult retreat, a retreat for 18-25 year olds who had lost a loved one. For the next three days, I was surrounded by people who could relate with the same feelings and frustrations I was experiencing. I truly saw that it was OK to not be OK, and I didn't have to hide my emotions. I shared my grief story aloud with other people for the first time and saw how every time you share your story you experience healing. Despite what happened to me, Comfort Zone Camp showed me that it was possible to still laugh and smile and have a love for life again in the midst of the pain and tears. 

This life is truly worth living. Comfort Zone Camp helped me see that it was my choice to live this way every day, and I could still honor my Dad in the process. I've found a new purpose to push back against the darkness that is often associated with grief and spread the light that can be found. Comfort Zone Camp unleashed healing in my grief journey. I'm so honored to raise money for Comfort Zone Camp and help other kids and young adults find healing in the same way that I did. 

Plus, I get to fundraise while doing one of my favorite hobbies — running! I've taken up running this year, competing in my first 10K and half marathon. It's truly become the one place I connect the most with my Dad today. I have a tattoo in my Dad's handwriting on my right bicep that says, Be A Finisher

One of my Dad's old friends told me a story of running a half marathon with my Dad. They ran the first half of the race strong with great pace, then hit the turnaround and wondered if they were going to be able to finish. Despite the cramping and doubts that crept in, my Dad kept telling him, "I'm going to be a finisher. I'm going to be a finisher." I had my own turnaround in this race called life, and in those moments where I questioned if I could still do this, my Dad would be telling me the same thing today, "Keep moving forward. Be A Finisher."

All the money raised by my participation in the United Airlines NYC Half fundraising event gives grieving children access to free Comfort Zone Camp programming, so they can learn how to cope in healthy ways.

1 in 13 children in the U.S. will experience the death of a parent or sibling by the age of 18. The burden of bereavement disrupts family dynamics, strains social relationships, and emotionally isolates grieving children.

Every step we take and every dollar we raise brings us closer to giving more grieving children hope. Together we can provide grief relief to the 5.6 million grieving children in the United States.

Help me reach my goal by clicking donate!

Cory Van Dyke

2022 Hokie Half Marathon

Cory Van Dyke