“Everyday Health” takes on breast cancer

By Athena Voulgaropoulos

In the toxic reality-television climate of name-calling, finger-pointing negativity, one little weekend ABC series is like a deep breath of inspirational fresh air.

Hosted by a trio of health ambassadors — world-class athlete Laila Ali and Survivor champions Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca — Everyday Health profiles people who are either facing a health crisis or close to someone facing a life-altering health event, and who waste no time trying to help others in similar situations live healthier, happier lives.

Ethan, himself a cancer survivor, and Jenna travel the country to meet local heroes who are working to bring awareness and create positive changes in the world. Heroes like Halee Newby (pictured with Ethan), a Wisconsin teen living with lupus who has raised over $30,000 for the Lupus Foundation of America, and paralyzed surfer Jesse Billauer, who founded Life Rolls On — a charitable organization that helps others with spinal cord injuries stay active in the sports they love.

In this weekend’s emotional episode, Ethan and Jenna meet a spirited fundraiser, Ellese Meyer, who lost her mother to breast cancer while she was in junior high school. Now a 20-year old college student, Ellese created “Pink Out” in 2009, transforming her high school’s football stadium into a sea of pink supporters in honor of her mom. The annual event has spread to dozens of schools, and raised thousands of dollars for the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation.

Jenna, who lost her own mother to the disease, also shares her story of loss. While filming Survivor: All-Stars in 2004, she made a very public decision to leave the competition to be with her mother who was battling breast cancer. Days after Jenna returned to the states, her mother passed away.

MORE: Jeanne Tripplehorn, star of Lifetime’s Five, opens up about her family’s history of breast cancer

In each story featured on Everyday Health, everyday people have turned personal tragedy into positive action. And that is something everyone could use a little more of.

Everyday Health airs Sat/Sun on ABC (check your local listings).