Greetings, Epic Experience community!
I’m Chris Chinn, a.k.a. “Burpee.” As Epic Experience’s newest staff member, I wanted to introduce myself and tell you a bit more about the journey that led me to this point.
Most of you knew my father Louis “Stud” Chinn. If you didn’t, you missed out on a whole bunch of Dad jokes that left you shaking your head. My dad was the type of guy who would light up a crowded room with his energy and humor, yet still had a way of making each individual in the room feel special and important. So it was no surprise to hear that he left an everlasting impression on the Epic Experience family after attending summer camp.
I found out my dad had cancer in January 2016. I was a 31-year-old single guy, living in Los Angeles, and five years into owning my fitness training business, Sweat City Fitness.
I remember the toughest punches to the gut were learning that his cancer, thymic carcinoma, was a very rare cancer and that it was considered stage 4 because it had spread to multiple areas of his body. Hearing the words “stage 4” was the lowest point for me in my dad’s cancer journey. I didn’t cry too much during his cancer journey, but I did that day.
As time passed and my dad’s response to treatments gave us some hope, our family started finding small positives. We became more closely connected to each other and spoke on the phone more regularly. We took family vacations (Tanzania and Croatia) together for the first time since I was in college. Despite previously being fairly private about my dating life, I kept them in the loop about my new girlfriend, Cathee. Most importantly, for the next four and a half years we lived with the understanding that every day was a blessing and an opportunity to live a “Winning Life,” also the name of my dad’s blog.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, like most businesses, Sweat City was forced to pivot to virtual programs. It was through this twist of fate that I became acquainted with Epic Experience for the first time. My dad suggested partnering with Epic to offer our Low Impact Training classes to their community via Zoom. And thus, a business relationship began.
In early 2021, five years after his cancer diagnosis, my dad’s health started to take a turn for the worse. After he spent three months in Germany for specialized treatment with mild success, it was apparent that his treatment options were running out.
The next 11 weeks were a blur of some of both the happiest and the hardest moments of my life:
- My mom said that Dad might only have weeks left to live, so it was time to head home to Foster City to spend time with him.
- My girlfriend Cathee and I decided to get married (within 14 days!) so that my dad could be there to witness it. The best part was that he got to be my best man!
- We somehow pulled off a flawless, beautiful wedding during the middle of COVID with tremendous support and generosity from family and friends. Over 250 people attended via Zoom.
- We spent the next two months caretaking for my dad, who opted for in-home hospice. It was very, very tough for all of us. He was a fighter who stretched a couple weeks into a couple months.
- Hundreds of people called and/or came to the house to see my dad and say farewell. Never could I have imagined how loved anyone could be by so many people.
- In one last hurrah, my dad mustered up the strength to rally his people and fundraise over $25,000 for Epic Experience’s Hearts & Hope Gala, all from his bed.
On June 4, 2021, my dad “rode off into the sunset” on top of the world, with a full heart, no regrets, and surrounded by loved ones.
It’s weird. As much as I miss my dad, it still makes me smile when I think back to the final weeks of his journey. I think of the joy in his eyes as he watched his son get married. I think of how he was able to get closure with every person in his life and express how much they meant to him. I think of his tears of pride upon learning of Sequoia High School’s Louis Chinn Perseverance Scholarship and Epic Experience’s Louis Chinn “Stud” Award and “Stud” Cabin at the 7W Ranch. I think about how blessed I am to have had one-on-one time with him where nothing was left unsaid. And lastly, I think about how he lived beyond his cancer and inspired others to do the same.
If you knew my dad, you know he would do anything to make you smile. So when I think of him, that’s exactly what I do.
A couple weeks before my dad passed, Colin and Nancy emailed him and offered our family a Chinn legacy seat on the Epic Board of Directors. After discussing it with my dad, I decided it would be an honor. A few months later, I began managing Epic’s social media accounts. One thing led to another, and after speaking to Nancy and Colin, I was offered a position to join the Epic staff. I happily accepted in January 2022.
The opportunity to work with an amazing family like the Ferros, connect with a remarkable community, and make a positive impact on people’s lives leaves me incredibly excited for what the future holds. While my previous experience in business, marketing, and forming interpersonal relationships are all traits that will help me transition into my new role, it’s everything I learned about life from my dad’s cancer journey that will shine brightest.
From my dad, I learned that life isn’t about quantity–it’s about quality. My dad formed, reignited, and strengthened more relationships over his five-and-a-half-year journey than many people do in a lifetime. His love for laughter, adventure, challenge, new experiences, and self-improvement are all reasons he lived a winning life.
And when I think back to each and every memory I have of him, I can’t help but smile.