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Seymour native nominated for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society 2021 Man of the Year

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Being a pediatric cancer patient when he was a teenager, Iman Tucker said his memory fades with what he faced.

In December 2008 at age 14, the Seymour native was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma, an aggressive B-cell subtype that grows and spreads very quickly and may involve the jaw, bones of the face, bowel, kidneys, ovaries, bone marrow, blood, central nervous system and other organs, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Through it all, one thing Tucker remembers is he didn’t have fear because he was never alone.

“My grandma was there every night. My brother and grandfather came up as much as possible to be there for me. My family and medical providers were always there for me,” the now 26-year-old said. “I never had to open a bill, make a tough decision, figure out what is next. All I had to do was rest and recover. I am not saying it wasn’t hard or it wasn’t scary. What I am saying is the caretakers had the real burden.”

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Now, he feels he has a moral obligation to give these people his best.

“I cannot let them down after all they have done for me,” he said.

It’s safe to say Tucker hasn’t let anyone down.

After graduating from Seymour High School in 2012, he studied marketing and sports management and competed in track and field at the University of Indianapolis. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 2016 and two years later obtained a Master of Business Administration in data analytics.

Following a few stops in corporate America, he landed an opportunity to run and grow a technology tool, CardBoard It, a digital whiteboard tool used for software development, and start a disc jockey and entertainment company, Believe Brand Ent., and a faith-based apparel company, Believe Brand Co.

Also, for the past decade, Tucker has been involved in the cancer awareness community in Indianapolis.

Last year, he was invited to a breakfast by 2020 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Man of the Year Rich Pentz. Tucker had mixed for his Man of the Year celebration and became close to him and his wife, Erin.

Tucker shared his story with the LLS team and then was told Pentz nominated him for the 2021 Man of the Year campaign.

“I was overwhelmed, a bit intimidated by the ask, yet I knew that if Rich thought I deserved this, it was only right that I accept the nomination and give my absolute best,” Tucker said.

“Having suffered cancer and having LLS support me in this journey, knowing so many who have suffered from leukemia and lymphoma, my cousin, Trey Hohenstreiter, included, I knew that I wanted to do it for them,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do it for all of my caretakers — my grandparents, my friends, my nurses, doctors, the community that invested their lives to save mine.”

Candidates across the United States form fundraising teams to raise money for blood cancer research and compete in honor of two local children who are blood cancer survivors. Tucker is one of 15 candidates from Indianapolis.

The man and woman who raise the most funds during the 10-week campaign are awarded man or woman of the year in their community. There also is a national man and woman named.

Starting Feb. 18, people can donate to Tucker’s online page at pages.lls.org/mwoy/in/indy21/itucker.

“Each and every one of us knows someone or knows a family affected by cancer. Cancer has torn families apart and has taken lives from us way too soon,” Tucker said. “I believe that it is our duty to support our brothers and sisters in their fights. Fighting cancer is such a grueling physical, mental and emotional process, but it’s important to shed light onto the financial burden that cancer brings, too.”

The mission of LLS is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma and improve the quality of life of patients and their families, according to its website. The nonprofit organization funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to care.

Although his cancer is gone, Tucker said he still has found his body susceptible to injuries and weaker function than that of his peers.

“College sports was tough having been not that far removed from my own bout, but God gave me a fighter’s heart, and I did my best to make the most of it, regardless of the ailments I faced from a body weakened from chemotherapy,” he said. “However, praise God. I have not had to worry about cancer. I have won my battle and now focus on natural, holistic health to ensure a long, happy, cancer-free life.”

Life as a DJ

At the end of his college athletic experience, Tucker said he needed to find a substitute to stay connected and involved in the entertainment industry and community in Indianapolis.

He bought beginner-level DJ equipment to entertain his college teams early on but never took the art serious until he met Nick Saligoe, aka DJ Metrognome, and enrolled in his DJ academy, Deckademics.

“He imparted so much knowledge into me about the difference between a DJ and turntablist and pushed me to be more of the latter,” Tucker said. “He encouraged me and really pushed me to practice and set a clear vision for what I could be if I dedicated myself to the fundamentals. He taught me how to add my own flair into my style, and I owe so much to him for what I know now.”

Also at the time, DJs Direct owner Jeremy Gearries was teaching Tucker about the business side of the art.

“I approached him to inquire on his gear, how he got started, and he began opening my eyes to how to create a business out of DJ’ing, how to build a team and how to manage a brand that clients can trust,” Tucker said.

Tucker become a professional DJ traveling the country to perform and entertain. He has mixed for universities, the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers, Christian conferences, Indy 500 Festival, NCAA basketball tournament, Indy mini marathon, Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine and more.

He expanded his personal brand into a DJ team that can do lighting, sound, DJ’ing and MC’ing for small- to large-scale events in the region.

“What I love about my career as a DJ is the opportunity I get to create memories for thousands of people each night,” Tucker said. “I go into every gig knowing that this could be a night someone may never forget, so I have to be sure to be in the right headspace to give my best and bring contagious energy.”

Believing in a brand

Tucker’s apparel company began with him wearing the merchandise after getting tired of donning brands and logos that didn’t represent who he was or what he believed in.

“Believe Brand was never supposed to be a business; however, as I wore the apparel, not only did I get a ton of compliments on the clothing, but I also saw that I began to have intentional conversations about faith and God with complete strangers once they recognized what the designs stood for,” he said.

The designs spread positive messages, express faith and create intentional conversation about spirituality, regardless of what one’s personal walk may be, Tucker said.

“I knew this wasn’t something I could keep to myself,” he said. “I wanted others to have opportunities to have these conversations, as well.”

He began with tops, outwear, hats and accessories, but as the company grew and more products were being sold, he needed help.

“From production to design to packaging to managing our charity piece, Believe Brand has expanded into an amazing team of passionate people who really believe in the product,” he said. “Each and every person that buys our product is a part of the team that makes Believe Brand such a life-giving experience. I cannot express enough how grateful I am for their hard work. They are what keep us relevant.”

Tucker said Believe Brand has never been about the money, as a majority of the profits are donated to charities.

“It has always been about being a positive light in our community,” he said.

When he began working for CardBoard It, Tucker said there was a lot to learn very quickly.

Thankfully, he said Chief Executive Officer Adam Scroggin trusted him to help him build systems and serve clients.

“I’ve grown so much through CardBoard, and it opened up my eyes to the difficulty of entrepreneurship but also to the privilege it is to work in situations where you have an immediate impact,” Tucker said. “I have been blessed by God to have the chance to work in a challenging technology environment while also building and supporting our brands, as well.”

Inspiring others

Looking back, Tucker said he realizes life is short, and he’s fortunate he got a second chance at it.

“I am forever in debt to those who gave so much to me,” he said. “I had a renewal on life and my perspective. I wake up every day motivated to give my best and create work that can inspire those around me the way I have been inspired.”

Tucker said it’s important to make the most out of life and serve others.

“My work isn’t about me. It’s a reflection of the love so many have given me,” he said. “They encouraged me and built me up to be a creative, free thinker. I want to spread hope and give off contagious positive energy. I want people to know that I believe in them and their journey. I want people to know they are not alone.”

For anyone impacted by cancer, Tucker encourages them to give it their best, keep the hope and keep the faith.

“Always look to make someone’s day, even if it feels like you aren’t feeling your best,” he said. “Focus on leaving a legacy. Your story matters. So many look up to you. When you win your fight, you will be the reason why someone else didn’t give up in theirs.”

On the Web

Seymour native Iman Tucker is among the 2021 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Man of the Year candidates.

Starting Feb. 18, people can make online donations on his behalf at pages.lls.org/mwoy/in/indy21/itucker.

Also, check out and purchase items from his business, believebrandco.com.

http://www.tribtown.com/2021/01/13/seymour_native_nominated_for_leukemia_and_lymphoma_society_2021_man_of_the_year/

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