Awarded to an alumnus or alumna whose selfless and caring work and deeds benefit society and humankind.
James Owens '86 graduated with a BS in mechanical engineering and a BA in economics. He earned an MBA from Kellogg in 1993.
While at Bucknell, Jim was on the men's swimming and water polo teams as well as being a leader in student government with the Bucknell Student Lectureship Committee and active in the Economics Club. In addition, he competed in the "Bucknell Ironman" competition which consists of six events - running, cycling, swimming, sit ups, push ups, and pull ups. He won the event twice.
Jim's first job out of college was in San Francisco with a construction company where he not only put his engineering degree to work, but also enlisted his athletic prowess to enjoy the great outdoors offered by California. He did open water swimming from Alcatraz to the mainland and the Golden Gate Swim.
Returning to his native Minneapolis, Minn. in 1993, he worked in marketing for Pillsbury. A year later, he joined his family's engineering and construction company.
In April of 1998 Jim learned that he had a malignant brain tumor. Surgery was performed two days after the diagnosis and was unsuccessful. Radiation was successful, but the side effects were adverse and substantial. Jim was determined to stay positive and get back to a normal life. He married Barbara and worked to regain his physical strength. He has been a competitive athlete all his life competing in marathons, triathlons, cycling, and skiing the American Birkebiner, a 35-mile cross-country race, eight times, twice while in chemotherapy. He joined a cancer survivors group called Cyclists Combating Cancer and soon became involved with the Lance Armstrong Foundation which inspired him emotionally and sparked his desire to inspire others battling cancer.
Over the years, he has raised more than $118,000 dollars for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, becoming a national motivational speaker to cancer survivors. He was selected by the Mayo Clinic to serve as a patient advocate on behalf of the clinic. Bristol Myers-Squibb selected Jim for the Tour of Hope National Team where he bicycled from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. with Lance Armstrong and a team of 20 in eight days promoting cancer research and clinical trial participation. In 2005, the Lance Armstrong Foundation honored Jim with its highest award, the "Peloton Triumph Award" for his efforts to support cancer survivorship. He has appeared before Congress once and will testify again this May for the need for increased funding for cancer research and survivorship programs.
Jim is still battling cancer with recurrences in 2002, 2004 and 2005. He has aggressively sought the best new treatments to survive and preserve his quality of life, including participating in two clinical trials. This year began with another surgery and a more rigorous chemotherapy regimen.
He maintains a website dedicated to cancer survivorship called Jim's Journey which is an inspiration and information source for others battling cancer. He enjoys broad support from his Bucknell classmates and friends who have noted that throughout his cancer ordeal he has maintained a positive attitude and commitment to promote positive outcomes for other cancer survivors.
Through it all, Jim and Barbara have been stellar parents to their son Max.
It is with great pleasure that The Bucknell Alumni Association honors James Owens, Class of 1986, with its "Service to Humanity Award."