Board Member Spotlight: Rhett Lankford

The journey after cancer involves hard work and dedication. It also requires connection and care from others. These are the values that help cancer survivors navigate the new challenges they face after treatment. 

While he hasn’t experienced a personal cancer diagnosis, Rhett Lankford embodies the values of connection and care that led him to become a Survivor Fitness board member. 

Rhett’s closest experience with cancer came when his dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018. After a year of treatment, Rhett’s father entered remission, but the physical toll is still making an impact three years later. 

“After treatment, my dad didn’t have a lot of energy. He couldn’t be as active as he was before the diagnosis which caused him to put on some extra weight and created other health issues. Thankfully, he was able to overcome those and is more disciplined about taking care of his body,” Rhett said.  

Shortly after his dad’s diagnosis, Rhett was introduced to Survivor Fitness. His wife, Joanna, was a childhood friend of Survivor Fitness co-founder, Meg Grunke. Joanna and Meg reconnected when they both moved back to Knoxville, and the two families became close friends. 

When Rhett pitched the idea of sponsoring and supporting Survivor Fitness to his employer, FirstBank, the leadership was immediately supportive. 

“It’s not hard for people to see the value of what Survivor Fitness does,” he explained. “Whenever I walk someone through the program and how it works, it doesn’t take more than five minutes for most people to want to find a way to help.” 

Rhett’s passion for the mission, dedication, and willingness to be open to new opportunities aligned earlier this year when he joined the Survivor Fitness board.  

“It was kind of a God thing. My wife and I were talking about how beneficial it would be for me to find activities to pursue outside of work, family, and exercise. Not long after that conversation, Aaron asked me to serve on the board,” he said.  

Rhett’s hardworking demeanor and connections across the state make him a valuable addition to the board. As a member of the growth committee, Rhett is actively working on connecting friends and family members in the Chattanooga area with Survivor Fitness as the organization looks to expand its mission into new areas. 

“I don’t have a cancer survivor’s perspective. But I am excited about helping to spread the word about Survivor Fitness as much as I possibly can.”

Rhett is excited about the opportunity to use his natural skills and business acumen to consider a scalable process that can be replicated to support more cancer survivors across Tennessee and beyond.

“Unfortunately, cancer isn’t going anywhere. But you recognize the power of having a path forward after hearing stories of Survivor Fitness participants. I believe the more that people know about Survivor Fitness, the more lives it can change. That is an exciting challenge to be part of.”

Rhett’s passion and community-oriented spirit are summed up perfectly in the way he describes Survivor Fitness to those who are entering the next phase after treatment.

“Survivor Fitness gives you a path forward without having to take the journey alone. You’re partnering with people who’ve walked the same journey alongside you.”

Rhett Lankford lives in Knoxville, TN with his wife, Joanna, and their children, William and Bennett. He works as a Financial Advisor and Vice President of FirstBank Investment Partners and serves on the Survivor Fitness board.