'I refuse to be anything but okay.'

By: Katie Regner

V Teamer Amanda Stephen shares her breast cancer journey. Plus, a My Why first responder story and all the week’s news.

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We’ve come to the end of an exciting and action-packed week. On today’s Up To Speed Live, Katie shared more big news along with the following updates.

5G iPhones

Today marks the official launch of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Customers using the new iPhones on our 5G Nationwide network will have access to experiences and applications from the National Football League, The New York Times, Riot Games and others, which will take advantage of the unprecedented speed, massive capacity and low lag time Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband offers.

5G and gaming

Last night, in partnership with Apple and Riot Games, we held a celebrity preview event for the first-ever U.S. League of Legends: Wild Rift 5G mobile gaming tournament. Celebrity players included Aphromoo (Zaqueri Black), Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli), Chrissy Costanza, EMUHLEET, FaZe Apex, Joe Manganiello, Meteos (William Hartman), Nate Hill, Rick Fox, and ZEDD. The coaches for both teams will be League of Legends pros Dardoch (Joshua Hartnett) and Voyboy (Joedat Esfahani), while the event will be commentated by Caleb Simmons, Dash (James Patterson), and LeTigress (Gabriella Devia-Allen).

We also announced this week that we’ve expanded our partnership with Niantic, the developer of Pokémon GO, to make mobile gaming more interactive and rewarding for Verizon wireless customers. The companies have teamed with industry leaders to create a new planet-scale platform that paves the way for immersive AR experiences on 5G, and are offering wireless customers access to limited events and rewards so trainers can experience Pokémon GO like never before.

New virtual museum exhibitions

Verizon’s 5G Labs team recently sourced the Smithsonian’s Open Access collections and created a new set of virtual museum experiences that can inspire and educate our students during these difficult times when field trips aren’t possible.

Verizon and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s Interaction Lab, will also be requesting proposals from creators for interactive tools that redefine the way people visit, engage with and learn from museums. The Creative Explorations with Smithsonian Open Access will award $10,000 commissions to up to six teams of developers to build working prototypes. We’ll share the link with you soon so you can share some of those experiences with the students in your house.

Bridging the skills gap

Verizon and nonprofit organization Generation announced a new multi-year grant aimed at closing the opportunity gap for American workers and expanding access to digital skills. Verizon’s commitment of more than $44 million will allow Generation to significantly increase access to free, technology-focused career training programs that help reskill workers. This effort is part of Citizen Verizon, Verizon’s responsible business plan for economic, environmental and social advancement, and will build the foundation to reach the company’s goal of preparing 500,000 individuals for jobs of the future by 2030.

One V Teamer’s breast cancer journey

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we hear from Amanda Stephen, Field Sales Director for Verizon Media Group, who describes her own breast cancer journey. Amanda, thank you for sharing your story with us.

Purple Thursday walk

October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Last week, Kelley Kurtzman, who leads our Consumer Sales and Service Centers, was our guest host for a powerful conversation with V Teamers who had been personally impacted by domestic violence. We heard from so many people who were moved by their stories and wanted to learn more about what they could do. Yesterday, a few V Teamers walked in honor of Purple Thursday, a national day of action bringing awareness to the issue. You can find more opportunities on our volunteer portal.

Colorado fire update

The East Troublesome fire grew by 50,000 acres yesterday. It’s one of a number of forest fires in northern Colorado. Our thoughts are with those impacted. Because the fires are in an area of the national forest that has many canyons and high elevation, there is little to no coverage in the area and two-way radios aren’t much help. The most dangerous part of the situation at this time of year is high winds. The fires can move quickly and the firefighter "spike camps" try to move with it. As they do, our Network team follows behind relocating SPOT trailers — as many as seven at a time — as fast as possible.

“It's tiresome and frustrating, but the firefighters are working much harder than we are,” said Network Assurance Manager Kevin Herrback. “Every time we move them, they're so happy to see ‘Big Red’ show up.” At one camp, which was isolated deep in the fireline, one firefighter told me he hasn't been able to get out and call his wife in three weeks. He was nearly in tears when his phone started to ping notifications.”

Thank you to Kevin and the team for being there when first responders need you most.

My Why - Thomas Stobaugh

Speaking of first responders, next Wednesday, October 28, is National First Responders Day. To celebrate “Those Who Serve,” we have a number of events on tap. More details on that next week. In the meantime, check out this week’s My Why on Thomas Stobaugh, a northern California engineer on our Global Network & Technology team who is also a search-and-rescue volunteer. That means Thomas knows, first-hand, how Verizon helps first responders. He also sheds light on the benefits of being a Verizon wireless customer when you head into the woods on your next hike.

BOLD Homecoming week

This week, our employee resource group BOLD celebrated Homecoming week. There were lots of events, including panels featuring several of our leaders talking about their college experiences, an event called “Make Them Count” traced the ancestry of five leaders and focused on knowing why who you are matters and a Meet and Greet that allowed current college students to explore internships and open job opportunities at Verizon.

You can catch the finale event, State of the Yard, a discussion about the history and evolution of HBCUs, today at 6 PM ET/3 PM PT on the HuffPost Black Voices Facebook page.

Art is action

Back in July, Yahoo launched a new partnership with Black artists to bring their work to life on items you can purchase like this water bottle and journal by Pittsburgh-based artist Janel Young. These items are available for employees and consumers on Verizon Media Shop. Our goal is to empower Black artists and shine a light on systematic racism and racial inequality through their art and stories. Verizon Media is pledging a donation to 1Hood Media in conjunction with this campaign. If you’d like to pick one up, we’ve got all the details for you on the web.

International Private 5G

Verizon Business Group CEO Tami Erwin announced the launch of VBG’s international Private 5G platform for global enterprises in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Delivered in partnership with Nokia, the offering will enable businesses to deploy a private, dedicated 5G network within their premises.

3Q Earnings webcast replay

If you missed our 3Q Earnings webcast, Krista Bourne talked about our new “Call for Kindness” initiative and Hans gave his famous “what to talk about with your family over dinner ‒ or perhaps a long walk” advice. We’ve got the replay for you here.

If you have any questions, email them to live@verizon.com.

Click here for a transcript of the webcast.

Get the latest information on our Coronavirus Resource Page (Inside Verizon, The Street).

Reminder, tune in to Up To Speed Live Monday at 12 PM ET/9 AM PT.

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About the author:

Katie is a member of the Verizon Corporate Communications team and a regular host of Up To Speed. She's a new mom with a passion for show tunes trying to keep up with the latest trends in tech.

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