News

All About Our Beneficiary: Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center Cancer Navigator Program

All-In to Fight Cancer proudly supports Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center’s Cancer Navigator Program, which is dedicated to improving the experience and outcomes of cancer patients. Donations for the cancer navigator program are facilitated by Novant Health Foundation Presbyterian Medical Center. We recently met with Kathy Brown, Development Manager, to learn more about the highly specialized and much-needed work they’re doing to better serve cancer patients.

Tell me about the role of the Novant Health Foundation. The Foundation is the fundraising entity for Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center and all its services, including the cancer navigator program. If you know of someone who has experienced cancer treatment at any time or place in the country, then you know that the experience can be like managing through turbulent waters without light or a compass. Locally, at Presbyterian Medical Center, cancer patients know and appreciate our extraordinary surgeons, physicians; technology and facilities, but cancer treatment is far more complex than the initial diagnoses and treatments. Cancer navigators (usually specialized oncology nurses) are a patient’s light through the entire journey – from diagnoses through initial treatments and then into cancer wellness programs. Cancer navigators educate, advocate, coordinate care, and facilitate referrals and appointments. They are links to community resources including local, state, and federal programs. And most importantly, navigators improve the cancer experience for each of their patients as they move through the entire cancer care journey. Presbyterian Medical Center’s Cancer Care believes that every patient deserves this highly personalized guidance at a particularly difficult time of life.

How has Presbyterian Medical Center’s Cancer Care evolved? We are continually identifying ways to improve the experience for our patients and their families. As one small, but significant example, after learning how difficult it is for breast cancer patients to get comfortable—either while sitting or lying down—we began providing specially designed pillows for those patients. Few of the cancer “wellness” programs like our Strides-to-Strength cancer rehab, counseling services or wigs for examples, are covered by insurance, but these services make a significant difference in a cancer patient’s journey. These are the types of services that All-In has supported – and that make a difference in our patients “wellness.”

How did Novant Health Foundation Presbyterian Medical Center begin working with All-In to Fight Cancer? It’s an interesting story. A few years ago, radiologist Shawn Quillin, along with a couple of other Novant Health physicians, attended the annual All-In to Fight Cancer Texas Hold’em fundraiser. He introduced us to All-In via our community engagement team. It started as a way for Novant Health to support All-In’s grass-root effort to fight cancer, and now we’ve come full circle. All-In is giving back to support us, and this year with a generous donation specifically earmarked for our cancer navigator program.

How do you put All-In donations to use? Through many ways, but this year, we are focusing on our cancer navigation program, which currently includes seven specially trained and educated cancer patient navigators. Currently the navigator team sees less than 50% of our patients. The check we just received from All-In will go towards adding another two navigator positions – making a huge difference in the number of patients we can assist going forward.

What’s next for the Navigator Program? We realize we have only scratched the surface, and to really serve our community, we ultimately need a team of 10 to 12 cancer navigators. We also want to ensure that all our cancer patients get into our cancer support services, which I refer to as cancer “wellness” programs. We offer rehab, counseling, and nutritional programs, but we want to do more. And I’m hopeful we’ll have that opportunity. All-In has given our program some attention, shedding light on it, and attracting more interest and donations – and we are so grateful!

What do you appreciate most about the work you’re able to do with the Foundation? A few years back, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and at the same time, I lost my dad. I believe those experiences give me a unique lens to see what patients and families go through together in their cancer journey; although certainly every situation is unique and different. By working within healthcare, I might be able to have greater influence to help put programs and services in place to make their journeys better. It’s gratifying to work where I have the opportunity to give back and make a real impact in the lives of those we serve through Presbyterian Medical Center and the greater Charlotte market.

How can people support the Cancer Navigator Program, facilitated by Novant Health Foundation Presbyterian Medical Center? They can call me at 704.384.4048 or email me at kkbrown@novanthealth.org.  Seriously, call me or visit novanthealth.org for more information. I would be overjoyed to serve as a liaison, to direct your donations to programs that are relevant and meaningful to you, including our Cancer Navigator Program.

Winn Maddrey and the All-In team presenting Medical Director Matt McDonald, MD with a $50,000 check for Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center's Cancer Navigator Program, September 7, 2016.

Winn Maddrey and the All-In team presenting Medical Director Matt McDonald, MD with a $50,000 check for Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center's Cancer Navigator Program, September 7, 2016.

"All" About Our Beneficiary: The GoJenGo Foundation

All-In to Fight Cancer proudly supports the GoJenGo Foundation, a non-profit institution dedicated to providing financial assistance and emotional support to individuals and families battling breast cancer in the Carolinas. We recently met with Joe Pagani, a GJG founder, board member, and Jen’s husband.

Tell me the story behind the GoJenGo Foundation. We were first diagnosed in August 2007. Jen was a young mother – our son Luka was just two months old – when we learned she had an uncommon and aggressive type of breast cancer. That was the bad part, but the good part was that we were blessed with a huge support network of friends and well-wishers. As Jen went to chemo every Tuesday, however, she realized that not everyone had the support we did. She met women who were struggling financially and emotionally. For them, battling cancer meant choosing between groceries and co-pays, utilities and meds. Jen began sharing some of the gifts we received – grocery cards, for example – with those women, realizing that we could become the conduit between generous people who want to help and people who need help the most.

How has GJG evolved? In the beginning, GJG was largely word of mouth. I remember once getting a phone call from a Charlotte woman undergoing cancer treatment who was unable to pay her power bill. To cut costs, she had turned off her heat and was relying on an electric heating pad to stay warm. GJG didn’t have a board or any committees at that time. It was just me. I called the power company, clicked through the automated system, and paid her past due bills and estimated future bills myself. We’ve grown considerably since then. Our board and committees work with some 50 families every month. We also have two major annual fundraisers – RunJenRun in March and CheersJenCheers – an afternoon event with a raffle, silent auction, live auction, music, and other family-friendly (and dog-friendly!) events.

How did GJG begin working with All-In to Fight Cancer? Although we have two annual fundraisers, our commitment to the cancer community is 365 days a year. I’ve known the folks at All-In ever since they were founded, and recognizing the gap we were filling here in the community, they were among the first to begin supporting GJG.

How do you put All-In donations to use? Our whole purpose is to allow patients (and families) to focus on what is most important – fighting cancer – without the distraction of paying bills, arranging transportation, or keeping their homes. On average, the individuals and families we work with only need assistance for two or three months. Some need it longer, but most just need a helping hand to stay on an even keel during treatment. All-In’s donations are crucial, allowing us to support as many as 15-20 families a month.

What do you appreciate most about the work you’re able to do with GJG? GoJenGo is my wife’s legacy. Always caring, always giving, never putting herself first, Jen identified this need and helped found GoJenGo. Her kindness and generosity continues on within GoJenGo.

What’s next for GJG? To ensure that we’re able to fill the growing community needs, we’re looking for more long-term financial commitments from donors like the Charlotte Checkers, who have generously agreed to a 10-year commitment. In addition, we’re busily planning for our next fundraiser – CheersJenCheer. This year, we’ll be at Triple C Brewery, October 23, from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

How can people support GJG? Volunteers are the backbone of our organizations. Every dime that comes in, goes right back out to survivors and their families. For that to happen, we need a whole lot of dedicated, generous people, so I’m always encouraging people to go to our website and volunteer. And, tickets are now on sale for CheersJenCheers. We’d love to see a record turnout this October. Last year, the event raised $30,000. This year, we’ve set our sights on $50,000.

"All" About Our Beneficiary: The Isabella Santos Foundation

All-In to Fight Cancer is proud to support the Isabella Santos Foundation, a Charlotte-based 501 (c)(3) furthering advances in neuroblastoma research and supporting pediatric cancer causes. We recently were honored with the opportunity to meet with Erin Santos, ISF’s president and executive director, and Isabella’s mom.

 

Tell me the story behind the Isabella Santos Foundation.

Our journey began when my daughter, Isabella was diagnosed with neuroblastoma back in 2007. She was only two. The survival rate was less than 40%, plummeting to less than 5% once a child relapses. We were devastated – in ways people can and I hope, cannot, imagine. ISF was initially established to help our family through those difficult days, but as “Ib” defied the odds – for nearly five years – the ISF mission became one of research. Ib relapsed five different times, enduring countless horrible treatments, before passing away in 2012.  ISF continues, though, knowing that new drugs and therapies are on the horizon. We want to ensure other families do not have to endure this horrific loss.

How has ISF evolved?

That first year, friends organized a 5K run. We were thrilled when about 150 people showed up, and we raised about $7,000. Now, while we remain a grassroots, volunteer-reliant nonprofit, ISF is the beneficiary of fundraisers 12 months a year, including bake sales, tri-athlons, etc.. The 5K, however, remains our marquee event. Last year’s 5K for Kids Cancer included about 3,000 participants, helping us raise a total of $600,000 in 2015, and we’re looking to raise that number substantially in 2016. Next month, we’ll celebrate our ninth ISF run – which has evolved to include a 10K and Fun Run. We’re expecting 4,000 participants and aiming to set another record, boosting our annual fundraising to $750,000.

How did ISF begin working with All-In to Fight Cancer?

The father of one of Isabella’s classmates, Chris Wilcox, is on our Board, as well as Susie Ford, of NoDa Brewery. They made the introduction, recognizing that All-In did not yet have a beneficiary focusing on pediatric cancer. I think it was meant to be.

How do you put All-In donations to use? 

I’m so glad you asked! ISF identified a doctor in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Giselle Sholler, who runs a lab focused on identifying new neuroblastoma therapies, including low risk, low side-effect treatments for children in remission. Her trials, which we’ve been able to support, are available in a network of 25 universities and children’s hospitals nationwide, including here in Charlotte.

What do you appreciate most about the work you’re able to do with ISF?

Even though my Ib passed away, I’m gratified to be taking on the hard work for other neuroblastoma families here in Charlotte. It’s super rewarding to know that the harder we work, the more likely it is that these kids will have a fighting chance. Through her passing, it’s the best gift Isabella could possibly give.

What’s next for ISF?

We are full steam ahead for 9th Annual Isabella Santos Foundation 5K For Kids Cancer, 10K and 1 Mile Fun Run on September 24, and this year, we want to blow people away more than ever before – with a silent auction, a kid zone, and more. In the immediate future, we’ve also got Coffee For A Cure later this month, a triathlon in October, and in November, an American Girl Tea Party [LINK?]. We’re on course for raising $750,000 this year, but our ultimate goal is a million dollars a year. I think we’ll be there in no time.

How can people support ISF?

The best way is to head to www.5Kkforkidscancer.com and register for our September event. But you can also go to Facebook or just email us at info@isabellasantosfoundation.org. And, if you’ve got your own event ideas, let us know, and we’ll do whatever we can to support your efforts.

In addition, we’re still recruiting for Isabella’s Dream Team. We’ve already got over 140 individuals committed to running a half marathon in November. We provide the coach, motivation, purpose, camaradie, and of course, that all important ISF “swag.” We’d love to have more runners join us – both at the half marathon, and of course, at the All-In to Fight Cancer Texas Hold’em fundraiser in March!

 

"All" About Our Beneficiary: 24 Hours of Booty

All-In to Fight Cancer is a proud supporter of 24 Hours of Booty, a Charlotte-based nonprofit organization that holds 24-hour cycling fundraisers to support patient navigation and survivorship programs locally and nationally. We recently sat down with Mallory Walsh, executive director, to learn more.

First, do you get a lot of questions about the name -- “24 Hours of Booty”? 

Yes – and we have a good answer! Our founder, Spencer Leuders, has long been an avid cyclist and cancer fundraiser. Fifteen years ago, when he was inspired to create a local fundraising event, he decided to do something a little outrageous, riding for 24 hours on Charlotte’s “Booty Loop” – a popular route for joggers and cyclists in the Myers Park neighborhood. The name was a natural – and a natural conversation-starter, as Spencer went door-to-door, asking neighbors to keep their porch lights on as he rode.

What is 24 Hours of Booty today? 

We’re a nonprofit organization dedicated to 1) bringing the cancer community together through cycling events in Charlotte, Indianapolis, and Columbia, Maryland, and 2) supporting organizations that focus on the “what now?” part of a cancer survivor’s journey.

How does 24 Hours of Booty put All-In donations to use? 

Ever since we were founded, our focus has been on helping cancer patients prepare for and navigate that unexpected stage after treatment – the stage where they’re gone through the battle, but now, their whole world is different. Most recently, the funds from All-In to Fight Cancer go to Levine Cancer Institute’s integrative oncology programs for cancer patients in remission. These programs run the gamut from healing arts, music therapy, integrated treatment – all of which aid and speed recovery in ways unexpected in not.

What’s next for 24 Hours of Booty? 

We support quite a few local organizations – including GoJenGo! Foundation, the Keep Pounding Fund, and the Hendrick Marrow Program --  but this year, for the first time ever, we’re providing support to Levine Children’s Hospital. The needs of pediatric cancer survivors are specific – and can be heart-breakingly different from adults. This is big step for us – and for the local cancer community.

From an event perspective, we just wrapped up our Indianapolis cycling fundraiser, and we have two other events right around the corner. We’ll be back to the “Booty Loop” in Charlotte July 29 and 30. And in August, we’ll return to Columbia, Maryland for another cycling event.

How can people support 24 Hours of Booty? 

That one’s easy! First, of course, support All-In to Fight Cancer! Then, come to one of our events! People are always surprised at how much fun these events are – whether you’re a spectator, a volunteer, a competitive hard-driving cyclist, or someone like me, who just wants to cruise around for 30 minutes or so!

What do you appreciate most about 24 Hours of Booty? 

There are countless stories about how we’ve been able to bring the community together – people who thought they were all alone or “the only ones,” and at one of our events were able to find kindred spirits and supporters. It’s a real honor to be a part of this.

24 Hours of Booty is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit charity located in Charlotte that provides extraordinary 24-hour cycling events that are safe, fun and open to all levels of cycling ability. Its purpose is to increase public awareness, funds and support for organizations dedicated to cancer navigation and survivorship. For more information, call 704-365-4417 or visit http://www.24hoursofbooty.org.

 

Going "All-In" -- For Nearly 3,000 Miles

Two thousand, seven hundred, and seventeen. That’s the mileage between two recent All-In to Fight Cancer Texas Hold’em fundraiser venues – The Fillmore in Charlotte and Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco. And that’s how many miles George Harrington aims to cover in the coming year. One virtual step at a time.

George is an avid runner, so he’ll use a Fitbit activity tracker to track every walking and running step. So far, he’s piled up enough miles to “virtually” reach from Charlotte to Atlanta, which is all the more impressive when you consider that George hasn’t always been a runner. It took a doctor’s warning to get him going – five years and 70 pounds ago.

Now, George routinely challenges himself, every time upping the distance ante. It started simple enough. A mile here. A 5k there. And in 2015, a 50K. But this year, George is tackling a more meaningful challenge.

“All-In to Fight Cancer hosts Texas Hold’em fundraisers in honor of my friend, Rob Eubank, who lost his life to cancer in 2011,” says George. “All-In has hosted events in Charlotte and in San Francisco -- so I’m aiming to make a ‘virtual’ journey between the two, covering 2,717 miles.”

George’s employer, Xceleration, an incentive and rewards company, has close ties to the event. “We’ve sponsored the fundraiser since its inception in 2010,” says Ben Levenbaum, Xceleration CEO. “We were all connected to Rob – either as co-workers or colleagues or neighbors.”

 “I’m not doing this for the publicity,” George says quietly. “I’m doing it because Rob was a really good guy – a great husband, father, friend, and employer. And I’m doing it because All-In to Fight Cancer is dedicated to doing what Rob wanted – supporting cancer communities at the local level.”

Happy New Year's

May the year ahead

be filled with news.

 

New research

New treatment

New friends

 

New hope.

 

From everyone on the

All-In to Fight Cancer team

 

Happy New Year.

San Francisco Fundraiser Brings In The Bucks

Wow. Right out of the gate, the first All-In to Fight Cancer Texas Hold'em fundraiser in San Francisco raised $75,000.

That’s a significant amount of money for a first time event, but we couldn’t have done it without you! We are humbled by your turnout and generosity – and excited to think of what we can accomplish together next year.

Until then, we hope you’ll continue to remember the sponsors who made our event possible – Technekes LLC, Xceleration, 5AM Ventures, Gravy, Sureshot Media, and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. And we certainly couldn’t have pulled it together without the support of Bear Republic Brewing, MelonBelly, countless others. And, we hope you’ll continue to support our worthy beneficiaries, St. Baldrick’s Foundation and Family House San Francisco.

Again, thank you. We look forward to seeing you at next year’s event. On the other hand, there’s no need to wait a full year. Why not make plans to join us at our Charlotte fundraiser in March? Tickets are available here!

$150 Discount For San Francisco Players -- Limited Time!

Hurray! We are 99 days away from the inaugural San Francisco All-In to Fight Cancer Texas Hold'em fundraiser on Wednesday, November 11, at Cobb's Comedy Club, and tickets are on sale now!

At our last event, every single player ticket was sold weeks before the fundraiser itself. Given our winning combination of fundraising, poker playing, live entertainment, raffles, and of course, fabulous food and drink, we're anticipating another sellout in San Francisco.

To get things rolling, though, we're making a special offer to folks who purchase player tickets now. Just buy your ticket before August 31, 2015, and use the code CLTAll-In4SFO2015, to get your discount.

Are you All-In? See you in November!