"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.