To understand why Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation has been racing to end childhood cancer for 20 years, look at Merritt. She just turned two years old, but her smile will brighten even the darkest day. She's fighting Rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of soft tissues, and recently underwent surgery at Levine Children's Hospital here in Charlotte. But that doesn't stop her from laughing and making silly faces every chance she gets.
Keeping that bright smile on Merritt's face is why Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation is Driven to Beat Childhood Cancer. The JGCF team fights every day for Merritt and for the nearly 16,000 children diagnosed with pediatric cancer each year.
Every day, 43 children are diagnosed with some form of pediatric cancer, but only 4% of the National Cancer Institute's budget goes to children's cancer research. Meanwhile, we know research is the only reliable weapon we have in the fight to end childhood cancer.
Sixty years ago, nearly every child diagnosed with cancer died. Today, more than 80% of children diagnosed with the most common type of cancer survive. But there is still so much room for progress. That's where Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation comes in.
Founded in 1999, JGCF has granted more than $19 million to date, primarily to fund some of the most groundbreaking and promising childhood cancer research. The nonprofit organization also funds programs to improve patients' quality of life and support treatment programs that increase pediatric cancer survivorship.
Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon was inspired to help end pediatric cancer through work he did with the Make a Wish Foundation early in his career. In 1992 his crew chief at the time, Ray Evernham, was dealing with the leukemia diagnosis of his one-year-old son. Watching what Ray's family went through only strengthened Jeff Gordon's commitment to beating childhood cancer.
In the fight against pediatric cancer, good news is the fuel that keeps the engines running. Here's some great news: Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation raised more than $31,000 during #GivingTuesdayCLT last year. These funds from generous Charlotteans helped support JGCF's investment at Levine Children's Hospital. And because childhood cancer research is collaborative, the best data on disease and treatment protocols will be shared among nearly 300 pediatric cancer programs, helping kids who need it, no matter what city they call home.
Want some more good news? JGCF is finalizing its lineup of Charlotte-area partners for #GivingTuesdayCLT 2019 and is excited to share details about how you can help make an impact. For now, they want you to know that there will be good eats, sweet treats, and a few fun ways to burn off those eats and treats!
Why not do a warm-up lap before #GivingTuesdayCLT by making a financial gift Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation today?
Looking for a good home for your valuable item or racing memorabilia? JGCF accepts in-kind donations for raffles and eBay fundraisers. The eBay program alone has raised more than $300,000 for pediatric cancer research. Contact Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation MailTo: firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
JGCF is happy to report that Merritt is home and doing well after recovering from her surgery. "There is no doubt that Merritt is kicking cancer's butt," says her family. Let's join Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation in the race to end childhood cancer, so we can kick cancer's butt for good.
Grace Kennedy is a Huntersville-based writer specializing in storytelling for nonprofits. Learn more at gracekennedy.net.