JOIN THE BATTLE. GIVE TO BEAT RARE CANCERS.
Anyone in Kass and my shoes would have understood if our good friend Jen Goodman Linn had stayed in bed on December 8, 2010. Eight painful cycles of chemotherapy and six grueling surgeries had turned her into an abstract version of her former self.
Admonitions from her doctors to take it easy and immense pain aggravated by a frosty New York City winter wind wasn’t going to stop Jen from visiting the Buddy Media offices. We had asked her to come motivate the team about her baby, Cycle for Survival. Jen’s innate desire not to disappoint coupled with her drive to fund cancer research that could save lives of patients like her gave her the energy to get to the office.
She was popularizing a new fashion look that day. Cancer chic, she joked! Tight leggings and a brown dress, just like her days as a senior vice president of Viacom. A wig of silky straight brown hair that covered her tiny bald head framed her bony face.
“I find it ironic that I was asked by Kass and Mike to come here and motivate and inspire you guys when I have been looking at what Buddy Media has been doing,” Jen told our team. “It brings tears to my eyes how inspiring and how motivating you guys are, what you have done for me.”
That was classic Jen. Despite being the tour du force behind Cycle for Survival, she never made it about herself.
Despite losing her own cancer battle about 6 months after her visit, Jen’s spark has been the single most rewarding project of Kass and my lives. Jen inspired us to give back and do so in a scalable and accountable way.
Unlike many founders, Jen would not be surprised about Cycle for Survival’s massive growth. She created it and knew what she was doing from the very beginning. Realizing she didn’t have the time to do it all herself, she empowered everyone else with an amazing model and plenty of inspiration to carry her torch.
For example, Jen asked Kass and me to create a team for our young company more than a decade ago. We are really proud that Buddy Media was the first to create a corporate team. We were only doing what Jen asked us to do. She had a vision for grassroots corporate involvement that empowered employees and didn’t just fight for corporate social responsibility dollars. Today, more than 1000 companies have teams, including Facebook, Google, Blackstone, CBS, News Corp, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Salesforce.
Jen’s vision set in motion a movement that raised less than $100,000 in its first year. Last year, Cycle for Survival raised $39M and we surpassed $200M in total funds raised earlier this month. Every single dollar raised since day 1 has been allocated (within 6 months of the event!) to rare cancer research at the oldest and most respected private cancer research center in the world.
That’s a massive milestone by any measure. But it’s not about the money for us. The money is a means to an end. The end is the impact. And the impact Cycle for Survival has had on patients desperate for novel treatments and therapies is colossally game changing.
~ We have funded 100 clinical trials, studies, and major research initiatives, including the largest genomic screening program in the world to discover the genetic causes of cancer, work that will help every cancer patient in the world. The results speak for themselves and are too vast to outline here. Take a look at the advancements we have fueled at our Impact page: https://www.cycleforsurvival.org/impact
~ Cycle for Survival is an engine to fund much-needed research every year whose impact will continue for many decades to come. We’re not dependent on any 1 large donor. 36,000 participants will ride across 16 cities in 2019. 400,000+ people will make a donation.
~ Cycle for Survival hasn’t just revolutionized cancer research. It has created a new philanthropic grassroots model built on transparency, accountability and passion. In giving Cycle for Survival its most coveted “Program of the Year” award last year, David Hessekiel, founder and president of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum, said “Cycle for Survival has provided a blueprint for how a startup program can grow into a blockbuster.”
So that’s my story. It has a beginning and a middle. It doesn’t have an end yet. The end won’t be written until we have solved/cured cancer for everyone everywhere. I’m really happy that you read my story. I’d be even happier if you wanted to join my story and help me take it forward. To do so, thanks for donating as much money as you can!
Oh. I almost forgot. One more thing … if you want to see Jen’s talk to Buddy Media in 2010, you can do so here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp7fuubk2S0. I watched it for the first time in 8 years this morning and it made me cry. I miss Jen a lot.
Mike and Kass