Kathryn E. Vinson, MS, CCRC
Here at Cancer Horizons, we are constantly blown away by the love, generosity, and support of our fellow man. In appreciation of the amazing things that have been accomplished by various groups and foundations, we want to take some time to highlight some of these amazing organizations and to let our family of patients, caregivers, and survivors know about the services offered. Today, let’s talk about one of the better-known groups – The LIVESTRONG Foundation.
LIVESTRONG was founded in 1996 as the Lance Armstrong Foundation, after its namesake was diagnosed with metastatic testicular cancer. Over the next three years, it hosted the first Ride for the Roses, which funded the first research grant offered by the group. By 1999, however, the Foundation shifted its focus from research to survivorship. In line with that shift, the mission of the LIVESTRONG Foundation can be summed up by “We improve the lives of people affected by cancer, now.” Impressively, 82 cents out of every dollar donated to LIVESTRONG goes directly to helping those affected by cancer. In order to reach those affected by cancer, the Foundation provides direct assistance to cancer patients and their families, as well as community programs, and advocacy at the local, state, national and global levels
The LIVESTRONG Foundation currently provides eight programs to assist those affected by cancer. Programs support patients that have just been diagnosed, those currently in treatment, finishing treatments, and post-cancer life. These programs include:
- LIVESTRONG Navigation – free, personalized support that addresses physical, emotional, and practical needs.
- LIVESTRONG Fertility Program – helping cancer patients preserve their fertility in the face of cancer treatments.
- LIVESTRONG Guidebook – this two-volume guidebook is available in both print and digital formats to help patients navigate the complicated world of cancer treatments.
- Living After Cancer Treatment Brochures – these fantastic brochures provide cancer patients and caregivers with information that is tailored to specific topics, such as pediatric and adolescent care and culturally specific needs. These brochures are also available in many languages.
- LIVESTRONG at the YMCA – The LIVESTRONG Foundation has partnered with the YMCA to emphasize the importance of physical fitness and activity during cancer treatment.
- LIVESTRONG at School – this fantastic program assists educators with age appropriate lessons for grades K-12.
- LIVESTRONG Cancer Institute – in partnership with Dell Medical School and the University of Texas at Austin, the LIVESTRONG Cancer Institute is charged with “rethink(ing) the full range of cancer care.”
- LIVESTRONG Surveys – these surveys help the Foundation understand the needs of cancer patients, survivors, caretakers and their families. Please take a look at one of these and let your voice be heard!
As I mentioned above, the LIVESTRONG Foundation returns 82 cents of every dollar donated to its programs. This is an amazing feat, especially considering the breadth of services provided by the group. Its latest financial report for 2016 shows donations and income of over $17 million USD. Some quick math shows that that is about $14 million directly going to helping those affected by cancer!
Donations to LIVESTRONG can be made by mail or online, but other avenues of support come via employer donation matching, memorial tributes, gifting of securities, and merchandise. One of the most visible and well-known pieces of merchandise is the yellow LIVESTRONG wristband. Each wristband costs only $1, and can be purchased as a single wristband, or in packages or 10 or 100. Other products include clothing, drinkware, outdoor products and more.
The LIVESTRONG Foundation is led by a nine-person Board of Directors, chaired by cancer survivor Candace Aaron. Members of the Board Emeritus include Lance Armstrong and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The current president, Greg Lee, served as the Foundation CFO for ten years and has also served in financial management roles for the University of Texas Investment Management Company and for the American Heart Association.
If you or someone you know would like to help the LIVESTRONG Foundation at their Austin, TX headquarters, their volunteer application can be found here.