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Chicago’s Digital Discovery Ball raises $1.9 million

This fabulous event garnered 4,000 views! You can watch a replay

Chicagoans, joined by friends from across the country and around the world, have sent a clear message: cancer hasn't stopped, and neither will we.

The 2020 Digital Discovery Ball, our first-ever, large-scale virtual gala in Chicago, was a pivot for the organization and creativity and determination paid off. 

"We were guided by our theme 'Be Bold and Rise Up', and that's exactly what we did by raising $1.9 million," said Michael Ziener, executive director, Community Development, in the North Central Region. The pre-COVID goal was $2.25 million net. 

A huge thank you to this year's Discovery Ball co-presenting sponsors, tech companies Salesforce and G2. 

Thanks to pre-solicited sponsorships, the night-of auctions, and live donations, including an Illinois Area Board match, the event grossed $1.9 million. This puts the total amount of money this event has raised since it started 14 years ago to $38 million. The auction items raising the most money included a trips to the GRAMMY Awards in Los Angeles and Country Music Awards (CMA) in Nashville, custom Titleist golf clubs & foursomes at nationally ranked courses, and a Chicago Bears suite. 

The May 21 event was co-hosted by NBC5’s Chicago Today hosts, Matthew Rodrigues and Cortney Hall, pictured above. Guests included our CEO Gary Reedy, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (pictured in the smaller image), Tyler Prince of Salesforce, Godard Abel of G2, comedian Adam Cayton-Holland, Kristina Magro, manager, Lone Wolf Tavern, who showed viewers how to make a Rye on the Rise cocktail, and many sponsors. Dawn Gee, a news anchor at WAVE 3 in Louisville, KY, and a kidney cancer survivor, told attendees: "If you want to beat cancer, not just live with it or live through it, you are going to have to support the American Cancer Society." 

An after-party featured a performance by the Chicago band Maggie Speaks.  

You can watch a replay of the event on YouTube.

Congratulations to all the volunteers and staff who had a hand in contributing to this great success! And, a special thank you to all of the event sponsors.

  • Grab some friends and run (walk, or hike) across the U.S.; Registration ends June 6

    Our goal is to cover the 2,900+ miles across the country as a unified team

    Our DetermiNation program is launching a virtual event called DetermiNation Runs the Country.

    From June 1 – June 7, we are encouraging everyone to join together as a nationwide group and log more than 2,900 miles over the course of the week. You can log your miles indoors or outdoors while practicing social distancing.

    You don’t run? No problem. Walk or hike – anything you can do on two feet. It all helps.

    Registrants on the DeterminNation Runs the Country website will get their own fundraising page that they can personalize with photos and text – and share to Facebook to boost the number of donations. Please note that current ACS participants of any event (DetermiNation, RFL, MSABC, ResearcHERS) can use the personal fundraising link associated with their event. Use the hashtags #DNRunsTheCountry #DNRTC #IRunDNation when sharing photos from your run!

    Registration is just $25 per individual, or $50 for participants who want an event T-shirt. Registration ends at midnight ET on Saturday, June 6. 

    Register now and start tracking your miles on June 1!  

    Each registrant receives a virtual personalized running bib, daily motivation in the event’s Facebook group, social media templates they can use to drum up support, and a finisher certificate.

    There is swag to be had for top fundraisers:

    • $500 - Custom Goodr DetermiNation Sunglasses
    • $1,000 - Custom Goodr DetermiNation Sunglasses + DetermiNation Tech Shirt
    • $1,500 - Custom Goodr DetermiNation Sunglasses + DetermiNation Jacket
    • $2,500 - Custom Goodr DetermiNation Sunglasses + DetermiNation Jacket + FREE ENTRY to an upcoming DetermiNation Race

  • ACS CAN's new Junior Cancer Fighter Action Center teaches kids the power of advocacy

    With the school year ending and many summer camps and activities being cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is helping to fill the gap with the launch of a new online action center for kids.

    Located on ACS CAN’s website, the Junior Cancer Fighter Action Center provides elementary and middle school-age children and their parents, grandparents, and loved ones with a series of fun and educational activities to help them learn about advocacy, fighting cancer, and ACS CAN. It features videos, advocacy opportunities, and fun activities that kids can complete on their own, as well as with the help of an adult. 

    The action center is the brainchild of Becki Panoff, associate director, social media and digital content for ACS CAN and the mother of three young children. Becki’s two oldest children inspired the concept and helped to test the content for target age groups. 

    “The Junior Cancer Fighter Action Center is a great way for kids to learn about advocacy, fighting cancer and ACS CAN during a time when we’re all at home, and parents are looking for activities for their kids,” she said. “The educational activities give kids an opportunity to learn and do activities with their parents, grandparents or adult in their life, or do them independently - giving mom and dad a little break.”

    One feature of the action center includes the opportunity for kids to participate in a longstanding ACS CAN fundraiser, Lights of Hope. It highlights the beautiful artwork of ACS Media Relations Director Charaighn Sesock’s 14-year-old daughter, Stefania, pictured above. Stefania, who is an ACS CAN Youth Ambassador and is fundraising for Lights of Hope for the first time, is using social media to encourage family and friends to donate and support her efforts for ACS CAN.

    The activity center is not meant to be a formal educational curriculum, nor is it intended to be promoted to schools or school systems. Rather, it’s a series of fun activities to provide ACS CAN volunteers with some great ways to interact with (and help occupy) the children in their lives while they’re at-home, while potentially fostering a new generation of advocates. 

    For more information, visit

  • Coaches vs. Cancer Wisconsin Virtual Gala raises $430,000

    Kudos to the North Region!

    Congratulations to the North Region and the Coaches vs. Cancer Wisconsin team on their successful virtual Gala on May 20!

    The collaborative team of AJ Prathivadi, senior development manager;  Amy Rohrer, senior director, Distinguished Events; Colleen McDonald, director, Communications; and the Board of Ambassadors, led by Chair Matt Uselman, worked together to orchestrate an impactful, entertaining and mission-focused program that was watched on nearly 400 unique computers/devices!  

    The 45-minute virtual event featured past keynote speakers,including NCAA Men’s Basketball coaches Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim, and Tubby Smith, as well as sportscasters Tim Brando, Andy Katz, Shelly Smith, and many more!

    You can watch it here. Please note that the first 30 minutes is pre-show messages & sponsor recognition; the actual show starts at the 34-minute mark).

    The honoree this year was Madison native Jim Lemon, a former professional golfer and father of a 1-year-old, who is courageously battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. 

    The event also recognized Coach Bo Ryan (pictured above) and his wife, Kelly, for reaching $1 million in lifetime giving to the American Cancer Society. He is the first and only coach in the country to reach that mark. Ryan is a retired University of Wisconsin men's basketball coach. He was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.

    In total, the gala raised just over $430,000 through sponsorship, auctions, and an adjusted-for-virtual-experience paddle raise (via the GiveSmart platform).  

  • Attention LEGO lovers! Registration deadline is May 22

    ​This one is perfect for kids stuck at home or families looking for a meaningful community service project

    Our colleagues in Vermont, western Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island are hosting a Brick Masters For A Cure Event from May 22 - June 4.

    Competitors - and most of ours at the moment are elementary school-age kids - will have eight days to build, complete, and photograph their creation. Video might be necessary if there are moving parts.

    Creations will be judged on creativity and relationship to the theme, which will be shared with registered participants who raise a minimum of $100 by 11:59 p.m. on May 22. Winners will be announced on June 4 - and prizes will be awarded!

    Details on this challenge, that turns play into a cancer-fighting activity, can be found on its website. There are age categories, from pre-K to family projects for all ages to masters. The master level entry must incorporate motors, advanced parts, or power systems

    It costs $10 to register, and participants are expected to make use of our fundraising app to raise funds for our mission.

    If any of our Relay or Making Strides participants register, the money they raise will be credited to their participant goal for their respective event. 

    Brick Masters for a Cure is the brainchild of Hilary Casillas, senior manager, community development, in Vermont.

    "We have bins of LEGO bricks in the basement from my son's LEGO days, and so do many of my friends," she said. "The show LEGOMasters is really popular, so I pitched the idea."

    Once approved, Hilary said "we recruited a focus group of high school Relayers and two First LEGO coaches from Rutland, VT, to advise on how to structure the competition. I was expecting to attract more STEM/Robotics club students, but most of our participants are elementary age children." 

    There are no geographic boundaries to this event - one of the benefits of going virtual. In fact, there is one contestant from Oregon, and another from Virginia.

    Help spread the word by sharing its Facebook page and website with everyone you know who might be interested. This is the perfect time for a virtual community service project!

  • MAY 21: You are invited to our first-ever virtual Discovery Ball

    ​Chicago’s top-rated fundraiser and premier gala expands to global audience; register now for the May 21 event

    Powerhouse tech companies Salesforce, a customer relationship management solution we know well, and G2, the world’s leading business software and review platform, are joining forces as sponsors of our 2020 Discovery Ball

    In a bold first, this year’s Discovery Ball - happening this Thursday evening - will not only be experienced virtually, but is inviting participants across the country and around the world to attend. 

    Registration is free. Please visit the event's website to secure your place. The pre-show begins at 7:30 p.m. ET; the main event at 8 p.m. ET.  

    Watch this promotional video.

    Organizers have planned an evening full of speakers and entertainment, including comedian Adam Cayton-Holland; a virtual cocktail-making session; a participatory social media experience; an appearance by our CEO Gary Reedy; and a message from Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot. It will be hosted by NBC5’s Chicago Today hosts, Matthew Rodrigues and Cortney Hall. 

    We will be spotlighting community partner Tempus and its CEO, Eric Lefkosky, whose company develops data-driven precision medicine.

    Godard Abel, CEO of G2, along with his 2020 Discovery Ball co-chair Tyler Prince, executive vice president, Salesforce, are excited about the new possibilities. 

    "We’re really excited about how things have come together, especially amid these challenging times,” said Abel. “The Discovery Ball is an incredible opportunity for the business community to bring the American Cancer Society mission to their work through a virtual experience. Unfortunately, cancer touches everyone of us in some way, and working with the Society is one way our organizations are making an impact on the fight.”

    Each year, more than 800 guests attend the Discovery Ball. This year, its 14th anniversary, the theme is “Be Bold and Rise Up.” Since its inception, the gala has raised more than $36 million.

    “No doubt the event will feel differently to some this year,” said Gary. “But even though we are apart, we still stand together, knowing one thing hasn’t changed. We will still continue to be relentless in our mission to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer. Now is the time for us to double down and not let up.”

  • Don't miss the Discovery Shop online jewelry sale

    ​This first-ever online jewelry event takes place this Friday, May 22

    Hundreds of beautiful jewelry items have generously been donated and will be offered for sale at unbelievable prices at the Discovery Shop Online Jewelry Event, “Give Back, Shine Bright.”  

    Mark your calendar for Friday, May 22, at 1 p.m. ET, and join us on eBay to see what you’ll Discover!

    Most items will have Buy It Now, or fixed, pricing. So, when you see it, and really, really want it, buy it!

    We thank our jewelry donors (staff, volunteers, and store customers), and congratulate Discovery Shop staff for developing creative ways to raise critical funds while our physical stores are temporarily closed due to COVID-19. 

  • Special NCCRT webinar on the latest colorectal cancer findings moved from May 11 to May 18; participants must re-register

    ​PLEASE NOTE: The date of this webinar has been moved from May 11 to May 18, 1 - 2 p.m. ET, to accommodate a new platform. Participants will need to re-register

    Robert Smith, PhD, senior vice president of cancer screening at ACS, and Rebecca Siegel, MPH, scientific director of surveillance research at ACS, will provide a closer look at the findings from Colorectal Cancer Statistics 2020 during a National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) webinar on Monday, May 18, at 1 - 2 p.m. ET. 

    The webinar will focus on findings released on March 5, 2020, that indicate the burden of colorectal cancer is swiftly shifting to younger individuals as incidence increases in young adults and declines in older age groups. 

    Also, the median age of diagnosis has dropped from age 72 in 2001-2002 to age 66 during 2015-2016, and half of all new diagnoses are in people 66 or younger. The publication is accompanied by a consumer version, Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures and a press release is also available.

    This webinar is open to NCCRT members, 80% Pledge partners, CDC grantees, ACS staff and volunteers, and other partners working to increase colorectal cancer screening rates. Registration is required and, as noted above, you will need to re-register if you registered for the previously scheduled date (May 11).

  • North Texas Virtual Relay exceeds goal

    ​Congratulations to our volunteers and colleagues in North Texas who put on a day-long virtual Relay For Life event last Saturday, May 2, complete with an auction, entertainment, cooking exhibit, art classes, luminaria and survivor ceremonies, survivor speakers, messages from ACS leaders, and a fantastic opening segment featuring a ‘Why I Relay’ virtual toilet paper roll toss among participants.

    Watch part of the fun here

    The event brought together 26 of the 28 Relays in the North Texas area, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Kaufman, Tyler, Fannin County, SMU, and more, and exceeded its $200,000 goal by more than $30,000. Money is still being raised.  

    “I could not be prouder of our North Texas team,” said Keenan Delaney, executive director, in the North Texas Area. 

    Brandi Adams, a senior manager, community development, in the Fort Worth market, said: "The idea came from a volunteer and turned into conversations between staff, and just kept growing."

    Hosting from her home in New Jersey was Desiree Berenguer Carton, communications director in the Northeast Region. ACS guests included our CEO Gary Reedy; Jeff Fehlis, EVP, South Region; and Durado Brooks, MD, MPH, VP cancer control interventions. Viewers also heard from James Frary, chair of the North Texas Chapter of CEOs Against Cancer; and Russ McCaskey, CBS 11 news anchor, as well as several cancer survivors.

    Guests did an impressive job explaining our mission and all the programs and services we provide, including research, advocacy, Hope Lodge (a Hope Lodge is scheduled to open in Dallas next year), our free information line (1.800.227.2345) available 24/7, 365 days a year; Road To Recovery, and more.  

    Entertainers included the Kilgore College Rangerettes and Austin-based singer/songwriter Brian Pounds, a contestant on The Voice in 2013, and auction items included a football signed by Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott; a Yeti cooler, flat-screen TV, and much, much more.

    The event was very interactive, with viewers posting selfies, messages to their caregivers, and scrolling lists of luminaria honorees.  

    Congratulations to all volunteers and staff and volunteers involved!

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