Cancer kills more than 2,500 children in our country every year. Over 13,500 kids will be diagnosed with cancer in the next 365 days. Though these numbers are significant, the potential market is too small to attract the attention of private industry. This makes the role of the taxpayer-funded National Cancer Institute (NCI) especially critical yet approximately 4% percent of its annual budget is dedicated to childhood cancer. The result is that children are dying every day waiting for promising new treatments that lack funding. This puts an extra burden on families with a child battling cancer. Although many are emotionally and financially devastated, these parents have no choice but to raise the money themselves by holding bake sales, car washes and other fundraisers. Meanwhile the NCI controls billions of taxpayer dollars yet it only releases a fraction of its resources to specifically help children with cancer. Ironically some of the most significant advances in the battle on cancer in general have been made by studying childhood cancers, with some of the most important genes involved in cancer first found to be mutated in pediatric cancers. Forty years ago childhood cancer was almost always fatal. Today, through advances in diagnosis and treatment, over 75% of children survive their disease. The challenge is that many children are still dying because progress has been stagnant for the last 10 years due to major funding gaps. Meanwhile the public considers childhood cancer as a largely solved problem and this is far from the truth.
The Arms Wide Open Childhood Cancer Foundation (AWOCCF), with support from the Band of Parents, is producing a powerful documentary with a built-in social media campaign that will bring the reality of childhood cancer funding to the American people. The goal of The Truth 365 is to educate and mobilize millions of people through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social networking sites. The film will inform the public that there is a critical need for funding for pediatric cancer research and that they, the NCI and Members of Congress are in a position to help.
Through the film, we will introduce millions of people to the world of childhood cancer and inspire them to join our cause. We will accomplish this by showing very personal, compelling and inspiring stories of children fighting cancer. This will touch our viewers on an emotional level and will get them to take action on behalf of children with cancer. This show of support will send a strong message to Congress, the White House and the NCI. Although the film will be very focused on children and their families, we will also have interviews with political leaders and some of the country’s most respected pediatric oncologists.
The force behind the effort is social media. Our campaign is different from other childhood cancer awareness videos because we will be mobilizing millions of people who are not currently involved with our cause. We are lining up celebrities and other nationally known individuals to help promote the film. The families in our project have direct and personal connections to three of the most famous entertainers and athletes in the world who can help us reach a massive audience. In addition, we have support from thousands of high school and college students who will help us promote the video through their social networks. The Truth 365 will also seek to unify the childhood cancer community and we expect that over 100 organizations will join our project.
While increased awareness of childhood cancer is one of our primary goals, we also will give our audience an action plan that will benefit all children with cancer. The film will direct viewers to our interactive website where they discover ways to help.
Our team of several thousand volunteers will seek support for our cause from 100% of the members elected to Congress and will ask them to sign a pledge in support of more childhood cancer research funding. The Truth 365 builds on the Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act that was passed by Congress four years ago. Unfortunately, the percentage of funds dedicated to childhood cancer research has not increased during this time span. We believe we can get our elected representatives to follow through with the NCI so that real funding changes will happen. Even a 1% increase represents $50,000,000 in additional funding for children with cancer.
The Truth 365 will be recruiting a large number of volunteers to present the pledge to all representatives from all political parties who are elected to national office. As representatives sign the pledge, we will update our website to reflect their support. Our goal is to have 100% of the representatives to sign the pledge.
The following is a sample of the pledge:
“As a Member of the 113 United States Congress, I pledge to work toward the goal of eliminating cancer as a threat to all children, recognizing that cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children in the United States.” (source: National Cancer Institute, 2012.)
One of the primary goals of the campaign is to have a Pediatric Oncologist Appointed to the National Cancer Advisory Board to be A Voice for All Children Fighting Cancer! We have an Official White House Petition link on our website that the public can click, sign and share, urging President Obama and National Cancer Institute Director, Harold Varmus, to appoint a pediatric cancer specialist to the National Cancer Advisory Board. If we can obtain 25,000 signatures by December 14, 2012 a response to our petition is required by the Administration.
The National Cancer Advisory Board is the advisory council for the National Cancer Institute. The board helps set the strategic direction for the NCI and has direct input on grant and funding decisions. National Cancer Advisory Board Members are appointed directly by the President. Currently, there are no pediatric oncologists on the panel.
HOW CAN OUR CHILDREN RECEIVE THE FUNDING THEY DESERVE WHEN THERE IS NO ONE REPRESENTING THEM AT THIS TABLE? BE THEIR VOICE TODAY AND SIGN AND SHARE OUR PETITION!
Donations for Research: Though The Truth 365 is not designed as a fundraiser, we expect a significant number of visitors to our website. We have included a donate button on the site so that those who want to help fund pediatric cancer research will be able to make a financial contribution. All proceeds will go directly to childhood cancer research. Because the purpose of this project is to benefit all children with all types of cancer, we have partnered with Dr. John Maris of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and asked for his assistance forming a “Dream Team” of the nation’s top pediatric oncologists who represent each type of childhood cancer. This team will then develop a funding model that will determine the most effective use of these research dollars. (Note: “All proceeds” means 100% of the funds that are raised through this project minus nominal bank processing fees.)