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 Truth 365 is a powerful documentary with a built-in social media campaign. The goal is to educate and mobilize millions of people through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social networking sites. The film informs 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 and related videos, we introduce the general public to the world of childhood cancer and inspire them to join our cause. We show very personal, compelling and inspiring stories of children fighting cancer. The videos touch our viewers on an emotional level and we ask 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 is very focused on children and their families, we 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 Truth 365 is also working to unify the childhood cancer community and over 100 organizations support our mission.
While increased awareness of childhood cancer is one of our primary goals, we also give our audience an action plan that will benefit all children with cancer. The film directs viewers to our interactive website where they learn ways to help.
Our team of volunteers is asking members of Congress to sign a pledge in support of more childhood cancer research. The Truth 365 builds on the Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act that was passed by Congress five years ago 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 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.)
The right to petition is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. We are currently collecting signatures on a petition that urges our elected leaders to make childhood cancer research a national priority. We will be delivering these signed petitions to Congress or The White House at a rally in 2014. The date and time will be announced in early 2014.
Donations for Research
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.