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The Power of the Third Party

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By Victor Scott, MD Anderson Staff Writer

Ever wonder if the $25 you donate to a cause can really make a difference? At MD Anderson, the answer is definitely "yes." And there are so many ways to give. One way is through what we call "third-party events."

Third-party events are defined as fundraising events sponsored by individuals or organizations that are not directly under the supervision of MD Anderson. These events have long been an important part of MD Anderson's fundraising success, supporting the institution's mission of Making Cancer History®.

From North Dakota to Texas, New York to California, dozens of third-party events are held every year across the United States to support MD Anderson. The individuals sponsoring these events often devise some very unique ways to raise money.

Here are a few examples:

  • Teacher and Burro.jpgIn appreciation for the treatment her husband received at MD Anderson, a teacher at Buist Academy in Charleston, S.C., came up with "Kiss the Burro." She promised students that if they each raised $50 for MD Anderson, their teacher would have to kiss a donkey. It was a challenge the students met with extreme enthusiasm. They raised the money and the entire staff, including the principal, kissed the donkey.
  • "Beating Cancer with a Stick" is an annual lacrosse tournament held at The Kinkaid School in Houston. High school and college teams from across the country travel to Kincaid to play in the tournament and raise money for the MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital. During the inaugural tournament this year, the school presented MD Anderson with a check for $10,000.
  • "Polo on the Prairie" was started almost a quarter century ago by Midland, Texas, natives Melinda and Henry Musselman, and Melinda's mother, Mary Anne McCloud. During the first weekend in May, the Musselmans turn the pasture at their Lazy 3 Ranch into a polo field where players from around the world come to play polo and raise money for MD Anderson. Polo on the Prairie raised more than $226,000 this year. 
Polo on Prairie.jpg
Every Gift Matters
It's not uncommon to see a news story these days about a multi-million dollar philanthropic donation to a charitable organization. MD Anderson has been fortunate over the years to receive gifts of that magnitude. But gifts that large are rare. The majority of donations MD Anderson receives don't attract headlines. But regardless of the dollar amount, every gift received from a third-party event is important in the fight against cancer.

Another unique aspect of third-party events is that these donations are often used as "seed money" for research on less common, but equally devastating types of cancer. Securing federal funding for research on these cancers is often a challenge, but when researchers receive gifts that give them the resources to prove their ideas work, they often are then successful in obtaining substantial national research grants.

Osteosarcoma is one type of cancer that fits in this category. Eugenie Kleinerman, M.D., head of MD Anderson's Division of Pediatrics, leads a team of researchers focused on this less common type of cancer. She knows firsthand how critical funding from third-party events can be.

"Federal funding can be very difficult to obtain for research on certain cancers and almost impossible to obtain without proven data," Kleinerman says. "These fundraising events provide the seed money so that we can generate the preliminary data to help secure an NCI grant to support critical research. We are very grateful for the people who take the time to put together an event to raise money for cancer research. They are truly making a difference in the lives of our patients."

Endless Possibilities
From kissing a donkey to playing lacrosse to competing in a polo match, each third-party event generates support in its own unique way. And while the motivation for creating a fundraising event varies, the hope of a world without cancer is easily seen on the faces of those who support these causes year after year. These inspired individuals offer a future of endless possibilities in the fight against cancer.

So, if you're feeling inspired and want to create your own third-party event, then contact the MD Anderson Development Office at 713-745-6215. The Development Office coordinates fundraising efforts for MD Anderson and can offer excellent advice on making your event a success. 
               

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