At The GM’s Perspective, we had the privilege of speaking with Katie Sweet, Communications Manager at the V Foundation For Cancer Research. The V Foundation was formed by ESPN and Jimmy Valvano in 1993, after he was diagnosed with cancer at 46 years old. The all-volunteer committee, made up of some of the most brilliant scientific minds in cancer research today, is dedicated to living out Jim’s dream of finding a cure.
Thank you to Katie Sweet and the entire team at the V Foundation for making this interview possible.
The GM’s Perspective: What does The V Foundation mean to the people working in and with the Foundation?
Katie Sweet: Like most people, each of us here has been touched by cancer. Some of us have lost loved ones, some are caregivers and others are cancer survivors. We are committed to making a difference for those living with cancer. We remember Jim’s don’t give up spirit, and we celebrate his legacy on a daily basis. He started something that has grown, and we are so proud to continue his vision.
GMs: There are obviously many organizations that want to partner with you, what’s the deciding factor when making that final decision?
KS: We look at what the partnership could accomplish. Our top priority is an end to cancer through the funding of cancer research. We have great – and a true variety – of partners! Each brings a unique opportunity to the fundraising world.
GMs: The WWE is known for its entertainment value, but they do an enormous amount of work in the community. How did the partnership begin and how does this collaborative arrangement with WWE make your message even stronger?
KS: WWE started Connor’s Cure after one of their young super fans (Connor) passed away from a rare brain cancer. They were moved by his story and determined to stop the disease that took him. They began by fundraising and supporting research in Pittsburgh, but WWE wanted to take their support nationwide. As a result of our partnership, funds raised through the Connor’s Cure initiative are awarded through The V Foundation’s rigorous grant making process, ensuring that the very best of researchers are being funded.
It’s great to have such a motivated partner! WWE has a fantastic following and is a tremendous asset for raising awareness of and funds for pediatric cancer research. The V Foundation has funded more than $20 million in pediatric research and we look forward to growing that amount.
GMs: When you hear “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up!” What’s the first thing that comes to mind?
KS: Jim’s famous ESPY speech, no doubt! You don’t have to be a sports fan to love it. It speaks to so many – to cancer patients, their caregivers and other loved ones and researchers. It’s a phrase that transcends the cancer world – we say it in the office quite a bit!
Photo courtesy of Roger Winstead
GMs: If people were looking for more information, want to donate or even partner with you, how could they go about doing this?
KS: Visit jimmyv.org. We have all kinds of ways for people to get involved – from donations to community events. There is something for everyone. Also, follow us on social media at facebook and on Twitter
All photos courtesy of Roger Winstead