Blind Date by Kate Steinbeck
May 21, 2013
William Henry once stated, “What is research but a blind date with knowledge.” A little over four years ago, my sister and I and a few other young professionals, driven by our desire to end cancer, asked Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center on a blind date, and from my perspective it was love at first sight! Four years in, our relationship continues to grow! At our recent kickoff meeting we were able to meet with new potential young ambassadors, and share with them a bit of our history…..
In the beginning, our mission was to raise enough money to award one discovery grant ($35,000 per grant) each year to a promising young researcher. We met that goal six months into our first year, so we challenged ourselves to two grants our first year. Done!
That motivation didn’t stop. In our 2nd year we awarded two grants, in our 3rd year we awarded three grants, and currently in our 4th year, you guessed it…. we will award four grants! One of those grants will be awarded to a past recipient for ongoing research.
If you are keeping up with the math this means that since our inception, we have awarded $230,000 in the form of 7 Discovery Grants in just three years. It is also worth noting that this funding has generated additional funding of $2.4 million, a greater than 940% return! WOW! I am not a Las Vegas Handicapper, but I believe it’s safe to say the bets we have taken on these researchers have been solid picks every time and any financial advisor would tell you that we are a wise investment!!
When I look back over our accomplishments it would be easy to say those of us who have been there since the beginning could take a step back and let our new members get their feet wet in the fundraising. However, that is not the case. We must remember why it is we started this project in the first place. I was quickly reminded of why I continue this fight in March when my grandmother passed away.
When reviewing her wishes my sister and I discovered in a hand written letter that in lieu of flowers at her funeral she asked that people make donations to our Cancer fund in memory of our dad, her son, who lost his life to cancer six years ago. This was not something we had asked of her or even knew she had wanted. At 91 she wasn’t exactly getting online to check our fundraising efforts or tweeting about our success, I am actually not certain she had ever even seen our website. However, she knew how important our work is and how every dollar, no matter the amount, makes a difference. This moved us to tears, and at the same moment renewed our passion for the work we do with the Young Ambassadors.
Thanks to our grandmother, my sister and I are off to a great fundraising start this year, but because of her we are also challenging ourselves to a higher goal!
Most people are frightened of blind dates, myself included, but sometimes it works out and you find it was worth the gamble. I look forward to building a lifelong relationship between the Young Ambassadors and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and the discoveries we unfold. If we can accomplish this much in just four years, imagine what we can do with a little more time and (hopefully) a lot more money!!