Everyone has a cancer story. My cancer story is my father-in-law’s story, and I am raising money for Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center’s Young Ambassadors in his honor. I met my father-in-law (also known as Richard Higgins, “Captain,” dad, and G-daddy to his grandkids) on my third date with my now wife, Beth Higgins Jones. To say there was a heavy atmosphere over the date is an understatement. Richard had only recently been diagnosed with cancer – about a couple weeks prior to this date. Additionally, this first meeting with my future in-laws just happened to be on their wedding anniversary. And to top it all off…I learned that Richard was a police officer. Dating a girl whose father is in law enforcement is almost as scary as cancer! Nonetheless, since that intrepid third date, Richard has successfully completed cancer treatment not once but twice in the 12 years that I have known him!
In 2006 Beth was hired to secure philanthropic support for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC). During this time, I have had the privilege to learn about the great research that is being conducted at VICC. Additionally, Richard now receives his follow-up care at Vanderbilt-Ingram. Even though Richard received his original cancer care and chemotherapy in Jackson, I have learned that academic medical centers like VICC are conducting ground-breaking research that translates into patient care to benefit patients like Richard – irrespective of where they are treated.
Private philanthropy is absolutely critical to making ground-breaking research happen. I am honored to be a member of the Young Ambassadors at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Young Ambassadors is group of philanthropists and advocates for the Cancer Center. Our goal is to secure $100,000 in financial support for an exciting initiative at Vanderbilt-Ingram called the Discovery Grant program. A Discovery Grant provides the seed funding for a young researcher at the cancer center to expedite bold, innovative research ideas. Data from preliminary research supported by a Discovery Grant can be leveraged to obtain funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and other federal agencies that make multi-million dollar grants to support cancer research. NCI grants are only awarded to support research that is compelling and has substantiating data. A donor or donors can fund a Discovery Grant with a minimum gift of $35,000. Vanderbilt-Ingram researchers and physicians have an excellent track record of converting preliminary research from a donor-funded Discovery Grant into a much larger federal grant! For example, one of the researchers at VICC received Discovery Grant funding for a study on the detection of early markers for lung cancer that resulted in over $800,000 in subsequent grant funding – that is a huge “return on investment.”
Our goal is to raise enough money for three discovery grants! By raising money for discovery grants through the “VICCtory over Cancer” fund, we have the opportunity to spark the beginning of a major new research initiative. But we need your help to reach our goal!