Golfing for Good: Raising Tuition Money for Cancer Patients
UPDATED! Launched on Monday April 4, GOOD and the 2011 Ford Explorer will be devoting six weeks to the Reinventing the Outdoors Contest, which showcases amazing organizations like this one that are redefining the way we live, work, and play outside. Check in every day for a new story about the people, celebrities, and programs behind each organization. Help your favorite group win the $50,000 grand prize by voting for them starting Monday, May 16 through Friday, May 20.
Craig Pollard with fellow cancer survivor Christine Pechera
Every August, hundreds of people spend a day in the bright Southern California sunshine to cheer on fellow golfers hitting the ball for a good cause. Actor and comedian Will Ferrell lights up the greens with his golfing talent and inimitable sense of humor as host of the event. But this isn’t just any golfing tournament; every dollar that’s donated is given as college scholarships to cancer survivors and amputees through the organization Cancer for College (CFC). It’s golf with a conscience, though as founder Craig Pollard says, “For cancer patients, everything is life and death. So we try to make everything as fun as possible while also making a difference.”
Pollard knows firsthand. When he was 19 years old and a student at USC, he was battling for his life against a second bout of cancer. The hope of going back to school to join his friends and continue his education was a lifeline and helped motivate him to keep fighting. Lying in his hospital bed, Pollard promised himself that if he got out of the hospital alive, he would find a way to give back to others. Three months later and back in school, he wrote a business plan for a nonprofit that would help other kids with cancer go to college, and CFC was started in 1993. He had learned when talking with parents of cancer patients that the financial costs take an incredible toll on families since many medical procedures and medications aren't covered by insurance. The simple focus on just getting well forces everything—especially big picture plans like attending college—far into the background and out of the reach for many.
For its first ten years, CFC was a scrappy nonprofit, where Pollard, his wife Stacy, and six dedicated friends pulled together a golf tournament and gave every penny to scholarships. Then, Pollard’s USC frat buddy and CFC supporter from the start, Will Ferrell, became famous and the organization took off with his help. CFC was originally entirely volunteer-run and able to award only 5-10 scholarships a year; it now employees two staff members and awards around 90 scholarships annually of $1,000 to $4,000 to kids heading to schools such as Stanford, Harvard, UC Berkeley, and Texas A&M. Following Pollard’s own foot amputations in 2006, the scholarships was extended to include amputees. Since the organization’s creation, over 800 scholarships have now been given totaling over $1 million.
Will Ferrell taking a swing for CFC
Funding for CFC and its scholarship program hinges on a series of six events, at the center of which are three golf tournaments. A great baseball player (he had Major League dreams before first getting cancer at age 15) and golf aficionado, Pollard decided that golf was the perfect way to enjoy time outside and raise money. In addition to the Southern California event (which this year will include a comedy night for which Ferrell has lined up some famous friends), there’s a golf event at Pebble Beach and a new one in Texas. There’s also a wine tasting event in Seattle, a pub crawl in San Diego, and a Casino Night in North Carolina.
It’s all to support these kids who have succeeded against all odds in their fight against cancer and amputations. “One scholarship winner had become disabled and deformed by his chemo treatments and cancer,” says Pollard. “Now, he’s a student at Georgetown, studying abroad in China, and the most dynamic public speaker I’ve ever seen. It’s incredible for a kid who once didn’t even want to leave the house.”
A New Olympics Just For Nomads Playing polo with a 100-pound goat carcass to save nomadic culture and build national pride in Kyrgyzstan.
New Detroit Program Trades Houses for Literary Excellence Write a House names Brooklyn poet Casey Rocheteau as first recipient of free home in Detroit
A Chance in Hell Yaks, America, and The Apocalypse Up against an $88 billion beef industry, it takes a leap of faith to raise yak in the United States.
Specialty Coffee Retailers Try to Prove They're Good to the Last Drop Searching for the perfect cup of sustainable and ethically produced joe. #NationalCoffeeDay
Metalhead Ballerinas Rock the U.K. Brutal Ballet slayed U.K. audiences last week with the debut of original choreography set to a metal cover of the Game of Thrones themesong.
You’re Now a Two-Minute Video Away from Getting into College
Goucher College will accept video applications in lieu of the traditional essays and test scores.
3 Epic Racial Profiling Blunders from History
Racial profiling not only harms innocent people of color, it can cause law enforcement to lose crucial time in pursuing the true criminals.
10 Overlooked Issues That People are Protesting This Week at the U.N.
The U.N. General Assembly is a magnet for protest from every race, color, and creed. Meet some of the people behind the picketing.
Why We Still Need the Nation State Overshadowed by international organizations, global commerce, and even individual cities, the nation state still has a vital role to play.
Flip-Flopping on Fats Health and sustainability concerns drive the two largest donut chains to change their policies on palm oil.
The Challenge of Branding a Life-Threatening Disease Can mitochondrial disease go mainstream? There are promising developments for mitochondrial disease in genetics and cellular therapies—now, if only it could get some buzz.
A Headdress Ban Disqualified Qatar’s Entire Women’s Basketball Team from International Competition
If the Asian Games really want to be a place where diversity shines, they should’ve opposed International Basketball’s ban on religious headwear.