Julia Felts, Author at NFCR

Julia Felts

RECAP: Play4TheCure Summer Series Game Three Featuring: Potomac Nationals

On Friday, June 16th, our Play4TheCure team made the third stop on the Summer Series tour visiting the Potomac Nationals. The Potomac Nationals are a Single-A affiliate of the Major League Baseball team, the Washington Nationals based in Woodbridge, VA. Similar to our game with the Frederick Keys, we were able to sponsor a specialty jersey with all proceeds benefiting Play4TheCure. What made this night so fun was all the elements on the day targeted to engage fans of all ages.

Unlce Slam Jurassic Park Jersey


In a league dominated by wacky promotions, the Potomac Nationals distinguish themselves each year as one of the best. In 2017, the affectionately nicknamed P-Nats won the Carolina League’s Marketing & Promotional Excellence Award for their promotions. Our visit was a part of the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Jurassic Park. As such, the team wore custom Jurassic Park jerseys and decorated the ballpark with dinosaur-themed nostalgia. All around the ballpark were raptor warning signs, dinosaur footprints, and even a dinosaur sighting. Instead of the typical player profiles featured on the jumbotron, players’ images were replaced with images of dinosaurs.


Though this event was in honor of the original Jurassic Park film, the timing could not have been better. The game occurred a week before the new installment of the next generation of Jurassic, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, debuts. Consequently, giving the P-Nats the opportunity to raffle-off a full set of Jurassic Park DVD’s.

Also appealing to the older generation of fans, baseball legend Jose Canseco was in attendance for their celebrity autograph series. As soon as gates opened, the line to meet him looped around several corners of the ballpark. Luckily, there was live music in the park to keep the fans entertained.


Potomac Nationals Stadium

With us, we had a team of volunteers to host a 50/50 raffle and serve as ambassadors for the night. We introduced them to NFCR and explained what Play4TheCure was so they we’re able to answer fans’ questions throughout the night. Because of the number of people on board, we were able to set people in pairs. Together, they would focus on different sections of the stadium and encourage fans to participate in supporting to cancer research. We sold tickets for $1/ticket, $5/6 tickets and $10 for an arm’s length. The winner of the 50/50 raffle was able to take home $383.75 and donated a portion of his winnings back to research.

Due to the extra support, we were able to host a prize wheel again while also featuring a mini silent auction. NFCR development staff joined us to talk with fans more in-depth about the research we support.

All-in-all, we had a great time partnering with a new Minor League Baseball team in the area. Hopefully, we encouraged more athletes to get involved with Play4TheCure in the process! If you would like to get your team involved with giving back to the cancer research community, visit our registration page at Play4TheCure.org.

Next Stop: Bethesda Big Train (Summer Collegiate League), Friday, July 13, 2018 at 7:00pm.

Summer Series fundraising total: $3,711

Read more

Knocking Cancer Out of the Park with the Bowie Baysox

Saturday, June 2, 2018, after weathering storm threats all day, the Bowie Baysox were able to take the field for their annual Knock Cancer Out of the Park night alongside a half-dozen charities in the cancer community near Prince George’s Stadium, including our Play4TheCure team. This game marks the second stop of our Play4TheCure Summer Series.

The other cancer organizations in attendance included the Anne Arundel Medical Center, Bowie Health Center Foundation, National Pancreas Foundation, The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, The Hope Foundation and the American Cancer Society. This provided fans with a great opportunity to see the many different ways organizations give back to the cancer community.

During pregame ceremonies, the Baysox invited members from the participating organizations and cancer survivors down to the field. Each representative spoke about either their survivorship or highlighted their organization’s work.

At our table on the concourse, we spoke with fans and workers at the stadium about the research NFCR supports and ways for motivated youth and teams to get involved. For our game entertainment, we took a spin at our own prize wheel, made popular by the Frederick Keys, another affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

We encouraged fans to fill out “I Knock Cancer Out of the Park for” signs. After the 4th inning they were invited to stand up for their loved ones affected by cancer. Those holding up signs were shown on the videoboard. Reminding us that cancer is a disease that affects so many of us. (Want to include a similar element to your game? We have free “I Play4” signs available to download on our fundraising tools page).

Keeping with the cheerfulness of the day, the Baysox were able to take home a win after taking an early-game lead.

Overall, the game was a great combination of awareness and acknowledgement for the survivors among us. Providing hope every day for a future without cancer.

To view more photos from the Baysox game and all other stops on our Summer Series tour, visit our Facebook page.

If you’re interested in contributing to our efforts, click here.

Next Stop: Potomac Nationals, June 15, 2018 at 7:05pm.

Summer Series fundraising total: $3,038


Read more

5 Successful Fundraising Strategies We Learned from Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day

Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Georgetown

In case you missed it, Tuesday April 10, 2018 was Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s stores across the U.S. For one magical day a year, Ben & Jerry’s decides to delight their community by handing out free scoops of ice cream to anyone willing to wait in a surprisingly quick moving line. Stores are encouraged to partner with local organizations and all tips given benefit the cause!

The Play4TheCure team was lucky enough to join the Georgetown, DC store for a second year in a row and raised over $1,800 in one day! This was a $600 increase from the previous year. We started thinking about how our teams can benefit from some of the strategies used for Free Cone Day in their own events.

Here are the top 5 fundraising strategies teams can use to match the success of Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day:

1. Partner with local businesses. If the Play4TheCure or NFCR team decided to hand out free ice cream on our own, we would most likely not have reached the same level of success with this event. There’s a few reasons this might be the case. First, we don’t have the same name recognition that well-loved Ben & Jerry’s has in the ice cream industry and second we don’t already have an established presence in the community. Additionally, the Ben & Jerry’s team would have been less likely to have raised as much if they weren’t supporting a cause such as cancer research. Whether it be an already established fundraising program or a chance to support a community charity, most businesses want to get involved. When in doubt, ask to speak with managers of businesses your team already loves and supports then come prepared with an idea of how you can work together.

2. Make it fun. During the day we had DC sports teams help scoop and a very outgoing group of volunteers spreading the word on the street. One of the more successful strategies we used included having a tip jar challenge, similar to a penny war from elementary school. The Georgetown Ben & Jerry’s is within 5 miles of three universities in the District; Georgetown, George Washington and American University. Each school had their own tip jar and we encouraged students, alumni, or supporters to help their school be recognized as the most generous. This setup alone raised over $260!

3. Use social media and connect with local media. This year, our Ben & Jerry’s team provided photo props to be used and the crowd loved it! The props paired with a great team of volunteers there to welcome and take pictures for guests eager to share a snap of their ice cream cones was a huge boost for the grassroots awareness of the event. Additionally, reaching out to the local media can be a great way to engage supporters that might not have made it to social media yet. For colleges and clubs this could mean asking your media and marketing team to include the event details in your game recaps. High school teams can reach out to the local journalists that typically cover sports in your area. Oftentimes these outlets are happy to share your story! Which leads us to our next point…

Tip Jar battle Ben and Jerry's Georgetown

4. Share your purpose and goal. Make sure people know what your raising money for and if you’re playing in honor of someone look for ways to acknowledge them either on the day of or leading up to the day. For Free Cone Day, we hung up multiple Play4TheCure banners around the store and placed several NFCR informational pieces around to increase organizational awareness. One big change from the previous year that lead to a 50% increase in donations, was the signs we put next to multiple tip jars throughout the store. The signs included cheeky words of encouragement like, “Help change the world and leave yours here.” Every tip jar highlighted that 100% of tips would benefit cancer research and featured both the Play4TheCure logo as well as the National Foundation for Cancer Research logo. Lastly, we had all our volunteers wearing our charity’s t-shirt. Even if people aren’t readily familiar with our program, they’re more likely to become interested once they see the name repeatedly. Power in numbers.

Free Cone Day

5. Make it an annual event. Part of the success and high turnout rate for Free Cone Day is because it happens around the same time every year. Meaning, loyal fans know to expect it and will help spread the awareness by sharing this information with their friends and family. In 2018, the Ben & Jerry’s in Georgetown served over 1,500 scoops in 8 hours!

Free Cone Day

Hopefully, seeing a real-life application of these fundraising strategies you can use them to boost your efforts in the future. Does your team already incorporate some of these methods? Have other great fundraising ideas for cancer research that have worked well for your sports team? We want to hear from you! Email Julia at jfelts@nfcr.org to share your story and get your team’s efforts featured.

Play4TheCure inspires young athletes and their teams to leverage their passion for sports to “Play4” loved ones affected by cancer and encourages them to actively participate in working to fund cancer research. To learn more or dedicate your own game to Play4TheCure, click here.

Read more

Q&A with Play4TheCure Coach Kim Looney

Play4TheCure Valley Christian High School Girl's Soccer TeamPlay4TheCure is the sport fundraising program of the National Foundation for Cancer Research. Play4TheCure inspires young athletes and their teams to leverage their passion for sports to “Play4” loved ones affected by cancer and encourages them to actively participate in working to fund cancer research to make a difference. Through Play4TheCure, each team is allowed to choose how they fundraise and what type of cancer research they would like to support, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting NFCR-supported scientists.

Kim Looney is the Head Girls’ Soccer Coach at Valley Christian High School in Cerritos, CA. Her team started hosting a “Kick it to Cancer” game in 2010 and they haven’t looked back since. Over the past 5 years alone they have raised nearly $25,000. We chatted with Coach Looney to get her insight on why she got started with Play4TheCure, how it impacts their community, and what makes it a success.

Read more

Triple Negative Breast Cancer – What Every Patient Should Know

breast cancer ribbonA diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) can strike fear in the hearts of a patient and his or her family since such breast cancers tend to be both more aggressive and more difficult to treat than hormone-positive breast cancers.   

Nearly 15-20% of breast cancers are so-called “triple negative,” meaning such cancers have tested negative in pathology reports for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and Her2/Neu.   The growth of these cancers are not fueled by estrogen and progesterone, as are most cancers, and therefore, do not respond to hormonal therapies such as Tamoxifen, Arimidex, Aromasin, Femara or Aromasin.  Further, such cancers do not respond to therapies that target HER2 receptors, such as Herceptin or Tykerb, rendering them more difficult to treat.   As a result, treatment for TNBC typically involves a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Most studies have shown that TNBC is both more likely to metastasize and recur (in the early years) than hormone-positive breast cancers.   A 2007 study of 1,600 Canadian women found that TNBC patients were at much higher risk of reoccurrence outside of the breast area within the first 3-5 years post-diagnosis. Another 2007 study of more than 50,000 with all forms of breast cancer found 77 percent of women with TNBC survived 5 years, whereas 93 percent of women with other forms of cancer survived the same duration  Over the longer term, the TNBC relapse rate drops below that of hormone-positive breast cancers.   These conclusions have been supported by several studies, but also opposed by a smaller, 300-patent study.

TNBCs also tend to be higher “grade” than other types of breast cancer.  The grade measures how closely a cancer cell resembles a normal, healthy breast cell in terms of size, shape, and growth pattern/activity.   Most TNBCs are labeled Grade 3, the highest on the scale.

Younger African American and Hispanic women are at higher risk of TNBC than their Caucasian peers.  Furthermore, a 2009 study found that women who used oral contraceptives for more than one year were significantly more likely to develop TNBC than those that did not.

TNBC has become a core focus of the cancer research community.   Current research is focused on Angiogenesis and EGFR (HER-1) inhibitors, PARP inhibitors (which showed initial promise, but now, mixed results), and Glembatumumab vedotin (CDX-011).   Research in new target areas and new treatment options are being funded by the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR).

NFCR-funded scientist Dr. Susan Horwitz, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has been instrumental in the development of a successful class of anti-cancer drugs called Microtubule-Stabilizing Agents (MSAs) – a class that includes Taxol®.   MSAs work by binding microtubules, filamentous intracellular structures involved in cell and nucleic division and intracellular transport, promoting their polymerization, blocking mitosis (cell division/replication), and causing cell death.  According to Dr. Sujuan Ba, “NFCR is now funding a collaborative effort between Dr. Horwitz and Dr. Amos B. Smith, III, to develop another MSA agent designed to overcome the drug resistance triple-negative breast cancers exhibit to Taxol while limiting toxicity.”

Read more

Corners for Cancer; A Legacy of Giving

When Maura Greenwood, a former field hockey player at Upper Dublin High School, shared the news that her mother had been diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, she turned to her coach, Heather Boyer for support. That is the moment that Boyer sprang into action.  

“We can be doing a lot more than we are right now,” Boyer said of her team’s previous philanthropic endeavors of giving back to cancer research. Looking at the numbers, Boyer realized that if every member of her team raised just $100 together they would be able to contribute $3,500 back to cancer research, a significant contribution to the cause. Despite the fact that a large majority of the current Upper Dublin Field Hockey team roster had never played with Maura they all rose to the occasion to smash their original fundraising goal and raised over $7,000—setting the tone for a tradition heading into its ninth year.

In the early years of the event Mary Kay Greenwood, the mother of Maura, came and spoke at the games. Giving her the chance to thank everyone in the community for being involved and also to stress the importance of supporting cancer research. The team would also include an In Memory of or In Honor of page in their game program to acknowledge Mary Kay and everyone else in their community facing cancer. Mary Kay Greenwood has since passed, but her legacy and Upper Dublin’s Corners for Cancer still lives on.

Today, Corners for Cancer supports all types of cancer research, giving everyone on the team the chance to raise awareness for the cancer type that has affected them. To show this in 2016, each class wore a different color shirt: seniors wearing teal for ovarian cancer, the juniors in pink for breast cancer, the sophomores in white for lung cancer, the freshmen in periwinkle for stomach and esophageal cancers, and the coaches wearing gray for brain cancers.

How does the team raise so much money? Over the past five years alone, they have raised more than $27,000 to be donated to ALL types of cancer research in the efforts to find a cure for cancer. According to Boyer, “Last year’s senior were the first class to fundraise more than $10,000, so now this year’s seniors want to beat that.” Their success is the culmination of several initiatives throughout the season, many of which the senior class takes the lead on. For example, the team will host a coin drop at football games, allow teachers to donate to wear jeans for a day, sell t-shirts, and hold restaurant nights at which they receive a portion of the proceeds back from. Another large component of their fundraising is soliciting local businesses for support whether it be a cash donation or a physical item they can use for their game day raffle. New this year, the team will host a donation based car wash.

Because Corners for Cancer is such a long standing tradition in Upper Dublin, PA the Field Hockey team boasts the support of their administration to help spread the word to the local media throughout the district. As of last year, the senior class’ participation in planning and fundraising for Play4TheCure satisfied a graduation requirement serving as their culminating project in community service.

When it comes to game day, Boyer describes the atmosphere as powerful and inspiring. “As a coach you obviously want the team to go out there and play every game like it’s the last you might ever play.” But Corners for Cancer day puts things in a different perspective for the team, it reminds them “there are bigger battles in the grand scheme of life.” Year after year, Boyer and her team participate in Play4TheCure because “there’s always someone battling and supporting NFCR gives us the chance to help fund all different types of cancer, especially the rare ones that are less advocated for.”

This year’s Corners for Cancer event hosted by the Upper Dublin High School Field Hockey team will be on October 14th, 2017. You can support their efforts here: https://www.crowdrise.com/upper-dublin-field-hockey-corners-for-cancer1.

About Play4TheCure

Play4TheCure inspires young athletes and their teams to leverage their passion for sports to “Play4” loved ones affected by cancer and encourages them to actively participate in working to fund cancer research to make a difference. To learn more or dedicate your own game to Play4TheCure, click here.

Read more

Playing 4 Trey

In 2014, a few short weeks after celebrating his 3rd birthday, Trey Fry was diagnosed with leukemia. Needless to say, this was a life-altering event for Trey and his family.

Like so many, Trey fought his way through several rounds of chemotherapy. His cancer even relapsed and Trey required a bone marrow transplant. Trey’s seven-year-old brother, was his donor. One year after his initial diagnosis, Trey was in remission and remains so today. 

Prior to his diagnosis, Trey was often found visiting and cheering on the York College Girls Field Hockey Team coached by his aunt Carly Zinn. To honor his recovery and raise awareness for childhood leukemia, the team rallied together to dedicate one special game to Trey.  

What began as a rally behind a young supporter’s fight against leukemia has become a yearly tradition. Each September, Zinn holds an #ORANGEOUT in honor of leukemia and children’s cancer awareness.

A New Tradition

Zinn now coaches at Dickinson College and has brought Trey and his fight with her. Even though the team at Dickinson wasn’t around to see Trey’s battle, they’re more than willing to support this courageous six-year-old.

As part of the tradition, Zinn’s team watches Trey’s story on a DVD. “It’s pretty intense and kind of a reality check” says Zinn.

To honor everyone they know that has been affected by cancer, Zinn asks the girls to fill out an ‘I Play 4’ sign. She says “It gives them extra motivation to play in that game.”

The team hangs their signs on the wall before being lead on to the field by their honorary captain for the day, which is Trey of course. As part of the team huddle, Trey can’t help but share the story about the goal he made in soccer that very morning. “Trey loves it and it’s great to see the girls with him, they have so much energy,” Zinn shares.

This boost in motivation and determination has translated to athletic success for these teams. According to Zinn, they always play extraordinarily well on Play4Trey day, so well in fact that one year when they held a goal pledge drive to raise money, the team scored 8 goals and now allow supporters to put caps on their pledges.

At this year’s game the team has a new goal in mind: get the community more involved. Outside of the t-shirt sales they usually do to raise money for leukemia research, the Dickinson Field Hockey team will provide a donation-based clinic open to the public immediately following their Play4Trey game.

The Impact

Over the past two years, Zinn and her teams at both York College and Dickinson College have raised nearly $5,000 to support leukemia research through NFCR’s Play4TheCure program. Along with donating the money they raise to cancer research, Zinn’s team collects and delivers toys to the patients at the Four Diamonds Hospital in Hershey, PA where her nephew Trey was treated for cancer.

To support the Dickinson Field Hockey team as they Play4Trey on September 30th in Carlisle, PA, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/play-for-trey.

About Play4TheCure

Play4TheCure inspires young athletes and their teams to leverage their passion for sports to “Play4” loved ones affected by cancer and encourages them to actively participate in working to fund cancer research to make a difference. To learn more or dedicate your own game to Play4TheCure, click here.

Read more