'Baton Pass' Passes a Message of Cancer Hope
A relay race unlike any other that will benefit cancer patients, cancer survivors and future cancer survivors everywhere kicked off today in the heart of New York City - the Times Square studio of " Good Morning America."
ABC News' own Robin Roberts, a cancer survivor, and Amy Robach, currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer, were surrounded by dozens of cancer survivors, doctors and research supporters to kick off "The Baton Pass," a grassroots effort to raise money and spread a message of hope across the country.
"Robin and Amy are both wonderful examples of the hope that all cancer survivors have," said Kathleen Lobb of Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), the nonprofit organization she co-founded six years ago with Katie Couric and other female leaders to fund cancer research and change the perception of cancer.
"It's about conveying hope, the hope that everyone diagnosed with cancer will be a survivor and that everybody can do something," Lobb said. "In this case, passing the baton facilitates a contribution that will ultimately, hopefully, add up to one million dollars."
From now until Sept. 5, cancer survivors, supporters, patients, doctors, nurses, researchers and families will have the opportunity to raise money for SU2C by passing the baton, along with their message of hope against cancer, to their own loved ones and friends at events across the country.
The message, organizers say, is that cancer is no longer a death sentence.
"The baton helps symbolize that we've made progress in cancer detection and monitoring and treatment," Dr. Gregory Sorensen, CEO of Siemens Healthcare North America, told GoodMorningAmerica.com. "We want people to realize that a lot has happened in cancer care and there are reasons for hope now."
Siemens is leading the fundraising charge for "The Baton Pass" by donating $1 to SU2C for every pass of the baton between now and Sept. 5, up to $1 million.
The company will also donate $1 every time the baton is "passed" virtually online. Supporters can visit " The Baton Pass" Facebook page and use the Facebook app to virtually "pass" the baton to their loved ones battling cancer or cancer survivors, and also follow the baton on Twitter using the hashtag #TheBatonPass.
"The baton really represents the opportunity we all have to stand up to cancer," said actress Jamie King, 34, one of the many celebrities supporting "The Baton Pass." "When the baton is passed along from patients, to survivors, to doctors, families, scientists-any one of us-I hope the message that it sends is that the end of cancer is in our hands."
Supporters of the fundraising effort will also be able to track the baton online as it travels across the U.S. thanks to a GPS-tracking device. All of the proceeds from "The Baton Pass" will go towards SU2C's mission of "making everyone diagnosed with cancer a survivor."
One of those survivors, an 8-year old girl with cancer, will be among the first to receive the baton. She will be passed the baton at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was treated, and then pass it on herself to the doctors and researchers who saved her life with a breakthrough immunotherapy treatment for kids with relapsed leukemia.
This treatment, which has been partially funded by SU2C, will soon be part of a clinical trial focused on helping children with other aggressive types of cancer for whom previous treatments have not been effective.
"They've really figured out ways to accelerate cancer research," Sorensen said of SU2C, which has given nearly $200 million in grants since its founding in 2008 "They not only fund research, they synergistically bring together the best minds and ideas."
"We're right on the edge of cutting-edge treatments," he said. "We're all working together to find a cure."
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