Honoring A Loved One


Last Updated on June 21, 2023

Rob Butcher

Christmas of 2006, mom was 59 years old. She was healthy and vibrant. She had gone on a summer trip through Europe seeing friends and enjoying life.

Just 11 months later, Thanksgiving of 2007, mom had passed from an aggressive form of appendiceal cancer. Appendiceal cancer isn’t detectable like other cancer types, and the treatments my mom underwent hadn’t changed in decades; multiple surgeries and intense chemotherapy that were worse than the cancer.

Heeding the lesson “how you respond,” I needed to do something. I didn’t want another family to go through the emotional and financial pain that cancer brought to our family.

I considered starting a non-profit to honor my mom but as I did my research, it was overwhelming the volume of time and money it was going to take. I also didn’t have a business model or platform that could make a non-profit sustainable to make an impact.

A friend had invited me to join the non-profit Swim Across America. I found a community and connection when learning SAA granted the proceeds from their charity swims to early stage research and clinical trials.

For three decades, SAA had been funding immunotherapy research and has been credited with helping identify and fund the early stage research and clinical trials that led to the FDA approval of Keytruda, Opdivo, and Yervoy, and numerous advancements in screening for cancer.

“You have cancer” are three horrible words.

If you hear them, you want to hear “There is hope.”

By partnering with the Swim Across America charity, I’ve been able to honor my mom and give hope to others.

 What to Look for When Partnering with a Charity:

→  GuideStar and Charity Navigator are the non-profit industry watchdogs. Platinum and 4-Stars are the highest ratings signifying a charity is committed to financial, governance and transparency accountability.

→  Do the mission and values align with your values?

→  In addition to donating, what other ways may you contribute to helping the non-profit mission? (i.e. volunteer, mentor, utilize relationships you have to help it grow)

 Swim Across America Offers Several Ways To Become Involved:

→  Volunteer or participate in any of their 25 charity swims

→  Donate through a donor advised fund (DAF) or other means to their Cancer Innovation Fund

Rob Butcher is the recipient of the 2015 Growing Bolder Inspiration Award. He is the CEO of the Cancer Innovation Fund and Swim Across America. In 35-years, CIF & SAA has granted $100M to early-stage cancer research and clinical trials. SAA has agreements with more than 10,000 oncologists ensuring grants are made with precision and accountability. SAA has a GuideStar Platinum and Charity Navigator 4-Stars rating.

This article is featured in the Summer 2023 issue of The Growing Bolder Digital Digest.

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