One thing that Cooper Hodges, Rosebud Miners, Gretchen Mitchell Anderson, and Reuben “Papa” Scherr share in common is that they’ve all died of cancer. But they have a more positive connection: Each lives on in a novel and inspiring way.
Last year, the America Cancer Society awarded $165,000 grants named after each to researchers working on promising early-stage ways to impact the disease.
In the philanthropy world, the eponymous tribute treatment is typically reserved for the super-rich. Donors who tend to give lots of money can specify (or accept) that the newly endowed medical school, arts complex, or museum will pay homage. Hollywood mogul David Geffen, for instance, has a collection of all three.
But the American Cancer Society has taken that idea and largely democratized it through its new Heroes of Research program, which started last year as an extra incentive with ACS’s 12-to-24-hour Relay For Life events. ACS allows any family, school, church, or corporate team whose participants can raise $165,000 to name their own grant, typically after the people who inspired them to raise money in the first place. The teams then pick where to direct their grants from a vetted list of researchers working on different topics at different medical institutions.
For those participating in the memory of Hodges, Miners, Anderson, and Scherr, that was University of Texas, MIT, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and Duke University Medical Center, respectively. Initially, 10 teams earned the honor, with combined contributions that totaled about $400,000 more than what they all raised in previous years. It’s a concept that’s continued to gain steam. This fall, two other teams reached that milestone, averaging a combined $200,000 more than their previous annual totals.