Eric Rosenthal Reports

Thoughts and observations about issues, trends, and controversies in the cancer community.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stand Up To Cancer, Major League Baseball, and MasterCard: Priceless

The San Francisco Giants weren’t the only ones to win during this year’s World Series sweep since Major League Baseball (MLB) used the venue to showcase four community initiatives, including Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), which was featured during Game One on Oct. 24.


The next three games focused on military veterans and their families; youth, especially those in underserved communities; and Habitat for Humanity.


During the fifth inning of the first game, players, coaches, umpires, Fox announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, along with thousands of fans, stood up and held placards bearing the names of someone dealing with cancer.


It was an emotional, poignant moment for those at the game and the millions of television viewers who also saw a public service announcement from MasterCard featuring Jon Lester, Red Sox pitcher and cancer survivor, with Justin Miller, the nine-year-old cancer survivor who appeared on Stand Up’s live telecast on September 7.


The spot thanked those who contributed to MasterCard’s recent $4 million donation to SU2C through its “Dine and be Generous” campaign, and according to SU2C cofounder Sue Schwartz, a few years ago Stand Up became the first organization allowed by MasterCard to juxtapose respective taglines, resulting in: “Standing Up to Cancer: Priceless.”


As she explained in a telephone interview, “Major League Baseball was our founding donor. It was the first major donor to, pardon the baseball analogy, step up to the plate and support Stand Up To Cancer.”


She said that she and others first met with baseball commissioner Bud Selig and his wife Sue at a baseball scouts’ dinner in January 2008 to discuss the then-fledgling cancer effort’s funding model and to make a very impassioned plea.


“Bud sat back and rubbed his chin and said he tended to be a person who mulled things over and thought about them, and Sue leaned over and smacked him hard and said, ‘Buddy, what are we waiting for -- of course we have to support this cause!’”


That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, Schwartz said, that has led to considerable financial donations as well as marketing efforts that have helped the cancer awareness and research funding initiative move more into the mainstream of American society. MasterCard was a sponsor of MLB and first got involved with SU2C through that relationship before signing on as a major donor in its own right.


Schwartz said that unlike the one-hour televised Stand Up events that have been occurring every other year since 2008, baseball has helped provide SU2C with interactive public moments: “One of the things that make us unique is that Stand Up is a populist movement. We’ve been fortunate that we have the ability to work with our donors and do things that are intriguing to the public such our working with Lucasfilm and MLB to reach ‘Star Wars’ fans through the ‘Stand Up and Use the Force for Good’ promotion that let fans buy a special ticket package from select MLB teams to benefit Stand Up.”


Teaming up with the great American pastime has made it possible for Stand Up to reach many more people through something they care about, she added.