What $1 Million Dollars Looks Like

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One small step in a battle, but one giant leap for an organization.

In April, only two years after inception, the Vs. Cancer Foundation lunged forward with one huge milestone: $1,000,000 given away to childhood cancer efforts nationwide. This includes 50 different children’s hospitals across America helping more kids BEAT cancer. (Actually, 40,617 kids, but who’s counting!?).

Undoubtedly, one of the greatest highlights in our short history came this spring in working with Duke University Baseball, who has raised tens of thousands of dollars and recently developed a personal relationship with eight-year-old Diego, who was just coming out of treatment at Duke Children’s Hospital.

diegowithdukehatTwo years ago, Diego received the words of a diagnosis of a rare form of cancer- Wilm’s Tumor, which attacked his kidneys to the point that the removal of a kidney was necessary even prior to chemotherapy and other treatments. Kids don’t deserve to have their kidneys removed at six years old – and that is exactly why we started Vs. Cancer.

The upside? Since the moment Diego was diagnosed in 2013, he walked into a facility that was in a better place to help kids because of the efforts of Duke Baseball and Vs. Cancer’s work. Aligning with our half and half model, Vs. Cancer was able to revamp the pediatric oncology clinic with Nintendo Wii’s for kids to play during treatment.

Diego-Hernandez-Nintendo-WiiWhen I was diagnosed with cancer at 18, even I loved the chance to momentarily forget about chemotherapy while playing video games. Because of Vs. Cancer, every child walking in Duke Children’s doors now has that opportunity.

At Diego’s age, I loved playing a game in my head of trying to figure out what one million dollars actually looked like. At 6 years old, one million dollars seemed such vast a number it was impossible to grasp how big it would be, or how high the money could stack.

Now, I can finally answer the question: What does one million dollars look like?

One million dollars looks like 40,617 children that have better outcomes since our athletes, teams, and donors stepped in and turned dreams into realities.

It looks like Nintendo Wiis, sack lunches in outpatient waiting rooms, guitars for music therapy and paint for art therapy.

It looks like chemo ducks, teen rooms, and school tutors that help kids get back to being kids.

It looks like the Childhood Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium, tumor paint, and the 11 other research initiatives we’ve funded to find a cure.

It looks like the tens of thousands of athletes from 6 years old to coaches at 60 years old rallying around this crazy idea that we can save kids’ lives.

It looks like the smiles of the children who walk away from a treatment, and the face of determination of the families still fighting through all odds.

What does one million dollars look like? It looks like Diego, eight years old and cancer free.


In just 24 short months, we’ve proven that it’s not just an idea that we can help kids with cancer. We did it. And we are doing it everyday.

Now, as humbled we are by this achievement, we are more excited to prove that we can continue this battle with you, and hope that you continue to join us.