When Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Orlando Hudson and the rest of the All-Stars take the field for tonight's MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis, each will have a chance to raise a million dollars for cancer research with one swing of the bat. It's part of the "Hit It Here" campaign sponsored by MasterCard and Major League Baseball. If a player hits one of three signs in home-run territory, Stand Up To Cancer's groundbreaking research benefits. I'll be rooting for the players to swing for the fences -- and the signs! But whether one of the All-Stars hits a homer for research or not, Major League Baseball has already proven itself to be an important player in the fight against cancer.
A long-time supporter of cancer research and education, MLB is taking its commitment to an entirely new level. A number of All-Star Game activities are focused on the cause. By engaging fans, the baseball community is getting the word out in a huge way that each and every one of us has a role to play in ending cancer. That can help change the game for those whose lives are affected by this terrible disease -- and with one of every two men and one of every three women in this country being diagnosed at some point in their lifetimes, cancer touches us all.
On Sunday, I had the privilege of standing alongside Michael Milken, founder of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and Ambassador Nancy Brinker, the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, at the first-ever All-Star Charity 5K & Fun Run. I was there representing Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), a nationwide movement raising funds for "Dream Teams" of scientists from different institutions and disciplines working together on innovative research aimed at bringing new treatments to patients in an accelerated timeframe. MLB is sharing the race proceeds equally among these three groups.
To look out over a sea of thousands of runners in T-shirts advocating for the end of cancers of all types was truly moving, as was the next stop in our St. Louis visit. The Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine is an international leader in cancer treatment, research, prevention and education, and serves patients across the American heartland, as well as all over the world. All the patients we met there, like Kim Lee-- a vivacious 35-year old woman, whose cheerful disposition belies the fact that she has endured a bone marrow transplant and other difficult treatments for acute lymphoblastic leukemia during the last year-- were profoundly inspiring.
So, too, are people like Richard and Diane Nares, who channeled the grief of losing their five-year old son Emilio into an organization that assists families with children battling cancer. They, and other "ordinary" Americans who are doing extraordinary things, are being honored at tonight's game as "All-Stars Among Us." Baseball lives in the very heart of America, as does the deep sense of compassion and responsibility that brings people together in an important fight like the one against this country's second-leading killer. Few of us can hit a home run in a major league stadium with the potential of raising a million dollars for research, but there are many, many ways to help.
On standup2cancer.org, when making a one dollar donation to research, you can launch a star in honor of someone who has received a cancer diagnosis on the Constellation, which is a field of stars, illustrating how this disease connects us all. If we all work together, I honestly believe we can end cancer once and for all.