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CureSearch Launches Virtual Walk
Online fundraising effort for children's cancer research strives to recruit 12,500 donors.
CureSearch fights children's cancer.

CureSearch's Virtual Walk, which works to raise funds for and awareness about childhood cancer, will be held September 1–30. Donors and sponsors are needed, and CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation is urging restaurants to get involved.

Individual donors can register online to set up a personal fundraising page or create a team to help recruit CureSearch's goal of 12,500 participants. A minimum donation of $10 is requested. Once registered, donors can send recruiting e-mails and track their progress via the "Participant Center" page.

All money raised through the online drive will go toward research by the Children's Oncology Group, a network of physicians, nurses, and scientists who treat 90 percent of North American children with cancer.

To sign-up as a Virtual Walk corporate sponsor and be a part of a united national effort, call Sally Charney at 240-235-2205. To get more information, visit the Web site at CureSearch.org/12500. You may also visit QSR's Charitable Giving portal or join QSR's walking team.

CureSearch also hopes to recruit corporate sponsors. Benefits to companies that participate include: logo placement on the Virtual Walk website, a national press release announcing the sponsorship, and a listing on CureSearch's "Companies that Care" Web site page and annual report. Additional opportunities to support CureSearch's efforts also exist. Past support of CureSearch by outside companies has included sponsorships, gifts, and support of community-based events like golf and tennis tournaments, 5K races, and black-tie galas.

"We can tailor the sponsorship opportunity or the level of engagement based on the interest of the corporation or business," explains Stacy Haller, executive director of CureSearch.

Sally Charney, director of public education at CureSearch, suggests several ways for restaurants to support Childhood Cancer Awareness Month on a local level. There is the canister campaign in which restaurants place donation boxes on counters or other prominent locales. Another idea is a round-up campaign, in which employees ask customers if they would like to round up their bills to the next whole dollar amount. The difference is given to CureSearch.

Potbelly Sandwich Works, Applebee's, and Millie's have each partnered with CureSearch. Last August, Potbelly celebrated its 30th anniversary by donating, through an in-store promotion, 30 percent of lunch sales at 32 of its locations in Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio. "Our mission at Potbelly is to partner with organizations that support families in the local communities where we do business," says Lyndsey Mirmelstein, senior marketing manager. "By working with CureSearch, we were really able to guarantee that the dollars raised in each of those individual markets actually benefited children with cancer and cancer research at hospitals in Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio." The Ohio effort alone raised over $38,000. "They were a great organization to work with," Mirmelstein says. "I think they really raise awareness and advocate for research for childhood cancer."

Applebee's and Millie's both used counter cards to advertise that the proceeds from designated desserts would go to CureSearch. They also implemented a payroll deduction system in which employees pledged specific amounts from their paychecks directly to CureSearch. "It's a way for employees to get more involved," Charney says.

If companies prefer to participate on a national level, CureSearch will work with them to "connect not only with us but with the 200 hospitals across the country," Haller says.

In the last 20 years, the Children's Oncology Group's accomplishments include the enrollment of 32,200 children with cancer in clinical trials, the improvement in cure rates for Acute Leukemia, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, brain tumors, and Wilms' tumor, and the addition of more than 25,000 childhood cancer survivors and nearly 2,000,000 person years of productive life. According to Haller, 40 years ago a child with cancer had a survival rate of only 0 to ten percent. Now, thanks to these advances, that percentage has jumped to 78 percent.

"Get involved, give us a call," Haller urges. "There's no better investment than saving the life of a child."

Mary Fletcher King