What Giving Tuesday Means to Us

It’s the time of year where we celebrate over-indulging. Whether it’s having too much turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving, heading out to one too many sales on Black Friday, or filling up your online Shopping Cart with a few more items than you planned on Cyber Monday, the past week has been all about doing more than you normally would. The beauty of it is that after nearly a week of doing too much, Giving Tuesday allows you the opportunity to give something back.

Giving Tuesday is the unofficial kick-off to the holiday giving season, and the numbers show that many of us are diving in head first! According to GivingTuesday.org, last year, over $116.7 million was raised, with over 700,000 donors giving over $1.08 million in online gifts, across 71 countries. Not only are people donating, but they are talking about it as well. There were over 1.3 million mentions of #GivingTuesday across social media last year.

I know I speak for the entire team here at the V Foundation when I say that Giving Tuesday just makes you feel good. With so much negativity in the news these days, it’s really nice to have an entire day dedicated to helping others. There are many uplifting stories shared and some terrific social media campaigns to get fans involved with specific causes, making you feel like all of the world is rallying together to do some good.

If you’d like to help us fund groundbreaking cancer research, please consider a donation.

Donate Now

One in a Million

We often use the phrase “everyone is touched by cancer.” Most of the time, no one disagrees with that statement. In fact, 95% of the staff at The V Foundation for Cancer Research have either faced cancer personally or have a loved one who has faced cancer. Defeating cancer is our cause, partly because we all know someone in the fight.

Dave Rickert

Not Dave Rickert.

Rickert has not faced cancer personally, nor does he have a loved one facing cancer. He simply wants to help people.

Rickert, President of BroadData Conferencing in Louisville, Kentucky, has been in the telecommunications business for more than 20 years, and he provides conferencing services to customers in all 50 states as well as internationally. He loves the diversity his job provides and the opportunity to interact with businesses all over the world. Five years ago, he decided to give back to a cause that affects people throughout the world by providing an in-kind donation to The V Foundation. An in-kind donation is a gift of a good or service. It’s one of many options available to support our cause, and it’s just one of the ways that Rickert has chosen to help our mission.

“My search started back in early 2009,” Rickert said. “Back at that time, I was looking for things to do through the business to help an organization. I’m a basketball nut. It was a good fit. The V Foundation was very receptive to working together. Everyone I talked to there has been very warm and receptive, and I think that made it easier to start helping.”

The V Foundation has found its one-in-a-million supporter – someone untouched by cancer but eager to fight it nonetheless. After a few years, Rickert decided to bring another weapon to the battle – a pledge of a recurring gift.

“Monthly giving came a little later, as I learned more,” he explained. “I got feedback [from the Foundation] that [they] really appreciated it, and it was helpful. And, that led me to do more. The 100 percent donation [that goes to fund research] was an aspect I liked. Also, every time I interacted with someone in the organization, everyone was always so kind and warm.”

You are no doubt reading this because you have an interest in stopping cancer. Maybe you’ve lost someone. Maybe you are just starting your fight. Or, maybe you’re here because you just want to help. Whatever the reason, The V Foundation thanks you for your support and encourages you to do what you can in the war against cancer. No matter how you give or how much you give, the result is the same. We will continue to use 100 percent of your donations to fund life-saving cancer research.

One day, we hope to say there are more people like Dave Rickert around. We’d like to see all of you reading this, not because you are touched by cancer but simply because you want to help others.

To make your own monthly giving commitment, please visit our Donation Page, and select the ‘repeat this gift every month’ option. If you would like to consider an in-kind donation, please contact our office at 919-380-9505.


Donate to The V Foundation

BroadData Conferencing

How Hooters Helped Save My Life

Article by Jan-Marie Merrill

Jan-Marie Merrill Headshot











Over the last decade, Hooters has proudly raised nearly $2 million for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Much of it was raised in honor of the late Kelly Jo Dowd, one of the original Hooters Girls, who valiantly battled breast cancer for five years before she succumbed in 2007. Funds help to further important scientific cancer research and Kelly Jo’s mission to educate all women about the importance of early breast cancer detection and treatment.


It’s quite easy for some people to dismiss Hooters as ‘that’ restaurant. You know … the restaurant where scantily clad girls serve beer and chicken wings. The concept – still the original, still the standard – unfortunately has received more than its share of vulgarized misconceptions and perverse misinterpretations. I am, however, always happy and filled with pride to dispel such misgivings.

Since its inception in 1983, and despite the qualms of naysayers and cynics alike, Hooters remains one of the most popular, recognizable, successful restaurant chains still standing today.

I began my new wing-slinging career with the freshness and timidity expected from a neophyte. But, at 29 years old, I had one little life-changing secret: nine years prior, I had been diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer.

When I had my initial diagnosis at the age of 20, I was told that my cancer was unusual but not impossible. An enlarged breast and subsequent lumpectomy revealed five malignant lumps, infected surrounding cells and something my oncologists referred to as Stage 1. Naturally, at 20, I felt I had been issued a death sentence. I even prepared a will.

In the year following my diagnosis, I begrudgingly agreed to undergo radiation therapy. Due to my young age, I was deemed an unsuitable candidate for surgery, so a mastectomy wasn’t even an option to consider. When radiation produced little to no change, I then agreed to undergo the more effective solution of chemotherapy.

For several months thereafter, I went without a single health concern – not even a runny nose. No cancer, no chemo and no worries – that is, until 2001, when a routine check-up exposed that my cancer had not only returned more aggressively, but it was mutative and metastatic. I underwent treatment for more than a year.

In 2005, I had an emergency hysterectomy due to complications caused by the estrogen that was inexplicably produced by receptive cancer cells in my body. Approximately one year later, I suffered another recurrence. Once again, I grew painfully aware that my life would most likely revolve around this dreadful curse of a disease forever. My life would revolve around my imminent fight for survival … forever. At Stage 3, with the presence of cancer cells in my lymphatic system, I vigorously attended my treatments, not out of logic or choice but out of necessity. Without seeming trite, I experienced the entire array of predictable side effects: the moodiness, the nausea, the mouth sores, the lack of appetite, the indescribable aches and pains, and my least favorite: the chronic insomnia.

A lot of time passed between my initial diagnosis and starting at Hooters. I had dealt with several transitions in my life – from purchasing a home, earning my master’s degree and acquiring my pilot’s license to getting divorced and basically starting over on my own.

I slowly began to open up to my superiors and coworkers about my illness and treatments, and my Hooters family embraced me. Although Hooters may be one of the unlikeliest places to find such an unshakable support system, I have learned more from them than they can ever learn from me. From my management team to every one of my fellow orange-shorted sisters, there is no gratitude sufficient or worthy enough to describe what I received from them: acceptance through understanding.

By the time 2009 rolled around, I was in Hooters Heaven. Freshly promoted to Regional Training Coordinator, I was surrounded by the same managers and mentors that I had respected and admired for so long, and I was loving every second of it! Nearly six weeks after I completed my training, I was involved in an unfortunate car accident that resulted in ruptured discs in my spine and some seizure-related head trauma. Much to my dismay, I had to take a mandatory medical leave of absence from Hooters. After my initial breast cancer diagnosis, this was the most devastating news I had ever received.

A routine MRI and evaluation a month later revealed that my cancer cell count was ‘off.’ The results were inconclusive, but my doctors were certain of one thing: if I suffered another recurrence, my survival rate would undoubtedly diminish. Dismay turned into defeat. Sadness turned into depression, and hopefulness turned into helplessness. I felt like nothing mattered. I even considered not returning to therapy. After all, I felt my best when I didn’t go to therapy. When I was at Hooters working with my peers and socializing with my guests, I was inarguably at my best. So I’ve been told. So I believe.

After much deliberation, I reluctantly decided to heed the advice of my cancer care team and begin another round of chemotherapy, though primarily on a preventative basis. My cancer cell count eventually became manageable, and I was able to downgrade to oral treatments along with supplemental injections. My management team at Hooters agreed to rehire me after a year-long hiatus, with suitable doctor’s orders and shorter shifts.

To acknowledge that my colleagues at Hooters have been supportive and accommodating would be a gross understatement, and I am forever indebted. I’ve had the esteemed privilege to work among the best and brightest in the business, and I have experienced countless opportunities to cultivate relationships which, I feel, have been paramount to my recovery.

Today, I am still undergoing preventative chemotherapy and mandatory evaluations to maintain my physical, mental and psychological health. Most recently, it was discovered that I have a lobular tumor on my brain, so I am taking precautions to manage that as well. I have lost both my parents to cancer in the past three years, and because I carry the same mutative genes that they had, I’ll never fully be in remission or completely cancer-free.

My history with this awful disease has been painfully unpleasant and, at times, seemingly unbearable. I may never be rid of it, but I intend to never lose sight of my goal: to endure. For as long as there are researchers and clinical trials, foundations and fundraisers, there will always be hope. And, as long as I have Hooters, I will never lose that hope.


Donate to The V Foundation for Cancer Research

Support Our Hooters

Jimmy V’s Osteria & Bar: Amazing Food, Atmosphere & Cause!

If you are a Raleigh-Cary native, you may have noticed the new hot spot downtown at the Sheraton. If you aren’t in the area- you need to mark down this restaurant as a MUST stop when you come by.

The hot spot that I am talking about is Jimmy V’s Osteria and Bar. Tonight is the grand opening celebration, and in case you can’t make it- I’m going to make you a bit jealous right now.

JimmyV2First- let’s talk about the INCREDIBLE food that the restaurant has. My favorite dish was the Bourbon barbeque pulled chicken. The slaw that was on the sandwich is a Chef Scott original recipe, and it is amazing. The sandwich comes with the restaurant’s special chips.

There is also a great grilled cheese and tomato soup option. There are three different types of cheeses and it’s a delicious item for lunch. You can see more of the tasty food options at the Jimmy V’s Osteria and Bar’s Facebook or Instagram.JimmyV1

Second- the quote wall. You know all of those sports quotes that you love to say- over and over again. The restaurant has a wall for that. I spent at least ten minutes staring at it. Leave us a comment with your favorite sports quote!

Finally- Jimmy V’s Osteria and Bar will donate 2.5% of its revenue to fund cutting-edge cancer research through The V Foundation.

That’s right – amazing foor, amazing atmosphere and supporting an amazing cause.

Just think when you order that dessert – you are helping the cause, too!Smore3

Where we started, where we are, and where we want to be: 20th Anniversary Book

It is hard to believe that is has been 20 years since Valvano took the stage at the ESPYsand announced the formation of The V Foundation. The people who watched the speech first-hand often remark that the time has flown by. Indeed it has. But it is important to remember exactly what has happened in these past 20 years. The V Foundation has created a 20th Anniversary book that represents where we started, where we are, and where we want to be.

The book highlights how the idea of the Foundation came to be and shares stories from Jim’s closest friends.  Friends like Mike Krzyzewski comment, “Jimmy formed The V Foundation during the last couple months of his life. We would laugh, joke and cry at the hospital together. One night he said, “I want to try to fund cancer research; I want you to be on my team!” He recruited me during that time. His wisdom and his ability to think beyond his life was incredible.” 

One of my favorite pages is the one that asks some of Board of Directors what they think Jim would say about the Foundation. They almost all agree that he would say, “You’re not doing enough! Raise more money!” Well lucky for us, we feel the same way and continue to try our best to fund even more researchers.

The V Foundation had a humble beginning. Much of what we started with remains today. Our Board of Directors contains the same team Jim recruited and we have had added even more supporters. From funding our first researchers, The V Foundation can happily say that our $100 million investment in researchers has leveraged more than $1 billion in additional funding.  In 2012, we awarded $14.6 million in grants compared to the $229,000 we were able to give in 1995.Slide for Anniversary Book

Although The V Foundation has had a successful past 20 years, we are hoping that the next can bring even more success. We want to be able to fund more researchers, and gain more supporters. We need the Valvano’s generation to Pass The V. The concept is simple- the feelings people experienced while watching the speech were unparalleled. We need those supporters to pass the feeling and the message of Jim Valvano to the next generation. In order to keep the success we have, we need Jim’s story, mission, and goal to transpire far into the future.

Many pages of the book will draw your attention- reading some of the stories may even make you cry. However, I want everyone to take a look at one of the last pages titled a world without cancer. A world without cancer will be the ultimate victory for Valvano and The V Foundation team.

We know that Jim would be proud of all that his Foundation has achieved. And he would be happy to know that we are not giving up. Perhaps the speech that resonates close with everyone is when Jim said, “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week; you’re going to have something special. ” We encourage everyone to do that each day. In many ways, the Foundation that bears Jim’s name brings these words to life.

Check out the book here.  

A message from Greeny

Greenberg Author PhotoIn the fall of 2002, I took a day off from work to be with my daughter, then not quite two, on what I viewed as the most important day of her life. Her first day of school. It was a two’s program, ninety minutes per day, three days per week, but to me it felt like she was going off to college.

My wife Stacy was hugely pregnant at the time, and so was another of the moms we met at the school, and the two of them immediately gravitated to each other in the way that all hugely pregnant women tend to. That mom was named Heidi Armitage.

In the ensuing seven years, Heidi became one of Stacy’s closest friends in the world, and our families became extremely close as well. We traveled together, our kids took swimming lessons together, we had more dinners and more laughs than I could ever count.

Early in 2009, Heidi began complaining of pain in her back. There wasn’t any alarm, more a nuisance than anything else. Physical therapy didn’t help, neither did a chiropractor. Finally, a doctor recommended they perform a cat scan, just to be on the safe side. You don’t want to know what happened next.

Heidi died on September 30th, 2009, leaving behind two wonderful kids, a devoted husband, and a community of people she touched with her warmth, humor and overall pizazz. It is Stacy’s and my great honor to donate one hundred per cent of the author’s proceeds from “All You Could Ask For” to our friends at The V Foundation, in the hope that someday stories like this one will have markedly happier endings.

 Thank you for your support.



Greeny and his wife, Stacy, will be hosting a “Book Talk” on Google + on April 23rd and are looking for participants! Check out here on how to enter. 

Day of Giving with Jersey Mike’s!

jm_charity_kit_sp_dayofgivingCorporate philanthropy is a blooming trend; social responsibility makes the customer happy, which makes the company happy.  Companies often donate 5, 10, 25 percent of sales during a given time period and all parties are pleased.  But how many companies can claim they donate 100% of sales to charity? That’s right, 100%.

Jersey Mike’s Subs can.

Jersey Mike’s Subs will host its annual “Day of Giving” on Wednesday, March 27 and donate all revenue earned on this day to a variety of charities across the nation.

All 24 Jersey Mike’s restaurants in the Triangle area will donate specifically to The V Foundation for Cancer Research.  Jersey Mike’s stores in Durham, Chapel Hill, Apex, Cary, Raleigh, Wake Forest, Fuquay-Varina and Garner have spent March, the “Month of Giving” supporting the Foundation in its efforts to fund cancer research and carry on Jim Valvano’s message of hope and perseverance.

So, grab a group of your friends or co-workers and buy a sub on Wednesday (we love the original Italian). Even better, add chips and a drink. It all goes to charity- no matter where you live.

Since 2010, Jersey Mike’s has donated more than $5 million to local charities.  The V Foundation is honored to be a recipient of the company’s unyielding generosity and support.

We can’t wait for the March 27 “Day of Giving” and only hope we can give back to the community as much as we’ve received.

Stores supporting The V Foundation: 


Wakefield Commons Shopping Center
14460-113 New Falls of the Neuse Road
Raleigh, NC 27614

Lake Pine Plaza
922 Highway 64 
Apex, NC 27502

2345 Timber Drive
Garner, NC 27529

245A S. Elliott Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

2945 South Miami Blvd
Durham, NC 27703

106-1 Bratton Drive
Garner, NC 27529

McCullers Crossing
7949 Fayetteville Road
Raleigh, NC 27603

North Ridge Shopping Center
6176 Falls of Neuse Road
Raleigh, NC 27609

Preston Corners
957 High House Road
Cary, NC 27513

1121-105 Falls River Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27614

Cary Village Sqaure
701 Cary Towne Blvd.
Cary, NC 27511

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280 Meeting Street
Cary, NC 27518

Millpond Village
3490 Kildare Farm Road
Cary, NC 27511

Mini City
4542 Capital Boulevard          
Raleigh, NC  27604

1761 Highway 55  Peak Plaza
Apex, NC 27523

3600 North Duke Street
Durham, NC 27704

Wilders Grove Shopping Center
4121-101 New Bern Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27610

Holly Park
3088 Wake Forest Road  
Raleigh, NC 27609

701-A N. Main St.
Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526

Duraleigh Center
5910-119 Duraleigh Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27612

200 West Peace Street
Raleigh, NC 27603

962D Airport Boulevard
Morrisville, NC 27560

Brennan Station
8111 Creedmoor Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27613


The Number 1 Question

EML13_PTR_OPEN_JIMVDay by day, week by week, I get the same question on Twitter and Facebook. 

And it’s not what you think. It’s not about research or basketball. It’s not about how much fun it is to work at The V Foundation or how I constantly come up with funny jokes for the blog (Don’t laugh too hard!)

Nope- it’s about the swag. Yep, t-shirts, wristbands, hats, etc. is what everyone wants to know about. Normally, my answer is not very fun. 

But today it is. 

We are excited to announce The V Foundation online shop! At the moment we have a few different t-shirt designts but in the upcoming months, there will be more cool items. 

Now, if you are still reading and haven’t already left for the store, take a second and let me know in the comments what item you want to see in the store. Let us know so that we can get to work on filling our online store with tons of cool swag. 

Finally we can move from this question and start talking about other things. Like basketball and cancer research. 

Our 20th Anniversary…Starts today!

Normally when someone is celebrating their 20th what is really being celebrated is the countdown to 21.

That’s not the case with us. We are going to celebrate our 20th anniversary…all year long.

We are going to talk about what it’s like to be 20. The amazing things that have happened in cancer research since 1993. Inspiring people who have helped us in many ways throughout the past 20 years.20Years_Logo

Today is not the only day we are going to celebrate- it just marks the beginning.

The question really is…are you going to join us? Here’s how to be a part of the 20th anniversary celebration all year long:

“Pass the V” Take the pledge. Tell your friends, family & community to take the pledge. Help us pass the message of The V Foundation. #PassTheV

Make some noise. Our Thunderclap goes out tonight at 7:30 p.m. and there is still time to join us. If you are confused about the Thunderclap, check our how-to video here.

Give us a gift. Yes, I know it’s not proper etiquette to ask for gifts- but we put the money to good use. (See above!)

Visit Often.  Come back on the 20th of each month to see new YouTube videos, Facebook features, Google + hangouts and more fun announcements about the 20th.

Meet the V Team. We are busy putting together our 20th anniversary V Team. Check back on March 20th and meet our team.

As you can see, there is a lot to do this year. And what better time to kick it off than in March?

What are you waiting for…Start celebrating! 

In this case: V is for Victory!

It’s that time of year again when we  reflect on those special people who have impacted our lives  in a meaningful way.

Back in March of 2006, I went into the hospital for a fairly straightforward biopsy procedure.

When I awoke from the anesthesia, I saw my wife (Kathleen)  crying as she had already learned what I was soon to hear……that despite not having any symptoms at the time,  I was deemed to  have Metastatic Melanoma and was classified as being Stage IV.

Thanks to Dr. Joe Moore (Duke Doctor and fellow The V Foundation Board Member), I was able to get  examined quickly  at the Duke Cancer Center where biopsy results  confirmed that I had 30 tumors in my liver.  The prognosis was not good as I was given 11 months to live and was advised, “go home and get my financial affairs in order”.

However, thanks to my  determined wife and my nurses and doctors at Duke  who would not let me “give up”, we began an 8 month treatment ordeal which was the most arduous  thing I have ever experienced.

I don’t think I would have survived if it hadn’t been for Kathleen’s dedication, determination and care-giving  skills as well as the daily visits by Dr. Moore and Nick/Karen Valvano.

As  you consider whether or not  to contribute to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, please know that every dollar you contribute brings us one step closer to a finding a cure.

The IL-2 (Interleukin 2) drug I utilized  didn’t exist but a few short years ago.   Thanks to ongoing  cancer research, the IL-2 was available when I really  needed it most.

You want to know what happiness really looks like?   Here’s a picture of Kathleen and me in front of the Duke Cancer Center on the day I was discharged having just been told I was in remission.



Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all.

Harry Rhoads, Jr.
4-time cancer survivor and
The V Foundation Board Member