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Eli Lilly and Company Supports Cancer Research at the Sports Humanitarian Awards

ESPN created the Sports Humanitarian Awards to honor extraordinary athletes and teams who have a positive impact on society through their actions. It is deeply inspirational to attend this gathering of so many men and women of sport who remind us of the great good that surrounds us. One after another, their stories, programs and accomplishments show grit, courage and heart.

When the awards began, ESPN President John Skipper noted, “The Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award honorees are improving lives of many around the world.” Early in the history of the awards, our friends at Eli Lilly and Company stepped up to be a major sponsor. It is fitting – as I feel as if these words also describe Lilly as a company. They are improving many lives around the world by developing medicines for so many of the ills that befall us all.

I remember being first introduced to Lilly Oncology in two ways – through the vast research program that was seeking to extend and improve lives, and through “Lilly Oncology on Canvas.” The former led to breakthrough therapies while the latter has been an ongoing refuge for creativity, caregiving and survivorship. It shows the winning drive, which will help us all beat cancer, and the heart that will line the journey with compassion.

Beyond being a terrible and life-threatening disease, cancer is also extremely complex. It impacts each patient differently and the genetic mutations that drive tumors have strong variations. We need a stronger flow of information about the issues impacting people living with cancer every day, including early detection, lifestyle challenges, quality of community care and, of course, reliable and continuous access. Our partnership with Lilly is built on this premise. Through our work together, we want to better understand the complexity of living with cancer.

We all have a part to play in defeating cancer. That’s why we believe an obstacle as pressing and urgent as cancer can only be addressed through collaboration and partnership.

Another parallel that I find so compelling is the charitable purpose of the Sports Humanitarian Awards and the shared vision with Lilly. In 2015, the sports community grieved the loss of one of its all-time favorites, Stuart Scott. Scott died young of a rare cancer. His life with cancer, and his gracious words shortly before passing, continue to be a source of inspiration and strength for millions. It is fitting that the Sports Humanitarian Awards benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at the V Foundation. The Fund provides research grants both for teams of scientists working to better understand the biological reasons that some cancers are more aggressive or fatal among minority populations, and for young minority scientists who are dedicated to cancer research. Again, Lilly embraced this cause and stepped up to partner with the V Foundation in our efforts to fight disparities in cancer.

All of us at the V Foundation cherish our partnership with Eli Lilly and Company and thank them heart to heart. We all have a part to play in defeating cancer. That’s why we believe an obstacle as pressing and urgent as cancer can only be addressed through collaboration and partnership.