Rally Foundation’s Mission to Defeat Pediatric Cancer: 
An All Around Team Effort

John Tabellione

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

In 2005 CEO Dean Crowe founded the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research. Admittedly, she had little inkling back then that her simple, but sincere offer to help the family of a cancer-stricken young boy named William on her husband’s baseball team would result in a national fund-raising organization for pediatric cancer research. Nor could she have envisioned that this non-profit enterprise would raise over $9 million within the first 10 years.

Crowe was part of a prayer circle that prayed for William. This circle, other friends and associates, introduced Crowe to a PR expert as well as a designer, a helpful accountant, a website designer and a legal expert who helped her set up 501(c)(3) charity. Eventually, she would hire a small, but dedicated crew of employees.

Dean’s circle also introduced her to professional athletes. What better way for someone to start a philanthropic endeavor than with a professional baseball player as a pitchman: Hall of Famer, Tom Glavine. From there, Crowe went on to hit a home run when another then-Atlanta Braves player, All-Star Brian McCann, stepped up to the plate and became Rally’s national spokesman. MLB player Kris Medlin also stepped up in support of Rally and current and former NFL stars, such as Atlanta Falcons’ Vic Beasley, Curtis Lofton, Corey Peters and others have added even more strength to the team with their appearances and participation in Rally’s programs and events. 

The real stars and heroes, however, are the children who have not only bravely fought their personal battles with cancer, but who have also put on their “rally caps.” Many of them participate in, and even lead, programs and special fund-raising events. For example, recently, 13-year old Matthew McMahon of Woodstock successfully made a prepared speech to the Cherokee County School Board. As a result, Rally has become an endorsed partner in education with Cherokee County, permitting schools to raise funds for the organization through the Rally 4 Quarters 4 Research, a loose change collection program.

Alarming statistics on childhood cancer make a compelling case on the necessity of strong teamwork. Crowe notes, “Each school day 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer, the No. 1 disease killer of children in the U.S. Furthermore, medical research of childhood cancer is severely underfunded: less than 4% of federal funding goes to research cures for pediatric cancer. That’s why Rally exists: to fund the research our children need—research that focuses on their specific cancer types which are different than adult cancers.” 

The foundation offers research grants to applicants from around the country’s prestigious cancer laboratories. The Rally Medical Advisory Board consists of several top childhood cancer researchers throughout the United States and Canada. Utilizing a dual peer review process, Rally makes its national grant selections from the highest scoring applications.

“We’ve contributed to over 217 childhood cancer research projects nationally. Several direct success stories can be attributed to these grants we’ve made at places like MD Anderson, University of Alabama, City of Hope, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.”  

Crowe proudly adds that Rally delivers 94 cents out of every dollar to research. The non-profit has received the Independent Charity Seal of Excellence as well as the highest available ranking from GuideStar charity ranking service.

As for the actual fund-raising process, Rally’s unique culture is able to utilize a combination of grass roots events, such as road races, garage sales and rock concerts. The foundation also employs its unique change collection fund-raiser, 4 Quarters 4 Research, in schools, businesses and community groups. “Over 300 schools in 10 states have used this easy fundraiser for childhood cancer research,” says Crowe.  

In addition, Rally welcomes corporate sponsorships, which have enabled Rally to grow by an average of 24% year over year. Rally also scores big when it promotes celebrity challenges, such as matching donations to home runs by McCann, or tackles made by Beasley. Successful annual events include Rally On the Runway and the Delta Double Play, which consists of the Benefit Bash gala and the Brian McCann Celebrity Softball Game.  

Recently, Crowe, the Rally Board of Directors and her staff found themselves in a totally new venue: taking the action to the big time in Washington, D.C. In a novel approach to raise awareness of childhood cancer, and to increase funding for researchers that Rally has been supporting, the foundation is spearheading a collaborative request for a $30 million budget from Congress for cancer research. This money falls under the Department of Defense’s $1 billion Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDRMP). 

Eighty-six percent of the active military are 39 years old or younger.  Ninety percent of the active military have children.  Yet currently, there is no line item in the CDRMP for young adult, adolescent or pediatric cancer research.  Crowe and her team are advocating to change this situation and are making progress. 

In summary, Crowe maintains, “We need such philanthropic increases to fund seed investors for the next great discovery.” 

Interested parties who wish to learn more, want to donate, volunteer or become a sponsor, can visit the Rally Foundation website (www.rallyfoundation.org) or Rally’s Facebook (www.facebook.com/rallyfoundation). Crowe may be directly contacted via email at [email protected].

About John Tabellione

John Tabellione is an award-winning, professional business writer, complemented by over twenty-five years of strategic communication responsibilities as a Marketing, New Business Development and National Account Sales Executive in consumer goods and commercial industries. 

Experience with Fortune 500 companies, as well as with smaller firms and non-profits, encompassing a variety of products, including those of Georgia-Pacific, Kimberly-Clark and Stanley Works. 

John has a B.A. in English from Fairfield University and an MBA in Marketing from the University of Hartford. In addition, he has studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute at Syracuse University, and Italian language and culture at Kennesaw State University.