Dedicated to helping kids with cancer and their families, the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation honors the memory of a 14-year-old athlete and straight-A student at Salesianum School in Wilmington.
In 2007, Andrew went into cardiac arrest, just 48 hours after competing in a soccer tournament. His diagnosis was leukemia. After a 167-day battle with the disease and sepsis, he died.
Andrew’s illness inspired thousands of friends and families to unite in an effort to eradicate leukemia and other childhood cancers. Andrew’s blood type was B+, a constant reminder to “Be Positive.”
“We are the ultimate grassroots organization, kids helping kids,” says Andrew’s father, Joe McDonough.
He established the foundation with Andrew’s mother, Chris, and older sister, Ali. So far, the organization has donated more than $1.2 million to support families impacted by childhood cancer and nearly $1 million to research. In 2013, B+ helped 1,250 families at 210 hospitals across the nation.
“There are children who are alive today because of the research we helped to support,” McDonough says.
The foundation is a member of the Alliance for Childhood Cancer and has three goals:
Provide financial and emotional support to families of children with cancer.
Fund childhood cancer research in search of cures and advancements in chemotherapy.
Spread the B+ message and help others to “Live Like Andrew.” That means to set goals and try your best, show affection, and be comfortable with yourself. Thousands of supporters spread the message every day by wearing B+ gear.
There are 12 major childhood cancers, yet only 3 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s budget is dedicated each year to researching these diseases. Every school day, 46 kids in America are diagnosed with cancer. Despite advances in treatment, cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease in children and teenagers.
Through the B+ Hero program, the organization honors kids who are battling cancer, as well as their siblings. Whenever possible, Andrew’s dad visits children in the hospital to present the medal in person, along with B+ gear.
Heroes also are encouraged to participate in B+ events when they are feeling better. Some of their activities include:
Recognition at the B+ 5K.
Partnering with a college organization for an annual campus fundraiser.
Pairing with a high school basketball team for the Diamond State Classic Tournament, a competition of teams from Delaware and other states that benefits the B+ Foundation.
Children are some of the organization’s most effective supporters. B+ recently received a check for $10,000 from kids at St. John the Beloved School in Wilmington. Four girls at Ursuline Academy asked friends and relatives to donate money to B+ rather than buy birthday gifts for them. A 6-year-old boy asked his pastor if he could host a family game night at church; he raised $1,801 for the foundation.
“When we receive support from children it energizes me,” McDonough says.
In addition to raising money, Best of Delaware and other high-profile events put B+ and its life-affirming mission in the spotlight.
“Raising awareness of childhood cancer is equally important to raising money,” he says. (bepositive.org)