NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano talks to his team during a time out in the 1985 season. © Roger W Winstead

Why We Do This

Throughout 2016, The V Foundation staff will share the reasons they believe in what the Foundation stands for and provide some background on why working here matters. Why do we do what we do?

By Mick McDonald, Digital Media Specialist

Growing up, college basketball was a staple in my family. We watched it together, talked about it constantly and, for several years, even made our family vacation a trip to the ACC Tournament. To me, Jimmy V Week always felt like the true kickoff to the season. I watched Jim Valvano’s speech with my family so many times, we could basically recite it line by line. The Vince Lombardi story made us laugh; Jim’s message to “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up!”® made us think; and the realization that he passed so soon afterwards made us cry. So, according to Jim, anytime we watched his speech meant we had a heck of a day.

Like nearly everyone else, my life has been affected by cancer. When I was just 10, my grandmother passed away from pancreatic cancer. What hit me the hardest as a kid was how quickly it all happened. Within a span of a few months, she had been diagnosed and then was gone. I couldn’t understand how someone so important in my life could just be taken away. It hit close to home again during my first job out of college, working for the Baltimore Orioles. My boss, who had given me my first job, was diagnosed with lung cancer. I watched her fight, with many ups and downs, until she passed early in 2014. The feeling that hit me wasn’t unlike the one I had felt as a child: How can this be? There has to be a way to end this disease, which affects all of us in one way or another.

I’m one of the newest employees at The V Foundation, having just started at the beginning of 2016. The first thing I noticed after being here just a few days was the passion the people in this building have. Everyone here doesn’t just want to end cancer; they truly believe the work we do day in and day out is helping make that goal more of a reality. That passion is contagious. As I’ve learned more about the Foundation and become more involved, I can see why they feel that way. The stories we hear, the people we talk to and the amazing research that comes from Foundation grants make it impossible not to feel like the needle is moving. I, like Jim back in 1993, am confident cancer research funded by The V Foundation could save someone I love.