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How Your Busted Bracket Can Still Be a Winner

The Cinderella stories. The buzzer beaters. The passion, the excitement and the pageantry. There is nothing quite like March, as college basketball takes center stage. And while it normally takes just one big upset to ruin your bracket, this year, you can make sure your busted bracket is still a winner. As you organize your bracket challenge this month, consider turning it into a fundraiser to support life-saving cancer research.

Tom Kelly had been running a bracket pool since 1986, but after watching Jim Valvano’s ESPYs speech in 1993, he decided to turn it into a fundraiser to raise money to support cancer research. It’s been an annual passion for Kelly, but it has become even more personal in recent years.

“I didn’t really have a personal connection to cancer when I started the fundraiser, but I do now. In the past three years, I’ve lost a family member to lung cancer,” said Kelly. “I’ve also had another, after a stage IV lung cancer diagnosis, go into remission after eight treatments. So, I’ve personally seen what can be achieved as a result of cancer research.”

After years of being inspired by Jim Valvano’s speech as a family, Melanie Schmitt never figured they’d have to face a similar path of losing a loved one far too soon. Instead, in March of 2017, her husband Mark was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. After he passed away last February, she decided she would start a fundraiser as a way to bring friends and family together for a wonderful cause.

“Mark loved college basketball and was always in charge of organizing bracket challenges for his work, friends and family,” said Schmitt. “He always wanted to be remembered as himself, not just for the disease, so I felt like this was a perfect fit.”

While it may seem like an overwhelming task, starting a fundraiser couldn’t be easier. The V Foundation’s team is here to help you along the way. Whether you’ve run a pool for years and want to turn it into a fundraiser, or are looking to start something new, every dollar you raise brings us closer to Victory Over Cancer®.

You can get started on creating your own fundraiser or reach out to our team for answers to any of your questions.