Make a Play to Defeat Cancer with Constellation Brands

Hall of Fame basketball coach Phil Jackson once said, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

At the V Foundation for Cancer Research, we are fortunate to have an extraordinary team that includes donors from across the country in addition to corporate partners that rally their networks to help us fund life-saving research.

Constellation Brands has partnered with the V Foundation for more than a decade, contributing more than $21 million in donations and marketing support since 2010. Each year, the efforts begin in March around the NCAA Tournament, with V Foundation themed marketing materials appearing on Constellation Beer displays around the country. The team also rallies a nationwide network of distributors (known as their Gold Network) to fundraise for the V Foundation. In fact, just last year, Constellation contributed more than $1.6 million in donations alone.

The partnership is personal to many on the Constellation Brands team. On January 2, 2020, it hit even closer to home for Constellation’s Midsouth Region General Manager Mark Rhodes.

Rhodes’ family were no strangers to cancer. His wife Debbie’s sister passed away at age 52 from colon cancer and a few years prior, she lost her best friend to brain cancer.

But that day changed everything. Debbie woke up in agonizing pain. It was the worst pain she had experienced since childbirth. She could not even make it to the car, so they called 911 and she was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. After some tests, Rhodes heard words he hadn’t even imagined: “We found a mass.”

It was cancer. Luckily, they had found it relatively early. After surgery and a few rounds of chemotherapy, Debbie was declared cancer free. And the pain she had experienced that day? A ruptured ovary that likely saved her life. An incredibly painful blessing, but a blessing all the same.

“She had no signs or symptoms before that day,” said Rhodes. “We would have never known if that hadn’t happened. We were very lucky.”

Rhodes has always been integral to Constellation’s efforts in fundraising for the V Foundation, but that experience made it even more personal.

“It’s always been amazing to me to see the support from our network that spreads across the country,” said Rhodes. “When we have meetings, it’s never a challenge to get all these different people from different backgrounds together to support a great cause. Everyone is generally excited to share their ideas and conversations about how they fundraise.”

The distributors from around the country all fundraise individually, whether that’s just garnering donations or running events like golf tournaments or raffles. For Constellation’s team, it’s like seeing a big family come together.

“That’s the beer business,” said Rhodes. “It’s a national network, but it feels like a tight family. I’ve been in meetings in Massachusetts and California, and everyone knows everyone. And the commitment to supporting cancer research is shared by everyone I talk to.”

Thanks to the support of partners like Constellation Brands, and their Gold Network of distributors, the V Foundation can continue to fund cutting-edge research that will save more lives.