On Target for Hope – Recap from One Million Strong in Minnesota


Survivor Eric Powell threw the first pitch at the game. A lifelong Twins fan, it was an incredibly meaningful moment.

by Danielle Burgess, Dir. of Communications

Even a week after the One Million Strong event in Minnesota, I find myself getting goosebumps as the photos from my phone slowly upload to the Flickr account.

Memories of children and their parents lighting up when country star and Fight CRC National Spokesman Craig Campbell walks into their hotel room to sing a few songs and offer autographs.

Memories of watching our “super volunteers” Pam, Ed & Patti roll up their sleeves and make the burden of a jam-packed, two-day event seem light, and the chaos that accompanies any on-site activity seem calm.

Memories of meeting new friends at Colon Cancer Coalition and seeing their community come together for a cause.


A group of survivors and advocates marched on the field as Craig sang and Eric threw the first pitch.

Memories of watching our advocates proudly march onto the field, locking arms with our sponsors from Bayer and Exact Sciences who became ‘one of the gang’ as they traveled to the Twins Cities to join us.

And memories of watching my friend, fellow Colondar model and advocate Eric Powell toss out the first pitch with his eyes swelling as he held back tears. Lucky for us, video captured the magnitude of what that moment meant for him and displayed it on the Jumbotron for the entire stadium to see. Although it was a great two days – that was my favorite memory.

One Million Strong Teams up with Pitch for Prevention

prostate-cancer-colon-cancer-awarenessMinneapolis proved to be a great place for our final stop of the One Million Strong March in 2014. We kicked off in New York City, traveled coast-to-coast to Portland, Ore. and ended the series in the Midwest – in the home of the Twins and the backyard of the #1 ranked hospital in the country – Mayo Clinic.

It’s thanks to Mayo’s Dr. Paul Limburg and his passion not only for baseball, but colorectal cancer, that last week’s series of awareness events occurred. Prostate cancer group Ed Randall’s Fans for the Cure came on board to join us and together, our three organizations formed Pitch for Prevention.

This unique baseball-themed campaign wasn’t only fun, it was a first. Prostate and colorectal cancer teamed up and raised a great deal of awareness as the Twins played the Cleveland Indians last week. Our presence at the stadium and on social media reached over 1 million people.

But we didn’t just reach baseball fans with awareness – we reached them with hope.

A Hope-Filled Event


Stage IV survivor Chris Heffelbower shared her story during a live-streamed webcast – watch the archive at PitchforPrevention.com.

As I reflect over what last week meant to our community, I can’t help but be encouraged by the hope that we shared through our events. Sure – we travel around the country to raise awareness about cancer prevention and early detection. And I’m certain that throughout the course of two days between our on-site presence, giveaways, live-stream, media coverage and social media accounts – we certainly raised awareness and I would hope that someone will now go get screened.

But in addition to that awareness – we also raised hope. And that’s what sticks with me as I watch the photos upload one-by-one and think back to what happened last week.

Stage IV survivor and advocate Chris Heffelbower didn’t just raise awareness as she shared her story on Sunday night at our fundraiser and Monday at our live-stream – she encouraged all patients out there who also fight late-stage disease that there is hope through a grave diagnosis.

Eric’s journey out to the mound on Monday didn’t just show the stadium a man who loved the Twins and survived cancer – it showed them the bravery of a man who’d survived cancer and was now thriving despite it.

Our group of survivors, caregivers and other advocates who waved fans and dressed in Pitch for Prevention t-shirts showed a stadium crowd that not only should you be screened – but that in the event cancer does come your way, it’s OK to smile and get excited.


Country star and Fight CRC National Spokesman Craig Campbell visited children and patients at Mayo Clinic as part of the two-day awareness event

Craig Campbell walking through Mayo Clinic and sharing about how he lost his daddy to colon cancer didn’t just stress the importance of screening to Mayo Clinic patients – it showed that even when you do face a loss, you can still have a purpose through it.

We Are One Million Strong

I love that our campaign of One Million Strong isn’t just set on awareness – it’s also a display of strength. Everywhere we go in hopes of raising awareness, we also meet amazing survivors and loved ones who carry the strength that it takes to face a diagnosis and fight cancer.

I’m happy to see our community continuing to spread awareness and share our stories with the goal of saving lives. It just makes me smile a little bit wider when I think of the hope that’s accompanying every event that we plan, every bracelet that we give away and every photo that we post.


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