Can Atheists Raise $1,000,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society?

You all remember the debacle when Todd Stiefel (along with the Foundation Beyond Belief) wanted to help raise up to $500,000 for the American Cancer Society?

In short, the ACS said they wanted nothing to do with atheist-tainted money.

Alright, fine. If the ACS doesn’t want the money, there’s no shortage of important causes and good organizations who would love to have our support. And if the ACS suffers as a result, I hope other, more welcoming cancer-fighting organizations step into the void.

Incidentally, I just got an email the other day that said this:

I’ve been a cancer survivor and supporter of the ACS for over ten years now. I’ve been an atheist for even longer and chose not to donate to the ACS rep that called this morning as a result of their attitude toward the FBB.

Anyway… enough about the ACS.

After exploring a lot of options and having many conversations, we think we’ve found one that’s worthy of your attention and deserving of our support.

The Foundation Beyond Belief is proud to announce that we would like to raise $1,000,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!

Our goal is to unite the Freethought Movement around the world to raise one million U.S. Dollars in 2012. This would make the FBB team the first team in LLS history to bring in more than $1,000,000 in their first year! In addition, we hope to have at least 100 local FBB teams in our first year.

How will we do it?

Every year, the LLS sponsors an event called Light the Night — an evening 2-3 mile walk taking place in the fall. Hundreds of these events take place nationwide and the Foundation Beyond Belief hopes to bring together many local teams. Your local team will be able to join up as an “FBB team” and our fundraising will all be pooled together. Unlike the ACS, the LLS includes us as a “Special Friend,” allowing teams to register under our label.

Each person who registers as a fundraiser with the FBB team receives their own online fundraising page whether they walk in a local LTN event or live on the other side of the world and want to help as a “virtual walker.”

Donations will provide lifesaving blood cancer research, free educational materials and events for patients and families, local programs, such as Family Support Groups and the Patti Robinson Kaufmann First Connection program, a peer-to-peer counseling program, and comprehensive, personalized assistance through the LLS Information Resource Center.

Philanthropist Todd Stiefel and his family have promised to match all fundraising up to $500,000! So if we can get halfway there, the Stiefels will take us the rest of the way home. This is an achievable goal and it would be the epitome of humanism in action. No god required. It’s people helping other people via science. Beautiful.

In case you need more of an incentive, the FBB will be walking in honor of Christopher Hitchens:

We have chosen Christopher Hitchens as our Honored Hero for 2012. Hitch died from complications due to esophogeal cancer this past year and devoted so much to our movement during his life; now we can give something back in his memory. Although he did not have a blood cancer, drugs developed for blood cancers are often used to treat other cancers as well. As a result, the research that is funded by LLS could very well help treat esophogeal and other cancers.

How can you help?

Start a local team! All the instructions are here — just be sure to put “FBB” at the end of your group’s name so we can track you.

Join a local team. I started one in Chicago, so if you’re in the area, please consider joining it!

Live outside the U.S. and Canada? No problem. Join the virtual team!

Just donate. You won’t even have to get out of your seat!

There’s even more incentive for joining up with a local team (hello, Chicagoans…): The top local teams will have the opportunity to direct up to $5,000 worth of grants! — half will go to a local 501(c)(3) freethought group and half will go to a FBB ally group (listed at the bottom of this page). Student groups are also in the running for $1000 grant of their own!

If you still have questions about all this, there’s an FAQ here.

I hope you’ll consider putting this event into your schedule and raising money for this good cause. Think of how wonderful it would be if atheists could raise $1,000,000 for cancer research — the fact that we’d be doing it as a large community makes this even sweeter.

This is going to be huge and we want you to be a part of it.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/todd.stiefel Todd Stiefel

    Hi everyone.  This is a really exciting opportunity for our movement.  Please join us in our effort to raise $1,000,000 in our first year as an LLS partner.  We are hoping to start a tradition with LLS that will raise many millions of dollars over the years, but we have to start big in 2012!  I would like to personally invite you to join our team.  

    Together we are going to hit this goal.

    Thanks,
    Todd Stiefel
    International Team Captain
    Foundation Beyond Belief Light The Night

  • Anonymous

    What a great article.  Thanks for bringing this to our attention.   I have not donated to ACS since that “debacle”.  It is nice to learn of a new place to donate in the fight against cancer.

  • Atheistdiva

    You almost had me until you decided to honor Hitchens.  No thanks.  This is one for the guys, not women atheists.  Have fun.  By the way, my dad died from leukemia.

    • Paige Jeffrey

      Hitchens is a hero for the atheist movement and recently died from cancer, so it seems appropriate to honour him for the first year. Maybe next year it’ll be a woman. Does that mean that men should skip out when a woman gets chosen?

      This isn’t about gender rights. This is about raising money for cancer research and promoting atheism for all people, not just men and not just women. Your comment disgusts me.

      Oh. And since you seem to feel it matters, I’m a woman who lost her dad to a brain tumour. Does that even make a difference? All cancer research is good research for all cancers.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Wow… That’s incredibly narrow minded of you…

      For what it’s worth, no money is going to Hitch (or his estate) in any way. And you don’t have to bow down to him or anything. But, you know, if that’s still a problem, have a nice life.

    • Anonymous

       That doesn’t make any sense.  Ok, you don’t like Hitchens, fine.  But how in the world is this “one for the guys, not women”??  So, you’re a misogynist who wants to exclude women?  Women aren’t good enough for this?  Women have their place and shouldn’t even consider getting involved in a “man’s domain”?

      • Atheistdiva

        As a woman, I do not respect Hitchens.  I have no interest in participating in something that honors him, so I won’t.  I’m just expressing an opinion, not attempting to disgust people.  I would never want to honor Hitchens in any way, not even if it supports a cause that my own father died from–that’s the point.   

    • Sulris Campbell

      i am not particularly a hitchens fan either, but i think you missing the point of whats going on here. 

      i donated, (not sure in whose name or what team, the site was a little confusing)
      then i donated again (to the virtual team, finally figured out the site)

      BTW, we are not mentioned as a special friend (does that sound dirty to anyone else?) on their main page…

      also their site is like a freaking maze,  they have buttons with the same names leading to different places, from the main page you can find 20 ways to donate but finding your team page to which you have already donated so that you can follow along with the progresss… not so much.  i had to come back to this site to find the links.

      I don’t actually know anyone who died of cancer… yay!

    • Atheistdiva

      Hitchens was a sexist jerk.  If some women like him, fine, but as a female, I’m not into honoring him.  My dad died of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, probably brought about by his exposure to benzene since he was a heavy equipment mechanic.  For the person who doesn’t think the environment can influence cancer, according to the latest scientific research, there’s one direct environmental toxin/leukemia correlation.   My dad never cared much about donating to cancer societies, leukemia societies, or hospices in his lifetime, so I don’t feel the need to donate just to make us, the atheists, look good.  It’s all artificial–wow, here’s a cause that will accept us, so please give.  Hitchens is NOT my hero.  For another woman’s perspective, check out Hazelton’s “eulogy” of Hitchens:  
      http://accidentaltheologist.com/2012/02/03/hazleton-on-hitchens/

  • Becky Shattuck

    I’d love to join if someone would be willing to start a team in Denver.  I’m a little overwhelmed with little ones and can’t spear the extra time to be team captain and be in charge of things like donations and such.  If someone is on the fence about starting a team, please do!  

  • http://twitter.com/CoboWowbo Cobo Wowbo

    I’ll just donate and maybe join a team if one is already set up near me. I gave my ACS intended donation to a local charity last year. This year (and the coming years) it will go to Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 

  • Lsautter

    This is an EXCELLENT use of FBB’s resources. There are way so many leukemia and lymphoma patients out there who need our help, many of them children.

    PS: I’m a cancer survivor myself, though it was a spinal sarcoma and not leukemia or lymphoma.

  • good without God in SW Va

    Just made a donation – Hope FBB reaches its goal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kiwidust Jim Davis

    Hey – cool.  I just got diagnose with NHL last year!  Well, that’s not “cool”… but this is.  Seems like breasts get all the attention (which I’m actually okay with, being a fan and all) so it’s nice to see L&L get some love.  Well – not “love” but you know what I mean.

    (Seriously tho’ – great move and absolutely thrilled to have you folks on “my side” in more ways than one.)

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    I’ll probably participate in this to some extent, but I wish the FBB had gone with with *preventing* cancer by supporting an environmental cause.  A less toxic world is good for all life forms, and doesn’t pad the pockets of big pharma.

    • Dan

      I’m glad they aren’t following your advice since, supporting psuedoscience isn’t a good idea. Cancer isn’t just caused by environmental ‘toxins’, and very often can not be prevented. Please read some real science about cancer.

  • Kat

    If you are thinking about donating and want to do it RIGHT NOW, please consider donating through my fundraising page: 
    http://pages.teamintraining.org/wa/vancouvr12/KatCheney

    I am training for a half-marathon in May and still need to meet my fundraising goal! Team-In-Training is an organization that helps runners train and also helps them fund-raise. All of our fundraising efforts result in your donation money going directly to LLS. As an atheist and long-time Friendly Atheist reader, I know this community can step up and help fight blood cancer!

  • Annie

    I am so excited about this partnership, and amazed at the generosity of the Stiefel Foundation.  This organization is near and dear to me, as my daughter was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia when she was nine months old.  At the time of her diagnosis, she was given about an 18% chance of survival.  Today, just twelve years later, the infantile leukemia survivor rate is past 50%… a huge accomplishment  which is the direct result of dedicated researchers and funding.

    For anyone who thinks that Christopher Hitchens is not a suitable honored hero, I would suggest you read the book, “Cure of Childhood Leukemia: Into the Age of Miracles” by John Lazzlo.  In this book, Lazzlo discusses how almost all of the chemotherapy agents used to fight cancer today have their origins in treating acute leukemias.  Supporting the LLS is supporting cancer research that many people benefit from, not just blood cancer patients.

    I will be happy to form a Foundation Beyond Belief team in my area. I have created a team in honor of my daughter several times.  For those of you considering creating a team, it is a very easy and hassle-free process… and the event is a lot of fun!

  • Annakmercer

    I don’t see anything on their website about it?  I see other sponsors and partner logos but not FBB.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      There’s a link in the post to a page listing us as a Special Friends group

    • http://www.facebook.com/todd.stiefel Todd Stiefel

      We are listed as a “Special Friend” national team on many of the pages, but our logo won’t appear along with the others on their home page until the rollover the those parts of their site in a week or two.

  • Yukimi

    My best friend online was recently (just last week) diagnosed of myeloid leukemia so this really hits home. She lives in Czech Republic (so this won’t affect her directly) but I’m sure stuff like this encourages her, seeing people caring :)

    • rickflick

      I’m pretty certain research conducted in the US can easily help people in the Czeck Republic and around the world – pretty much directly.

  • http://www.SacramentoCOR.org/ David Diskin

    Sacramento has a team, backed by the Sacramento Coalition of Reason:

    http://pages.lightthenight.org/sac/Sacra1212/SacramentoReasonFBB

  • Jesse L Sinclair

    Ummm…. possibly I’m just not doing it right but I can’t find anywhere, on any page, that actually says when the walk actually takes place… little help please?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      There are different dates depending on your location! You have to find a specific event to get details.

      • Jesse L Sinclair

         Ohhhh, found it, local walk is on the 29th of Sept, thanks Hemant!

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Little/565071363 Paul Little

         It tells me I have to register for the Toronto walk before it will tell me when the Toronto walk is. But how will I know if I am able to participate until I know the date? Why would I register for something in which I might conceivably be unable to participate? Who thinks this shit up?

        • Jesse L Sinclair

           Yah I found the Calgary one on the Canadian site, but couldn’t find it on the American one and I can’t figure out how to make sure my donations are added to FBB on the Canadian one… this is a very frustrating set-up they have…

        • Becky Shattuck

          http://www.lightthenight.ca/tor/

          Oct 3.  It says the “Remembrance Ceremony” is at 6pm, just before the walk, so I imagine the walk is around 6:30pm or so.

  • Sulris Campbell

    did you know that if you google FBB you get results almost exclusively for Female Body Builders?  i think we need to start spreading more links to FBB around the blogoshpere. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OAUXAA362EXWLYVMPJOKLFB5JQ Incipient Madness

    If we’re doing this in the name of Hitchens,  we really outght to consider donating directly to the MD Anderson Cancer Center. It’s where Hitchens sought treatment and where he lived the last couple of months of his life.

    When I heard the buzz that Hitch might make an appearance at the Texas Freethought Convention in Houston, I knew he would as I had heard rumors from folks at the Med Center that Hitchens was a regular at Anderson. I don’t think he ever left Houston after the convention, and died a couple months later.

    • http://www.facebook.com/todd.stiefel Todd Stiefel

      MD Anderson is a great place.  That is where my father was treated for throat cancer.  They saved his life.  Unfortunately, they don’t have the network in place to do the kind of large scale grassroots project we are doing with LLS, complete with local events across the continent.  If they did, they would have probably been my first choice.  Anyway, it’s OK, my family is taking good care of MD Anderson as a thanks for what they did for my dad.

  • Becky Shattuck

    Here’s Denver’s team, if anyone would like to join:

    http://pages.lightthenight.org/rm/DenverL12/MileHighSkeptics 

  • Becky Shattuck

    FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE HAVING TROUBLE FINDING THE MAIN L & L PAGE FOR FBB:

    http://pages.lightthenight.org/2012/FBB 


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