Holiday campaign 2023

Our Community in Action!

As we continue our Thriving Together Holiday Campaign, we wanted to take an opportunity to acknowledge how GISTers in our community have worked to ensure that the programs, services, and resources of The Life Raft Group remain available to patients across the world.

This fall two GIST advocates answered the call to fundraise and rallied their ‘crews’ – designing and hosting incredibly successful fundraisers.

GIST Advocate David WolfeDavid Wolfe – Know the GIST Fundraiser – Online Event

David, a fervent GIST advocate, took his fight against GIST online with a fundraiser for his 70th birthday. Utilizing the power of the Crowdfunding platform, LRG social media, a local newspaper & his own sphere of influence, David brought his personal battle with GIST to the public and raised $9K for GIST research & to support the programs of the LRG.

We asked David some questions about hosting a campaign:

Can you share some of the key benefits or outcomes you’ve experienced from running a fundraiser? It was somewhat a cathartic experience. I had kept my GIST journey fairly private and only shared it with a small group of people. In fact, I did not tell most of my family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.). Over the past 3 ½ years—and especially that last 2 since I was diagnosed with metastasized GIST- I realized that GIST is not known to most people. My decision to go public was both a personal opportunity to bring others into the loop as well as to raise awareness and funding for LRG. In addition, I had learned more and more about the commitment and resources provided by LRG to GIST patients and caretakers at a fraction of the financial support compared to other cancer support organizations. The fundraising campaign provided the platform to make a difference.

How has your fundraiser impacted the cause of GIST education & research? I created a small promotional campaign to increase awareness. This included a slogan: “Know the GIST, Fight the GIST”. That slogan was used in my communications, such as the fundraising webpage, plus on a custom lapel pen and embroidered knit beanies that I had made. I felt that in order for people to support efforts to fight GIST, they need to know “the GIST”. My own story was a key part of the communication. Pins were distributed to numerous people with whom I’ve had personal contact. It gave me a chance to present a quick GIST awareness primer. Even when I go for labs, I would give the techs pins. (Most had never heard of GIST.) The beanies were a gift to financial donors. Several of my family and friends now know “the GIST”.

What advice would you give to others who are considering starting their own GIST fundraiser? Fundraising is a great way to be helpful to other GISTers, present and future, even as we navigate our own GIST journeys. The fundraising can be principally for donations or it can be tied to an event. It can be simple or more elaborate. Don’t focus on making “big bucks”. Any program and any amount raised will provide more support for LRG so they can continue to serve the GIST community with services.

Are there any memorable or touching moments from your fundraising efforts that you’d like to share? My wife, a retired teacher, received a text from the parent of a former student saying the she had read the article about me (in a local online news site). Coincidentally, she had just heard that one of her other friends was diagnosed with GIST. She asked my wife to thank me for sharing my journey. Members of my Rotary club made personal donations and the club mathed them. I also received unexpected support from some people with whom I’ve had limited recent interaction.

How do you feel your fundraiser has contributed to raising awareness about GIST within your community or network?
An article about my campaign was published in a local online news site. I also made a presentation to the local Rotary club (I’m a member) about “knowing the GIST” and my journey. Of course none of the members had ever heard of GIST before. Although I might not have impacted a large number of people, at least there are now more people who know GIST today and realize that cancer is more than the “big ones”.

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GIST Advocate John AbramsJohn Abrams – Cooking to Fight Cancer – In-Person Event

John, an LRG Board member, Colorado state representative for the LRG, and a GIST Mentor, shared his GISTory with a large group of family, friends & colleagues using text marketing and LRG social media & a cooking class to raise over $40K for GIST research & LRG patient support programs.

We asked John about his fundraising efforts:

Can you share some of the key benefits or outcomes you’ve experienced from running this fundraiser? One is creating awareness of GIST and the LRG and secondly, raising funds is key to sustaining the work of the LRG.

What advice would you give to others who are considering starting their own GIST fundraisers? For anyone who hasn’t done any fundraising, just be brave and do it! Educate yourself on how to ask for donations and know your audience beforehand. Define your cause and reason for raising money. Educate yourself as to “where the money goes” as you will be asked about this by some donors. Have an idea of your goals (although I didn’t really know how to answer this as I had never done one before). Use personal contact through email/text. Thank everyone who donated no matter how big or small. Larger donations should also receive a handwritten thank you note. Make sure the register and donate buttons work before sending out email/text. Engage the LRG staff in assisting this effort. They have done this before and are a tremendous help. Believe in what you are doing and express gratitude along the way.

How do you feel your fundraiser has contributed to raising awareness about GIST within your community or network? I was constantly awed and humbled by the generosity of friends, family and acquaintances. I was touched by the response from people who read my story and previously never knew my cancer journey.

Don’t forget to DONATE!

Our goal for this campaign is $50K.
We need your help to make this a reality!

Here is where we are 12/13/23

Holiday 12 13 thermometer for David/John post 12 13 23

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Share this mission with your network, and let’s amplify our impact together.
Every donation brings us one step closer to a world where all patients affected by gastrointestinal stromal tumor can not only survive but thrive.