Stand Up to Cancer visits U.S. Cellular
TV segment taped prior to Monday's game vs. Rangers
CHICAGO -- Major League Baseball has made an initial contribution of $10 million to Stand Up To Cancer, a new initiative to raise philanthropic dollars for accelerating groundbreaking cancer research.
On Monday evening, the White Sox lent their helping hand to the cause at U.S. Cellular Field.
A special television segment was taped involving cycling great Lance Armstrong and Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former vice presidential candidate John Edwards, both of whom are cancer survivors, to be aired during an historic Sept. 5 broadcast on ABC, CBS and NBC to raise further awareness for the cause and help raise millions of dollars. When asked why U.S. Cellular was chosen for this particular presentation, Laura Ziskin, the executive producer of the special, basically pointed to the White Sox chairman.
"In all honesty, we picked the White Sox because of Jerry Reinsdorf," said Ziskin, during a post-taping press conference. "When we first started fund-raising and were going after large, corporate donors, we met with Jerry Reinsdorf and he said Major League Baseball should be involved.
"He said that the Commissioner of Baseball is coming to Los Angeles tomorrow night. I'm going to hijack him for 20 minutes. You only have 20 minutes and you guys are going to come and pitch him Stand Up To Cancer.
"We did and Commissioner [Bud] Selig and his wife, Sue Selig, became our first and most important backers," added Ziskin, who also is a cancer survivor. "So, we wanted to come to Chicago to honor that."
Armstrong said that the September fund-raising effort hopefully will raise "a lot of money, which is what we need." More importantly, though, Armstrong hopes it reminds people that cancer is the No. 1 killer in this country for people under the age of 85.
Watching this program literally could save lives, if it gets people who have not be feeling great to the doctor to have their symptoms checked.
"I like a little challenge and a little fight," Armstrong said. "But we all picked a very big fight and a tough fight. So, we have to remind people that this will not be easy."
"There are people who are fighting every day to stay alive waiting for this research to be done." Edwards added. "You see people so anxious, so desperate for a solution. All of the traditional things that kept us apart in solving this problem seem to have drifted away and we seem to have a great, great opportunity here."
Prior to the taping, which delayed the start of the game with Texas by about 25 minutes, Armstrong had a chance to mix with a few White Sox players in the clubhouse. He also met White Sox director of conditioning Allen Thomas, who battled testicular cancer just one year ago, a form that spread to his stomach and lungs.
Thomas now finds himself in great health, but drew strength from reading Armstrong's biography concerning how he battled the same disease. Jim Thome bought Thomas a road bike to go with the book.
"It was great to meet Allen," Armstrong said. "We just shared stories about our disease and diagnoses and ultimately a little bit about cycling."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.