Carly Bergstein | The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation
When I was 18 years old I joined a sorority. Like many other college freshman, I was looking for a group of friends, a place to belong, and fun! I never imagined this seemingly simple choice to join a values based organization for women would have mapped the course of my life.
As expected, I found what would become my forever friends within weeks of joining the sorority. I immediately got involved, took on leadership positions, and had a ton of fun. What I did not expect was that my involvement in a sorority would lead me to find my greatest passion; fighting childhood cancer.
In 2007, the organization I am a part of started a philanthropy event on campus called “UDance.” UDance is a 12-hour dance marathon aimed at raising money for charity. Shortly after that, we were introduced to The B+ Foundation; a group committed to fighting childhood cancer in honor of Andrew McDonough. Joe McDonough, the President and Co-Founder of the foundation spoke at The University of Delaware to share the story of his son Andrew, his brave fight with cancer and his legacy. Joe’s talk lit a spark in me that I never knew I had. Joe McDonough told me that curing childhood cancer is like building a skyscraper. One day, someone will put a flag at the top and get the credit for eradicating this awful disease. He went on to tell me that you can't build a skyscraper without the foundation; the walls, the floors, the windows, and every other piece needed to create a sturdy building. I hope that someday, hopefully very soon, someone will come up with a cure for childhood cancer. They will be the person who puts the flag at the top of the building. As amazing as that will be, every piece of that building is equally important.
It was at that moment that I knew I wanted to join the fight against childhood cancer and that I wanted to have a hand in building the skyscraper. So, with 140 women beside me we set out to do just that and partnered UDance with The B+ Foundation. The event grew from just our chapter to the entire community. I was able to come back as an alum and watch so many of my sorority sisters grow and strengthen the event, raising more money and more awareness to fight childhood cancer. My involvement with this event led me to the honor of accepting a job as The Program Director for The B+ Foundation. As Program Director, my main responsibility is working with college students nationwide to create and maintain sustainable fundraising events on their campuses to fight childhood cancer. In addition to helping create events I work to connect college students with B+ Heroes, kids fighting cancer. I have been fortunate enough to meet many incredible B+ Heroes. These kids always amaze me with their spirit, their wisdom, and their will to fight. Equally as inspiring as the kids, are the college students that I have had the privilege of meeting. I have met students who, like myself, were so inspired by Andrew and The B+ Message that they too want to have even a tiny piece in building that skyscraper and getting closer to a world without childhood cancer.
While so many students stand out it has been the biggest privilege of all to share this passion with so many sorority sisters from across the country.
"Women from all corners of the country have come together to fight childhood cancer, to befriend B+ Heroes, and to let people know that kids get cancer too. I have seen women who have mentored me join this fight and women I have had the privilege of mentoring make a huge difference on their campuses and in the fight against childhood cancer."
Watching students, especially my sorority sisters, care selflessly about the kids and the fight against childhood cancer is the most rewarding part of my work with The B+ Foundation.
I am forever grateful for the joining a sorority a decade ago, for meeting Joe McDonough, for the opportunity to work with amazing students who carry out Andrew's legacy every day and for the opportunity to have met so many incredibly brave children and families who have helped me keep life in perspective. If you would of asked me at 18 years old if I thought sorority women would be responsible for building so many pieces in the skyscraper to cure childhood cancer I would of never believed it. What I have learned is that passionate, resourceful and dedicated people can do anything they set out to do and our kids are better because of them!
For more on The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, click here. If you're interesting in bringing an event to benefit The B+ Foundation to your campus, high school, or business please contact Carly@BePositive.org.