Keep Fighting Until We Win

John Wayne beat cancer in 1964, proving that lung cancer was no match for his grit. 15 years later, after a valiant struggle with stomach cancer, he passed away — but not before imparting his dying wish, he asked his family and supporters to keep fighting until we win. In 1985, John Wayne’s family founded the John Wayne Cancer Foundation (JWCF) to bring his spirit of courage, strength and grit to the front lines to battle cancer.

JWCF’s MISSION: Bring Courage, Strength and Grit to the Fight Against Cancer

John Wayne Cancer Foundation has transformed the way cancer patients are cared by including revolutionary ways to prevent, detect, treat and support cancer patients. JWCF funds innovative programs that improve cancer patient outcomes and save lives through research, education, awareness and support.

John Wayne’s Cancer Breakthroughs

With your help John Wayne Cancer Foundation can build on our track record of revolutionary cancer breakthroughs. Your fundraising makes it possible for JWCF to continue our work to ensure that cancer patients get the best care and the search for a cure goes on.

Home Runs in cancer are rare, and John Wayne has hit several home runs in the fight against cancer:

- Pioneering Cancer Research, Treatment and Education

o Fellowship Program. Through this program, doctors get a two year highly specialized training on surgical oncology.

o Immunotherapy – John Wayne Alumni Doctors and Clinicians are some of the first to conduct large scale research on immunotherapy. The benefit of immunotherapy compared to other treatment options is that it activates the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer without the side effects of other treatment options.

o Sentinel Node Biopsy for Both Skin Cancer & Breast Cancer – this revolutionary technique discovered by John Wayne doctors enables them to more accurately pinpoint the location of cancer so it can be treated more effectively including minimally invasive procedures where possible. Sentinel Node Biopsy is a Standard of Care, meaning it is the gold standard for detection.

o Pioneering Cancer Education for The World’s Premier Doctors

§ Fellowship Program - Every patient deserves to have the best doctor, so JWCF funds a Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program to provide the highest level of training for cancer doctors. This program is one of the first and largest programs, and it makes it possible for the world’s best cancer doctors to learn the most advanced ways to research and treat cancer.

§ John Wayne Alumni Fellows - The Fellows graduate and go onto leadership positions at the premier cancer research and treatment centers and academic institutions across the country. There are over 160 John Wayne Alumni Fellows working in in 27 states leading the fight against cancer, and they treat over 100,000 patients a year. JWCF helps makes it possible for the John Wayne Alumni Fellows to stay united in the fight against cancer throughout their careers by collaborating, and JWCF provides ongoing funding to John Wayne Alumni Fellows for cancer research.

§ 2020-2021 Funded Research In Progress (change information each year)

§ Katherine A Yao, MD; NorthShore University Health System

Proposal: Mindfulness intervention and response to stress and quality of life in patients diagnosed with breast cancer

§ Anthony Lucci, MD; University of Texas MD Anderson

Proposal: Mastectomy, microscopic disease, and immune profiling in metastatic breast cancer

§ Richard Essner, MD; John Wayne Cancer Institute

Proposal: Molecular Gene Profiling of Immune Related Genes in Primary Melanoma

· Dan Nelson Statistical analysis Grant

- Pioneering Cancer Awareness - Block the Blaze – one of the most revolutionary movements in the fight against cancer today is cancer prevention. Block the Blaze is the John Wayne Cancer Foundation’s youth skin cancer education and awareness program that’s active in 16 states and growing! The program educates youth about sun safety and skin cancer with an emphasis on skin cancer prevention and self-screening. To date, Block the Blaze has educated more than 500,000 youth! Just a side note – overall, yes 16 states have implemented BTB.

- Pioneering Support for Cancer Patients – JWCF has funded the startup of a variety of leading support programs that make it possible for cancer patients to get out of the hospital and into the great outdoors so they can meet and support each other while being empowered to live beyond cancer with courage, strength and grit.

JWCF’s Life Saving Impact – Help JWCF Make Sure that Patients Get the Best Care

JWCF depends on fundraisers like you, and your donors, to make it possible for JWCF to do the work necessary to improve patients’ outcomes and save lives. JWCF can’t do it without you.

As you fundraise, be sure to include some of JWCF’s amazing accomplishments listed above in your appeal messages to your supporters and encourage them to donate. Choose the topics important to or relevant to your supporters. If you want to go a step further, look up cancer facts and statistics online and include some concise points about these facts and figures in your appeals.

The most important part, though, is to tell your story to your supporters. Tell them how you have been affected by cancer, why the fight against cancer is important to you, and how you need their help to reach your fundraising goal.

We’ve come a long way, we’ve made a lot of breakthroughs and saved a lot of lives, but we aren’t there yet. There’s still a lot of work to do searching for cure and we’ll need a lot of grit to get there. But one day, hopefully soon, we will arrive at a world without cancer. Thank you for being a John Wayne Grit Series fundraiser and for all you do to make it possible for JWCF to blaze a trail to save lives & cure cancer. Let’s Keep Fighting Until We Win!


John Wayne was a man of action and a man of few words— which is the best way to think about fundraising for your John Wayne Grit Series event! We’ve outlined a few simple steps to help you make strides fundraising while you’re making progress training.

When it comes to sharing your mission with friends and family, give it to ‘em straight, keeping your communications short and simple with a bold ask for them to support you as you fight for those battling cancer!

1. Personalize your fundraising web page

• Tell people why you’re fundraising and encourage them to saddle up and support your efforts! If you’re running/walking in honor or memory of someone, share their story.

• Post a photo or two on your page to get people inspired and make that personal connection.

• Set a big, brave fundraising goal — this is not time to back down in the fight against cancer! See details below about how to set a goal and make a plan to get there.

• Get help if you need it! Email at John Wayne Cancer Foundation for fundraising support and advice.
When it comes to sharing your mission with friends and family, give it to ‘em straight, keeping your communications short and simple with a bold ask for them to support you as you fight for those battling cancer!

2. Make a list of prospective donors & reach out to them

Include everyone you know, and we mean EVERYONE, partner! (See ideas below)

• Ask for donations without fear, knowing that you’re taking a stand to cure cancer!

• Write a letter or email — or double down and send both! — to all of your contacts. To make it easy, we’ve posted sample letters + emails on the web page that you can copy and personalize.

• Know your audience and consider how to customize each “ask” to get results. Asking in person is best, call your family and friends to schedule a coffee meeting with them. A face time video call, or phone call is the next best thing to a meeting. Email and social media posts are a great way to reach a lot of people quickly, and texts are great too as they have a high open rate! It all depends on what you think will be the most effective and how far you are willing to go for the cause.

• Make it personal — tell people why you’re in this fight against cancer, share information about John Wayne Cancer Foundation, let them know their dollars make a difference!

• ***Share the link to your fundraising web page in every message, letter, email, post and text*** Make it easy for your donors to get to your page so they can donate.

• Start Early – Like John Wayne said, “Hurry it up, we’re burning daylight”. It is important to get started early, start 2-3 months before the event, if possible. That will give your supporters time to donate on your page by event day.

• Follow up — as John Wayne himself would tell you, persistence pays off. Reminders are key! Be sure to send at least five emails to your contact list, people need reminders and will enjoy being updated on your fundraising and training progress. Send reminders twice the week before the event and also send out a “last chance to donate” message on event day with a picture or video of you at the finish line. Be sure to include the link to your page so your supporters can donate to help you reach your goal.

Check with your company about corporate matching gifts. You could double or triple your fundraising with matching gifts!

3. Set A Big Fundraising Goal & Knock Out Cancer

As John Wayne famously said, “Don’t pick a fight, but if you find yourself in one, I suggest you make damn sure you win.” If you want to knock out cancer you have to stretch your limits and go beyond what you think is possible. Setting a big fundraising goal and asking your supporters to help you reach it are paramount to your fundraising success. You can make your own fundraising plan using the one below as a template. The JWGS team wants to support you every step of the way on this brave and important journey. And, our team is always at the ready to help you set your a goal, create your fundraising plan, and brainstorm — because we’re all in this battle together. Reach out to us anytime via email at


John Wayne knew the power of a great story told well. Today, one of the best ways to share your story is through your social media network. Consider it the most important campfire story you’ll ever tell! To help you be a champion for those battling cancer, the John Wayne Grit Series team has put together some quick and easy tips for you to grab the social media bull by the horns and use your social network to fundraise.

1. Post the link to your JWGS fundraising web page on your social media

• Go to and log in to get to your JWGS personal fundraising page.

• Click the Facebook and/or Twitter icons on your fundraising page, and it’ll automatically open a post window for you.

• Write a note and just hit “post!” (The post will automatically include a link to your fundraising page in the post)

• Option — if you aren’t logged in to your fundraising page, just copy and paste the link to your fundraising page into your social media post (see instructions for how to do this in Instagram below).

2. Step 2: Social-ize your fundraising and JWGS journey often

• View the sample posts below to get ideas for quick and easy posts

• Customize the posts, as needed, so they reflect your unique personality and reasons for walking/running to end cancer - tell your story

• Include a cancer statistic to get your friends’/followers’ attention and we’ve included some information about the impact of JWCF’s programs on to get you started

• Get creative with your posts! Use heartstring-pulling photos of the person/people you are walking/running for, inspiring or fun/funny quotes, photos or videos of your training - the sky’s the limit!

• Post early and often, starting 2-3 months before your event so your network will be aware of what you are doing and to give them time to donate before your event. And, keep posting — especially as you count down to the final days before the event and on event day!

3. Use our Social Media App pointers

***Share the link to your fundraising web page in every post***

• Do login to your fundraising page at to access the automatic social media post buttons on your JWGS. Do not create your own fundraising page on Facebook that is separate from your JWGS personal web page. It could confuse your donors because you’ll have 2 different fundraising pages, and you won’t get an accurate reading of the amount you have raised to date on your fundraising progress gauge on your JWGS page

• Tag John Wayne Cancer Foundation on Facebook =use hashtag #JOHNWAYNEGRIT

• Include photos to make your posts more appealing than text alone

• Tag JWCF’s twitter handle @joinjohnwayne so JWCF can repost our favorites

• Use the hashtag #JOHNWAYNEGRIT to connect with all those participating and fighting cancer alongside the Duke

• Instagram is an image-driven platform, so be sure to share pictures of your training, your loved ones affected by cancer, and any other fun and inspiring parts of your JWGS journey

• Update your Instagram bio to include a link to your fundraising page

• Include a note in all of your photo captions telling your network they can make a donation by accessing the link found in your bio.
• Tag JWCF’s Instagram handle @joinjohnwayne and include the hashtag #JOHNWAYNEGRIT in your photos so we can repost our favorites!

• Use these sample posts or create your own to reach out to your LinkedIn contacts to garner support too!


Looking for a little more inspiration for your fundraising letters? Download some of our templates here:

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