How a Three-Time Battle with Cancer
Turned into Something Special for Survivors
Cancer keeps its own schedule. At 19, cancer reared its ugly head again in Craig’s life. This time it meant business. One night, while lying in his hospital bed, he had a conversation with God. Knowing that God is not big on negotiation, Craig pleaded for his health. In return, he vowed to make a difference in the world. After a life-saving bone marrow transplant at the City of Hope, Craig’s health slowly returned and the life he had left behind resumed. But much of his passion for baseball disappeared. Wins and losses didn’t hold the same value. He wanted to be more than an emotional leader for his team. One afternoon, during batting practice, Craig took one final swing and sent the ball sailing over the fence. At that moment he knew this part of his life was complete. To the amazement of teammates and coaches, he took off the uniform and began the pursuit of a new passion.
While working to help other cancer survivors, Craig learned an alarming fact. Families dealing with cancer use every last resource to fight the disease and keep their child alive. Life savings and retirement plans are drained. How do you plan the future for a child who is fighting for their life today?
Cancer for College is Born…
During his senior year at the USC Business School, Craig wrote a business plan for a charity that would provide college scholarships to cancer survivors. He called it Cancer for College. The name came to him when he witnessed his friends getting new girlfriends, new cars and new apartments for college, and all he got was cancer for college. The plan earned him special honors and notoriety. Craig rallied 24 of his closest friends and family members to play in the opening event in 1994. It included a golf tournament and a BBQ in the Pollard’s backyard. Cancer for College proudly awarded its first scholarship totaling $500.
With friends, family and fraternity brothers carrying the word to their network of contacts, Cancer for College made steady gains each year. The scholarships grew moderately as did the participation in the golf tournament. It was not until one of Craig’s more famous fraternity brothers got involved that things really started taking off.
Losing Your Footing...
As if Craig had not faced enough challenges in life, 2006 brought a new battle. Many cancer survivors are left with a compromised immune system as a result of treatments. The medication used to maintain Craig’s blood pressure and ultimately save his life constricted blood vessels and had the alarming side effect of causing his extremities to swell beyond recognition. This compromised the circulation in his feet and hands, in essence, strangling them. Gangrene set in. Doctors suggested amputation and with his wife Stacy at his side, Craig agreed. Both of his feet were taken just above the ankle and while his hands were saved, they received tremendous damage and required months of physical therapy. In Craig’s typical fashion, he turned a devastating situation into a positive. At the 2006 Cancer for College golf tournament, only six months after losing his feet, Craig played golf in his prosthetics and the foundation proudly gave its first scholarship to an amputee.