DURHAM, N.C. (December 13, 2016) – Nolan Smith, former Duke Blue Devils basketball star and current special assistant under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, today announced he is joining the national non-profit Teen Cancer America (TCA) as a celebrity sports ambassador. Founded by rock ’n’ roll legends Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who, TCA is dedicated to developing specialized facilities that address the age-specific clinical and psychosocial needs of teenagers and young adults with cancer.
“When I was a teenager, I was running around and playing ball and just enjoying life, and kids who are dealing with cancer don’t get to do that,” Smith said. “After my first visit with the young people being treated at Duke Cancer Institute, coming on board with Teen Cancer America was easy decision to make.”
Since launching in the U.S. in 2012, TCA has projects underway or in development with world-class cancer centers at UCLA, Stanford, Memorial Sloan Kettering (New York), Dana-Farber (Harvard), Yale, University of Chicago, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Moffitt (Tampa), Vanderbilt, Baylor and Case University. Partnerships with more than 50 hospitals around the country are in various stages of planning, including Duke Cancer Institute at Duke University Hospital and UNC Cancer Care at UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill.
“When it comes to understanding leadership, coaching, teamwork, and the will to win, there is no one we would rather have on our team than Nolan Smith,” said Sally Webb, CEO of The Special Event Company and a founding board member of Teen Cancer America. “In addition to being charismatic, kind and giving, he is a born leader, and we are extremely grateful that he has chosen to serve as an ambassador for TCA.”
At the press conference held at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium, Smith introduced “TCA Tuesday,” a social media and text campaign which calls on supporters to donate $5 in order to raise $1 million for TCA initiatives in 2017. He officially launched TCA Tuesday with a live tweet, calling on supporters to text NOLAN to 20222 to donate $5 or go online at www.teencanceramerica.org/donate for other donations. Smith, who has more than 87,000 Twitter followers (@ndotsmitty), will be supported in the campaign by Duke Basketball (@DukeMBB), which has over 800,000 followers, and The Who (@TheWho), with more than 500,000 followers worldwide.
As a high-scoring guard for Duke, Smith helped lead the Blue Devils to the 2010 NCAA Championship in his junior season. The following year, he was named a consensus first-team All-American and honored as ACC Player of the Year. As a TCA ambassador and one of the most popular players in ACC history, Smith will lead a variety of specific fundraising initiatives that will call on the fans of Duke, UNC and other universities to come together for teenagers and young adults fighting cancer.
“TCA Tuesday is going to be a game changer,” said Smith. “I’m getting my friends in college basketball and the NBA involved, and we’re hoping that Duke fans and ACC basketball fans everywhere will join us to make some special things happen for these young people who deserve our best effort.”
One of the fundraising goals will benefit the “Nolan Smith AYA Cancer Leaders Workshop” during the 2017 AYA (Adolescent and Young Adult) Cancer Conference in Atlanta, sponsoring 20 cancer care professionals from hospitals and community clinics for a training day at the international conference, which is being hosted in the U.S. for the first time. Smith will also work in partnership with Raleigh-based First Citizens Bank, a major sponsor of TCA, to drive awareness of its corporate campaign, #LetMyLoveOpentheDoor, which serves to raise funds online and through branch locations in 18 states.
Dr. Jill Sullivan (MD, PhD), a Fellow in the Division of Hematology, Oncology, and Cellular Therapy at Duke Cancer Institute and an AYAO Program team member, remarked that the programs and facilities funded by TCA play a critical role in the lifelong process of treating adolescents and young adults with cancer.
“We know that these specialized programs, offering services from diagnosis through survivorship, improve outcomes for cancer patients,” Sullivan said. “All of us at the Duke Cancer Institute are very happy to partner with Nolan and with TCA, and look forward to championing their efforts.”
The press conference concluded with a special video message from TCA founder and legendary frontman for The Who, Roger Daltrey. “As you know, basketball is at the center of the demographic we serve,” said Daltrey, “and the support you are giving us will do a lot to raise awareness for the specialized services for adolescents and young adults through this very devastating and difficult time in their lives.”
About Teen Cancer America
Teen Cancer America helps hospitals and healthcare professionals bridge the gap between pediatric and adult oncology care by supporting hospitals and outpatient facilities in the development of specialized units for this age group. TCA brings together physicians and allied healthcare professionals in both pediatric and adult oncology. Age targeted care for this population is necessary for medical and appropriate psychosocial development. Outcomes associated with some cancers that target this age group have not improved in over 30 years. Teens and young adults with cancer are long overdue for an upgrade and TCA can hopefully light the fire in America’s health systems. For more information about TCA or to inquire about making a contribution, please contact Barbara Leedy at The Special Event Company: 919-459-8785.