Long before the 2018 season officially kicked off, Alex Hughes ’20 approached Head Coach Phil Estes with an idea for a fundraising event that would give the Bears an opportunity to contribute to the fight against cancer each time they took the field.
Touchdowns for Cancer will turn every Bruno touchdown into a donation toward cancer treatment and research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Donors can give a one-time contribution at any point or pledge a certain amount per touchdown and donate the sum at the end of the season.
The initiative builds on the work of the football team’s annual Bench Press for Cancer event, a one-day fundraiser for Miriam Hospital’s Cancer Survivorship Program for Young Adults held each October since 2004, and it mimics a shorter campaign Hughes orchestrated as a senior in high school for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Over the course of four games during his high school career, Hughes and his teammates raised “a few thousand dollars.” As Touchdowns for Cancer spans Bruno’s entire schedule, he anticipates the fundraiser will be a larger-scale philanthropic effort with a goal of $15,000 to $20,000.
“I saw huge potential for money being raised for an organization,” Hughes said. “I saw the potential of everything that we can do with the football team, the football community and Brown at large.”
“This is something a lot of the guys on the team want to get behind because it’s directly affected our Brown football family,” added Co-Captain Michael Hoecht ’20.
Hughes is no stranger to the Brown football community; his family has Bruno ties that date back to the 1950s. His grandfather, an alum from the class of 1955, was heavily involved in the Brown Sports Foundation and Brown Football Association, while Peter Hughes ’10 and Robert Hughes ’17 preceded their younger brother on the Bears’ defense.
Hughes also has a personal connection with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where his uncle, Bill Perry ’88, received cancer treatment before passing away in December 2017. “He was a real Brown Bear,” Hughes said. “He pushed through everything.”
In his time on College Hill, Perry was a standout defensive lineman for the Bears and earned All-Ivy and All-American honors. He received the Alfred H. Joslin Award, was inducted into the Brown Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997 and was chosen for the 125th Anniversary Team in 2003 as one of the 50 greatest Brown football players.
“Billy Perry was a special person,” Estes said. “(He) was a big fixture here in Brown football, not just as a player but also as an alum.”
With high-profile rivalry games against Harvard and the University of Rhode Island approaching, Hughes hopes to advertise how much each touchdown is worth as a way to keep fans intrigued and boost on-field motivation among his teammates.
“It’s … inspirational for the team and for a lot of people in the community,” he said. “It’ll bring a lot of people closer to the program and definitely give a lot of money to a good cause.”
So when Brown football players cross the plane into the end zone this season, they’ll be earning more than six points. The Bears hope to gain the support of members of the Brown community to help the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute make strides in battling cancer.
If supporters would like to make a single donation, they can do so through the team’s Giving Page.
Those who would like to make a season-long pledge or have any questions about the event should email firstname.lastname@example.org. The team will keep track of the total touchdowns scored in 2018 and inform the pledgers of the amount at the end of the season.