T-Mobile CEO John Legere has long had a passion for kicking cancer's ass. Like so many Americans, the insidious disease has personally touched him and the lives of his loved ones. Legere's mother passed from the disease in 2012.
A lifelong competitive long-distance runner, the one-time Olympic hopeful and Massachusetts native began his support of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2004 by using his participation in the Boston Marathon to raise funds for the world-renowned research facility.
Not just once, though. Legere completed the race a staggering 11 times in support of the Boston research institution as part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team - raising a total of just under $2 million to become the team's all-time leading fundraiser. Additionally, he joined its Board of Trustees in 2012, where he still serves today.
Always one to up the ante, in 2018 Legere decided to redouble all of his past million-dollar marathon efforts and set out with an even more audacious fundraising goal – and a characteristically crazy incentive to get others to donate, too.
Magenta Hair, Totally Care!
This past December, the unconventional and outspoken CEO took to his vastly influential social media network to launch the “Match to Conquer Cancer” campaign, pledging to personally match donations to Dana-Farber dollar for dollar, up to $1 million for a total of $2 million.
And to sweeten the pot, Legere promised he'd temporarily dye his hair magenta - T-Mobile's distinctive brand color - if the campaign reached its funding goal. When the bold declaration seemed to gain traction with supporters, Legere had a hunch he might be able to use his popular platform to exceed his original fundraising target. He was right.
The campaign, originally scheduled to run throughout the month of December, was extended until the end of January. All in all, with nearly 1,000 donors generously giving $3.5 million to meet and exceed Legere's $1 million match pledge, the "Match to Conquer Cancer" raised $4.5 million.
"As I said from the outset of this campaign, I wanted to do something big to generate awareness and support for Dana-Farber's treatment and research, which I am a huge believer in," says Legere. "What they're doing with Profile, a tumor genome mapping project, is life-saving work that can impact millions of people - with the goal of curing cancer once and for all!"
Today, Legere proudly delivered a $4.5 million check to Dana-Farber's lead oncologist Dr. Barrett Rollins and the Dana Farber team. The gift established the Legere Family Fund for Profile, which will ensure the cancer institute has abundant resources to fund its life-saving research for years to come.
Ever a man of his word, this week Legere also dyed his distinctive shoulder-length mane magenta.
A Profile in Courage
Dana-Farber’s breakthroughs on Profile – a tumor genome mapping project – are helping doctors treat their patients in a more precise way, and allowing scientists to better understand why cancers behave the way in which they do. Profile provides the genetic signature of each person’s disease, which allows doctors to deliver drugs designed to target the specific mutations causing cancer to grow. The result is more effective treatment with fewer side effects.
"I'm absolutely convinced that genetic testing is totally going to change the way that we treat cancer," says Dr. Rollins. "It's going to be a game-changer for every cancer patient and their family, around the world. It's going to save millions of lives."
In many cases, the nearly 450 known genomic abnormalities involved in cancer can be targeted by FDA-approved drugs or agents undergoing testing in clinical trials.
To date, Profile has yielded genetic data on more than 30,000 tumor and leukemia samples. Dana-Farber researchers use this data to try to match patients with a targeted therapy, a key attribute of precision medicine.
Results from Profile have led to a reduction in or even disappearance of patient tumors, proving the immense value of this therapeutic approach.
To join John and his friends in supporting genetic research at Dana-Farber in the fight to cure cancer, donation information can be found here.
The full press release issued by Dana-Farber commemorating this milestone can be found here.