Monday, September 13, 2010

"Jog for Jill" and Unqualified Success

By Spenser Tang-Smith
This article was orginally published on the WebGreek Blog, a college-focused blog that engages in social, professional, economic and political discussion relevant to college and Greek life.  (
Monday September 13, 2010
As I write this, we’ve just returned from Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, where despite the windy, foggy weather, 5,000 runners/walkers/crawlers just participated in Jog for Jill.  It’s hard to express how touching it was to see so many people out and about on a Sunday afternoon to work towards finding a cure and raising awareness, but I’ll try.

For those unaware, Jog for Jill is a fundraiser for the Bonnie J Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, and this is the second event this year.  The race honors Jill Costello, a UC Berkeley grad, Kappa Kappa Gamma sister, and Pac-10 Women’s Rowing Athlete of the Year, who passed away on June 24th, 2010 from stage IV lung cancer.  It was her mission to find a cure, and she helped to raise over $65,000 for research.  She also spoke several times in front of Genentech, telling them to get their rears in gear to find a cure. 

Before she passed away, Jill worked with the Bonnie J Addario foundation to get the Jog for Jill event up and running, and the support from the sports, Greek, and local communities has been incredible.  For example, if you were out and about in the Bay Area as of late, you would’ve noticed ads for Sunday’s race.  The bus ads were donated by Titan360, and the billboards were donated by CBS, with design work provided by Engine One.  All told, $122,000 worth of advertising was donated to help spread the word.

Today’s event has raised well over $300,000 as of this writing, and according to the foundation’s executive director Sheila Von Driska, will likely exceed $400,000 (at this moment, the Kintera site reads over $317,000).  The most heartening thing about it is that the foundation has been able to increase the number of participants 5-fold since the February run, and there will soon be events taking place all over the country, including Boston, Houston, and Salt Lake City.  Says Sheila, “each event will have a Team Jill, and these races will continue until there’s a cure.”

Jill’s roommate and Kappa sister K.C. Oakley is putting together Jog For Jill in Salt Lake City while training for the Olympics as a freestyle mogul skier.  On the whole, Jill’s Kappa family has been tremendously supportive of the cause, and today they had a strong showing of well over 40 women on their team during the run.

In all, over 150 teams competed, and I saw racers from Cal, Stanford, St. Mary’s, and St. Ignatius present.  After a tasty barbecue donated by Knight’s catering, there was a surprise announcement that Team Frank’s $22,700 was matched by Safeway.  People hung around the area between the California Academy of Sciences and the De Young Museum chatting and eating and stretching, and no doubt gearing up for the next race in February as awards were presented.

Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the US, yet it receives the least amount of funding for research and prevention. Jill sought to change that, and there can be no doubt that few people have done more for the cause than this brave young woman.  Please consider making a donation, and helping to spread the word.
For those of you in the Atlanta area, the Addario Foundation is holding a similar 5K in Virginia Highlands on October 10th!  Join my team at! - Joe Gaeta

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