“Wildcatter of Philanthropy” Lester Smith Announces Pink Well Challenge Raises $9 Million For Cancer Research, Treatment, Patient Care & Support
HOUSTON, June 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Successful Texas oilman, philanthropist and two-time cancer survivor Lester Smith announced that a total of $9 million was raised to fight breast cancer by his recent Pink Well Challenge matching campaign, with over $8 million raised by the 30 participating breast cancer organizations and nearly $1 million awarded in matching funds from the Lester and Sue Smith Foundation. The Pink Well Challenge, a national campaign created by Smith to help breast cancer organizations of all sizes raise funds and awareness for their causes, also revealed the winners of its two $50,000 bonus awards: Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation, of Erie, PA and Susan G. Komen for the Cure – Houston.
Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation will receive a $50,000 bonus award for capturing the most online votes for its video, over 120,000 total. Finalists created original, short videos presenting the work of their breast cancer organization and a popular vote was held throughout the October 1, 2011- May 15, 2012 challenge period at the PinkWell website. Over 560,000 total online votes were cast by supporters nationwide.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure-Houston will also receive a $50,000 bonus award for raising the most funds–over $2 million–out of all 30 Pink Well Challenge finalists. The Houston affiliate of Susan G. Komen raised $2,723,796 during the challenge period, the highest total amount. In addition to the $50,000 grand prize, the organization will receive its matching grant of $45,000 for a total of $95,000 from the Pink Well Challenge.
Smith was quick to point out that all the finalists of the Pink Well Challenge are winners. Each non-profit organization will receive up to $45,000 in matching funds from the Lester and Sue Smith Foundation based on the goal they set at the beginning of the challenge last October and matching funds raised by the challenge deadline of May 15, 2012.
“It gives Sue and me great pleasure to congratulate our very worthy grand prize winners and to support the important work that our 30 finalist organizations are doing to fight breast cancer,” said Lester Smith. “The fact that together we generated $9 million for this cause makes me proud and thankful for the many people who accepted the Pink Well Challenge and joined us in this effort.”
The Pink Well Challenge grand prize winners were announced through a special video message from the Smiths on Saturday, June 2 on the Pink Well Challenge website, www.pinkwell.org. In the video, the Smiths were joined by several breast cancer survivors and supporters as they applauded and thanked all the finalists for their outstanding efforts.
The top vote recipient, Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation, is dedicated to funding research for the Kanzius Noninvasive Radiowave Treatment project and is working toward a treatment to end all cancer types, including breast cancer. In addition to the grand prize, Kanzius will receive $45,000 in matching challenge funds. At the start of the challenge, Kanzius also received $25,000 for receiving the most votes in the Pink Well Ellen DeGeneres Award, a four-day voting challenge open to all 150 challenge applicants, staged last Oct. in conjunction with Lester Smith’s appearance on the popular national television show, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
Established in 1991, Susan G. Komen for the Cure – Houston has given more than $22 million to help fight breast cancer and an additional $7 million for breast cancer research. Komen Houston also sponsors The Komen Houston Race for the Cure®, the largest foot race in Houston.
Two-time national ballroom dancing champions, Lester and Sue Smith kicked off The Pink Well Challenge with a splashy surprise breast cancer survivor dance tribute in the Houston Galleria shopping center last June, to coincide with National Cancer Survivors Day. The bright pink flash mob featured disco great Gloria Gaynor singing her 70s hit, “I Will Survive,” along with over 200 dancing breast cancer survivors and supporters sporting bright pink wigs and boas.
When it comes to fighting cancer, the Smiths are known for putting their money where their hearts are. Lester Smith is the author of the book “You Gotta Dance Like No One’s Watching,” which features life lessons on “living, giving and never missing a beat.” All book proceeds support breast cancer and genomic research worldwide with The Lester and Sue Smith Foundation matching all funds raised from book sales. The Smiths recently staged, underwrote and matched all proceeds from a mega disco dancing event for Texas Children’s Cancer Center that was the largest single-evening fund raiser in Houston’s history, raising a total of $32.2 million for pediatric cancer research.
About Lester and Sue Smith
A two-time U.S. Grand Senior Latin Dance Champion, Lester Smith is a second-generation Texas oilman. A native of Wharton, Texas, Smith battled bladder cancer for nearly two decades while building a successful energy business and training as a competitive dancer. But it was a diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer that nearly ended his life. In true “Lester” style, he committed himself to a full recovery and he and his wife Sue vowed to do whatever they could to help others struggling with cancer. Lester’s battles with cancer, and the devastating loss of Sue’s sister to breast cancer, sparked a fierce advocacy for supporting critical research. This personal campaign has set an unprecedented standard for philanthropy, igniting a very public platform to raise awareness of the disease, encourage early detection and fund the most promising research at the Texas Medical Center and beyond.
The Lester and Sue Smith Foundation has donated in excess of $75 million dollars to support cancer research and treatment at many organizations including Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Cancer Center, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Harris County Hospital District. Lester Smith is an active board member and advocate of numerous worthy causes including Baylor College of Medicine, The Holocaust Museum Houston, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the National Prostate Cancer Foundation and Houston Museum of Natural Science. His first book, “You Gotta Dance Like No One’s Watching,” written with Trish Morille, was published this year with all profits supporting breast cancer and genomic research. The Lester and Sue Smith Foundation supports numerous non-profit organizations dedicated to medical science, education, arts and humanitarian causes. For more about Lester Smith, visit www.yougottadance.org.
SOURCE The Lester and Sue Smith Foundation