Baltimore childhood cancer foundation Gold in Fight is celebrating two years of providing support to Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington D.C. families who have children fighting pediatric cancer. The foundation will mark the occasion by hosting their 2nd Annual Birthday Bash on Saturday, September 22, 1-5p.m., at the UAW Hall in Baltimore, Maryland.
The event will feature a shrimp feast and bull roast, princesses and action heroes, games, raffles, a silent auction, and more. It is open to the public and all proceeds raised will go to relieve some of the hardships and stresses families face due to their child’s battle against or loss to pediatric cancer.
The 501(c)3 non-profit foundation, founded by Baltimore native Mike Griffith, provides emotional and financial support to family members, including help with unexpected expenses that families often accumulate during their child’s extended hospital stays for treatment.
When Griffith launched the charity in 2016, he said their goal was simply to provide meals to families who were strapped to the pediatric oncology ward at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. As the regular Friday night meals continued, they began to recognize that there was a larger need for families who were spending weeks, months, and even up to a year away from their daily lives.
“Some of these parents have to quit their jobs so they can stay with their child in the hospital during long stretches of treatment,” explains Griffith. “They lose a lot of income, so we started paying small bills here or there for families just to kind of help them out a little bit.”
As Griffith continued reaching out to local businesses for support, he caught the attention of some Baltimore-area professional sports teams and athletes, including the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, Major Arena Soccer League’s Baltimore Blast, and local Baltimore MMA fighter James “Binky” Jones.
Even former Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata asked to help the Gold in Fight team after he’d already moved his NFL career to Detroit. He returned to Baltimore to help feed the pediatric oncology ward families, autograph footballs and jerseys, and spend time with the kids.
“You never know who’s watching you,” says Griffith. “Here’s a guy who’s a big hero to Baltimore Ravens fans and he took time out of his own schedule to come back here and do that. It means so much to these kids and families, and to the Gold in Fight Foundation.”
As they grew, Griffith says they noticed that new families showing up in the pediatric oncology ward didn’t seem to talk, “…like they didn’t know how to talk about what they’re going through,” he explains.
So the non-profit began building a support system that started with a simple Facebook group for their “Gold Fighter Families,” giving them a safe place to talk and learn from other families dealing with the same circumstances.
They also started planning “get-away” days, including spa treatments for the moms and a “Gold Day on the Bay” event where families get to enjoy a day on the water, crabbing, touring local Chesapeake Bay sites, and just enjoying a day that is focused on them, rather than on the disease. Local volunteer boat owners serve as their captains.
“A lot of times, when you give money to a foundation, you don’t really know what percentage goes to the people that they’re supporting,” says Griffith. “It’s very important to Gold in Fight that, as much as we possibly can, we get people to donate their time and services so that it goes directly to the families.
“Even our board members donate their time,” he continues. “We’re retired military, business owners, and spouses who are doing this as volunteers – we don’t take a salary.”
The foundation says that while cancer is the number one cause of death by disease among children, only 4% of federal government cancer research funding goes to study pediatric cancer, and Gold in Fight wants to raise that number.
“They say childhood cancer is rare. I say B-S to that because just one kid having to go through this is too many,” Griffith proclaims.
“We want childhood cancer to be gone. I want it to be eradicated. If I woke up tomorrow and childhood cancer was gone,” he continues, “I’d be the happiest man in the world and I would move on to something else. But until that happens, I want Gold in Fight’s name to become synonymous with helping to knock out childhood cancer.”
To learn more about Gold in Fight Foundation’s 2nd Annual Birthday Bash and to purchase tickets or sponsor a Gold Fighter Family, you can visit their Facebook page: Gold in Fight or their website at GoldInFight.org.
Gold in Fight
5 Bluecrab Ct, Sparrows Point, MD 21219