Bob is here!
What have you been most proud of during your time with the V Foundation?
The quality of research that we give our money to. We were fortunate to have two great doctors on our board from the beginning. They along with Nick Valvano developed our strategy for giving money. When we get a dollar of donation, we really do give a dollar to research. That's what I'm most proud of.
What's your day to day role within the organization?
As chairman, I'm not involved in the day to day. Our CEO Susan Braun performs that role. But as chairman, it's to determine our goals and direction. I will seem more active, because of my relationship with Jim. Between the foundation and the wine event that we run in Napa, it's about 2-2.5 days per week I spend on the Foundation.
I'm a huge fan of Jim Valvano and his fight against cancer. Do you have any fond memories of him?
Obviously, Jim and I were college roommates, teammates, we were in the military together. As Jim always proudly said, no one ever bombed Delaware when we were in the National Guard there. The night he asked me to be on the board, we had met with ESPN. There are some humorous memories, some about the Foundation and many memories that college roommates can't tell.
Do you think we could see a cure for cancer in the near future?
The difficulty with cancer is it's cancers, plural. They react differently to research, medication, treatments. If you look back in the past 10 years there were many cancers that were death sentences, but now are in the 90% cure rates. We want to get the number of cancers to that rate up. The quality of research over the next 10 years due to the human genome project will increase exponentially. We're excited about more cures for cancers.
You're an alum....Rutgers to the Big 10?
I think it's great. I think it will help their recruiting tremendously. Now, I don't think any great high school athlete in the NY/NJ area has a reason to leave. As a practical measure, as a member of the Big East, schools got $6 million, in the Big Ten, it's 24 million. Congrats to them, it's a great move.
How much money have you raised in past years for the fight against cancer and how can we get involved?
We passed the $100 million mark on total money raised a few years ago. Each year, we raise more and more money. I have to say that, and I say it all the time, we would be a nice, little charity, but because of ESPN and their support and all of the employees there, we're a national charity. To get involved, I would say go to jimmyv.org or call 1-800-4JimmyV. I'm sure our staff can figure a way for everyone to get involved.
Has cancer touched any of your family or friends?
I lost my mom to cancer, my dad to cancer. Luckily late in life. My neice to cancer, at 30. The answer is yes. I lost a good friend to bladder cancer. He fought it for 18 years. With cancer, it's not if you'll be touched, it's when. I've had too many skin cancers to talk about, luckily I haven't had a significant one. From a fundraising standpoint, everyone is a potential giver to the V Foundation, because everyone will be touched at some time. It's a horrible disease.
What's the future of the V Foundation? How would you like it to grow?
We're about to embark on a significant fundraising campaign. It was George Bodenheimer who asked how do we compare to other charities in how much we raise and how much for overhead? My comment was I don't know if we should be proud of being on the lower percentages of those. You've got to invest to grow a business. A foundation is a business. We've tried to be good stewards in the money we receive. We raise about $14 million each year and give every cent away, but we want to get up to 50 million. When you support a charity, before you right that check, go online, and see how much the CEO of that charity makes, see how much money is for overhead, how much goes to programs. There are many fine charities, support those charities, but research it first. I'm very proud of the foundation. We receiver 4-star charity navigator consistently.
What goes into the process of brainstorming how to raise more money?
It's just like a business. We have a great board of directors. We analyzed ourselves. Then we hird a consulting firms and figured out if we have the ability to raise that kind of money. Then we established a committee to create an action plan. We are about to embark in the silent phase. We're going to next year start the campaign, about a 7 year plan. It's a very carefully planned development program. We have brought on fundraising staff and others to help raise the money.
Are you able to catch many Rutgers basketball games?
I'm fortunate enough that I retired and I live on Maui for 8 months a year and in the Bay Area for the summer months. It's a long trip to Rutgers. But I try to go once a year. My brother Dick still does the color commentary. That's one of the reasons I went to Rutgers. My brother got a job at Rutgers. When I was coming out of high school, I got the brochure on Rutgers and I said I don't want to go to a junior college. But I ended up making a good decision.
What do you think Jimmy would say about the Foundation's work?
I'm asked that often...and you have to know Jimmy. He would say, why aren't you raising more money? Why aren't you finding more cures for cancer? That's the coach in Jimmy. He'd pat you on the butt and say great job, but...that was Jimmy.
How important was ESPN's backing with the Foundation?
Without it, there is no foundation. There absolutely is not a foundation. Foundations are very very difficult. It's relatively easy in the beginning with the enthusiasm people have. But to grow it and be a significant foundation is very difficult. ESPN gives us such great exposure and gets our message out, I can't say enough. The other factor is there is a V Committee at ESPN that meet once a quarter. They are employees from various departments and they discuss what they can do to help. From 0-10, in terms of importance, ESPN is a 20.
What do you do when you aren't running the V Foundation?
I'm in Honolulu right now. I serve on some boards. One of them is a video game company, Tetris; also a small company. I consult with some companies. The islands get 90% of their energy from fossil fuels, so one of the companies is trying to get the islands off fossil fuels.
And I hang out with my wife and kids and grand kids. Not all work.
I encourage people, when you want to make a charitable gift, research who you're giving it to, to make sure you know where the money is going. No one uses it better than the V Foundation.