Today is Nelson Mandela International Day! Since 2009, the United Nations and the Nelson Mandela Foundation have called on citizens of the world to commemorate Nelson Mandela's birthday (July 18th) by devoting 67 minutes of time to helping others. 67 is the number of years Mandela served humanity in his public fight for justice, peace, and democracy. Mandela, who died late last year at the age of 95, once said: "A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special."
The childhood cancer community is filled with good heads and good hearts - parents, grandparents, survivors, family, and friends in pursuit of the shared mission of creating a better future for our kids. Our hearts were already filled with love for the kids we care so much about, and we have studied hard to fill our heads with sound knowledge, science, and research about childhood cancers, their harsh treatments, and policies that could improve the outcomes.
Every time we put our collective passion into action by using our "tongues and pens" to tell our stories, we take another step toward that better future.
Last month, the community took one big #StepUp with Childhood Cancer Action Day. Over 250 advocates from 32 states participated in the Alliance for Childhood Cancer's annual event, holding meetings with over 170 Congressional offices. Thousands more participated from around the country by virtually storming Congress with tweets and letters, in the launch of the coordinated community effort to send Congress the message to #StepUp for More Funding for Childhood Cancer Research.
We're seeing real results from all those tongues and pens working together: As a direct result of Action Day, 13 more members of Congress have become co-sponsors of the Caroline Price Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Reauthorization Act to date, with more to sign on in the coming weeks.
If you haven't yet participated in this effort by sending a letter to your Senator and Representatives, it's not too late! And what better day than Nelson Mandela Day to take action and make a difference? It won't even take 67 minutes -- just one or two!