What is Climbers Against Cancer / CAC?
By Jacquie Budd // How many of us within 3 years of being diagnosed with terminal cancer would have created a thriving charity raising valuable funds for cancer research and bringing together a community of people right across the world?
John Ellison is one such person. In October 2011, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The doctors at the time told him that they would be pleased if he survived for 2 years. Instead of sitting back waiting for his fate, he poured his energy into creating something incredible. On 24 January 2013, he pressed the launch button on Climbers Against Cancer (more commonly known as CAC) and started selling a line of brightly coloured and instantly recognisable t-shirts, which have become known to climbers right around the globe. The idea was simple and inclusive – one price for a t-shirt with no postage costs, regardless of where you live in the world. All profits go to a variety of cancer charities all across the world. There are no expensive administrative costs to pay for (the charity is run by volunteers) and once enough funds are raised, donations are given to cancer research facilities directly.
Climbers Against Cancer is about more than just funding cancer research
CAC has brought together the climbing community worldwide. One look at the Gallery page on the website www.climbersagainstcancer.org shows just how much people want to be part of this community. It is full of pictures showing climbers of all ages and abilities, from a multitude of nations, proudly displaying their CAC t-shirt. The Facebook page is also full of people uploading their photos and commenting/engaging with the posts. Cancer affects pretty much everybody in some way (most of us know somebody who has suffered with the disease) and Climbers Against Cancer is showing itself to be a central anchor point for climbers to share, feel supported, get inspired and donate their money directly to research.
CAC engages the elite climbing community
One of the ways in which CAC has grown so rapidly is through engaging the elite climbing community. Shauna Coxsey is one of the Trustees and a look on the ‘Downloads’ page of the CAC website gives official pictures of more elite climbers wearing their CAC t-shirt. CAC also has a strong link to the competitive climbing world, they are the official charity for the IFSC (International Federation of Sport Climbing http://www.ifsc-climbing.org/ ) and some climbing teams now have a CAC t-shirt as part of their official team clothing.
Some of the statistics released on the 2 year anniversary of the CAC launch are staggering:
- 20,000 t-shirts have been printed and sold (that’s an average of 833/month, or 192/week, or 27/day)
- €420,000 euro’s is the gross money raised (via sales and fundraising events)
- 7 donations of £10,000 each have been made in Australia, France, Canada, UK, USA, Germany and South Korea (with more planned in 2015)
I’ve been lucky enough to know John since early 2013, first meeting while volunteering to sell CAC t-shirts at the CWIF (Climbing Works International Festival). One of the things he told me he loves is to see children wearing their CAC t-shirts and talking openly about cancer, breaking down the silence that often accompanies a terminal disease and developing a new way of dealing with the topic of cancer for future generations. John is one of the most positive and upbeat people I have ever met and I’m constantly inspired and humbled by the drive and determination he shows to develop Climbers Against Cancer, increase awareness, raise funding for research, bring people together and ensure that the charity thrives when ultimately he will sadly no longer be there at the helm.
Official CAC Office Opening
So it was an honour and a privilege to attend the official opening of the new CAC headquarters on Saturday 24 January 2015. The office is a bright, comfortable, modern, cheery space with an open door policy for anybody who wishes to call in. The aim is for people to feel that they can drop by, sit and chill on the sofa and hopefully volunteer to fold some t-shirts and generally help out with the running of CAC. The funding for the premises has come purely through external sponsorship, with some big name outdoor clothing brands helping to foot the bill (check the CAC website if you want to know who is involved). The ethos is that anyone who buys a t-shirt knows that they are directly supporting the fight against cancer and not funding a swanky new office!
There are many quotes on the CAC website, but my favourite, which I believe sums up the spirit behind Climbers Against Cancer, is the following one:
“You can’t do anything about the length of your life,
but you can do something about its width and depth”
So if you are in the north of England (Lancashire to be more specific) and fancy volunteering for a spot of t-shirt folding on behalf of Climbers Against Cancer, get in touch with them email@example.com
To buy your own t-shirt (or hoodie), visit http://www.shop.climbersagainstcancer.org/
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