McCann: A Klassic cause

May. 27, 2014 @ 07:45 PM

That whole business about 60 being the new 50 and 40 being the new 30 and all of that is something I've never gotten into.
If you're 42 — like me — then you're 42.
I mean, getting old is how you know you're living. Some stuff might not work as well as it used to, but it's still functional. You're living.
The thing that scares us about age is that the older we get, the more susceptible we believe we are to a disease that's going to take us away from here.
But try telling that to some of the parents whose kids are in the fight for their lives at Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center. Try telling those moms and dads that cancer is an old folks' disease.
“Everybody thinks cancer affects only older people. Far from the truth,” local television and radio broadcaster Don Shea said.
While childhood cancers make up less than 1 percent of all cancers diagnosed each year, about 10,450 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society. The organization has determined that cancer is the second leading cause of death in children, after accidents, and roughly 1,350 children younger than 15 years old are expected to die from cancer in 2014.
Here's the good news: The American Cancer Society is reporting that more than 80 percent of children with cancer are surviving five years or more. That's possible because of medical breakthroughs.
That's possible, in part, because of the Jim Valvano Kids Klassic, back for its 29th run on July 11-12. The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club is the backdrop, and Shea is saving a seat for you.
“We’re trying to dream of a world without cancer,” said Shea, who, along with former North Carolina Secretary of State Rufus Edmisten, is co-chairman of the Klassic, which over the past 28 years has raised $4.2 million for cancer research.
That money helps Dr. Daniel Wechsler do what he does. Wechsler is the Duke Children's division chief for pediatric hematology-oncology. That’s a fancy way of saying he’s the general in the Duke Children’s war on cancer in kids, and in the battle with him are a platoon of nurses and other highly trained health care professionals who somehow are able to deal with a serious thing like cancer in a child-friendly way.
“I call those nurses Florence Nightingales. What would we do without them?” Shea said.
Not much, especially if the money runs out.
“It takes big money to do what these physicians are trying to do,” Shea said.
Of course, lots of good folks would like to help but just don’t see how they could make it work financially. Times are tight.
“I understand that,” Shea said. “(But) people are in the hospital trying to hang on to their lives."
The Klassic, supported in earnest by presenting sponsor Crothall Healthcare, needs more sponsors to help the good work become greater at one of the best medical centers in the world.
You can get in on it with a Friday-evening dinner at the Washington Duke for $150 per couple. Add another $600 to that and you’re also golfing that weekend, along with enjoying some other nice perks.
A $5,000 corporate sponsorship gets five golfers on the Washington Duke course during the Klassic, and that package allows the golfers to bring a guest to all of the Klassic's special events.
No doubt, whatever you can spare would make a difference and would be put to good use.
“That old expression, every little bit helps, certainly applies to us,” Shea said.

Shea has more information at 919-385-3143, or call Glenn Holzapfel at 919-386-3138 or visit

John McCann on Twitter is @johntmccann, or email him at