Roger Daltrey Champions Teen Cancer America to Create Specialized Treatment Facilities

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Raleigh, N.C. Fundraiser and Support of First Citizen’s Bank Jumpstart U.S. Awareness for Rocker’s Non-Profit Mission

They need their own place where they can be with each other and most importantly, be themselves. - Roger Daltrey

Roger Daltrey, looking fit and energized at 72, recently flew from Toronto to a Raleigh, N.C. fundraiser, North Carolina Cares, to mingle, take photos and speak to a room of local leaders about Teen Cancer America(TCA), the cause that has become the most important mission of his life. Four hours and more than $110,000 later, he was on a plane to Kansas City to join bandmate and philanthropic partner Pete Townshend to rock another stop on The Who Hits 50! North American tour.

Daltrey admits, however, that it is the concert tour that has taken a back seat to his passion for expanding the work of TCA. After his appearance in Raleigh, all 250 in attendance understood why.

TCA is the U.S. version of the U.K. non-profit, Teenage Cancer Trust, established in 1990. For 24 years, the trust has successfully financed treatment facilities for teens who often find themselves uncomfortably stuck between two alien worlds – either in pediatric cancer wards with young children or alongside older adults, making a difficult situation even worse. Daltrey is a longtime patron of the organization, initially helping to raise money and awareness through special concert events at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Daltrey and Townshend founded TCA in 2012 to give back to the country that has given them so much during their musical careers. Their dedication to the TCA mission together with their influence in the music world has inspired the likes of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Joan Jett and others to join their U.S. crusade, Who Cares - Teen Cancer America, to create hospital environments that adequately address the clinical and psychosocial needs of teenagers and young adults with cancer.

“The best therapy for a teenager with cancer is another teenager with cancer,” an enthusiastic Daltrey said to the group assembled at First Citizen’s Center in Raleigh. “It’s hard enough being a teenager, but being treated for cancer and finding yourself either among little kids or the elderly just isn’t right – they need their own place where they can be with each other and most importantly, be themselves.”

In North Carolina, Sally Webb, CEO of The Special Event Company in Cary and a fellow Brit, is a founding board member and regional lead of the TCA movement following a decade of involvement with Teenage Cancer Trust. Raleigh-based First Citizens Bank, the largest family-owned bank in the U.S., pledged $1.5 million to jumpstart efforts across the state, including the launch of a powerful TV ad campaign using a special version of Townshend’s hit song, “Let My Love Open the Door,” performed by Daltrey.

First Citizens Bank has made TCA its lead philanthropic cause, helping to raise money and awareness through a special website, LetMyLoveOpenTheDoor.com, and a social media campaign using the hashtag, #LetMyLoveOpenTheDoor. As a result of First Citizen’s commitment, Raleigh will serve as the U.S. hub for TCA in the Southeast, helping to further initiatives planned for Duke Medical Center, UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University’s Bowman-Grey Medical Center in Winston-Salem.

Across the U.S., TCA has projects underway in New York City, Cleveland, New Haven, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Tampa, Fort Worth, and Chicago, and partnerships with more than 50 hospitals around the country are in various stages of planning and development.

At First Citizen’s Center in Raleigh, guests were treated to cocktails, dinner and “Whograss” music from The HillBenders, performing hits by The Who in bluegrass style. In addition to Daltrey and Webb, speakers included TCA Executive Director Simon Davies, TCA board member and legendary band manager for The Who and Judas Priest, Bill Curbishley, TCA Chair Rebecca Rothstein and representatives of First Citizens Bank that included Chief Strategy Officer and TCA board member Jeff Ward together with Senior VP, Corporate Communications and TCA Liaison Lead Barbara Thompson.

“It has been remarkable to see how engaged people become when they learn what TCA is all about,” said Davies, who joked on stage about being one of numerous speakers addressing the room in a British accent. “But the best part is the response of the young people who finally get to experience cancer treatment in a new way – in a place designed just for them – making a difficult time a little better for them and for their families.”

One of the evening’s highlights came when Daltrey introduced and embraced three young cancer survivors with whom the rock star had visited on previous trips to N.C. Sarah Stream, Sarah Thomas and Alex Werner spoke movingly of their personal experiences undergoing cancer treatment as teenagers.

During the evening’s fundraising portion, bidding paddles were held high as once-a-lifetime auction items such as backstage VIP passes for The Who and Pearl Jam concerts, a private party in Los Angeles including appearances by the bands, autographed guitars and other prizes were offered up. The opportunity to serve as roadies for The Who brought the most enlivened response.

Daltrey will continue to race across the country from concert performances to TCA fundraisers and back again. The awareness for TCA, he insists, is as valuable – perhaps more so – as the money raised at each event. At a major upcoming event scheduled in Los Angeles, the star wattage will be cranked up as Daltrey, Townshend, Vedder, Jett and the TCA team enlist even more support for a population of young people who have gone too long without it.

About Teen Cancer America
Teen Cancer America is designed to help hospitals and healthcare professionals bridge the gap between pediatric and adult oncology care by educating and support hospitals and outpatient facilities in the development of specialized units for this age group. TCA brings together physicians and allied healthcare professionals in both pediatric and adult oncology. Age targeted care for this population is necessary for medical and appropriate psychosocial development of this unique age group. Research shows that outcomes associated with some cancers that target this age group have not improved in over 30 years while improvements have been made in both pediatric and adult cancers. Teens and young adults with cancer are long overdue for an upgrade and TCA can hopefully light the fire in America’s health systems. For more information about TCA or to inquire about making a contribution, please contact Barbara Leedy at The Special Event Company 919-459-8785.

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