An accomplished college football coach, Alan Gooch has experienced his share of tough opponents. The same is true off the field. As executive director of the Orlando Sports Foundation (OSF), an organization dedicated to supporting cancer research, he is driven to find new ways to combine his love of football with his desire to eliminate this deadly disease.
To do so, he was urged to create a new college bowl game in the city of Orlando. Initially, Gooch was hesitant – however an encounter with breast cancer survivors permanently changed his mind.
He was attending a community planning meeting several years ago when he met a group of women who not only supported the idea of the college bowl game, but wanted it to benefit breast cancer research. The words they left him with hit him hard: “Coach Gooch we know that you have a lot going on, however we want you to know that cancer takes no holiday.”
“I left that meeting with those words ringing in my head,” he said. When he returned home, he told his wife about the meeting and the impact those women had on him.
“I told her that if we could start a game about making breast cancer take a permanent holiday, then I believe it would be a worth spending time and effort to create another sanctioned NCAA Bowl whose focus and mission would be to raise money for cancer research,” Gooch said.
This is how the inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl was born. However, once Gooch made the decision to go forward with the college game, he was soon confronted with another challenge: finding the right charity partner who was committed to supporting breast cancer research.
“In the early going it was very disappointing as we looked at the percentage of funds raised directed towards breast cancer research from national breast cancer organizations. Some were donating as little as 17 percent of funds raised to cancer research,” he said.
At the peak of his frustration, fate took over. He was on a bike trip with a good friend Matt Snyder, when he started sharing his struggles with finding a charity partner for the Cure Bowl.
“Matt told me that I needed to speak to his mother-in-law who is the CEO of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation – an organization that donates to cancer research,” Gooch said. “I actually laughed out loud, and said that we have researched a lot of national and local foundations and had not found anything close to that number.”
That same day Snyder connected Gooch with BCRF CEO Myra Biblowit and as Gooch put it: “the rest is history.”
Now with the AutoNation Cure Bowl slated for December 19, Gooch anticipates the game will have a lasting effect on breast cancer research, BCRF and the Orlando community.
“One of the most important tools we bring to the BCRF tool box is our ability to give the organization a national television platform to share its mission,” Gooch said. “We will have the ability to reach at minimum 1.3 million people view the Cure Bowl, learn about BCRF and donate accordingly.”
Gooch’s OSF Foundation is leading by example. The organization plans to break the single game donation record ever given by a bowl to its charity partner. That record is currently held at $90,000. The AutoNation Cure Bowl is guaranteeing BCRF a minimum gift of $150,000 in year one.
“We certainly hope the donation presentation check that will be given to BCRF in the beginning of the second quarter of the Cure Bowl will be much more than $150,000 for the combined efforts of all of the teams we are bringing together to find a cure for cancer,” Gooch added.
The game has many key supporters. AutoNation has committed a $1 million donation to BCRF through its nationwide Drive Pink campaign. Florida Hospital – the presenting sponsor of the game – has collaborated with BCRF grantee Dr. Annette Khaled of the University of Central Florida to provide tissue samples for her work. The hospital will also be providing medical services such as mammography screenings at the game itself.
For Gooch, this kind of teamwork can only lead to victory.
“All in all we are truly bringing teams together to find a cure for cancer,” he said.
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Breast Cancer Research Foundation28 West 44th Street, Suite 609, New York, NY 10036
General Office: 646-497-2600 | Toll Free: firstname.lastname@example.org | BCRF is a 501 (c)(3) | EIN: 13-3727250