You may know him as a Major League Pitcher who won the World Series with the Red Sox in 2007 and again with the Chicago Cubs in 2016, but Jon Lester is more than just a great baseball player. He is a cancer survivor.
“On the heels of my return to baseball, I was approached by a number of cancer related organizations who were interested in my involvement. I was flattered, these were all very worthy causes, and I knew I wanted to do something to give back that had to do with cancer but I just wasn’t ready. Upon the birth of our first child, Hudson, I remember thinking that I couldn’t imagine my son going through what I went through, and suddenly my mission became clear. Alongside my wife, Farrah, we were going to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research.
In 2012, Farrah and I launched NVRQT (Never Quit), in an effort to unite and inspire children battling cancer, and benefit the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (PCRF). Our primary activation for the platform is something we call our “Road Rallies” where we host children going through treatment in away markets. I only pitch every fifth day, and when I’m on the road I’ve got the time to say a quick hello, take some pictures, and sign some autographs. Baseball was a great distraction for me when I was going through treatment, so if we can get these kids out of the hospital and over to the ballpark for a day to help get their minds off cancer, I want to make that happen. Now understanding that the kids would likely be more excited about meeting a player from their home team, I try and reach out to former teammates and friends of friends to join me in welcoming the kids on the field. I was amazed with how willing everyone was to help, and from these experiences we coined the phrase, “there are no rivalries in fighting pediatric cancer.” The program has been wildly successful, we’ve hosted kids and families all over the nation and I get the unique benefit of hearing their stories. The kids are so brave, so inspiring! Here I am trying to make an impact on their life and they’re the ones making an impact on mine. When we set out to give back we never expected there would be a reciprocal effect, but these kids keep me motivated and give me strength.
While the Road Rallies are great, awareness is only half the battle. Research is the only thing that will lead us to a cure, and it’s expensive. So Farrah and I decided we would host a signature event annually with the goal of raising as much money as we could. We’ve now hosted five NVRQT Nights with themes ranging from Hollywood Squares to Country Fairs, and each year we’ve surpassed the previous year’s contribution. In fact, last year we broke the million dollar mark for funds raised for PCRF, and we couldn’t be prouder of that. Farrah and I are fortunate enough to have a platform that people pay attention to, but our voice is not ours alone. We have a responsibility to all of those who came before us that aren’t with us today. We have a responsibility to our kids and to future generations. Cancer is not something anyone beats alone, so we hope to have more people join the NVRQT team in our fight.”