CHARLES A. MOOSE
"Let's recognize the trust we've built and keep building on it."
Hail to the chief!
Six months ago, he was unknown even to many in his own county. Then a sniper began terrorizing greater Washington, and Montgomery County police chief Charles Moose found himself leading an areawide task force to catch the killers.
For 22 days, Moose managed the crisis, coordinating the efforts of local police forces and federal law-enforcement agencies. He balanced the need to protect the investigation but still provide information to the public. Despite the pressure of 16- and 18-hour days, his was the voice of calm and reason.
It wasn't easy–particularly when the investigation seemed to be progressing slowly or not at all. "It was like a jigsaw puzzle," Moose says. "You can't throw away the first 50 pieces you touch even if they don't seem to fit anywhere."
Moose surprised some people when he showed his softer side–he cried at a press conference while describing the shooting of a Prince George's County middle-schooler.
That openness would not surprise the people of Portland, Oregon. Moose joined that city's police force straight out of college and stayed for 18 years, the last six as chief. He's held on to his self-described "West Coast style," driving himself everywhere and not hiding behind a closed office door. Moose sends hand-signed birthday cards to every officer and civilian staffer on the county police force–more than a thousand people.
The chief also relishes his time as a teacher. For the past two years, he's taught criminology at Montgomery College. During the sniper crisis he missed only one class–he had his phone and pager with him, but he needed "a couple of hours of fresh air," he told his students.
It was this combination of professionalism and personal involvement that led Montgomery County to recruit Moose for the job. Since his arrival in 1999, he has focused the department on building trust in all areas of the county.
How has the chief handled his new, worldwide celebrity? With modesty and grace. He insists on sharing credit with FBI agent Gary Ball, Mike Buchardt of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the massive task force, and the public. But he can't help enjoying the moment.
"I sincerely think we have one heck of a success story," Moose says. "We don't have enough of those."
ERIC ADLER & RAJIV VINNAKOTA
"We talk about college from the day they arrive."
It's a prep school whose students study latin, trigonom-etry, philosophy, etiquette, and civics. They live in dorms with halls named for elite colleges. Those who excel may be rewarded with a trip to Greece.
Tuition? Not a cent. This is a DC charter school. Kids get in not by essays and test scores but by the luck of the draw. Teachers aren't necessarily accredited–but can they teach.
Rajiv Vinnakota and Eric Adler imagined the SEED Public Charter School separately, before they met. Both Ivy League grads then quit their jobs as corporate consultants to collaborate on their dream: a safe, nurturing environment where inner-city 7th- through 12th-graders could grow and learn together full-time, with the ultimate goal of college placement.
"We want kids whose outcomes will be much better with 24-hour structure," Adler says. "If students are going to succeed in school, they need to have had a good night's sleep, a good meal, have taken a shower, be in clean clothes, and have done their homework to prepare for the day."
Their parents agree: There are three hopeful families for every opening. The nation's only charter boarding school brings many private-school attractions into Southeast DC–rigorous courses, individual attention (14 students per class), a spirited, growing campus, and creative, committed faculty.
Not to mention the founders. With years of teaching, volunteering, and development between them, these two took quite a flier: Raising $18 million and getting a congressional waiver for their residential vision, they added remedial courses, museum-quality artwork, and nationally heralded administrators. Already this small, 4H-year-old institution has landed awards for DC Charter School Teacher of the Year and Student of the Year.
Vinnakota and Adler foresee "a bunch" of SEED schools–perhaps in DC, perhaps elsewhere. But first comes getting their entering class off to college next year. Says Vinnakota, "We want our students to leave with the options that we, who grew up in the middle-class milieu, took for granted."
"This is where theater really starts to happen."
Eric schaeffer brought stephen sondheim to washington.
The bond between the then-neophyte director and the award-winning writer and composer was formed soon after Schaeffer and Donna Migliaccio started Arlington's Signature Theatre in 1989. The pair had $500 and a desire to showcase American musicals.
The tiny theater was able to produce two of Sondheim's most difficult works, Assassins and Passion, with such style that Passion won a rave review in the New York Times.
James Lapine, who cowrote the musical, wrote to Schaeffer after seeing Passion, "You understand better than anybody I know."
So it is not surprising that the Kennedy Center tapped Schaeffer to be artistic director for last summer's Sondheim Festival.
What is surprising is that Schaeffer kept right on working at Signature–as he has while directing plays in both New York and London. "I would never leave Washington," he says. "The most exciting things are happening in regional theaters."
Schaeffer transmits the excitement to high-school kids through the Signature in the Schools program. Each year the theater works with students from Arlington's Wakefield and Yorktown high schools to produce an original play.
"What's unique about this program is that these students are a vital part of the development of a world premiere," Schaeffer says. Signature in the Schools has received the Washington Post Award for Community Service as part of the Helen Hayes Awards.
When Schaeffer started Signature Theatre, he followed the advice given to theatrical hopefuls: Don't quit your day job. Schaeffer was an art director at WETA until 1997, when the balancing act became impossible even for a man with so much energy that he's been called "a cross between Joseph Papp and Peter Pan."
Schaeffer is now working on a new production of 110 in the Shade. He's doing what he loves best–rewriting the book, trying to find something new to say in a decades-old musical.
Signature also has commissioned plays from local playwrights. "It's just as important to fail with these new shows as it is to succeed," Schaeffer says. "The thing is that the work then goes on to another life."
"Being a senior doesn't mean the end of living or learning."
Fourteen years ago, rosa weinstein saw an ad from the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington asking for donated goods: "I thought, I don't have a table or anything, but maybe they'd like a class in anthropology."
That was the start of the Himmelfarb Mobile University. Weinstein and 30 other volunteer teachers visit 110 senior centers, assisted-living residences, and nursing homes to teach classes ranging from musicology to economics.
One of the teachers is a retired Methodist minister. Two others are retired professionals in their eighties.
Weinstein teaches seven classes a week. A lifelong learner herself, she went back to school after her children were grown, discovering anthropology while getting a master's in Georgetown University's liberal-studies program. Then she went on to Catholic University to learn more about her new favorite subject.
Her enthusiasm is catching, says Joan de Pontet of the Jewish Social Services Agency, which provides administrative help to the nonsectarian program: "She is one of the most wonderfully upbeat people I've ever known."
Weinstein says her students continually amaze her. Their questions often send her home to do research. Their comments warm her heart. One man studied some artifacts from South Africa and marveled, "How alike all people are!" A 94-year-old told Weinstein that she thought her learning days were over–but happily she was back in "school" again.
Some of the seniors can't absorb the information. That's okay, too, Weinstein says. "They may forget what you said or how you said it, but they never forget the pleasurable experience they had."
A few years ago Rosa Weinstein was badly burned in an automobile accident. She took a year to recover and then went back to teaching.
She says of her students, "They are young and fresh at heart. We are opening windows, pushing out the walls of the institutions." Then Weinstein brings the sunshine in.
ANNE BOSTON PARISH
"I always thought I could do more."
Picture a 31-year-old waitress, pregnant and nervous, her hand wrapped in her husband's. He drives a truck. They lack health insurance but make too much to qualify for community health services.
Now picture a 54-year-old asthmatic laborer. He's raising his grandson, who recently came to him with "a problem." They need to get him tested.
Or a grad student whose cough might now be bronchitis, but it was either the rent or a doctor last month, and he chose the rent.
These are the sort of people who find their way to Alexandria's Queen Street Clinic. Anne Boston Parish sees them all. The board-certified family nurse practitioner set up shop here in August 2001 and has logged nearly 5,000 visits since.
Just being seen at Inova Alexandria Hospital's emergency room costs $150; nearby urgent-care clinics charge $100 to $150. At Queen Street, every visit is $45. City health clinics, which have strict requirements and waiting lists, can be dingy and bureaucratic; Parish's, which will serve anyone, is cheery.
"I walked the halls of the skill facility where I worked before and looked in people's eyes," she says. "They were 50, 60, with lost limbs, no sight, no kidney function. They said they hadn't had any health care. I said someone had to help these people."
Though the clinic started as a business, $45 never covered its costs. Parish took a second mortgage to buy the two-story building, then made renovations with $42,000 in in-kind donations from area businesses. In debt $300,000 and with foundations unresponsive, she made the corporation a nonprofit in July.
At times supported by a young physician assistant, with infrequent clerical help, Parish usually works alone–not only seeing patients but answering phones, recording test results, ordering drugs, and scrubbing bathrooms. The clinic is open six days a week; the seventh she often spends cleaning out a retiring doctor's office, grateful for any equipment and medications she can cart away.
"I might not be alive today were it not for the accessibility of the Queen Street Clinic," wrote one grateful patient. "Without the beneficence and driving force of Anne Boston Parish, we would be a much weaker community."
LYNNE &JOSEPH HORNING
" The more difficult the issue, the more we like the challenge."
He's the bricks-and-mortar guy. she's the art and music lover. They share a commitment to better educational opportunities for DC kids. But Joe and Lynne Horning approach that goal in different ways.
Joe is a native Washingtonian and a developer of low- and moderate-income housing. He does more than build houses; he helps build and sustain neighborhoods. As a volunteer and adviser for the Center City Community Corporation, Horning helped the group turn an abandoned DC school into the Perry School Community Services Center at First and M streets, Northwest.
Horning is on the Charter School Board and, with John Griffin, has "adopted" two Catholic schools in Southeast DC. He's also helped Archbishop Carroll High School. And when Redskin Darrell Green wanted to expand his Fun Days in the Park into a full-scale program for kids and families, he turned to Joe Horning.
Lynne Horning is a transplanted Coloradan, a potter, pianist, and passionate supporter of arts education. She has worked with the Levine School of Music for more than a decade to increase its outreach to kids. Through her generosity and hard work, the Levine School and the Calvary Bilingual Multicultural Learning Center developed an early-childhood music program at the center.
Lynne is on the board of the new city museum and also is involved with the Sitar Center, which provides music and dance to the children of DC's Adams Morgan neighborhood. "Music adds a new dimension to kids' lives," she says. "It makes them aware of their community and helps them develop a sense of who they are."
Joe Horning attributes his philanthropic spirit to his Irish-American mother, who had "an enormous capacity to share." It's a spirit that drives the couple's lives. They don't sit on the sidelines–they're out on the field as part of the team.
"When you're as involved as we are in ongoing projects, you get a sense of both fulfillment and frustration. But you know you are really part of the process," they say.
TERRI LEE FREEMAN
"We moved very quickly to set up a Survivors' Fund–not a ' victims' fund. Our money was used to help people get their lives back."
On september 11, 2001, terri lee freeman and her staff at the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region were preparing for a meeting. But when the terrorists struck and the Pentagon was in flames, Freeman reacted fast. By September 12, the Community Foundation had become the focal point for collecting funds and providing help for local survivors.
First, Freeman talked with Oklahoma City people who had helped survivors of an earlier bombing there. Learning from their experience, Freeman decided that a Survivors' Fund could make the greatest contribution "not by cutting checks but by helping people heal." Survivors were often too traumatized to know what they needed. The foundation worked with Northern Virginia Family Service to provide case managers, who in turn matched survivors with services.
Freeman had been preparing for this kind of community crisis for more than two decades. Before being selected to head the Community Foundation in 1996, she had established and directed the Freddie Mac Foundation.
She had created a network of community connections; now the Community Foundation's assets have grown from $52 million to more than $200 million. She built the staff and helped the board focus the foundation's mission–not just to give money to regional nonprofit groups but also to help private philanthropists connect to groups that need their help.
While the Community Foundation continues to serve survivors, Freeman never forgets that the city's neediest citizens live in a permanent state of crisis. Poverty rates have risen in DC in the last decade, she says. Charities that help the poor are stretched to their limits. That is why Freeman spends a lot of her time helping donors find the right outlets for their generosity.
"Most people with charitable intent do it because they believe they can make a difference," Freeman says. "I believe they can."
"I see it as my duty and view it as a labor of love to assist others up the ladder."
"I left to save my life," gustavo torres says.
Colombia, 1987: Paramilitary troops are everywhere. A professor and a friend organizing labor unions have just been killed. Torres flees. Two months later, his family reaches him in El Salvador–guerrillas have murdered his brother.
Years later, Torres sits behind a desk in Takoma Park. Since 1993 the former journalist has headed Casa of Maryland, the state's largest Latino advocacy and service organization.
Life has changed: "I am living safe from military threat, with more than enough to eat and freedom to participate as a citizen in elections." But his passion for justice hasn't dimmed; it's just channeled into the system.
Maryland's Latino population has almost doubled since the 1980s. Most immigrants want only a decent home, good health, and the means to provide for their families, Torres says, but can find those hard to come by. English classes, for example, are full; the state ranks 48th in spending for adult education. So Casa set up its own classes. Last year alone, 3,100 clients studied English, Spanish literacy, computers, and citizenship.
Seeking a decent home, 624 clients got housing assistance. Seeking better health, 2,000 received AIDS education and thousands more got emergency food supplies and transportation to medical care.
As for providing for families, last year Casa matched 250 Latinos with full-time jobs and found temporary and day jobs for 9,750 others, including many laid off after 9/11. Through a partnership with Clark Construction, more than 400 clients have found long-term jobs with full benefits. Casa's legal office has recovered almost $250,000 from employers–forging ties with business owners, legislators, and legal experts along the way.
Torres's life is not all Casa. The newlywed also works with Progressive Maryland and the Prince George's County Police Accountability Task Force. He heads Maryland's Latino Coalition for Justice, "like an NAACP for Latinos," which won passage of a law making state courts more accessible to people of limited English skills. And he cofounded the National Day Laborer Network to build on local momentum.
"I learned early on the only way to lasting change is through collaboration," says Torres–improving, if not saving, lives.
LORI REMLEY MODY
"I had to find a way to make my brother's death count–to fulfill his hope that I could be more."
For lori mody, the name of her new win-win strategy Foundation has a double meaning. Mody and her late father, Win Remley, started Signal Corporation together in their house in 1987. Her brother, another man named Win, was killed in a scuba-diving accident in 1996.
Her brother's death made her question her own life, Mody says. Until then she had been working 110 hours a week or concentrating on her three children. Her community involvement consisted of writing checks. Mody emerged from mourning with a commitment to use her technology background to help close the "digital divide" that works against needy kids.
Mody became a leader of Fairfax County's Computer Learning Centers Partnership (CLCP), which gets Northern Virginia companies to support state-of-the-art computer centers in poor Fairfax County neighborhoods.
She's still CLCP's best sales rep, convincing corporations to donate construction, wiring, equipment, software, and Internet services and then to send employees to work with young users. More than 50 companies are now CLCP sponsors.
Mody never stops widening her net, involving more people in her projects. She is now working to get local TV to sponsor "computer days" when Washingtonians can donate old computers to CLCP. High-school kids are taught to rebuild them for use in CLCP centers. They can also earn rebuilt computers themselves.
This fall Signal Corporation was sold, and Mody set up the Win-Win Strategy Foundation to take the CLCP model nationwide. She is also involved with the Medical Care for Children Partnership, Childhelp USA, and other groups helping kids.
Mody recently received the Women Opening the Pipeline Award from the Congressional Black Caucus Education Braintrust and was honored by the March of Dimes with its Heroines in Technology Award. But she isn't resting on her laurels. She has plans to involve firefighters, senior centers, and other groups in her vision of self-sustaining community tech centers and computer access for people of all ages.
"Mody is fresh, energetic, enthusiastic, and idealistic at a time when others are growing tired and cynical," says Congressman Major R. Owens. "At a time when many others are choosing to give less, she has chosen to escalate her contributions."
"There's no such thing as a bad kid–give them love, you get love back."
It ought to be a movie: REMEMBER THE BISONS.
Thirty-five boys from one of DC's poorest neighborhoods elude scattered needles, condoms, and broken glass to get to their neglected field for football practice. They run drills in the darkness, then head back to sometimes dangerous homes. But weekly study hall is enforced, and Coach checks their grades. He insists on responsibility and character. And the team moms bring fruit and sandwiches, which hungry middle-schoolers wolf down.
And hungry middle-schoolers begin to win. Against all odds, the team from Ward 7 knocks over teams from Northwest . . . and then the burbs . . . and then faraway states. In 1999, the Bisons beat 17 contenders to reach the national Pop Warner Super Bowl.
In 2000, they do it all again.
Who made this possible? Look for a 260-pound coach and you won't find him. Mail carrier André Ford barely made his school's JV squad, then became a chess champion instead. In 1983, after a friend's funeral, a coach he knew talked him into turning his anguish into a force for good. When they paired up to win a city championship, Ford felt a sense of mission.
In 1994, he and some pals founded the Marshall Heights Youth Development Program–five football teams, ages 7 through 15. The first year, they panhandled to buy uniforms. Later Ford wrangled support from foundations and businesses, often dipping into his own pocket for fees and incidentals.
"I have to know every child individually," he says–all 240 of them.
Ford makes sure the least athletic get in the game, and stars who skip study sessions don't. Dreams alone won't get you out of Southeast DC, which is why he and the other coaches stress schooling and life skills: "For those that don't have the talent, hey, go out and be a decent citizen."
This season, the Bisons had it hard: Grounded for a month by the sniper situation, they also lost a teammate to a drive-by shooting. But this is a coach who can say of his nearly lightless field, "If they can catch out here, they can catch anywhere." And these are boys who take his lessons to heart.
"We provide the avenues for people to live their values."
Veronica parke has learned a few things since making her first sandwich as a Martha's Table volunteer in the 1980s:
Children will attempt to feed hungry grandmothers by sneaking food home in their shirt sleeves. Teenagers will wake before dawn on weekends so no one sees them doing the family laundry at a soup kitchen. And the hobo you ignore in the street may have been a hero in that Marine-barracks bombing in Beirut.
Parke has taught Martha's Table a few things, too. Since 1992 she's served as president, overseeing programs for 270 children–three months through 18 years–including creative play, academic and social skills, and balanced meals. Its McKenna's Wagons carry as many as 1,200 meals daily to DC streets and shelters; that number rises to 2,000 on major holidays. Martha's Table also provides groceries, clothing, and toiletries to hundreds of households and offers health, nutrition, and parenting workshops to residents of Shaw and Columbia Heights–all with the help of 10,000 volunteers a year.
"We have a secret recipe for soup," Parke confides impishly, standing beside a 55-gallon kettle she might fit into. "The secret recipe is whatever comes in."
Making much out of little is a specialty at Martha's Table, where the lines lengthen in proportion to economic downturns. But Parke and her crew feed not just physical needs–their "emergency work"–but emotional and intellectual needs–their "prevention work."
Peek into a downstairs room, bright with Playskool toys and the alphabet at kid level along the walls, where caregivers dance with toddlers to "Twist and Shout." Or the teen room upstairs, full of art and poetry and donated computers, always in use when school's out.
"Food, fun, and learning," she says. "We put them together like peanut butter and jelly so you can't tear 'em apart."
Kind of like Parke and Martha's Table. She's paid to be there Monday through Friday, minding the $6-million budget and last year's 8,000-square-foot expansion, but often returns as a volunteer on weekends. "I love to go along on pickups" of food contributions, she explains. "That's like a different job, isn't it?"
W. LYLES CARR III
"It's very satisfying to be the person throwing starfish back into the ocean. But somebody has to find and rally a hundred starfish throwers."
Lyles carr is a matchmaker. he has a talent for bringing people and organizations together to benefit everyone.
He helped mastermind the Greater Washington Collaborative: The Greater Washington Board of Trade, Leadership Washington, Greater DC Cares, and Junior Achievement are now together in one downtown DC building. The hope is that sharing space will promote sharing ideas, resources, and talent.
Carr is the person behind the new Workforce Organizations for Regional Collaboration, which brings together job training, a database of services available to job seekers, and a clearinghouse of job vacancies.
He set up an online referral network for nonprofit organizations seeking employees or board members.
These are not the kinds of projects that make headlines–and even if they do, Carr is rarely the person cutting the ribbon or smiling for the camera. "It's not about me," Carr says. "I'm doing what I'm called to do–moving the ball forward."
"He is more dedicated and more successful in encouraging people to do good in our region than anyone I know," says Julie Rogers, president of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation.
Carr grew up in Palmer Park, Maryland, went to Episcopal High School, and then to the University of Virginia. He started out opening restaurants and nightclubs, but his family life suffered. He then joined his father at the McCormick Group, an executive-search and consulting firm in Arlington.
He was "skating superficially in the community, not making an impact" when he was convinced to apply for Leadership Washington. That experience led to Carr's volunteering to help Jubilee Housing. He came up with the idea of a gala garage sale, encouraging local companies to clean out their "garages" to help raise money.
Carr showed up in OshKosh overalls and a tuxedo jacket, riding a Toro tractor donated by Hechinger. The event raised $250,000.
Lyles Carr is more likely behind the scenes these days, serving as a conduit between potential donors and nonprofits that need help.
"Serving others is the price we pay for the space we take up on this earth," Carr says.
"We've only scratched the surface here."
It's 1994. the university's athletic department is $8 million in the red–not counting the $42 million it owes on its buildings. The last five athletic directors stayed just three years each, long enough to post losses in the books and on the field. The football team stinks. So does morale. What do you do?
If you're the University of Maryland, you hire a female English major who once dropped out of tiny Elon College.
And now you beam with pride. In her ninth year as athletic director, Debbie Yow has made Maryland's program one of the country's top 20 for overall quality and competitive excellence. The operating budget, ten years in deficit, has been balanced for eight. Last season's football team went to the Orange Bowl, and men's basketball won the NCAA championship. Women's lacrosse has brought home seven consecutive national titles; the women's sports budget is up 82 percent. And athletes have a higher graduation rate than students as a whole.
"She has excelled at fiscal management, competitive results, and compliance," university president C.D. Mote Jr. has said. "Like so many of our athletes, Debbie is a true champion."
Yow played high-school and college basketball in North Carolina before teaching and coaching. Topping out at that, she moved over to fundraising–experience that comes in handy at Maryland, where private gifts to athletics are up 240 percent and corporate revenues are up 275 percent.
Some of those funds have helped boost the GPAs of 650 student athletes. In 1994, $350,000 went to that effort, with a little study area buried in Cole Field House. Today's $1-million academic-support unit has prime space at Comcast Center and a satellite study area in the football house–complete with 60 computers. "I want it to be that if you compete at Maryland and stay at Maryland, you graduate," she says.
After a balky start, Yow graduated, too–and went on to a PhD, presidency of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, and the prestigious NCAA Management Council. "Leadership is not a gender issue," she is fond of saying. And she's proven it in big-time college sports.
DOUGLAS M. DUNCAN
"There's a greatly increased sense of pride about living in Montgomery County."
Eight years ago, when doug duncan took over as montgomery County executive, he could have erected signs reading NO MORE STATUS QUO. But that would have been wasteful.
First on his agenda was a toxic trash dump that had burned for months. The previous administration had wrung its hands over legal authority and methods. Duncan had the fire out within days.
Drawing on his experience as an AT&T manager, city-council member, and Rockville mayor, he next cut 300 county jobs, merged departments, privatized some services, and cut or held taxes steady while increasing funding in multiple areas.
Previous administrations had turned away corporations like General Dynamics; Duncan halved the county's permit-approval time to keep Hughes Network Systems in Germantown and courted other businesses aggressively. Due in part to this new approach and part to the '90s economy, private-sector jobs are up 64,000.
Previous administrations had earned Montgomery the nickname "paralysis by analysis." The Washington Post soon called this executive "Duncan the Decisive."
"Doug came in when we were perceived as a stagnating community," says Gene Counihan, former head of the county Chamber of Commerce. "He supported all education, encouraged workforce development, worked with the business community, and was frequently seen in Annapolis as an advocate. We're offering four-year degrees at the Shady Grove campus from seven institutions–that's new. Funding for Strathmore Hall, Round House Theater, the Silver Spring arts district, Black Rock Center for the Arts in Germantown, Olney Theatre Center expansion–that's all new. Other executives were not as visible or as can-do."
Montgomery is the nation's first county to implement an earned income tax credit, which targets tax relief to thousands of low-income workers–an idea Duncan championed. He has also made revitalizing town centers a priority, particularly in Silver Spring, where a $560-million public-private partnership includes a restored Silver Theatre, the American Film Institute, and Discovery Communications headquarters.
This fall, Duncan won an unprecedented third term. He campaigned forcefully for his allies and transportation plan through September but then suspended activities to concentrate on the sniper crisis. Though attending all ten funerals or wakes wasn't in the job description, he did–in three states and DC. "You are, in essence, the chaplain for Montgomery County now," one clergyman told him.
Not wanting children to act as school safety patrols with a killer at large, Duncan's team put out a call for adults to step in. Twelve hundred citizens volunteered. "The people of this county inspire me," he says.
SAM DONALDSON & JAN SMITH
"Cancer is one problem you can solve by throwing money at it."
WHEN SAM DONALDSON WAS DIAGNOSED WITH melanoma in 1995, he could have kept quiet about it. Announcing that you have a presumably fatal disease can clear a room fast.
Donaldson chose to go public. He was coanchoring ABC's nighttime magazine show, and "I thought there must be 15 people at PrimeTime Live whose livelihoods depended upon my being there," he says.
Donaldson became a walking endorsement for effective cancer treatment. Seven years after his diagnosis, he is alive and cancer-free.
He gets lots of letters and e-mails from cancer patients: "I call them and say, 'Look, here I am.' "
He refers them to Dr. Steven Rosenberg, chief of surgery at the National Cancer Institute, the doctor who treated him. Rosenberg can't help everyone, but he does offer advice on where to get treatment.
Donaldson and his wife, journalist Jan Smith, are in the forefront of the fight for increased federal support for cancer research and more equal access to quality cancer care.
Donaldson is on the board of Research America to support research on treatment and prevention. He is part of the National Cancer Coalition Dialogue, which brings cancer groups together to promote research and treatment. He volunteers to emcee fundraisers for all kinds of charities.
Smith is deeply involved with the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and will chair this year's fundraising gala for the Cancer Research Foundation. Few people realize the inequities in cancer treatment, Smith says. For example, Medicare covers liquid chemotherapy but not chemotherapy pills.
She also works with Hospices of the National Capital Region. Unfortunately, she says, "hospices and cancer go hand in hand."
That's something Smith and Donaldson aredetermined to change. Part of their message is that a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. Each year there are more remissions, more cures, he says. "We have to keep up the research, never take a break. We are on the edge of great breakthroughs."