At just 12 years old, Cole Eicher, diagnosed with a brain tumor, decided to make a movement. That movement is now Gold Together and is nationally recognized with over one million dollars raised for pediatric cancer research and support programs.
The Teen Magazine had the chance to virtually speak with Ms. Laura Eicher on everything #GoldTogether- their story, the mission, and how you can get involved. That includes how you can volunteer as well- as Ms. Eicher says to me over our zoom call, "It's neat how when you volunteer, you can find people like you."
“When I was in the cancer floor and I would walk by all the rooms filled with kids, I saw that they were often too small or too sick to speak out and help others. I knew then that I must speak for them and other kids fighting cancer. Even healthy kids like myself can get sick. We need gentler treatments and more cures."
- Cole Eicher
The Creation of the Campaign
How did #GoldTogether come to be created?
Gold Together for childhood cancer was founded by Cole Eicher who at 12 years old was diagnosed with brain cancer. He saw on his oncology floor how small the children were who battled cancer and felt as though he could be a voice for them.
During his cancer treatment, he shared his story in a variety of ways to educate and spread awareness. He felt that if people knew how much support was needed for kids that they would get involved.
Cole had participated in The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life the year before he was diagnosed with cancer and enjoyed the experience. He decided to ask all of his supporters to join him to celebrate the end of his treatment and to celebrate all other survivors.
In 2014 he created the first #GoldTogether for the childhood cancer team at his local Relay For Life event. His goal was to create a model that could be duplicated in every community across the nation to support families facing childhood cancer.
What is the mission of #GoldTogether?
Gold Together is an American Cancer Society childhood cancer initiative seeking to increase childhood cancer awareness, support families facing childhood cancer, and raise money to support childhood cancer.
All the funds raised through Gold Together directly support childhood cancer research, education, advocacy, and services.
On Building Public Awareness
How does #GoldTogether build public awareness?
In 2018 #GoldTogether for childhood cancer became a national program with the American Cancer Society. This happened because after testing the program for 3 years Cole spoke to the CEO sharing his insight on how a national rollout would support courageous kids and save lives.
Gold Together encourages volunteers to be a voice for courageous kids. He was nervous knowing that he was the voice for kids in that meeting, and he was thrilled to have complete acceptance of the initiative.
The American Cancer Society volunteer’s interaction in their communities and through the American Cancer Society channels of communication we are building public awareness. Everyone knows what a pink ribbon represents and soon everyone will know that the gold ribbon represents our youngest cancer fighters.
The Biggest Accomplishment
What would be considered the biggest accomplishment(s) of #GoldTogether?
The Gold Together initiative's biggest accomplishment is that it is an example of what volunteers can accomplish together. If there is an issue, then getting involved and working together toward the solution is the answer. Anyone can be a changemaker.
Additionally, every time a child fighting cancer, their siblings or family feels empowered by the opportunities to get involved. They can amplify their efforts with the American Cancer Society and give the majority of their time to the needs of their family.
When someone looks beyond themselves to help others – that is a proud accomplishment. To date, Gold Together has raised over 2.25 million dollars dedicated to childhood cancer.
Past Events and Upcoming Events
#GoldTogether has been raised significant donations and attention through various events, such as the Relay for Life movement. Could you tell us more about the events #GoldTogether is a part of, and if there are any upcoming ones to keep an eye out for?
There is a way for everyone to be involved at any time.
Join or start a Gold Together Relay For Life Team to fight childhood cancer in your community. Click here to find out more.
Time to join and be a voice for courageous kids 🎗100 percent chance if fun! https://t.co/CjOI6WXHMg— Gold Together (@GOLD_TOGETHER) September 19, 2020
Become a Gold Together Champion by raising funds and awareness during childhood cancer awareness month in September. Learn more here. This is a virtual online-based, one-month event. Service hours and training will be provided. Registration of new #GoldTogether Champions begins in late April.
Join our volunteer community working on special projects such as Gold Together Youth Ambassadors, create messages of compassion through Love Notes Around The World, and gain real nonprofit experience by using your talent through our many volunteer positions. Volunteer Community homepage can be found here.
Do what you enjoy and dedicate it to courageous kids. Write a story, create graphic work, dedicate a sports game, have a gold day at school. It all can become your way to do something. Need more direction? Contact via email.
From Local to Nationally Recognized
#GoldTogether was able to further from being a local organization to a nationally recognized one- how did this come to be, and what was the journey like?
In the beginning when there was only one team Cole and I were hands-on with every decision. When it grew to 12 teams in the southeast, we learned how to scale things and provided guidelines and a lot of individual freedom for volunteers to make the majority of the decisions.
We learned from those best practices and today rely on the same model. We provide the tools to empower and support our volunteers with ideas that are working nationwide.
Proud To Be With
What makes you the proudest to be with this organization?
Gold Together was founded by a 12-year-old who is now 19 and still engages in the details of the growth and development plan.
Volunteers are the reason why it is growing and the staff at the American Cancer Society are incredibly supportive of the mission and are eager to engage and empower those in their communities to get involved.
The name, Gold Together, is living up to its name as we are truly working together.
In The Future
Where do you hope to see the initiative in the future?
We are now ready to partner nationally with an organization that wants to align with childhood cancer support and the American Cancer Society. We are incredibly excited to see who our national partners will be.
When we reflect on our mission of increasing awareness, support for families facing childhood cancer, and raising funds dedicated to childhood cancer we aim for childhood cancer to be an area of focus for more treatment options with fewer long-term side effects.
We will continue to provide ways for people and organizations to align with our mission. Those children who have survived childhood cancer will be provided a lifetime of support with the American Cancer Society.
Advice From Gold Together
If you could give a word of advice, what would it be?
Volunteer. You have the ideas that will create the changes we need.
Think BIG and believe in yourself. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, use that talent to help others, this is where you find true happiness and make an impact.
How You Can Get Involved
As a teen and young adult-focused magazine, what are ways for Gen Z to get involved within #GoldTogether?
When you volunteer with the American Cancer Society you will have a variety of options and unlimited growth and experience potential. At every age and every stage, you have something to provide that is incredibly valuable.
Join or start a Gold Together Relay For Life Team to fight childhood cancer in your community.
Become a Gold Together Champion by raising funds and awareness during childhood cancer awareness month in September. Learn more here.
Join our volunteer community working on special projects such as Gold Together Youth Ambassadors, create messages of compassion through Love Notes Around The World, and gain real nonprofit experience by using your talent through our many volunteer positions.
September is an opportunity for GOLDTogether nights -to support childhood cancer awareness - everyone can so something to support courageous kids#goldtogether #attackingcancer#childhoodcanceraction365#KickChildhoodCancer pic.twitter.com/gjnGTB1ASM— Gold Together (@GOLD_TOGETHER) September 2, 2019
Do what you enjoy and your talents and dedicate it to courageous kids. Write a story, create graphic work, dedicate a sports game, have a gold day at school. It all can become your way to do something.
"I believe that everyone can do something to help kids fighting cancer. Thank you for being their voice.
To further get involved, email GoldTogether@cancer.org.