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The Story Behind TDHC

In December of 2000, as families were heading home to see their loved ones for the holidays, doctors in Buffalo, NY diagnosed Robert Maxwell with a form of leukemia. It was a very sobering, scary moment for the Maxwell family, but thanks to a highly-effective initial series of chemotherapy treatments over the next month, the leukemia was knocked into remission where it's remained to this day. 

In realizing his dad's mortality for the first time (and following his sister Ellen's philanthropic example), Robert's son, Tim, set out to find a way to show support for his father and others with blood cancer. 

 

"Having a loved one diagnosed with a disease like cancer can make you feel pretty powerless," Tim said. "It's not something you can personally do anything about -- it's out of your control. So, I decided to do the only thing I could think to do: raise money for those who could help my father." 

Robert and Lisa Maxwell
Robert and Lisa Maxwell

And with that, 'The Dude Hates Cancer!' charity bowling tournament was born. The story doesn't quite end there, however, because as he was beginning to organize the first annual bowling tournament in Philadelphia in 2006, Tim's mother was diagnosed with another form of blood cancer, Multiple Myeloma. 

"I was in shock. Here I was organizing an event to raise money for blood cancer research in honor of my father, when, in fact, it turned out that it applied to both of my parents. It was certainly tough news to come to grips with, but it also gave me that much more reason and motivation to make this event something special."

Through hard work and some growing pains, TDHC has become something special. After growing steadily over the first three years (from $1400 to $3700 to $5100 raised as a third-party event for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) in Philly), 'The Dude' began to take off in 2009 when it raised over $27,300 for LLS, earning status as an official LLS charity event. 

The exponential growth continued in 2010, as about 250 people participated and raised over $60,000 for LLS, and again in 2011 when close to 400 participants raised over $80,000!

"It's been incredible to watch it grow through the years, and the past three years have been amazing. A large part of that has to do with the outstanding organizing committee members that have volunteered their time and talents to the cause. And the thing is, we've still only barely scratched the surface of what this event can become."

"Some day, I hope that this will be a nationwide campaign of LLS, similar to 'Team in Training' and 'Light The Night.' The more we can expand the event, the more money we'll raise and the better our chances are for curing these diseases."

That vision appears to be taking shape.  During planning for the 2011 event in Philadelphia, Maxwell, his wife (also a Buffalo native), and their baby boy moved back to Buffalo to be closer to their families.  Now that they're settled in, and following on the heals of another successful campaign in Philly, plans are underway for a sister event in Buffalo in 2012, as well as a new event in Houston, Texas, to boot!

So, what started as a tiny fundraiser amongst friends has now grown into a small movement spreading across three cities.  And as The Dude continues to grow, cancer's chances shrink and shrink.  And The Dude most certainly abides by that.