In 2005, one of our friends, then a 37-year old, father of three, was diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer.
His wife and family and friends rallied around him for support as he began extensive chemotherapy treatment and surgery, including a dozen close friends shaving their heads in solidarity.
What began as participating in a challenging local bike race, he and his group of friends decided to throw a party to celebrate their accomplishment. This quickly turned into a fundraiser and the formation of The Salt Shaker Foundation. This first “Party with a Purpose” fundraising event was a great success -- over 200 people attended and a significant amount of money and awareness were raised.
Salt Shaker and its bike team “Team Margaritaville or Bust” went on to receive considerable press and became well-known nationally within the cancer community. In 2008, the members of the foundation were honored with a proclamation from Cherry Hill Mayor Bernie Platt for their commitment to helping others survive cancer, recognizing their successful ongoing efforts to raise money in support of cancer awareness, research, and survivorship programs. Also in 2008, realizing the need to keep a portion of the money here in South Jersey where it was raised, the foundation decided to donate a portion of the proceeds to the Cooper Cancer Institute and other local organizations and continues to do so.
Our friends' second diagnosis of Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) in 2009 didn't discourage the members of Salt Shaker. Rather, it solidified their efforts to help everyone affected by cancer.
The Party Grows
Each year the party gets bigger and better, now with an annual attendance of over 500 people. Salt Shaker has created partnerships with the New Jersey Independent Baseball League and Tri County Swimming Championships, directly reaching an additional 6,000 members of the community through these two organizations. They have also formed a partnership with the Love, Hope, Strength Foundation (Rock-n-Roll's cancer charity) and hosted its first LHS Bone Marrow Drive at Salt Shaker's 2011 fundraiser.
The awareness, volunteers and sponsors who support the mission have grown tremendously. Having become well-known in the South Jersey and Philadelphia area, the foundation has had an impact in the local community raising funds for support programs and being a conduit of information for cancer related support services.