The University of Illinois Cancer Center finished as runner-up to the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska during the “Screening Madness” event sponsored by the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium and The Blue Hat Foundation.
The inaugural event, held in March to coincide with Colorectal Cancer Awareness month and the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s basketball tournament known as “March Madness,” was initiated to raise awareness of colorectal cancer with a goal of increasing screenings. A special webpage was designed and placed on the Big Ten CRC website that contained a playbook to educate individuals on the importance of colorectal cancer screening. Individuals were urged to take the pledge to “get screened for colorectal cancer, or to encourage someone else age 45 or older to get screened.” When signing the pledge, they designated a Big Ten team they wanted it to count towards. A scoreboard with all of the institutions that provided screenings was updated daily to see which team was in the lead. The institution with the most screenings at the end of March was declared the winner.
“The University of Nebraska came away with the most pledges, but all of the Big Ten institutions are winners,” said Candace Henley, founder and chief surviving office of Chicago’s The Blue Hat Foundation. “This was an amazing opportunity to collaborate with the University of Illinois Cancer Center and the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium. Coming together to raise awareness and the collective message that screening saves lives, not only during colorectal cancer awareness month but also during March Madness, was a huge accomplishment. I am so grateful for the partnership and the trust bestowed on me.”
During the month, 136 pledges were submitted. A social media campaign was initiated to announce the event, where every Big Ten Cancer Center director was photographed posing with a basketball, with the images being placed on Twitter on March 16. The photos garnered 17 “Comments,” 132 “Retweets” and 538 “Likes.”