I found last Friday's StandUpToCancer's TV special to be very moving.
I'm not usually that fond of celebrity-studded telethons, but this one did a lot of things right.
If you missed it, the StandUpToCancer (SU2C) biannual telethon aired last Friday evening on all major channels - ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX. That was pretty amazing in itself.
StandUpToCancer is a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF). But it really does stand out from many cancer organizations because it deals with all kinds of cancer, it invests in research on all cancers, 100% of donations go to that research, and, well, those entertainers really do have an eye for what makes good stories and visuals.
Here's what I liked about the SU2C special:
- It wasn't glitzy. So often celebrity-centered television shows around charitable causes seem to be about the celebrities themselves. They are sparkly with evening gowns and tuxedos and jewelry. It's no wonder that most of us can't relate.
This one was different. Each celebrity (ranging from Justin Timberlake to Katie Couric) were simply dressed in SU2C t-shirts and had very simple messages. They were there because they had been touched by cancer...themselves, a father, a mother, a brother. They mentioned that fact and then moved on to a story of a particular person who was living the cancer fight. There were no introductions, bows to prominent people, or attempts to burnish the reputations of anyone.
- It focused on stories about individuals who were battling cancer. The stories, told through film, never looked away from either the simple joys those fighters managed to find nor the pain that they endured. Each was moving in its heroism and bravery.
Whenever possible, those cancer heroes were present in the audience and each was honored, not with medals or awards, but with a standing ovation by the audience. The pacing of these stories was quick and clean. Each celebrity quickly got beyond his or her own presence and immediately focused on those who were waging the cancer fight.
- The research was the co-star. Researchers told their stories about the cutting edge lines of research they are pursuing, the breakthroughs that had been made, and what was in the pipeline for the future. There was an emphasis on collaboration among researchers and institutions. Viewers and donors could see where their donations were going and the impact that they made.
It was all quick, to the point, and very, very moving. The hour went by more quickly than I thought possible, and the effect is likely a lasting one for anyone fortunate enough to have seen the show.
If you missed it, here's where you can view it.