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Totes of hope

Posted March 19, 2014 in Ankeny, Community Featured
Gina Rooney shows one of the “Beat Cancer” T-shirts used for fundraising.

Gina Rooney shows one of the “Beat Cancer” T-shirts used for fundraising.

Wouldn’t it be great if kids didn’t get cancer?  But sometimes they do, and sometimes their moms do, too. Gina Rooney had cancer.  So did her 6-year-old son, Jack.  They had retinoblastoma, cancer of the eye.

“We’ve had many trips to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital and Clinics,” Rooney, a first-generation retinoblastoma survivor, explains. “There are so many recurring health issues, ups and downs and residual side effects from the disease and chemotherapy treatments.”

Rooney serves on the Beat Cancer Today Committee. She became involved after spying a T-shirt and placing a large order for her family and friends. Who knew that one day she’d have totes filled with T-shirts stored in her garage? She now serves as the committee’s secretary and recently chaired the 2014 Beat Cancer Today Gold Gala. The committee is comprised of only nine people, all Iowans whose lives have been touched by childhood cancer.  Their mission is to raise awareness and funds for research and support programs. Money raised by merchandise sales and special events benefit the Children’s Cancer Connection, Children’s Oncology Group and the University of Iowa Dance Marathon

“It is so fulfilling to be part of this committee,” Rooney states. “I can’t make miracles happen, but at least I can give of myself.”

Sparked by the Iowa /Iowa State rivalry, Beat Cancer Today started in 2009 when friends brainstormed to come up with a “game day” T-shirt idea. The idea snowballed, and more than $30,000 was raised in T-shirt sales that first year alone.

“Some of the money helps families with hospital parking passes, food vouchers, Walmart gift cards, music therapy, camp for children and clinical trials and research.” she adds.

The best way to view Beat Cancer Today’s merchandise is at You’ll find a wide selection of T-shirts, hoodies and bracelets, including Ankeny high schools, ISU, Iowa and UNI-themed items. Orders can be customized for businesses and groups. Most sales are online, but you might spot committee members hawking their wares at the annual Fry Fest each fall. The committee would appreciate the community’s support in finding additional avenues to promote their merchandise.

Wouldn’t it be great to help Rooney reduce the number of T-shirts in her garage and raise awareness and money for Beat Cancer Today?

Contact Darren at 953-4822 ext. 304 or to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”

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