Despite pandemic, Neely Foundation finds creative way to raise funds in fight against cancer

Cam Neely, center, flanked by Dennis Leary, left, and Jimmy Fallon.
Cam Neely, center, flanked by Dennis Leary, left, and Jimmy Fallon.
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

LOWELL – The annual Comics Come Home fundraiser at TD Garden was shelved this year due to the pandemic. But even though the 26-year tradition was put on ice, the event sponsors at The Cam Neely Foundation found a creative way to keep the tradition of raising money for cancer, alive.

Launched in early November, the 8for8 campaign is a deviation from the foundation’s normal fundraising operation. In an effort to raise $88,000, 8for8 asks members of the general public to donate $8 to the foundation — then to nominate a small circle of friends to also donate $8.

Using various social media platforms, 8for8 gives donors the opportunity to publicly challenge their friends to also donate. And after those friends give the $8 they, to expand the reach, challenge another group.

The 8for8 is a reference to former Boston Bruins superstar Cam Neely, who wore number 8 during his storied career. The Hall of Famer’s jersey hangs from the rafters among other sports legends from Boston, where Neely played for 10 years.

But Neely knows still what he knew then — that success takes teamwork; whether its defeating your opponent on the ice, beating cancer, or raising money. The foundation that bears his name is comprised of a dedicated group of teammates aligned by a singular goal.

Similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised more than $110 million dollars the ALS Association, the 8for8 relies on propagation of message via small circles that grow into a larger one. Where the 8for8 differs from the Ice Bucket Challenge is that donors don’t need to wait for the network to find them, as was the standard procedure for the IBC. The 8for8 allows for anyone to initiate his/her own challenge network — make the snowball and roll it down the mountain. All the individual avalanches will eventually settle into a single spot, the Cam Neely Foundation.

“The mission of the Cam Neely Foundation is to provide comfort, support and hope to cancer patients and their families,” said spokesperson KristinAnn Janishefski.

She added that the campaign is robustly active and will continue into the new year.

“All funds raised during this challenge will go directly towards the foundation’s latest project, The Neely Integrative Center, the country’s first integrative wellness center dedicated to serving cancer and auto-immune patients.

Donations can be made through Paypal @ The Cam Neely Foundation, or Venmo @CamNeelyFdn. Or, visit the camneelyfoundation.org/donate.

But donating is only first step. Nominating friends is the real value.