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TSD Q&A: Ali McDonough, B+ Foundation Finalist for Humanitarian Award

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Wilmington’s Ali McDonough and The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation have been selected as one of four national finalists for NASCAR’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. By becoming a finalist, B+ was awarded $25,000 from the NASCAR Foundation. But if friends and supporters cast enough votes for Ali McDonough at www.nascar.com/award, by midnight on November 29, The B+ Foundation will earn $100,000 from the NASCAR Foundation, which the non-profit hopes to direct toward families of kids with cancer nationwide. The award is granted annually to a humanitarian who has made a profound impact on children in his or her local community.

Five years ago Ali McDonough’s younger brother and best friend Andrew, who was 14, died after a courageous six-month battle with leukemia. Ali now devotes her life to helping children with cancer. Town Square Delaware asked Ali about her efforts to support The Andrew McDonough B+ (be positive) Foundation.

Town Square Delaware: What was your reaction to being selected as a humanitarian award finalist?
Ali McDonough: I was shocked and very, very thankful. I consider each childhood cancer event I participate in to be important and am grateful for every dollar we raise. But it was absolutely wonderful to be recognized and rewarded by NASCAR for the entirety of my efforts.

TSD: Does NASCAR plan to honor you and the other finalists?
Ali: I was introduced to the drivers and crowd at the AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Sunday at Dover International Speedway. Thanks to Toyota Racing, I got to meet Joey Logano (a driver) and had a great view of the start of the race from Joey’s pit box. I’m so grateful for all that The NASCAR Foundation and Toyota Racing are doing to help me honor my brother’s memory and raise awareness of childhood cancers.

TSD: What are some of the lessons you’ve learned about building and sustaining a successful philanthropic organization?
Ali: From my work with The B+ Foundation, I’ve learned that when a lot of people do a little for a cause, a lot can be accomplished. The B+ Foundation is about “kids helping kids fight cancer.” So we have kids donating money to B+ in lieu of birthday gifts, holding bake sales for B+, etc. While the money raised for the cause is important, B+ is most focused on touching people’s hearts and spreading awareness of childhood cancers.
– Many people don’t realize that September was National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month;
– 46 kids are diagnosed with childhood cancer each school day;
– Childhood cancer research receives less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s federal budget for cancer research;
– Each day, 7 children die from childhood cancer;
– Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in America’s children – more than Cystic Fibrosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Asthma and AIDS COMBINED.

TSD: Your involvement and leadership in The B+ Foundation is a personal one, but you have chosen to make it a career and a calling. What advice do you have for those interested in a career in philanthropy?
Ali: Running a foundation is like running a business. It’s a lot of work and can be difficult, but if you’re passionate about the cause, the hard work is all worth it for the end result of making a difference.

TSD: Tell us something about Ali McDonough most people may not know.
Ali: I really don’t like attention, and I shy away from cameras and interviews. But when it comes to raising awareness of childhood cancers and getting the B+ message out to the community, I’ll do whatever it takes to spread the word.

Supporters can vote once every 24 hours through 11/29 at www.nascar.com/award. Click here to see Ali’s video.

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