B+: It’s Not Just a Blood Type, It’s an Attitude
I often try to remind myself of a simple mantra – “Be Positive.”
While it may seem basic, “Be Positive” reminds me of someone very special: Andrew McDonough. Andrew was a bright and athletic 14-year-old, who on January 27, 2007, helped his soccer team win the Pennsylvania state championship title. 48 hours later, he was in cardiac arrest and diagnosed with ALM Leukemia. Andrew was not expected to make it through the night, but he fought an extra 167 days before passing away in July of that year. During his hospital stay, Andrew’s family learned that his blood type was B+. And that phrase, “Be Positive,” became the message behind his fight—and the foundation his father, Joe McDonough, founded after his son’s passing.
Most of us grow up dreaming of college graduations, our first jobs and starting families. But 46 kids in the U.S. each school day have their stories forever altered by three little words: “You have cancer.” These children, some not even old enough to talk, must endure pokes, prods, chemicals and radiation, all to try to mitigate the impact of cancer on their small bodies. These diseases are incredibly painful, and the treatments can cause health complications, stunt growth and alter their development.
The B+ Foundation was founded to inspire kids and their families to live like Andrew and continue to bring positivity when the future is uncertain and scary. Joe started the organization to financially support these families, including treatment costs and unexpected hardships, while financing expenses such as mortgage payments, gas money for hospital trips, electricity bills and more. Just as important, B+ offers an emotional support system that provides a bright spot in the overwhelming and painful process of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
I was introduced to B+ as a freshman in college, when I got involved in their partnership event with Villanova University called NOVAdance. I continued to be involved over my four years at school, eventually taking on leadership roles in the planning, and more specifically the PR around the event, telling the stories of local kids and their families that had directly received support from B+. Over the course of my four years, I met several wonderful local families that NOVAdance and B+ had helped, along with spunky, spirited, always smiling kids dealing with unimaginable sickness. These kids had been sidelined from sports, school and a “normal” social life, especially once COVID hit.
Despite the odds stacked against them, each and every kid I met had a brilliant positivity that has inspired my attitude in life. One young boy, Frankie, told me that what he most looked forward to about being part of the NOVAdance family was “dancing the robot with my new friends.” At the time, he was seven years old and had learned he had a brain tumor the year before. In the face of painful treatment and an uncertain future, Frankie still danced and smiled and enjoyed the little things in life—like doing the robot.
We can all learn a lot from people like Andrew and Frankie. I strive to bring the same B+ attitude to my life every day, and I try to encourage everyone around me to smile and enjoy the little things—and maybe even dance the robot every now and then.
While the personal impact B+ has had on my life has been incredible, it’s touched me professionally as well. In our industry, it’s easy to get caught up in the hectic world of finance and media. But you never know what someone else is going through, or how they have been impacted by their personal lives or the huge events happening around us in the world every day. Everyone needs some bright spots in their life, and by approaching each day and conversation with kindness and positivity, we can be better and more effective individuals, colleagues and partners.
I am so proud to continue to be a lifelong supporter of B+’s mission, and I’m looking forward to the day when every kid can “be positive” and cancer free.
For more information about The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, visit their website here. Learn more about the NOVAdance and the B+ Foundation partnership by visiting the NOVAdance website or find your alma mater’s event here to donate.