Pennies in Action® was founded in 2007 by Uschi Keszler – Olympic athlete, Olympic coach, and double cancer survivor. Having survived and seen the conquering of tuberculosis in her youth, and now as a survivor of both breast and uterine cancer, Uschi is determined to see cancer beaten in her lifetime too.
As an elite athlete, Uschi is very aware of the power and resiliency of the human body. So when she decided to help find a way to beat cancer, she knew that she could not support something that would destroy the body in order to heal it. Finding out that her surgeon was already in clinical trials of a vaccine that utilizes the patient’s own immune system to fight breast cancer, she knew she had found her first project. Dr. Brian Czerniecki’s research aligned perfectly with Uschi’s goals and her philosophy.
Pennies in Action is about more than just raising funds for cancer research – Uschi has a strong belief that everyone, young and old, rich and poor, those with health insurance, and those without, can have ownership in the research. One does not have to be wealthy to have an impact. The amount one person may give may be relatively small – for a penny alone has little value – but many pennies make many dollars. The power to make a difference can come from just a few pennies if many people take part in even a small way.
We are also about education – we want patients touched by cancer to know that there are alternatives available. We want people to know that there is information, and many clinical trials out there that they may be able to benefit from. We want to empower them to have intelligent conversations with their doctors and determine together if they could participate in a trial, to their potential benefit, and the eventual benefit of others. We want them to know that taking part in a trial may save them from undergoing more drastic solutions, and may help save the lives and quality of life for others as well as themselves. We strongly believe that an educated public will provide the foundation for researchers to conquer this disease.
Cancer is not impersonal, and it has touched many people’s lives in some way. Which is why our approach is very personal. We believe our approach has the potential to empower by keeping people informed of both the progress in the research and the advancement in the financial support of the research. Since all those who contribute from few pennies to more hold a concrete stake in the research that can remove cancer as a threat, Uschi believes that full disclosure must be the norm. Which is why we disclose the amounts we have raised, and give information on the researchers and their research, and on the efforts of those who help us in raising funds.
In addition to our main project, we will always take on other causes that are close to Uschi’s heart, and will fund those alongside that main project.