Kindful’s Founder & CEO Jeremy L. Bolls is joining community leaders around the world in raising money to fight breast cancer through American Cancer Society’s Real Men Wear Pink campaign.
According to American Cancer Society, the campaign gives men a leadership role in the fight against breast cancer. The money raised will support the organization’s breast cancer initiatives, including innovative research, patient services, and education around screenings and risk reduction. To date, the movement has raised more than $6.5 million.
In this Q&A, you’ll learn how Jeremy got involved in the fight against cancer, why he’s participating in this year’s campaign, and what he encourages people to do to make a greater impact.
KINDFUL: For many people, the fight against cancer is personal. Was that true for you? How did you first get involved with American Cancer Society?
JEREMY: It is. My father was diagnosed with glioblastoma when I was around 10 years old, and he passed away when I was 11 years old. So cancer really impacted me at the root level, from how I make the decisions I make to why I started Kindful. Ultimately, it’s made me who I am. Recently I attended an event at American Cancer Society Memorial Foundation Hope Lodge in Nashville, and I met people from the organization there. Over the next few weeks, I got to know them pretty well. After learning more about me and my story, they invited me to be on the state board, which was a huge honor.
KINDFUL: What made you want to participate in this year’s Real Men Wear Pink campaign?
JEREMY: Although no one in my immediate family has been affected by breast cancer, I do have some distant family members and friends who have been impacted. One of the things that surprised me that most people don’t think about is that breast cancer impacts men too. I’m participating in the campaign because I want to do anything I can to drive funds back to research and help find a cure, not only for breast cancer but for all forms of cancer.
KINDFUL: What advice would you give to other community leaders or business owners when it comes to giving back to their local community?
JEREMY: I had a lot of great experiences working with some fast-growing tech start-ups in the early 2000s prior to starting my own companies, but I felt something was missing when it came to using that success to have a bigger impact. That’s why I love what we do at Kindful because we’re building something that makes an impact. I know that it’s really easy as an entrepreneur or a business owner to get locked down in the day-to-day details. You go home and you’re exhausted and you kind of forget about what’s going on around you. My advice is to just take a break, breathe, and think about those you can reach. I believe everybody has that one thing in their life that defines who they are. For me, it was brain cancer. I’d encourage people to identify that and ultimately use that to impact the world in a positive way.
KINDFUL: If you were talking to someone right now who has a loved one who was diagnosed with cancer, what would you share with them? What was helpful for you to hear or understand?
JEREMY: It was scary for me growing up, so it was helpful to learn that there are tons of resources out there. There are a ton of people who have been touched by cancer that they can talk to. One of the things that was really healthy for me when I was growing up and even more so now was understanding the person who is struggling with cancer is still a person. Just because they’ve been diagnosed with cancer doesn’t mean that they’re a different person. They still need relationships; they still need support. Also, the survival rate of many types of cancer has increased greatly. A diagnosis isn’t the end of their story so do whatever you can to make them feel loved and supported and just be there during the journey.
KINDFUL: Wearing pink is a visual way to show that you’re raising awareness about breast cancer. Was that important to you?
JEREMY: It was. Having something that can be pretty bold is important, even if that’s not normally who you are. It’s important in driving awareness because people do ask questions, and that’s an opportunity to share your personal story. For causes, that’s really where it starts. It doesn’t have to have statistics or numbers or anything super complex; if you can share a personal story, that’s the beginning of making an impact and showing others how they can get involved as well.
KINDFUL: How often would you say you wear pink outside of the Real Men Wear Pink campaign?
JEREMY: (laughs) You know, not very often. Maybe around Easter. That’s about it. The campaign made me more aware of trying to kind of do the little things, whether it’s wearing pink socks, shoelaces, or whatever I can to keep my mind focused on the cause. I think that’s important.
KINDFUL: What are your plans for #RealMenWearPinkDay (October 10)?
JEREMY: I’m wearing pink, of course, but I really just plan to share the messages as loudly as I possibly can through my network or through my platform. I’m super excited to host the CEO of American Cancer Society at our office and use that time to explore other opportunities with the organization and also figure out how we can be more impactful in the months and years to come.
We’re going to turn Kindful pink for the occasion, which means handing out pink Kindful shirts, putting up pink decorations, and maybe even serving some pink drinks and snacks.
KINDFUL: You’re trying to raise $2,500 for the cause. How can people support your fundraising efforts?
JEREMY: First, they can go to my personal fundraising page and donate. That’s the most direct way. Regardless of if they’re able to make a gift or not, they can take a minute to look at how breast cancer has impacted their lives. I encourage them to share those stories because that means the world to those impacted.
Making an ask is not comfortable for most people. In some ways, it’s not comfortable for me even though I’m a fairly outgoing person. One way to support the cause is to be comfortable with getting out of your comfort zone. It’s challenging, but it does make a difference. People will respond to your personal story more than anything else.
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