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Retired Military Aviator Dan Cahalane and cancer survivor—four years cancer free from Stage IV Lymphoma — shares tips and strategies that he used to raise over $8,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Bet Against Me Best Against Cancer

When Daniel Cahalane was diagnosed with Stage IV Lymphoma in 2014, he looked around the room during chemotherapy treatments and realized how many young faces were looking back at him. Recognizing he’d had the opportunity to live a full life, and some of these children may not, he wanted to do something to help.

As an avid outdoorsman Dan wanted to combine that passion with his desire to help others fight cancer like he did. So he setup a Pledge It campaign that enabled him to do just that.

Dan had the unique idea to allow supporters to pledge a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for ever mile he kayaked in a long-distance race he entered. Three hundred miles later— from St. Petersburg, FL to Key Largo— Cahalane had raised over $8,000 to benefit St. Jude.

The campaign was setup so that if he failed to finish the expedition, he would match all the pledges to the point of the 300-mile fulfillment. He did finish, but that didn’t make the race any less arduous, as he dodged snakes, alligators and storms along the way— all in a kayak he designed himself. “A lot of people thought I was crazy. But it was the challenge of [kayaking 300 miles] and the opportunity to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” Cahalane explained when asked why he setup this particular campaign. “But the overall goal was to raise money for St. Jude.”

“[The Pledge It platform] was huge. I think it made it simple for people to donate and to pledge on miles complete. The only platform out there that was going to allow me to do this on a large scale, with pledging capabilities from pennies per mile to dollars per mile or more, was Pledge It.”

Cahalane used regular updates to his blog, betagainstcancer.org, which he shared via a strong social media presence to promote his campaign. “Social media, social media, social media and more social media,” he explained when asked what advice he would give to others thinking of doing a charitable, performance-based campaign. “That’s the key, making people aware of it, getting messages out there, and getting others to share that message. Really it’s the social part that drives the donations, getting people involved.

By posting regular updates, as well as having others share his updates, he created a strong community of followers that were willing to give to his campaign, share his story, and encourage others to give as well.

“I can’t say enough “thank yous” to everybody for both pledging and sharing, and getting the word out to others to pledge. That’s what made it such a success, without that we wouldn’t have had anything, we wouldn’t have been able to do what we did. That’s huge. They’re the ones who allowed us to succeed, to do what we needed to do.”