Dad Time

Helping Families Fight Childhood Cancer with Gold in Fight Founder, Mike Griffith

June 02, 2020 The Dad Corp Season 1 Episode 7
Dad Time
Helping Families Fight Childhood Cancer with Gold in Fight Founder, Mike Griffith
Chapters
0:00
Intro
4:20
Mike’s background
5:25
Ice cream, ice cream trucks, and snowballs
9:10
Duckpin bowling
11:22
Steelers versus Ravens, football
12:00
Haloti Ngata’s connection with Gold In Fight
15:00
Mike and wife Liane’s story
17:00
Mike’s kids and grandkids
18:20
How COVID and quarantine affects the family
20:45
How COVID affects the kids in the foundation
23:00
Treatment for the kids with cancer
24:55
Story of 2 kids undergoing the same thing but with different results
28:30
What is Gold In Fight?
32:30
Gold is the color of childhood cancer
33:30
Parents sacrifices for kids with cancer
35:50
People started wanting to donate to Gold In Fight
36:42
Facebook page became a support group
38:45
Gold In Fight logo
40:40
Care not only for the kid with cancer but also for the siblings
42:20
Impact on dads
50:20
Hard time for the whole family
51:40
Parking pass
52:25
Help with the funeral cost
53:30
Being so close to the family is a problem when kids pass away
54:00
Flip side when kids ring the bell
57:30
Survivor’s guilt
1:00:00
Easy application process
1:03:30
Events for the whole family
1:04:15
Types of cancer that are prevalent in kids
1:06:08
Different journeys of families
1:10:00
Managing a low administration budget
1:12:10
Always do the right thing
1:13:30
Military roots
1:15:00
What money goes to the family
1:16:00
Future plans with Gold In Fight
1:23:30
Complications after cancer-free
1:25:00
Government putting money on childhood cancer research
1:26:50
How the work impacts Mike’s view as a father and grandfather
1:28:50
Granddaughter donates to Gold In Fight
1:31:20
Principles to instill kids and grandkids
1:31:35
Hope Mike’s kids and grandkids remember his heart
1:33:55
Talk to the Private the same way you talk to the General
1:43:10
What would Mike’s kids say about him
1:44:20
Where to find and get in touch with Gold In Fight
1:47:45
Advice to other parents
1:48:27
Outro
Dad Time
Helping Families Fight Childhood Cancer with Gold in Fight Founder, Mike Griffith
Jun 02, 2020 Season 1 Episode 7
The Dad Corp

In our 7th Episode, The Dad Corp talks to Mike Griffith who is the founder of Golf In Fight. Gold In Fight is a foundation dedicated to children who are fighting cancer and their families. He shared his experiences and thoughts while being with these kids. We’ll also hear a lot of heart warming but also heartbreaking stories of the families and of course the kids themselves.

We’ll get to hear how they help and manage to survive through their hard work and help not only from friends but also from the community. He will also talk about his plans for the future in helping these kids.

Mike who retired from the Army is working with his wife of over 30 years, Liane together with friends and families of the victim, all of whom are volunteers. He has two children of his own and 4 grandkids. So this work that they do in Gold In Fight greatly affects them in their own life. Let’s listen in!

Key Quotes:

“You look at that and then you look at what they’re going through and you put that on a child. I mean you put all that in a child and for the child to sit there and smile and tell mom or dad it’s gonna be okay, I mean the children are consoling the parents. It’s crazy.”

 “I don’t have to do it but then kids do. I can walk away tomorrow saying 3 to 4 years I did a really nice thing. But then kids, man they can’t quit this. What gives me the right to quit it? I feel blessed that they let in their world. I don’t have a kid with cancer. But they accept me into this world, man. And it’s like to me I’m honored for that. I really am.”

“Sometimes I get so mad and I’m like why are we so consumed with ourselves and not what’s going on around us?”

 “You got choices in life. You can take us back where we were that’ll affect you and your children, not just you or you can take what I’ve given you and move forward and make it even better for yours.”

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In our 7th Episode, The Dad Corp talks to Mike Griffith who is the founder of Golf In Fight. Gold In Fight is a foundation dedicated to children who are fighting cancer and their families. He shared his experiences and thoughts while being with these kids. We’ll also hear a lot of heart warming but also heartbreaking stories of the families and of course the kids themselves.

We’ll get to hear how they help and manage to survive through their hard work and help not only from friends but also from the community. He will also talk about his plans for the future in helping these kids.

Mike who retired from the Army is working with his wife of over 30 years, Liane together with friends and families of the victim, all of whom are volunteers. He has two children of his own and 4 grandkids. So this work that they do in Gold In Fight greatly affects them in their own life. Let’s listen in!

Key Quotes:

“You look at that and then you look at what they’re going through and you put that on a child. I mean you put all that in a child and for the child to sit there and smile and tell mom or dad it’s gonna be okay, I mean the children are consoling the parents. It’s crazy.”

 “I don’t have to do it but then kids do. I can walk away tomorrow saying 3 to 4 years I did a really nice thing. But then kids, man they can’t quit this. What gives me the right to quit it? I feel blessed that they let in their world. I don’t have a kid with cancer. But they accept me into this world, man. And it’s like to me I’m honored for that. I really am.”

“Sometimes I get so mad and I’m like why are we so consumed with ourselves and not what’s going on around us?”

 “You got choices in life. You can take us back where we were that’ll affect you and your children, not just you or you can take what I’ve given you and move forward and make it even better for yours.”

 J:     What is up everyone? You have Jonathan back again for this week’s episode of The Dad Corp Podcast, Episode 7. I sat down with Mike Griffith, founder of Gold In Fight Foundation. Him and his wife Liane of over thirty years have created a foundation dedicated to serving families in need due to hardships caused by pediatric cancer.  One of the worst nightmares any parent can live through is hearing a doctor diagnose their child with cancer. From that moment their lives are turned upside down. They have to be there on the sidelines supporting their child through the fight of their life. It’s a fight that nobody should have to endure rather than ever seeing a child have to go through. For parents, it’s emotionally taxing. It’s physically taxing. And unfortunately it’s also financially taxing. You may not be able to be at your job. You may not be able to focus as much. You wanna be there focused on your child and helping them go through this incredibly challenging emotional and physical fight that they have to give, and see them, and support them through their recovery.

         There’s over forty children per day that are diagnosed with cancer. It’s still the number one disease killer for children worldwide. Unfortunately 95% of the survivors have some type of major issue by the time they’re in their forties. And so it’s an ugly, ugly disease. And people like Mike Griffith are out there in the trenches, finding a way for families to be able to singularly focus on helping their kids beat this battle. 97% of the Gold In Fight’s donations go to helping their mission. Only 3% are towards administration fees. That is incredible when you look at the statistics of other foundations. That is a voluntary army that has the best of intentions. And you can tell on the discussion where Mike and I laughed, we talked, we cried. It was just a fantastic discussion. Mike is a man of faith, man of integrity, and just a good person. He gets into trenches. He gets to know the families. He gets to know the kids and he works with them side-by-side to see them through their battle.

         I love the Foundation. Dustin and I were so personally moved by the Foundation that we have made a decision to partner with Gold In Fight and provide proceeds from the sells of our Dad Life collections to the Gold In Fight and their cause. Personally I’ve been a donator of the Gold In Fight to the Gold In Fight and I have just been incredibly moved. This was a discussion that would probably have an impact on me for the rest of my life. I know that I have an incredible amount of appreciation for what Mike has done, what his organization is doing. And I hope you enjoy the discussion. I hope you support the Gold In Fight Foundation. It is a cause worth getting behind. I love them. I love what they’re doing and I’m incredibly happy to be part of helping them in their cause. So stay tuned. It was a great discussion. Without further ado you’re gonna get to hear Mike Griffith discuss Gold In Fight.

         

 

 

J:      Hey man! How are you?

M:    It’s been a long day. I’ve been behind this computer in meetings since seven o’clock this morning.

J:      Is it job stuff or foundation?

M:    My day job.

J:      How is that going? Busy with the COVID stuff?

M:    Yeah, it’s really, really busy. It’s starting to slow down a little bit so that’s a good thing.

J:      Hey, you know what? I never asked you, do you go by Mikhail or Mike? Because I was just listening to some videos and I heard a lady call you Mike.

M:    Yeah, most of the time I go by Mike but either works fine with me.

J:      Do you have a preference?

M:    I don’t have a preference, whatever you think. Mike is fine. It’s probably easier or Mikhail. I don’t know. Mike is easy.

J:      Mikhail is kind of an interesting name for a US name, right?

M:    Well, my father was air force. I was actually born in a German hospital and my name from what I’ve been told comes from a Russian background because my grandmother was Russian. My name was as you know, though I guess Mikhail. I don’t know.

J:      That’s interesting.

M:    (01:08) school I go by Mikhail so I went just by Mike but now that I’m older, they call me by Mikhail, too so either way.

J:      So did you grow up in the US or did you have to spend some time overseas as well?

M:    I came to the US I think when I was 3 year old. I don’t remember. So my whole life was in the US but I was born in a German hospital so my first is German. My mom was German and father obviously I said was air force. So they said my first language was German. When I came over, they said the first word I learned in English was ‘wait a minute’ because all of the other kids were running after the ice cream truck and wait a minute, so I would learn wait a minute.

J:      That is hilarious.

M:    It’s a story my mom always told us.

J:      Ice cream trucks, do they still have those things around?

M:    We get them around here a little bit in the summer time. They don’t come in the little circle but they go around the big circle. I used to like the snowball truck. I miss the snowballs.

J:      I grew up in an area where there was an ice cream truck to come around and that was the highlight of our day. (02:16) It was the best, right?

M:    It really was. They come around. We have a pool for the community here, and they come around in the summertime for the pool and stuff and the kids run out and go get their ice creams so it’s nice. It brings back a lot of memory. Some old traditions are good to see.

J:      Yeah. I wonder what made them not be as prolific, because it is something I mean it was awesome as a kid. So I wonder why they’re not as common as they were when I were, 10, 15, 20 years ago.

M:    That’s an interesting thing. I’d like to know myself. I’d like to maybe look at that a little bit. That’s kind of neat. I like finding out things like that.

J:      You can still buy them. They’re out there. There’s a website here usedvending.com and you can get yourself, there’s actually a whole thing, ice cream trucks. That’s pretty bit interesting.

M:    Okay.

J:      Yeah, so if you ever wanna start a new business, you just start driving around. You got to get some good music though. That was the best part, right? You hear that thing from a mile away.

M:    Yeah, that’s right, the best music. Yeah, you knew it was coming. Some of them had the bell.

J:      What was your go to? Did you have a specific type of ice cream?

M:    Oh, we would go with the snowball truck where the chocolate snowball with marshmallow or something.

J:      Sugar rush mania, right?

M:    Yeah, pretty much.

J:      Maybe that’s why they’re not around anymore. None of the parents will let their kids eat that stuff.

M:    Maybe, I don’t know. So yeah, we have a lot of snowball stands here.

J:      Is that a popular Baltimore thing?

M:    That is a popular Baltimore thing. As a matter of fact, down the street from me there’s probably about 6 snowball stands right in less than a 5 mile radius.

J:      No kidding?

M:    Yeah.

J:      You know what? I spend about a decade in the Washington DC area and I never knew that snowball was a Baltimore thing. I spend there a lot of time. That’s interesting.

M:    Yeah. That’s always been since I was a kid. Snowballs, you got to get your snowballs.

J:      Any reason from Baltimore, is it just something that was there like a company…

M:    I don’t know. The thing is with other states and what they call snowball isn’t the same. Their snowballs are like hard snow cones. Our snowball is a very fine chopped ice that you eat with a little spoon. You don’t have to break it up.

J:      That is the real thing. I’m just googling as you’re telling me and there are websites dedicated to snowball stands for Baltimore. One of them came out with ‘Here are 10 Baltimore areas snowball stands worth your time.’

M:    Yeah. And they are rated too. You got the better ones that are around here. And they’re run by teenagers most of the time.

J:      What makes a good snowball? What’s the difference between a good snowball and a bad snowball?

M:    The difference of what makes a good snowball is the way the ice is shaved. And of course the flavourings are good. My favourite is the old-fashioned egg custard. And you got to put that little bit of marshmallow on the middle of it, it’s really good.

J:      There’s actually a whole website here. I just found ‘The History of the Baltimore Snowball.’

M:    I’m gonna look that up. Being from Baltimore, you don’t look that stuff up, right? So I’m gonna have to definitely look that up.

J:      Yeah. I’ll send you some of the link so I’ll post them on to the publication when we go there     (05:45)

M:    … some of that. That’s interesting. If you wanna look up at something else that’s interesting, look up duckpin bowling. I always thought that was very interesting.

J:      Duckpin bowling, what is that?

M:    I don’t know if it’s exactly a Baltimore thing but it’s a bowling, you know you have the big balls but you got the little balls in there called duckpins. And the reason why they call them duckpins, because I actually researched this a little bit, was because when the ball would go down, you get 3 balls instead of 2 and they’re small. And when they would go down and hit the pins, the pins would splatter and it’d look like a bunch of ducks taking off. So they call it duckpin bowling.

J:      That is crazy. Is it harder than typical bowling or is it…

M:    I think it’s harder. I mean I’m not a very good bowler anyway. I can’t make the ball come off the edge and curve in like those guys do but I think it’s harder. But I think it’s funnier because you can wing that ball because it’s such a small, light ball. And there’s always a sign above them that says ‘please do not loft the ball’ because you can get some air on before they get down the lane.

J:      Yeah. I’m reading about it as we’re talking. There’s a decent New York Times article that I’ll publish to this podcast. It says the ball’s 4 lbs and it has no finger hole so you just shoot it down the lane just like, you said 3 balls. It said that in United States Bowling Congress which is I guess the authority on duckpin bowling there are 55,000 certified 300 games. So there’s some good players out there. It’s a real sport.

M:    Right!

J:      Now, is it scored the same way as typical bowling?

M:    It is but since there’s 3 balls, it’s a little different. So if I remember correctly your first ball if you get a strike, right? so when you go to your next round, it works with the big ball, but when you go to the next round, it’s your second ball that you score on top of the 10 points. If you get a spare and you when you go to the next round, it’s your first ball that goes with the extra 10 points.

J:      Wow! Yeah, Baltimore gets the nod for that one too. It said it’s long believed that the game emerged around 1900 from a Baltimore gaming hall owned by John McGraw.

M:    They were known more than just for our murders.

J:      Well, being from the Pittsburgh area, there was a football joke I was about to insert there but I’ll keep it light today.

M:    Okay.

J:      Anytime I get a chance to talk about the Steelers versus the Ravens, I always try to…

M:    Let me tell you something. I love talking about football because if there’s any game that is the king of the watch is when we play you guys. Because it don’t matter if we both suck or if we’re both good, it’s always a good game.

J:      It’s always a good game, right? They, all the players get up for it. It’s a heated rivalry. You know it’s a pretty jovial rivalry across the fans.

M:    Do you know Haloti Ngata?

J:      I don’t. Who’s that?

M:    So Haloti Ngata is one of our big defensive players pro-ball. He’s retired a few years ago but he was a Raven. He’s the one that actually broke Ben Roethlisberger’s nose that year. But let me tell you a story about him. We were in a hospital feeding one time and I’m friends with his wife which is another long story why I became friends, Facebook friends with her but basically one night I got a text message from her saying that ‘man, I’ve been watching what you’re doing on Facebook about with the kids, with the hospitals.’ It looks to me this was when he was playing with Detroit when he left Baltimore. They said they’re gonna fly in and come help us feed the kids. So I arranged it. When he got in, we went out there and help feed the kids and sign autographs for the kids and stuff. So it was really, really cool. He was big with Ray Lewis, and Ed Reed, and Haloti Ngata. That was the year, the second time we went to the Super Bowl. 

J:      Yeah, I think I know who you’re talking about. That’s a lot of fan. Those kids must…

M:    A big Hawaiian. I have a picture because it’s cool. He’s a big Hawaiian guy, Samoan guy but his wife is smaller. They have 3 kids. Their son is the age of my oldest granddaughter. But what happened was I had a, one of my son’s friends I was watching the football game and he comes to me and ‘Mr. Mike I got this Raven’s jersey. I don’t even know who it is. You want it?’ I’m like ‘yeah, I’ll take it.’ So he brought it over and it was an actual legitimate jersey and it was Haloti Ngata’s. So I texted his wife and I said ‘hey, do you think if I dropped it off at my aunt’s house,’ because they live close down to where my aunt lives ‘on the way out and Haloti would sign?’ and she’s ‘don’t be silly. Bring it over.’ Now this was the night that he got the 9 million dollar contract with the Ravens. So I go down to his house. He’s got 2 front doors. Me and my son are down there. I knocked on the door, nothing happens. I ring the bell. She comes out like she’s known me for years, went in the house. She was ‘oh, I hope you weren’t waiting long.’ I was like ‘no, I rang the bell but nobody answered.’ And she goes ‘oh, that don’t work.’ And I looked down and like dude, you make 9 million dollars and you got a bell that don’t work. It’s like ‘yeah, I got to get that fixed.’

J:      How big is that, man?

M:    He’s the same age as my son and my son stood next to me. We took a picture and he signed the jersey. I have to send you the picture because what I did is my kid’s framed the jersey that he signed along with the picture of me, him, and my son together in his house. And we framed it all together. He framed it for me. I have to send it to you. He’s a big guy.

J:      That’s amazing.

M:    Yeah. His first son is huge too. He’s definitely gonna be a football player.

J:      Yeah. And I love those stories, right? When you meet somebody that’s been so successful in a public stage like that, they’re kind of down to earth.

M:    They’re like that still, yeah.

J:      That had to be a breath of fresh air. I’m sure the kids probably went wild because the bigger you are, the better the kids like you. They must have been in awe.

M:    Oh, yeah. Some of the kids are teenagers and really like, I think some of the adults were even more excited than some of the teenagers and they really like football, like one of our kid’s Justin who has brain cancer, he’s a big Ravens fan so it was really nice for him to get to meet him, to get photos with him and stuff.

J:      Yeah. And so your wife is from Germany. So I guess you’re birth was a little bit of a foreshadowing, right?

M:    Well, yeah. That’s another story. So basically she just walked in from her appointment. I was 4 months away from my wedding day of 4 months away from getting married with my high school sweetheart who I was dating for about 3 or 4 years when I, I guess accidentally met my wife somewhere and just kind of talking and 4 months later I’m like ‘I got to go home,’ because I got to see if I’m just a young, private and lost. And I went home and it just wasn’t there. And I knew my wife for 4 months and asked her to marry me. And here we are 36 years later.

J:      36 years later. That’s incredible.

M:    Yeah. It is pretty wild. I guess you know when it is and what it is. The funny part is when I was in Germany, my parents have thrown a bridal party or bridal shower and there was a cake with a bride and groom on it. So after me and my wife had got married, I had some pictures. I moved out of barracks and was getting an inspection and I had an emergency phone call. When she saw the picture of my prom, I was all in white and my ex-fiancé was all dressed up. And then she’d seen another picture with the wedding cake and said ‘oh, my god. You’re a bigamous. You’re already married.’ I was like ‘no, no, no.’ Back then luckily the date was on the back of the picture so I said ‘look at the date. One’s a prom and one was a party that we had before when I was in Germany.’ That is one pretty funny story

J:      And so she was in Germany? Did she come to the States then at that point?

M:    Yeah. She was, when I met her, she spoke no English and my German was very, very rough.

J:      I guess that’s why she liked you then, right?

M:    I guess.

J:      She doesn’t have to talk.

M:    She didn’t speak English and stuff like that. She left Germany and she followed me home.

J:      It seems like the less we talk, the less trouble we can get into. So if at first you can’t be understood, maybe less get you in trouble.

M:    That was a concern too being in the army with over twenty years and you’re constantly deployed, constantly going somewhere. When I retired in the army I was like ‘we’re gonna be together all the time.’ But it actually worked out very.

J:      That’s amazing. And you have 2 kids you said.

M:    Yeah, I have. My daughter’s 33 and my son is 29. And then I have 2 granddaughters by my kids. My son’s daughter is 11. That’s the one who’s hooked to my hip. That’s the love of my life. I love all my grandkids but we are very, very close. And then I have my daughter. Her baby is just turning a year at the end of this month. And then I have 2 boys by marriage. My sons and my daughters, they have 2 boys by marriage.

J:      Does everybody live close into the area or are you all…

M:    Yeah, actually that’s really good because being in the military it was unfair that my parents really didn’t get to be around their grandkids too much. But I’m blessed because both of my kids literally live 5 minute drive or less from my house.

J:      And how was it being the grandfather versus to dad? What type of…

M:    I love my kids to death and they said it’s unexplainable with your grandkids. I always say there’s the love of god and stuff like that but right underneath of that is got to be the love of grandkids. I’ve never felt a love like that in my life. I get to look at my granddaughter, I’m an old soldier and I sit there and cry. Like I said, me and my first granddaughter, my 11 year old, me and her have been close since from day 1. And so this COVID is killing me a little bit. I don’t get to see her as much as I want to but I’m starting to break away a little bit. We’re both trying to get to see the grandkids because I was thinking about it, you know what really sucks? We’re staying away from our grandkids. We’re not seeing them. And then we go to 7-11 or grocery store and catch COVID and don’t survive. I’m not trying to be dramatic but then I’m mad because I don’t get to see my grand kids. So we’re kind of meeting the grandkids a little bit here and there but still being careful and things like that.

J:      It’s hard. It seems like you and your wife a pretty healthy people though, right?

M:    Yeah. We try to do all the right things like I’ve been teleworking from home and when I go in the office at least I have my own office and stuff. She’s been teleworking from home since when this all first started from a couple of months now. So we’re real careful. We go wear our mask and things like that and do all this social distancing that we can.

J:      What’s going on in Baltimore? Has there been mandatory quarantines and shelter employees, everybody wearing mask?

M:    Yeah, actually today was the first lifting. So it was pretty much stay-at-home orders unless you are missing essential and then you could go to places like grocery stores and stuff. But as of today, you can now do recreational boating, recreational camping and fishing and things like that. Because we flat lined now and kind of starting downhill for the hospitals and stuff so the Governor, well I really like about Governor Hogan is doing I think a wonderful job here. So I think that next week he’s gonna start slowly opening things up. But I need a haircut so bad you could see yesterday. My hair has not been this long since I was a teenager.

J:      Preaching to the choir. Have you gotten your home haircut kit out yet?

M:    I thought about letting the wife do it but I just couldn’t bring myself to.

J:      You know the Walmart executive came out in one of the PRs he said that, it was funny. The first was I think medication I think. Oh no, sorry. At first it was toilet paper that went off the shelves. Then it became disinfectants and now it’s hair dye. And so there is home hair dye kits. People are buying them so fast that they can’t keep them in stock because everybody is away from their barbers or stylists. It makes sense. It’s kind of funny. There was a joke out there that by the time we’re all back, we’re actually really get to see everybody’s real hair color. So that would be interesting to see.

M:    Right, right. That is true.

J:      How is COVID in with your foundation? I know that you’ve got kids that are sick and they need hospital care but it seems like all the focus is now on the corona virus and the impact there. So are they still getting the same level of care? Is there any challenge?

M:    They are. They’re nervous about things and stuff. I think I posted on at my regular Facebook page and I wanted to share. We put on our Gold In Fight Facebook a picture of 5 children wearing a mask and it basically says that these fighters can wear a mask so you can wear a mask for them. And then basically I copied and put it on my personal ones so they can wear a mask and they know the quarantine life all too well. So if these kids do it, I think we can do it for them. It kind of gets me and I keep my political stuff very limited on social media and things like that and I try to keep as much about what’s going on with COVID and stuff. Because I know it’s a very passionate subject and people have their beliefs. And I’m not the type of person to get angry when I disagree with somebody. This is what makes us great is that we all have different, depending on our background or education and things like that, what we think. But I guess it just drives me a little crazy is that when folks complain about wearing masks or being quarantined, and I know these kids are locked in the hospital sometimes up to a year. So if you wanna learn about being quarantined, go talk to one of these kids. But as far as the Foundation, yeah they are nervous. I mean they’ve got to go to the hospital, get their treatments, get their chemo. What they do is they go in-patient and they all sit in these chairs around a circle and play their iPods and things like that and get their infusions and things. And I know a lot of moms, I look on social media and a lot of moms are like ‘why are you complaining about?’ No, I think the biggest thing I see in having an impact is now you know what is cancer moms are going through. Talking about the whole worried about catching something because before the COVID it was about vaccinations. There’s a big controversy about getting kids vaccinated and the cancer moms are ‘pleased, get your kid vaccinated because it affects my child,’

J:      And with cancer in children one of the issues is that is the immune system as they’re going through the treatment, is that where (23:00)

M:    It’s the immune system and so the kids are getting the same treatment that adults get. They’re getting the same poison put in their bodies. I have children that we’ve known that were cancer-free when they died. They died from the treatment. There’s been only less than 4% of all government funding goes toward childhood cancer. I don’t know the exact number for breast cancer and things like that but they get, let’s just for instance say 17% or something like that, childhood cancer gets low. Now what they say is childhood cancer gets low is because it’s rare, that 1% of all cancer is childhood cancer. When I’ve got 80 kids in a local area right here and I’ve got 2 kids that are sitting next to each other in class that have cancer, I just don’t get it. I think the government needs to step up and put more emphasis on childhood care because I think there’s only been 3 new drugs since god knows when, the 50s or whatever, the 60s for childhood cancer.

J:      It’s really been a rough type of situation for the childhood cancer because it’s like a tale of 2 stories from what I was doing in the research on before we started having this. And one story is back in the 50s they thought that 90% of kids that got cancer were going to end up passing away and dying. Now they’ve gotten the survival rate over 80% but that is still, that means 20% is passing away and it seems like, I read that 4% that you were talking about, I think since 1980 they’ve only come out with 10 drugs that help go after childhood cancer.

M:    That’s more than I’ve heard. I have to look at that because I always heard there’s been 3 but, yeah.

J:      I’ll send you the link. It would be interesting because it might not even be that. That’s always what’s kind of fascinating with the different (24:53) out there because

M:    What gets me is it’s kind of like the COVID thing too here. So we had 2 children who had the same cancer. They met each other right next door to each other in the hospital, right? So one was a little boy and one was a young little girl. They went through the process together. And the boy survived. He’s cancer free. And the little girl died. So it’s a lot how they take it and their bodies take it. But just to pump these poisons in these kids is just. I could tell you stories while I sit here and gets me all choked up. We have one little boy. He was such a happy kid. He’s always laughing, smiling. And most of the kids are like this. Most of them are just so, I don’t wanna be cliché when I say they’re brave but they are really truly brave. Like I said, I spent 20 years in the army and I haven’t seen any brave like I’ve seen this. But anyway, we had one of the boys and we were there on a weekend just hanging out and showing YouTube videos and stuff like that and always been a happy kid. And then the nurse came in and he was kind of changing some things and it just changed in an instant. And he started crying and telling the nurse ‘listen, I wanna go home. I don’t wanna be here anymore. I don’t even care if I die. I just don’t wanna be here anymore.’ I think out of all the 3 and a half years I’ve been doing this, over 4 being around the kids, I think that was 1 of the 2 or 3 times that my heart was broke so bad that I had to leave the room and just bawl. I mean to see this kid just say things like that. And I file all the social stuff and when the kid was telling mom ‘mom, it’s gonna be okay. I’m gonna be okay.’ And the mom was breaking down. I mean these kids grow up in an instant.

J:      Yeah. It’s interesting in that sense because even when you start talking about different types of diseases and cancer, you start to go like this systemic impact where the numbers of people out there, the rate of people getting infected. The kind of survival rate and that all sorts of become statistics. But when you’re a parent, statistics don’t mean anything, right? You’re watching your child go through something that no person should ever go through period. But they’re going through believe and understand what’s happening to them. It’s got to be something that has to be devastating to the family. And as a father, I’m getting goosebumps just thinking through that, right?

M:    I always said that cancer sucks for anybody. Everybody knows somebody who’s had cancer, somebody who had passed from cancer. But you look at that and then you look at what they’re going through and you put that on a child. I mean you put all that in a child and for the child to sit there and smile and tell mom or dad it’s gonna be okay, I mean the children are consoling the parents. It’s crazy.

J:      I guess either we jump in talking about cancer and kind of the challenges and what you’re seeing out there and some of the interesting experiences with having professional athletes come through and see the kids which is always heart warming. Your foundation Gold In Fight, maybe we could take a couple minute and just talk through what that is because that would probably tie our listeners to how this conversation is starting to unfold and how you’re involved in this childhood cancer fight against cure that you mention.

M:    Yeah. I’ll try not to bore. I’ll try to give you the shorter version of it. I’ve never been around childhood cancer or anything like that. I’m blessed with my family. We don’t have any childhood cancer in our family. So probably a little over 4 years ago, like I said I retired from the army. I’ve got a pretty decent job with the Department of Defence right now. I’ve got a good life. I got an American dream, the 2.5 kids, the dog, the picket fence, all of that. So I was looking for a way to get back, I already looked. And I’ve always been pretty good with kids. I love kids. I love to watch kids to see them grow and things like that. Having kids of our own, that’s what we do. When we grow up and be parents, the kids are amazing to me. So I was looking at getting into some hospital work, go in there as a volunteer. So what happened was we had a site come up on social media for a young girl who has Ewing sarcoma. Their father was a military member who worked where I worked. And their car broke down. And they were living outside of the area for the hospital, about 30 minutes away so they were dependent on that car to get to the hospitals. So when they went and took the car to the mechanic, it was told that it was a 10 thousand dollar, needed a new engine. It was a hybrid car that needed a new engine. So I had thought about them and I called my buddy who’s a mechanic and I was like ‘hey, I got this couple here that their kid’s got cancer and stuff. Could you check their car for me? It’s almost 10 thousand dollars for an engine.’ So he had to tow it to the shop for free and even before he got to the shop, he called me up. He said ‘Mike I found an engine for 4 grand. I’m gonna go ahead. I’m gonna do it for that cost.’ I was like ‘dude, that’s really cool. Thank you.’ So anyways, so he calls me after he gets the car, not even an hour later. He said ‘dude, the car’s fixed.’ He said ‘it cost me $200.’ He said ‘I’m not gonna charge them.’ So from there it went to he read the story of the family. He goes ‘hey Mike, I wanna put on a fund raiser.’

Now we’re talking about, this was about the beginning of November so it’s kind of chilly out, kind of cold out, right? I’m like ‘a fund raiser, dude. I don’t know how to do a fund raiser.’ He said ‘no man, we got to put something together. We got to do something for this family.’ So I said cool, because I’m the talker. If you haven’t noticed by now, I like to talk. So me and him went around to local vendors. We found a place. It was actually a little place on the border. And we talked to them ‘listen, we wanna do a fund raiser.’ We told them the story. They’re cool with it. Let’s do it. We’re gonna do it mid-November. We were a little worried because it was kind of outdoor-indoor place and then not a whole bunch of people but maybe a couple of hundred. So we went out. We got all kinds of raffles. We did the whole thing. Getting people to come in. anyway long story short is we raised 9 thousand dollars. So that was really cool. So from that point the family was like ‘hey, we really wanna give back by taking food up to the hospital for those who helped us and to the families who are in the John Hopkins 11th floor which is where all the pediatric cancer kids are all in one floor there. So again as a talker I went to multiple restaurants and we lined up every Friday. We had a meal we would take up to the hospital for the families and the nurses and the doctors on the floor. So I was doing that for about a year getting to know the families, getting to see the hardships, really figuring out ‘oh, my god. What is going on?’ This is something that I’ve never experienced and never seen. These kids just affected me immediately and if you ever meet a cancer kid, they would affect your heart immediately. So during this time while this is going I had one young lady whose daughter would have cancer. She kept coming to me and she says ‘look at these comfy chemo shirts.’ And she showed me the shirts where the zippers came down on the front. It was tied dye. It had a lift for when they expose the female breast and things like that. So I was sitting one day at home thinking as I do and I designed this hoodie that I wanted to do and I told my wife, I said ‘listen, I got an idea for a clothing line for cancer kids. My niece is in school in Germany to design clothing as a designer. So when I said I wanted to be like Hanes, you know Hanes the tagline or the fruit and loom but I wanted to be Gold In Fight. Because gold is the color of childhood cancer, not a lot of folks know their buying those paint but a lot of gold. And I promised them boxing because they were going through rounds of chemo, they’re in the fight of their lives. Let’s get in the ring. Let’s fight with them. It was the first time in my 36 years of marriage, sorry by that time 34 years of marriage my wife’s like ‘that is a brilliant idea. Do it.’ So I had to go for it, right?

J:      I love your brand. And so I didn’t know that gold was the childhood cancer color.

M:    Right. So pink is, and nothing wrong, you know breast cancer sucks. I’m not taking anything away from any of that.

J:      Absolutely.

M:    But pink is so, everybody knows pink. Not a lot of people know gold and we’re actually trying to get with the NFL, we want NFL and other sports to start presenting gold during September which is by the way September is childhood cancer awareness month. So anyway that was going on and as I was meeting these families and doing the things and the group I was with they were trying to raise money for research which I respected. That was their story. But I’m from Baltimore and I’m up in there and I’m seeing this and I see these families and moms had to quit their jobs, dads working all for hours and a hundred thousand dollars in debt, all the medical bills. So I felt I needed to do something right away. So I had a friend of mine, he was air force guy. I’m army but he said ‘Mike you got to start foundation, man. You got to start this. You got the passion. You got the drive.’ I said ‘dude, I know nothing about anything.’ I do have a background on program and project management. I’ve been a logistics guy forever. So he brought me the paperwork and there I am signing this paperwork like you sign them for a house, all these different papers. And 3 months later we were 501(C)3. And I said the obvious name’s got to be Gold In Fight. It’s got to be the Gold In Fight, so that’s what we did.

In the beginning, I’m sorry I know I go one on one but in the beginning our premise was to save the world, right? We wanted to help every family. We wanted to do so much. What we quickly found out is like look, you got to streamline this thing. You got to figure out what you wanna do. And there was a couple of things that was very important to me when I started this. Number one was the name Gold In Fight because that’s the one thing my wife said that was a great name, so that. but even more important was a lot of times you give the foundation and you don’t know what percentage actually goes to what you’re trying to do right so it was very important to me that everything that we raise goes toward the fight, nothing comes, I’m not gonna take any money, we are all volunteers. Like I said earlier I have a nice little life. I got about 4 more years to retire for the government. I wanna do Gold In Fight fulltime and I’m not gonna get paid to do that. It’s just what I wanna do to help these kids. So that was number one. What I’m proud of over the past couple of years is when we raised over $60,000 and it’s not a lot but it’s good. It’s a start, right? But only 2.4% of that went to avenue cost. Everything else we’re asking, we’re getting donated and things like that, so it’s about $800, I think it was that went to administrative cost. That’s pay for some storage. I have a tax guy. I got to pay to do my taxes because I wanna make sure I stay in good with that, right? So that was important to me. What we do is we help families financially. So what we do is we pay small bills for the families, that’s number one. That’s the number one thing. So they’ll come in, we’ll pay the bill once a year up to 2 years after treatment because even though the treatment’s over the bills don’t go away. So we do that but what happened was very interesting. So we started getting people want to donate to us, things like we had high-end hair salon said ‘Mike, I love what you’re doing. Listen, give me 20 of your moms. I’m gonna do a full makeover. We’ll serve them lunch. We’ll do a makeover, haircut, colors, whatever they want.’ I was like ‘Okay, cool.’ I had goalie from the Baltimore Blast. He came out and he’s like ‘hey, let’s bring your kids out. We’re gonna go to Fogo de Chao. We’re gonna feed them and we’re gonna let the kids play soccer against our Baltimore Blast soccer team.’ Really cool.

So while all of this is happening we’re like we got to find a way to get a hold of these families pretty quick to get the information that we need to get them go get their haircuts and things like that. like I said, we’re brand new at this, right? so what we did was we created a private Gold In Fight Facebook page. Now it’s only for families. You have to answer questions to get into it because we screen them to make sure that their families were battling cancer. We found out very, very quickly these families came in here and it became a support group. These families so, new families have found out their child had cancer are talking to families who have been through the fight. So in this support group there’s families who have been through the fight. Their kids are survivors. There’re families in there who have lost their child and there are families whose kids are going through the fight. So that almost became more important than the financial aspect of it. But what I really love about what we do and this is what makes my heart sing every single time because when we have an event, the kids and the families come free. We will never charge them for that. so what we do is when you decide ‘okay listen, I really love what you’re doing. I wanna become part of the Gold In Fight family. My fight wants to be part of that. we send them a gold boxing glove necklace. So every one of our kids gets this necklace medallion that’s a gold boxing glove. And when I say when you see kids walking to an event or you see a picture of them or you’ve seen this there and they’re wearing this boxing glove, it’s the most amazing thing. I have one kid, his mom said he refuses to take it off. He hasn’t taken it off since he got it. So there’s a lot of things we do but the premises, like I said we help financially. We’re kind of a support group in that aspect. When things get offered to us, we get it to the families and things like that. that’s the other thing that’s unique about us is we’re very close to our families. You know a lot of foundations, you’ll give money and that’s it. I know most of the kids personally, not all of them. As we grow and get more and more kids, it’s more difficult. But I know a lot of the kids personally. I know the families. I make it a point to be there for them. I’m 20 minutes from the one hospital Hopkins down the road so if they need something, I run it down there. Anyway I don’t wanna get lost in my conversation but that’s what we’re about. We’re about helping these kids.

J:      I think you have such a great story and I love the brand. You were talking about the logo and you have the gold gloves and you have the golden color and then you have these kids that’s almost a ring. What’s all that?

M:    The boxing gloves like I said, we went through the boxing theme. I don’t know why it was in my head. When we did it, I kind of like it. Everybody liked it so we stuck with that premises, the boxing. And then it was funny because when you say that we were designing the logo. And we had first the boxing gloves hanging in and somebody said ‘that almost looks like they’re hanging on a ring. We don’t want that. let’s put the boxing gloves up in the air like they’re fighting,’ right? so that was the part, the aspect of it. We put Gold In Fight and obviously the color gold was part of it. Now the only downside to this whole thing with Gold In Fight and the colors are gold and black. Well, if you’re in any kind of football team and like me as a big Ravens fan, I find that one hard to swallow.

J:      I don’t know why, Mike. I do not understand why. I thought that those colors were beautiful. That’s one of the reasons why I reached out to you.

M:    I’m sure you did. And then one of our, Bryan’s wife, Bryan’s work and he’s the Vice President of the foundation and his wife’s on the foundation too. It’s basically me, Bryan and our wives. And I’ll talk about some of the other folks that help us in a minute but she was like, I really like the idea of putting this. Starting out we put like just golden kids going around it. And then we went and then we’ve seen one somewhere else so I won’t obviously kind of snatch that one where the kids just in the circle around the boxing gloves. So they’re just kind of holding hands if you kind of imagine that and they’re around the Gold In Fight as family, I guess it’s gonna represent because that’s what we’re about. It’s the family of this. We see it so much with the families. I went back early, so much in debt. Here’s the other thing that’s crazy with the divorce rate is kind of high. Can you imagine you put the stress on there and then when you’re child survives or not survives, it seems to me that, I don’t have any statistics on it but it’s just I know a lot of people where the divorce rate is high. And I can understand it, I mean it’s a lot of stress to put on a thing. And here’s the other thing that’s very, very cognisant about is the siblings. So a lot of time the siblings get forgotten in this whole thing, right? I mean your mom’s spending so much time up in the hospital and then dad is switching out, and dads are up in the hospital for so long. And then sometimes the siblings can feel left out, right? so when we do things, we include the siblings too. So when we do our breakfast with Santa and we do an angel tree, so we do an angel tree in my work, we don’t just put the kids that are battling cancer on there. We put the sibling in there too. So we buy presents for them too that gets donated and we take it to them. We wanna include the entire family. Anybody that comes to our events, like I said the families they come free, the immediate family. 

J:      Yeah. You’re talking about some of the challenges that the parents have as far as the relationships and I did some reading before we went in to this discussion. And one of the interesting articles out there was talking about the different roles that you take in in the family and specifically because this is The Dad Corp podcast, I read a little bit about the father’s impact. And it was really interesting because some of the key issues that fathers go through is the ability to acknowledge their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. It’s not something that we’re typically very good at communicating. But as a father you kind of feel as a protector of your children but you’re actually out of control of the situation. You have no ability other than being there to kind of just support and help the child go through but they’re in that fight, they’re in that ring kind of one on one.

M:    I don’t wanna cut you off but I have to tell you a story because you brought it up. And you’re exactly right with your Dad Corp so listen, here’s a quick one for you. So I’m in a hospital, we’re feeding one day. In the hospital that term feeding but we’ve taken food off to the hospital and I’m in a little break room. I had to walk away. I’m sitting in a break room and this gentleman comes in and he’s got cut-off sleeves, huge, definitely a weightlifter you can see. And he’s struggling with a small pack of crackers. You see his hands shaking. And I’m like ‘sir, we bought some food over here. You are more than welcome to get some.’ He goes ‘I can’t eat, dude. I can’t eat. I go to the gym every day. I lift weights. I got all these muscles. My daughter is 5 years old was jumping in the pool the other day. I got all these muscles and what did they do me for. I can’t even protect my daughter from this.’ And he starts bawling. It’s another one of few times I say it’s just, it hits me hard. You’re right. As a dad’s group, I mean sons, daughters. These are dads’ sons and daughters, man. I can’t even sit there and imagine going through that with any of my kids and grandkids. Doing this work, it kind of every time my kids get sick I say ‘okay Mike. Stop, stop.’ But I can’t imagine a man, a dad to watch your kids and you feel helpless because you’re right. That’s exactly what you said. It was right. we feel like we’re the protectors of our children, our families, and then you’re helpless.

J:      Yeah. You got me tuned up on that one.

M:    Sorry.

J:      No. I got a 6 year old daughter so I have thought of that.

M:    I have a friend of mine who tells me ‘dude, I love what you’re doing.’ Because a lot of times when I put stuff on our website, I share it with my personal Facebook page, he’s like ‘dude, I love what you’re doing. I got to scroll past all your stuff. I can’t, I don’t know how you do it.’ And I tell him ‘dude, what are you talking about how I do it? I don’t have to do it but then kids do. I can walk away tomorrow saying 3 to 4 years I did a really nice thing. But then kids, man they can’t quit this. What gives me the right to quit it? I feel blessed that they let in their world. I don’t have a kid with cancer. But they accept me into this world, man. And it’s like to me I’m honoured for that. I really am.’

J:      I have to think that it has to become a closed knit community just because you’re going through something that unless you went through it that, I have the sympathy and the empathy but I just never have the appreciation or the understanding.

M:    Right, right. We can’t even I can’t. I’ve been around, I’m around them all the time now. It consumes me sometimes and I got to get away from it because I get so angry. I get so upset that this is happening to these kids. And I’m not even their dad and I feel helpless. And I wanna do so much more. And I wanna yell at the world especially what we’re going through now. I understand this is hard with the COVID. And I understand it’s hard with staying away. And I understand it’s hard with the mask. But man these kids do it every single day. Come on! Sometimes I get so mad and I’m like why are we so consumed with ourselves and not what’s going on around us? I’m a Christian man and what are we taught? You help your fellow man.

J:      Yeah, amen to that. I would love to say that I was in that boat but I probably be guilty of being one of the people that you would probably be not thrilled with when this first started because I think I got so consumed with the economic impacts and the disruption to my own life.

M:    I get that. I really truly get that. I do get it. It’s hard for all of us. It really, really is. And I’m not saying I agree with everything that’s going on or disagree, that’s a whole another conversation. I get that. and I’m not trying to put it on in one little bubble. I’m really not. It’s just that I sometimes wonder where the compassion is. It’s not always about, I always sit there and say this it’s a funny thing and I may lose a couple of friends over this and I would never put this in public but I got to say it. I’ll put a picture out there on Facebook with me and my grandbaby. Now I get a hundred or some likes on it. And then I’ll put a picture of one of these kids out there that I just wanna try. I’m thinking I get maybe 2, 3 likes. Where’s that hundred likes for these kids, right? I don’t wanna sound petty or any of that stuff. But it’s just like I said, sometimes it consumes me and I’ve got to walk away from it and just say ‘okay, I got to get away from this.’ I’m not judgemental at all, like I said earlier in this thing everybody has their opinions on things and I learn from opinion and I learn from looking at things and I know we all come from different backgrounds. And I’m blessed to still be working in things like that. I know there’s folks, even my friends who are out of work. And I get it. I really, really get it but I just wish, I think it’s not so much as what I, you don’t think of others when you’re, I don’t even know how to say it anymore. This would be a part that you have to cut.

J:      No. not at all, man. Not at all. I agree and I think corona and COVID has created a teachable lesson for all of us. Like I said, I’m a capitalist to the hilt and so when I saw the shelter in placed and then some of our “freedom” sort of go away and then the economic impact, I got pretty upset. But do you know what I was upset about if I really take a reflection of this? I’m upset about the daily disruption to my life. Oh my goodness. I can’t go to work. I can’t be in the office every day. But I forgot to look at the positive which is I get to spend time with my family that I never got to spend before.

M:    Right.

J:      So you’re right. this is an opportunity for people to become more authentic. We were going so fast and we’re all chasing some dream that never ends. But we forgot that we’re all humans and we also kind of forgot about each other. And so this has really given us a chance to kind of look to your fellow brothers and sisters and just really say that (48:24) like make this a better situation. Right or wrong, about the response and how people have acted, the community, the government, they went down to this type of response. As humans, with each other we got to support each other and get together.

M:    I’ll quote one or many of the kids. Like I said earlier, everybody who’s going through this, and is quarantined, and has a rough time right now because I know it’s happening, but I wanna quote the kids and say ‘it’s gonna be okay.’

J:      I love it. I love it. And it’s interesting one of the things that you mentioned about your foundation Gold In Fight that I really thought interesting when we talked was the focus on some of the things that aren’t typically talked about, right? everybody knows there’s hospital bills out there but people forget that this takes an absolute devastation to the parents as far as their own careers and their ability to keep their jobs going, emotionally, physically, and just the amount of time. The additional cost that nobody talks about, in business we call it hidden cost. It’s like it sounds like just parking it the place like at John Hopkins, that’s an expense for a day that adds up. And so one of the things I think I really like is you focus there because as I was going through that list of fathers that I was telling you about, one of the things that really becomes a burden on the father is their own careers. I don’t wanna single out fathers because it takes two and many people were having (50:00) but from my Dad Corps perspective this is like singling out the dads and the back of the minds like ‘hey, I’m also one of the providers if not the provider of the family (50:14) situation and how do I keep that going to make sure our family’s stable while I also tear away from the time that I wanna spend away with my kid who’s sick to the point that they may not be around.

M:    Yeah, you’re so right. and you brought me back to the Dad Corp thing and it is so true. The moms, everybody’s having a hard time but you’re right. the dads are out there, a lot of the dads I would say a better percentage of them out there that are trying to keep their jobs going, sometimes working 2 jobs now because mom just has to quit. She’s not gonna leave her kid in there. And how do you work with this because it’s in your head, right? it’s like you got to pay attention to your job. You got to, it’s just so much for a family to go through all of this. And the dad, we have this pride as dads, right? we want our kids to grow up better than we were and have better than we did. And that’s what we do. And then this happens to you. It happens to you and it happens to your child. And now you’re like, I don’t know if you’re kind of like put it on yourself. It’s hard. It’s hard for everybody but I keep that perspective of a dad, a proud dad it’s my son or my daughter, my little girl. So I get it.

J:      And when you look at those expenses that you talk about, what are those? You mentioned the (51:36) and parking, if you’re listening to this out there and you’ve never have to do that, parking at John Hopkins, what does that type of daily cost?

M:    $12 dollars a day. Now you imagine that you’re going up there quite often because now when you’re staying up there, sure you can get dropped off occasionally but then you have maintenance, and you have appointments, and you have all this stuff. So one of the things we do is we do help with that. we buy parking passes for the families and stuff so they can get it and get free parking. But then you got to take into consideration there’s food expenses, right? so you’re in a hospital. Now you’re down there. You got to get food. You got to get meds. You got to get these things that insurance don’t cost. When I tell you folks that are a hundred thousand or whatever in debt, I’m not exaggerating with that. it’s crazy especially now that I get to pay this small amount of these bills and I see where they’re coming. Do you know what a child’s funeral costs? The average bill for a child’s funeral coming in, I’m talking about 2, 3, 4, 4 year old child, the tiny casket if you’ve ever seen one of them, I’ve seen them. Talk about heartbreaking. More than $8,000 just for the funeral cost. Just for the funeral cost! So one of the things we do whether we helped out or not during that year, let’s say we pay a bill for your family and then your child passes that year, we automatically put $500 towards funeral cost. That’s a drop in the bucket but that’s something that we do to help.

J:      And Mike I know yesterday you mentioned you’ve been to more than one of those. What’s that type of experience like for the family?

M:    Yeah. I already talked about the double edged sword, right? and now you’re gonna make me cry.

J:      I had to ask the question quickly my friend.

M:    So the first year we did this, it was really cool. I didn’t see any funerals. I didn’t go to any funerals. I was really close to the kids. We’re pretty small. And as it’s growing I got to know the kids and they grew more. The problem with knowing the families so close is when the children pass away. So I’ve been, our foundation, me and Bryan and Glenda and my wife, we’ve been to probably about 10 funerals in the past year or so of little kids. And I see a little coffin, I’m talking about a tiny little coffin, little kids who are 2, 3, 4 years old. Teenagers, we got their whole lives ahead of them. It’s just, it’s heartbreaking. Now the flip side to that is when I feel good is when a child beats cancer and they get to go ring that bell. And they come in and they say ‘hey Mike, hey Bryan.’ We’d love for you guy to be there when our child rings a bell, that he’s cancer, she’s cancer-free. That’s the good side to that. so it’s really tough. But what was important to me when we started this, as I’m going back when I say there are certain things that were very important was that we’d be there for the families if we could. We’re not gonna be there as we grow for all the families but for the ones that we could. And that’s if that’s going to a funeral, just being there and showing support. Going to the bell ringing and showing support, that means a lot to me. Now I have friends on Facebook. My Facebook page is going up tremendously, folks that are on all different states throughout the United States and I keep up with the kids on how they’re doing on treatments and things like that. and just one the other day I was talking about her little girl and I said ‘man, I’d love to come out and meet her.’ I just wanna meet all these kids and just freaking tell them that it’s gonna be okay. I’m sorry. I know I get a little bit sidetracked sometimes in my conversations.

J:      You don’t have to apologize.

M:    The funeral is really, really tough man. Or when you have one, my buddy Justin, they ask questions ‘am I gonna die?’ and things like that. it’s really truly heartbreaking to me.

J:      And so when parents are going through that situation from the beginning moment that they find out their child has cancer, are there groups or support infrastructure to help them talk to their children, help them?

M:    I’m sure there is. I’m not really too deeply involved in that but I will say this, I will say that one of the reasons why I started this is going back when we’re taking food and one of the moms came up and said ‘oh my god. You guys, you change my life.’ I’m like we brought food, what are you talking about? Orderly said he hasn’t eaten in 3 days and this is his 3rd plate. And that was kind of what pushed me towards too. I said ‘man, if we can do is just bringing food, imagine what do if we help with bills, right?’ but one of the things I always heard going back to your point was they love, I just wish I had somebody to talk to, somebody’s going through the same thing because a lot of times you need to remember these kids are like in their room trapped. They can’t really get out and do things and stuff like that and talk to other people. And I think that’s what really hit home with our “support group.” And we try to kind of leave that group alone and let them do for their own. The only time we’ll interact really is if we’ve been offered something and we’ll get it to the group seeing about getting it to them. So we brought on board, we’re trying to get more talk with them but we brought on board in the group an actual grief counsellor or things like that that we allowed into our support group for folks who might wanna reach out to that person or things like that. so we were able to do that.

J:      That’s wonderful.

M:    One of the things I kind of remember going to your point too is, and again I don’t know what’s out there for support in the Maryland area especially put, one of our, Gigi a beautiful little girl when she passed away, I remember her mom was telling me that they take the baby and the put the baby in her little wagon and they roll her around the floor so all the nurses can say goodbye to the baby, right? and then the mom literally walks out of the hospital. And it’s like a door’s closed behind her. And that’s it and then it’s like now what? Moms struggle every single day, dads too struggle every single day with the lost of their child. So you don’t only have that, you have what’s called survivor’s guilt too, right? so we have moms and dads that feel guilty that their child survived and the kid in the room next to them didn’t. it’s more than just what the kid passing away. And then guess what? Every time this kid who is cancer-free, every time something happens you’re gonna worry about it, right? Most of the time we get referrals for people that need help is from the families. So what I mean by that is by word of mouth the Gold In Fight, ‘hey, have you heard about Gold In Fight? They can help you financially.’ ‘oh my god, Gold In Fight is a great organization man. You got to get a hold of Mike or Bryan or Glenda or Liane and you got to get a hold of them. These guys are really good people.’ And that feels good. But the problem with that is why am I getting it all from word of mouth from families? I would love maybe in the future when we get our stuff, like I said we’re a young foundation. We’re only 3 and a half years old and we get everything right. I want to get into that world of it. I wanna get into the hospital world of it. And say ‘you know? We got to be able to do something.’ Here’s my idea if anybody wants to steal it out there, I don’t really care. By all means go for it, do it. Everybody is on their phones, right? everybody has apps. I wanna create an app where you can sit there and say ‘okay, I’m going to Maryland.’ They’re gonna send me to John Hopkins, right? so I wanna know what is out there for me in Maryland for support like Gold In Fight, for financial support or like you kind of sad for mental health support and things. I would love to create an app where you click on childhood cancer, you click Maryland, and you click support, and all the agencies are listed in that app. That was one of the things I thought of a couple of years ago. Well I’m not smart enough to do it and it’s hard to get volunteers to do it. Then your peeps out there they know how to do it, talk to me. Let’s get that thing rocking.

J:      Yeah, let me take a look at something and we should be talking about in The Dad Corp.

M:    Yeah. That would be really cool, right? and you did it state by state. Start from A to, what’s the last state, Y or Z, I don’t know. And then you just push the app and then you go to a state and it tells what’s out there. It’s gonna take a little bit of research but I’m there. I’ll throw out everything that’s available in Maryland. I’m sure there’s website that’s kind of do it but let’s put it in an app.

J:      That’s a legitimate issue for cancer patients and families overall regardless of age. My wife, her mother had passed away from cancer and she is just thrilled at what you’re doing and the fact that you and I have had a chance to connect because she said she had no idea what was out there. And I’m gonna to a point that I want you to talk about a little bit but by the time that her mother was diagnosed and had started to go through the treatments and my wife had learned that there are options, her mother was so far along that they act as if they were rejected from some of the foundations out there, and I won’t name the foundation because everybody has their reasons and they’re trying to do what they can with the money that they have. But I think one of the things that you said yesterday that really stuck with me is that you’re focusing on a number of families that typically wouldn’t get help from some of these foundations because they focus on certain patients that have a higher likelihood of survivals which helps the percentage of their from a (60:53)

M:    That’s exactly right, yeah. And like you I won’t mention and I’m sure you probably know but yeah. And again it goes back to key important things with me. We don’t turn down families or anything. So look one of the things I told Bryan when we started I said ‘Bryan I need to make this a very easy application process, right?’ I don’t want it to be so cumbersome where I got to know what all your household income is. It don’t matter, right? whatever you’re living, the way you live your life and your status in life, it’s all gonna be affected. So I don’t care about all that. If you need help, I wanted it to be easy. It’s as simple as going to your phone, you can do it on your phone. You go to our website, you click on support and you can fill it out right there. And then what I do with my wife, she’s the finance person on this. We sit there and every Friday because I work fulltime, right? so Fridays what we do is I take the time and we pay that bill. It’s that easy and then we do keep a log so we know who we paid for that year and stuff like that. but it’s not some cumbersome paper work that you got to go through and I got to see bank statements and what’s in your savings account. I don’t care about that. you’re going through hell right now. And it’s not like I’m getting you a million dollars or paying all your bills off. If I could, I would for sure but. And here’s the other upside to that, the first families that are a part of our Gold In Fight that we’ve never assisted in, what a celebrity. They’ve told me ‘Mike I don’t need your help. I got a great job. I’m doing wonderful. Things are good. It sucks with the cancer but,’ and that’s great. Most of the people that we help is people that really don’t have a whole lot anyway. And then you lose your job because of these things and families are losing their jobs because of this. I have a family who’s looking for rides to get to the hospital for chemo treatment because they didn’t have a car. Come on now. So that’s the thing about us.

J:      You’re a real life hero out there. One of the other points I wanna make about your foundation which has drawn us to it is I love the inclusiveness where if people need help, you help them. You’re not trying to bring in that kind of bangle of promotions that go out for fundraising and show that your percentage or you’re bringing in the first come first serve people need help and that you’re out there making impacts into their life, getting to know the kids. I love that impact that you’re making. I am also a huge fan of the fact that you mentioned earlier that you’re involved with the families. You’re not arms length. You’re not out there just putting on a nice tie in black tie dinner, raising some money, canning it over and then go on with your life. You’re getting to know these kids. You’re seeing the struggle and getting to know the child that these parents have (63:28)

M:    saying that is when you come to our events, here’s really cool, right? so if you give to some of these bigger foundations and stuff like that whether it’d be the puppies, the children, the adults, whatever that foundation is, right? when you come to our events, guess what? Our families are there. The families can make it, like I said. So you’re actually there hanging and getting to meet and talk to a lot of the families that you’re helping. And that puts a whole personal touch on that. and the families are very appreciative of that. and a lot of the families, they want their story told. They want their child’s story told. They really, really do. And that’s for awareness. What’s going on? It’s not for self-serving. It’s basically that this is happening, man. This is really going on and something needs to be done.

J:      What type of cancer do you all find most prevalent in your families or it this spread out?

M:    I would say for me the most I ran into here is leukemia, brain cancer, and some of the sarcomas and stuff like that. but a lot of the kids I deal with is probably leukemia and brain cancer.

J:      And when you look at the difference, so can you tell me a little bit about leukemia versus sarcoma, you mentioned an earlier one that was Ewing sarcoma, I think?

M:    Ewing sarcoma, yeah. I’m not real good on that kind of stuff. I don’t really study up on those but I know Ewing sarcoma is like a bone cancer and things like that. and then you have like the little girl who we dealt with who was the first got me into this thing she had 3 ribs removed, she had a rod going down her spine, and she was 5 years old. So that’s like a bone kind of cancer. And then you have obviously leukemia, so blood cancer. And then you have brain cancer and brain tumor and things like that.

J:      Yeah. I think lymphoblastic leukemia

M:    Lympho sarcoma is a big one here. We have a little baby who’s a couple weeks old who had a lymphoblast, yeah that. I have a hard time with all the, and you know what’s really sad is I had a hard time when you got a 5 years old putting it out there like a doctor would tell you.

J:      Well, you know it’s interesting because names are so long and complicated that you hear leukemia, you hear sarcoma, and brain cancer

M:    And it’s different (65:40) there’s different types of sarcomas and these kids can rattle them all for 5, 6, 7 years old like those (65:46) and you ain’t suppose to know these words.

J:      Yeah. And the families that you’re supporting, what type of journey are they on by the time they get to you all? Is there something like they just found out their kid has cancer or have they known this for a while?

M:    It varies. It really varies. You have some who find out that their child has cancer and they have to come to grips with that they bring themselves alone, they don’t reach out. And I get it. Even when other folks are saying ‘reach out to Gold In Fight.’ They’re apprehensive and stuff. And I get that. and then they’ll come to us later on because as we work through the hospitals and stuff and they get to know what we do and stuff. And then you got some that jump right on it with you and things like that are there for the help. It’s important to say this we don’t turn anybody away so like they’ll come to us and they’ll say this ‘I need some financial support.’ And we’ll say ‘okay, here’s the financial support. Now you have 2 choices. We can see you next year. We’ll help you again next year.’ Or ‘of course if your child passes away, let us know. We’ll help towards the funeral bills.’ And we don’t see the kids anymore. Then there’s the other part of that, we say ‘but if you want, you could join and be part of the Gold In Fight family.’ And they’ll say ‘what does that mean be part of the Gold In Fight family?’ ‘Well the number one thing is we invite you if you want to, to join our private web, our Facebook page just for our families. You don’t have to. Your child receives a gold boxing glove that we send to him and all we ask in return is just for our pages. Take a couple of pictures and stuff and give us a little update on how they’re doing so you put that awareness out there.’ And then anytime that we get things offered like we can send families once a month to, I love the place down here, the knights and the sword fighting. It’s a little dinner theater restaurant. They do all the knights and the joust thing and all that stuff. Medieval Times here in the Baltimore area, they let us send one family a month to the Medieval Times. So you get things like that. I’ve given families that people offered, brand new furniture, just off crazy things. And then you become part of our mailing list. You come to all of our events free. So what we really do, one of my favourite things we’ve done the past couple of years is called Gold Day on the Bay. And that is not a fundraiser. It’s just for our families to come out. We have a little north plain yacht club that just putting on. We bring our families out. We have people who have volunteered with their boats. We take the kids out on boat rides. They pull crab traps. The fire department comes with their big speed boat and the fire hose and lets the kids work the fire hose. We have a band there. We would dump tank there. You know all those stuff. We have restaurants bring food. And it’s just a day for the families to get away and be with each other and forget about cancer for one day but hanging around other kids that are going through all that and get to socialize and meet.

J:      One of the areas that your foundation is very interesting is that you’re holding these events and you’ve help these really fascinating events, Medieval Times if you haven’t been out there, that’s a great time.

M:    I took my granddaughter there. We loved it.

J:      I bet she did. I mean as adults (68:49)

M:    the casinos. The princess gave her a little sash. It was really cool.

J:      You’re able to do this on such a low administration budget. I wanna highlight it because you said it and I didn’t get a chance to really focus in on that point. But if people are going into foundations, and I think they’ve, right or wrong there’s great foundations and I think most of them start out with the right intent and then bureaucracy along the way gets in the way. And for whatever reason the fundraising process has gotten a little bit of scrutiny. And you see these foundations out there and I know some are around the cancers foundation that 82% of their donations go to fundraising. It’s astonishing. You see another one that only 30 cents on every dollar actually go to help the patients. I won’t name those names but what I love to see and hear from you all that I thought was fascinating is you’re holding these events and your percentage is astonishingly low. It’s like 2 or 3 percent I think you said, right?

M:    Yeah. I think last year was 2.4%. So this is what we do and as we grow, obviously your cost is gonna grow but they don’t have to all grow so it’s a lot of work, it really is. So like I said I’m off every other Friday in my job, right? So we’re having an event come up which is a birthday bash. I will literally park my car downtown and I will walk from sports cards, sports stores. I will walk to gyms. I will walk to whatever store I can walk to and ask for donations for our event so we can do raffles, we can do the little silent auctions and things that go with all of these. I literally walk there. My folks, my people, my families, the families that are fighting cancer, they go and they get us amazing prize. I mean we got a big grill set, things like this that we get donated to us. We get a lot of noes and a lot of doors closed and stuff. ‘Oh I give to this organization because they’re bigger or this organization.’ And I get it because nobody knows Mike and Gold In Fight, right? nobody knows who I am. But I beat the payment and so do my families that are dealing with this. They do it for Gold In Fight because they love us so much. So going back to that is we trying to get everything donated. So when we did the storage, I was able to get for a year free for the storage. And then of course they’re just giving me another reduced rate and I get that. and then we got to pay the tax guy because I wanna make sure that I’m good standing with the IRS all the time so I make sure I can’t skip away from that unless I can find a good tax guy that’s willing to do it for free.

J:      Glad to hear that, Mike. Glad to hear you guys are staying. You don’t wanna go on the wrong side of the IRS.

M:    No, my wife is terrified of the IRS. I don’t know why (71:48) stigma with the IRS. She’s terrified. Listen, at the end of the day it’s all about this, I just wanna do the right thing and I always do the right thing. That’s my one promise to anybody that donates to our foundation or gets involved with our foundation. I will not tolerate anyone doing the wrong thing. I’m a retired soldier, right? and I think Wounded Warrior is a great program. They do wonderful things. They got caught in that little thing a couple of years ago whatever the case maybe but the program is really, really good. I will never get caught up. My books are open for anybody to look at anytime they want. Every single dime that we make goes. We’re all volunteers. Everything that I do I get volunteers that help out do things. Everything I try to get, I try to get. And it works on the books too. I can’t say everything is all rosy. So if I were to buy something for an event, it just comes out at the event cost if that makes sense. I don’t wanna sit here and go through all the boring part of the bookkeeping and things like that but again when we put it all out there, we don’t get paid to do any of this, everything goes towards the Fight and that will always be the case, always. The only thing that may go up is if when I start making millions of dollars and the foundation to become bigger than some of these other foundations that are out there, the big names. We may have to pay that tax guy a little more and things like that. but as far as being paid to do this job, it’s not a job man. It’s a service. This is for our families.

J:      Well, I wonder if that is rooted in your military background because if you think about the US military, it’s the largest volunteer military in the world, right?

M:    I do say this and this is the selfish part of me. So going back to the military, I did spend 20 years in the military. Spent many of those years especially my last 6, 7, 8 years in military of taking care of troops, right? so that was my job. I was a platoon sergeant and I took care of troops. I make sure they were fed and bed and everything was good. And then you get out of military and now it’s just you and the wife, right? so I guess that might be. I thought of that too, that you say that. maybe that’s my way of still trying to take care of people because I’ve lost that taking care of the soldier part of it.

J:      I love that thought process. You’re creating this volunteer army to help get into that fight for those kids and what better cause to volunteer for than some kids.

M:    I never thought of it that way. That’s pretty good way to put it. I might have to write that one down.

J:      Well every once and a while I get lucky so don’t count on me making anymore of those, Mike. You might get one of those once in a while. That’s fantastic. And we talk about administration cost, I think to sum it up from a layman’s terms when we talked that you have a 2 and a half percent right now and as you get bigger obviously that percent’s gonna increase to some extent. But what you’ve been able to do with the volunteer army here that means 97.5 cents on a dollar that gets donated is going directly to a family. Is that how I should understand that?

M:    Well, I won’t say it all goes to the family or to the fight. There are things that we’re doing for the family whether that be, I guess you could say it that way. So the way it works is we have multiple programs, okay? So we may have a program, obviously our number one program is to support the family with bills, right? so then we have a second little (75:16) dollar that comes in that goes towards like the parking passes and things like that which has kind of falls in with the supporting with the bills but we kind of break that apart because we just look at the bills paying as one aspect and then helping like if I go up on a Friday then I’m off of to John Hopkins or Washington Hospital or any of these hospitals and buy donuts and things like that. I separate that different from the bills. We’re starting this year, we haven’t started yet. COVID’s kind of put us behind. But for a 10% of every dollar of what we do, that goes into the program for what we’re starting is our grant program. So we talked about there’s a couple of things we wanna do in the future. Now with our grant program basically that is, we didn’t wanna call it a research program because I don’t wanna limit it to research, I’m not saying that that money won’t go towards research. We’re thinking about every January we will give either to a research a grant of 5,000, 10,000 whatever that number may be at the end of the year. Or we’re giving to, right now we’re looking at 5 kids start out till it grows into a foundation. Or we would do like there’s groups out there like there’s a house called Believing Tomorrow. It’s a hotel kind of thing across from the hospital where families can stay there to reduce rate. So we might wanna give $5,000 to that house so for every cancer, because it’s not just cancer. It’s paediatrics, for all kinds of dangerous diseases. But anyway we’d like to say ‘here’s $5,000 for the families that come in. we don’t want them to pay anything.’ Things like that. we’re working on that. and the latest program that we’re working on right now or putting together is honourable. One of our kids, Justin who’s probably even one of our first Golf fighters, he’s on his 4th battle now of brain cancer. They got him to graduation but it’s not looking good. He’s in home hospice.  We’ve created our Just In Time program in honor of Justin. What that is, Justin’s mom, like I said, the folks that do this are cancer kids’ parents that are helping us, right? so she takes care of all of our families support stuff and she’s going to get to, I give her money out of the program, and what she does is she buys gift cards. Now that may be a gift card for a grocery store for our family or may be a gift card for like if the fighter or a sibling’s birthday is coming up, it might be for the iTunes or whatever they’re into now. I’m too old to know that, that’s why I have Adrianna take care of that stuff for us. That’s another one of our programs. We’re just there to support these families. My goal and my dream is when we get bigger and bigger this is the program I really wanna start and that is my college fund. I wanna start a college fund for our gold fighters in our gold fighter’s name to send either a gold fighter who’s a survivor of cancer or a sibling who pass from cancer to college. That’s in our future. I told you earlier I’m kind of a program, a project manager by trade so I got like this 10 year plan and I put it out there that’s very fluid of course but that’s in that 10 year plan.

J:      That’s an amazing plan and I think it would be something that would be fascinating to see one of your survivors go on and go to college because then you know you’ve helped that family and helped that journey. And it’s interesting because

M:    It honors that child too. That’s the thing for me, it honors the child.

J:      It does.

M:    I’m sorry to cut you off but I just wanna say too and in the meantime we’re doing all this is we wanna open up in other states. We were looking at another state, I think I told you earlier we were looking at another state to open up this year but with the COVID it kind of put us behind schedule because we’re really not getting a lot of funds in and stuff like that. but our goal is to open up. We wanna go up and down the coast, the east coast because that’s where we’re from right now, right? and then we wanna spread out to look at areas that have a higher rates of childhood cancer and things like that and start spreading out in that area.

J:      Yeah (79:13)

M:    I’m glad you said that, yeah. But I wanna finish what I was saying. I get request as far as California and New York, Philadelphia. I mean I’m getting request and the unfortunately, I wish I could but we got to do this thing slowly as we roll it out, as we get funds in. but yeah, that’s a great point because right now while we do the Maryland, DC, Virginia area for all families, we’re getting ready to hopefully open up in another state relatively soon, we also do all military. And that’s our way of giving back to the military because every one of us is (79:48) retired military. Bryan’s retired air force, I’m retired army. So that’s the way it’s interesting our t-shirts, if you go online, you can see them, the Gold In Fight t-shirts we put on the left side the flag like you would wear it on your uniform, right? the stars and stripes, the stars are first because in the military what does that mean? Everybody looks and said ‘your flags backwards.’ No, it means you’re running into battle. The flag’s waving as you’re going into battle. So we put that in all of our t-shirts to represent, that was important for me when we created this t-shirt because we’re going into battle. I want that military aspect to it.

J:      That is really interesting. So as you’re going in, you can actually see the flag in that type of direction.

M:    Right. you’re running into battle, charging into battle. The flag is facing that way. The blue field is up front.

J:      I love it. Where can you buy one of your shirts at?

M:    Well we have it right now, I have some at the house we could send you or you could go to creekside. I can get you the link for that, Creekside t-shirts. They do all our shirts for us. They’re very, very close to us. That’s the other thing, these small businesses around here are really, really helping us out. So the Creekside does all of our shirts and please I want to find a segway in there to find out about one of the local restaurants who really does so much for our families, in the entire community not just our families and things like that but I mean they’re the ones every year that put on Breakfast with Santa, Breakfast with the Easter bunny, and just donates so much of their stuff in time for us.

J:      Yeah, you have to send me the links so that I could pick up a shirt.

M:    I would love to do that because they definitely get the recognition too. So Creekside Graphics and Tees in Sparrows Point they’re the ones that do our t-shirts and you can go order that. there’s a whole line of things they do. I don’t buy it because to me I don’t wanna buy the money, use the money to have all this stuff sitting around, right?

J:      Sure.

M:    So I’d rather they go through the site and I keep some on hand because we give some of our shirts to our fighters and the families and things like that. Or if you donate a certain amount, we will give you a t-shirt and stuff like that. But there’s wool hat with a logo on. We have a gym bag they make for us with our logo. It’s all embroiled. It’s very, very reasonably cheap price. There’s nothing really expensive. It’s really cool. You go to Creekside and they will hook you up. Just tell them Mike sends you. Mike from Gold In Fight.

J:      Can I ask for the gold and black colors as well so I can?

M:    That’s our logo. They have ours on file. That’s the only thing you can get. We have one shirt, one style.

J:      There’s nothing better than asking somebody from Baltimore for gold and black.

M:    You know it, right?

J:      So Mike tell me when you’re looking at the future with Gold In Fight and you said the number of things that you’re trying to put in place and you’ve got these kids going through, one of the areas which I thought was fascinating you hit on was that survivor’s guilt. But even on top of the survivor’s guilt when there’s a funeral, there’s also a lot of complications in these kids whenever they do beat cancer. And you mentioned the child Bryan who is in his 4th bout, they say that the statistics that by the time you’re 45 I think it’s 60 something percent, maybe it’s higher, let me look this up actually have a serious medical condition that they have to deal with and these kids long after they’ve got to ring the bell, they actually have challenges that people never get to see for the rest of their life. And so what’s your thoughts on that? and how does that kind of weigh in?

M:    Again you embarrass me. You know so much, you look so much up. I never look so much up. But I go from what I see, right? Because like I said

J:      You’re in the trenches.

M:    Yeah. Teeth is a big one. Their teeth are weakening, things like that. Growth, when (84:24) growth is a problem. Kidneys, kidney failure, kidney disease. Things like that I’ve seen for sure in all of the children, something is out there. And like I said, there’s kids that beat cancer and died from the treatment. There’s a child, a teenager I think he was 17 years old who passed away. He was cancer-free but he died from the treatments of the chemo and stuff.

J:      Wow. I drastically underestimated that statistics so I apologize. It is 95% of survivors have serious issues by the time they’re 45 years old.

M:    I mean they’re pumping poison into their system. You’re pumping these poisons in there to kill this cancer.

J:      So even though you beat this thing, it’s life changing.

M:    That’s the problem that I was talking about earlier with the whole less than 4% going into research for this, for treatments for these kids. You’re pumping the same stuff that a grown hundred, 2 hundred pound man like myself is getting put in his body if he has cancer. It’s just crazy. There’s got to be more research done. There’s got to be more funding put towards this. It’s just not enough. I’m not taking away from any other thing but we certainly put so much effort into lung and breast and I get it. I’m not taking away from that, god no. Please don’t take it that way. I just look at kids, man. I just wish we could put more into the kids. I heard something earlier this year and I’m not one to get into any kind of political thing one way or another but one of the things I did kind of like when I looked at it and I didn’t get to read into it obviously but I think the president of the current administration is putting a little bit more money into the childhood cancer research and I think that’s a great thing. I still think the number is maybe a little bit lower or right at 4%. I don’t think it was a whole lot. I think it could be more. I just think the government needs to step up a lot more. And like I said, other foundations that are out there and they raise money for research and I get that. That’s their story, right? So they wanna find a cure for this thing that either killed their child or put their child through this and I could totally understand that. My story is, again I don’t have a kid with cancer but I see all these families suffering financially overall of this.

J:      Yeah. That impacts the health as well, right? That would drive the type of meals you get to eat. That would drive the type of activities you get to be involved in. That would drive the type of (86:56) financial impacts of serious correlation to

M:    I had a little girl who got done with her treatment was jumping on a trampoline and broke her leg in 3 places because her bones are so weak from the chemo stuff. Now you beat cancer and you’re out there and you’re playing like a normal kid for once and then your leg breaks in 3 places. I mean come on.

J:      These kids say they have such a start in life that teaches them amazing brilliance but you just walk in and you realize life is not fair like no kid deserves that.

M:    Yes, sir.

J:      And so how does that change your view as a father and you said you don’t have kids that had cancer but you have some grown kids but you also have grandkids that are probably similar age to some of these kids that are going through this fight. So what does (86:48)

M:    I guess I have a 1 year old baby and I have an 11 year old granddaughter and I have 2 grandsons that are 11 and 6. And you worry because you see all this stuff (86:59) and you look at them and you thank god how blessed I am, right? I mean I love my grandkids so much. I could talk about that on a whole another subject on them like I said, I love my kids but my grandkids is a whole another thing. And as a dad and as a granddad I just feel so blessed because I think I was afforded that opportunity to do what is every dad’s dream and make it better for their kids. No to get into philosophical thing but I grew up with not a lot. I didn’t have a whole lot of money kind of grew up, I won’t give my whole background on everything but there’s kind of some parts that are pretty rough upbringing and you want better for your kids. And I always tell my son when we were going through his teenage years I’m like ‘look kid, you got choices in life, right? You can take us back where we were that’ll affect you and your children, not just you or you can take what I’ve given you and move forward and make it even better for yours, right?’ And that’s what we all want. And like is said I’m blessed that I was able to get my kids at, I was able to send my kids to school. My son’s a master electrician. My daughter’s a masters degree and she does budgeting and program analyst for the government. Because I was able to do that by working hard and watching them and they didn’t go through these diseases and things. So I’m so blessed that I got to do that for them. I could die today and think I did my job, right?

J:      Yeah. That’s incredible that you’ve been able to have healthy children by getting involved in something that’s such a challenge for so many families out there and be so impactful and have the trust of those communities. And I’m sure as you’re raising your grandchildren and seeing them you must feel very blessed that they’re healthy but also it probably makes it so much more real to see another kid that age who goes through that challenge.

M:    Yeah. I got to tell you a story about my granddaughter. A couple of years ago she came to me after school was over, it was the summer getting restarted and she brought me, I don’t know like 10, 15 dollars and say ‘granddad I collected this for Gold In Fight.’ Here’s your grandkid at 9 years old gets to see what you’re doing and comes to the events and gets to meet these kids and hanging around these kids and I think it gives them a whole perspective in life too. They see that that they’re not as everybody who is as unfortunate. My granddaughter, she’s not joking with me. She’s serious. She said ‘granddad I wanna run,’ because I’m not really good with social media because I’m kind of older. She’s like ‘I wanna run your Gold In Fight YouTube page,’

J:      That’s fantastic.

M:    I’m like ‘go for it baby because none of us can do it.’

J:      I love her. I’ll put a shameless plug-in for the Dad Corp. One of the spinoff activities we have going on is a weekly podcast with my daughter. It’s called Juice with Milan. We might have to figure out a way to coordinate an interview and have them on together so they could get to talk about what she does with you all and my daughter gets to chat a lot about Gold In Fight because I would love for her to get more involved. And even we could talk down the road if it would make sense and families you mentioned they wanna get their kids’ stories out there. Maybe the kids even come through as guest and have a chance to chat with Milan and then just have some fun across the video conference. That’s actually one of the video podcast that we’ve been doing. That would be incredible to get that and get her involved and helping and being part of your organization.

M:    Yeah, that’s awesome.

J:      We have a lot of fun with it. It’s like a 10 minute video podcast. We talk about a bunch of stuff and I’ll send you a couple of links so you see.

M:    Yeah, that’s cool. Podcast and all that, that’s all new to me. I know nothing about that world.

J:      But what’s interesting kids, you’re teaching your granddaughter the fact that she’s seeing you go through that. There’s so much there, right? There’s so many lessons. There’s service. There’s community. There’s resiliency. You’re showing them volunteering. You’re showing them kindness. You’re teaching them empathy. That’s stuff that minus, forget about all the stem stuff out there, right? Mathematics 2 plus 2 always equal 4. The life skills that you’re teaching your granddaughter will go with her for the rest of her life and create a legacy she’ll always remember you for.

M:    Yeah, that’s true. I always sit there and say this, it’s funny you say that because I always tell my wife. I say ‘you know what? It’s not that I’m afraid of dying, it’s I’m afraid of being forgotten.’ And you say that and not that I’m doing it for that because I was doing it way before that but I do think it’s kind of special that it’s something, you always say you wanna be remembered how you lived, right? So I always say as long as my kids and my grandkids remember the heart of what I did and you can learn off it and they kind of pick that kind of stuff up because it’s a cold world out there, man. And it can be really, truly crazy out there. I could not bore you but just little instances in life. I’ve always looked at little things that happen in life and then you see your kids do that. And you’re like ‘oh, wow. They kind of emulated what I would do or something that I said.’ And it kind of makes you feel proud.

J:      That’s incredible.

M:    It’s kind of a legacy that I look at because my goal is sometimes you just want to quit but then the passion is like I wanna make this bigger than the foundation. It is kind of a legacy. I would love the name Gold In Fight to be, I would love childhood cancer, number 1 to go away, be gone, eradicated. That would be number 1 but while that’s there I would love the name Gold In Fight to be synonymous with some of the big ones like Saint Jude or something like that. And I want it to be remembered and known as the foundation that you can trust and go to.

J:      That’s fantastic. And Mike when you’re looking at that type of thought process, tell me as a grandfather and as a dad, I know you told me your kids are grown but my understanding is that they’re never grown in your eyes so they’re probably always gonna be your kids. You can still see the 5 and 7 year old running around, right?

M:    Right.

J:      When you look at the principles that you wanna instil in your children as you are a father, and then as you got into this foundation, and now as a grandfather, what are the type of principles that you feel are critical to the kids and that you would want to instil as a father and a grandfather?

M:    Just empathy. We kind of talked about earlier to be the critical or cynical I guess would be the word, where sometimes my son when he was younger, he’s very, very cynical about the world and about why should I do for this person, they don’t for me. It’s not about that. Even as a supervisor at work on the things I teach my employees is you treat everybody the same. Here we are with the COVID and you can kind of see who’s turning around being heroes and doing the things, right? Everybody, from the person that’s cleaning the building all the way up to the CEO. I always tell my employees, not to get away from the kid thing but I’m telling the kids the same thing. You talk to the general or that colonel the same way you would talk to that private. Or you talk to that private the same way you would talk to that general. It’s about respecting others, respecting their opinions. There’s too much I’ve seen on social media somebody has a different opinion and now you’ve unfriended me or they’re getting on this big rage war through social media. Just respect people and just have a heart for people. And don’t be so self-centered in your world and understand that there’s other people out there. And we’re here to help each other through this, right? I guess that’s the biggest thing. I don’t know if that’s the answer you’re looking for but it’s just to me is, again it’s weird because I say I grew up 20 years, I went right out of high school into the army. And I was this hooah, hooah soldier and I wanted to do this, I wanted to do that. Now I sit there and look at the kid and I could cry at a moment’s notice like a big sap. I’ve learned a lot in my life. I’ve learned a lot in the military in the 20 years I’ve been there going around the world and seeing things. And seeing my kids sometimes grew up and not being there for them and missing the things that you do typically in the military and things like that. It’s weird. I think we should all have kids in our 50s because I think you get life experiences and you grow and you kind of get out that self-centered world that you kind of or in this world now. And you become a better person. I think you become a better father the older you get because you see things in a different light. You turn into your parents, right? I don’t know if that makes sense of what I’m trying to say but it’s just I learned so much over the years with my kids. And I’m so proud of my kids what they’ve become because it could’ve become something different. I could’ve become something totally different. I could’ve been an abusive drunk not knowing life. Or friends of mine who are still in jail to this day or things like that. But you make decisions in your life, and this is what I always tell my kids, I’m like ‘every decision that you make in life no matter how small, this can affect you, your future.’ I don’t wanna get into that whole thing where I’m at today but it’s just this little decision that I made in life put me where I’m at today. You’ve got to always keep that in the back of your mind. And I always say this ‘you don’t have to be the smartest person in the world. Number 1 you got to surround yourself with smart people. You got to have a plan in life. And you are who you surround yourself with. If you wanna be somebody that’s just doing dope or drinking and doing things like that, that’s who you surround yourself with. If you wanna be a better person, you have a choice in life. I don’t care how hard you grew up. I grew up in not that great a situation but I knew I had to change my life and I was the only one who could do it. I joined the army, love of country that’s all great. But I joined the army because I had nothing else, right? So I never plan on staying in the army. My first hitch was over the first 4 years and my daughter was being born. I was like ‘yeah, I guess I got to stay for 1 more hitch, right?’ And that’s another 4 year hitch and 4 years later my son was born. And they’re like ‘well dang! I’m a total of 13 years. I might as well stay for the full 20 now, right?’ You just work to get your kids a better life and I just always teach my kids just treat everybody the way you wanna be treated and have faith in god that he’s gonna carry you through. But as long as you are doing things with your heart which you know to be right, then I think you’ll be okay. Work hard. Treat people with respect and you will get far in this life because I always tell my son I’m an improbable statistics. I grew up barely graduated high school. I was getting into some bad things. Went into the army. They don’t have no college and now I’m a high ranking, not high ranking but I’m a GS13 government employee. I’m a supervisor for multiple people. And I’m doing pretty darn good in life. And that’s because, not because I’m a smart guy, I’m just smart enough to surround myself with smart people and treat people with respect.

J:      The respect area is huge and the empathy area is something that we hear a lot about. I love the point you make about the micro decisions and every decision you make build up over time and that really kind of derives the opportunities you have in life. We’ve heard that over and over again on the podcast. It’s fantastic to hear. Those are timeless types of principles that I think are critical to instil in your kids. One of the things when I asked this question I always love to hear is that you hear this people-focused principles and human behavior principles, you don’t hear ‘yeah, I wanna instil in my kid to become a good mathematician. I want them to be a fantastic biologist.’ You start out with the basic 101, I want them to be a good person and this is how I see a good person. I love that because I think it’s timeless and it’s something that it’s easy to forget whenever you’re having the crisis of parents going through the trenches, dealing with schools and grades and all that especially with the corona virus. This is a great teachable lesson.

M:    Having more respect to meet our teachers, right?

J:      Yeah, and it’s interesting. You made a comment and I love the way you phrase it. It’s actually a saying that in the corporate, I’ll explain it in a second that I’m not a fan of and I’ll tell you why. But I like the way you said you treat the general and the private the same type of respect because I think people can see that and they say ‘okay, there’s a real hierarchy.’ That’s part of the ladder of military. In corporate America they use this term, and it really rubs me the wrong way, they say ‘I want you to treat the janitor and the CEO the same.’ And I’ll tell you why that rubs me the wrong way because in my mind that’s assuming that you would even think of treating them differently because the CEO’s better. And that I think when you first start on that premise, I think there’s a real issue there because why is that CEO better? Because he has that title? He’s good at that type of job? Maybe that janitor is very happy where they’re at and they’re fantastic and they’re one of the best who cares about the financial compensation as long as the person’ happy. I’ve always had a little bit of love and hate relationship with that saying in the way it was. I love the way you say it because that’s really the career ranking and so you can see the private’s the beginner and the general’s the end. And so treating them both with respect is not assuming the general’s just a higher rank. That’s just how it is.

M:    Right. Obviously you’ve got your rank structure and how one work up the rank. But when I say treat them the same, you talk to them with the same respect. You don’t just because somebody may be doing a little, it doesn’t, look what we’re going through now. We got guys cleaning, we had a case of the corona virus in our building. And guess who comes in there in the whole gear ad cleans it all that stuff. It’s the custodial worker that’s in there doing that thing. And I’ve always, listen I respect every single person because what matters to me is not what you do in life, what’s your stature in life, your color of your skin, what matters to me is your heart and how you treat people. We’re all human beings. We’re all gonna live and we’re all gonna die. We’re all gonna answer for our things at the end. You just got to use your heart. I just don’t understand people who don’t get that. I don’t understand the racism in the world and the sexism in the world, and the different things like that. I just don’t get it. Because we all bleed, man. We all have pain. We all have suffering. We’re all trying to do the same things. We’re trying to raise our kids right. We’re trying to make things better for them. So let’s treat each other like that.

J:      I think that’s a fantastic message to get out. And so one final question, I know we’ve been running at this one for a while and I’ve enjoyed the conversation. I could keep running if we didn’t have the missus to run back into. And I know you have a birthday coming up so I’m sure you’re probably

M:    Yeah, my wife.

J:      Yeah, you’ll be getting the eye here soon and I don’t want to make that type of first

M:    No, she might have to go see my daughter (102:03)

J:      Very good. What, and you touched on this a little bit better, let me just frame it up in a question. We have a final question we always give to our guest. It’s called the Dad Ode. And the reason why the Dad Ode was created, we had a guest, his name’s Gareth Moody. And he wrote a book. It was a rhyme book around cooking for kids and parents. And it has this really kind of page by page rhyme on recipes and cooking and how to properly use knives and stuff. He’s a crafty guy and the language ascends and he’s really able to kind of bring together sentences that are really interesting. And so he created his dad ode. And I won’t force you to be able to have that same type of ability to rhyme yourself a final song that you would want your kids and your grandkids to sing. But I will ask you if they were gonna write a speech or, you said the word legacy, when that speech or that type of discussion and they’re talking about their dad or their grandfather, what would you want them to say about you when you’re not around or if you were around?

M:    I did the best I could. I don’t know. I mean maybe I could just say I did the best I could, I tried to be the best father. I tried to be the best grandfather. I tried to be the best human in this world and everything that’s there. That’s what I would think I just want people to know is I don’t do any of this to self-serve me. I got a really good life. I’ve done well and like I said I got the whole statistical American dream going on for me here. I don’t know. I just want them to know that I tried my best. I wasn’t perfect. None of us are perfect. I made my mistakes as my kids grew up. I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’m very, very proud of my kids. I’m proud of my grandkids. And all I want for them is to have a better life than I had. I had a pretty darn good life. So I’ll just leave it at that. Everything I do, I do for my children.

J:      I love it my friend. I love it, great answer. And so to wrap up the show why don’t you tell everybody where they can find Gold In Fight, where they can follow you all, what’s going on in the next couple of months?

M:    Yeah. I appreciate that. So look, we got a brand new website that just opened up. We got that going finally and that’s www.goldinfight.org and that’ll take you to our website. You can see me and my wife and hear stories and you can see our kids that are in there. Now we are updating because it is news and we trying to get it updated with the status of the children and where they’re at and things like that. So you can go to that. But our most active believe it or not is our Facebook page. So if you go on your Facebook and you look for Gold In Fight, you can find us there. We’re starting to get better with the Instagram. We’re quite not tweeting yet, we’re trying. But Instagram probably is the second one after the Facebook page and then hopefully soon we’ll get a YouTube channel going here once we start getting some smarter, younger people that can help us do these things. And more time, like I said it’s just a couple of us running this thing fulltime, the business aspect of it while we have other people that are helping with the family aspect and helping with the fundraising aspect. It’s just a couple of us doing the business side of the house. But yeah, go look for us man. Say hi. If you heard about me on this thing, please leave a comment or something like that. You can always email me personally. My name is [email protected]. Send me a quick email. And that’s the other thing. I like sent our emails yesterday for people who donated. If I get a chance, I’ll send out an email or I’ll make a phone call whatever to just personally say thank you. And just know it don’t matter if it’s a dollar of $10,000. Every bit helps. I really appreciate everybody’s support. Everybody that’s supporting me through this, is making this foundation grow. It’s unbelievable to me. It really truly is.

J:      I am stoke to be helping and being part of your growth plan and having you all a part of our The Dad Corp and what we’re planning to do as far as donate proceeds and profits to the cost and start to set up a multi-tiers strategy to help the foundation and see you all grow. I think you’re a fantastic person. I got the chance to meet your wife briefly and in that short call I thought you 2 were just a lovely couple. It didn’t take long for me to realize you’re all the real deal. I just love the way you’re approaching this. You’ve definitely brought the tears in this call. I just wanna thank you Mike for being part of the show and joining us and then also giving The Dad Corp an opportunity to help your foundation. I wanna thank you for your service as far as the military. I wanna thank you for what you’ve done as far as helping and making an impact to the families out there. My hat’s off and hopefully one day I can be half the man you’ve been.

M:    We can’t do it without folks like you and what you’re doing here. None of this is possible without the support of people. I’m just a guy who has a big heart, that’s all.

J:      Yes, you do. I can tell that from the sheer conversations that we’ve had in this podcast. Let me ask you one last question off the script. Dads out there that are in the mix, there’s been a lot of stress. You got COVID, all that other good stuff, a lot of kind of challenges ahead of us. You’ve seen parents have to go through much harder challenges and so you have some perspective. What would you say from a father and a grandfather and then seeing other parents go through much harder challenges, what advice would you give the parents to focus on in a day-in day-out as a dad?

M:    You know what? What I would say right away is take your kids, hold on to your kids, be thankful for your kids and your spouse and talk to them. Because guess what? You got scared about this stuff going on. You have issues. You’re angry at yourself but guess what? You see your kids do too. They feed off of that. So grab your kids. Talk to them about what’s going on and tell them it’s gonna be okay. I think that’s important because the kids feed off of us, our fears and our concerns.

J:      Nice. Well in that note I will let you get to your wife’s birthday. Thanks again for joining the show.

M:    Thanks so much.

J:      I can’t wait to talk to you more.

M:    Yes, I can’t wait. Thank you and I can’t wait to hear this. This is awesome.

J:      Alright buddy. I’ll talk to you soon.

M:    I know. Bye-bye.

 

 

We have a ton going on here at The Dad Corp so thank you for following us. Jump on the platform and join in the show. Check out our website www.thedadcorp.com. The design, it’s great, it’s simple, it’s intuitive. We have an entire e-commerce, Dad Mall. We’re adding partners and new products regularly. We are going to be the biggest, baddest, and best platform globally for everything dads. While you’re there, pick up one of our hot selling Dad Life t-shirts. This thing is going off the virtual shelves. We’re getting hundreds of orders coming in. It’s a great price. It’s one of our original Dad Corp designs. We went out. We crowd source. We went to a long process. We got a great design. It’s unique. Kids love it. Dads love it. People are going to notice it. Our shirts are comfortable. Our customer service is even better. Check us out. Pick one up. Spread the word. Follow us on Facebook. We have over 80,000 followers. You can find us on facebook.com/thedadcorp. If you don’t have Facebook and you’re into the Instagram, check us out the_dad_corp. subscribe to our podcast. We’re gonna be continuing this regular interviews with dads out there. We’re living an epic dad life. They’re gonna share their stories, advice, lessons, and we’re just gonna have great conversations. Very interesting people, very interesting conversations. You can find us on iTunes, Googlepodcast, Spotify, Pandora, IHeart radio. If you listen to podcast on some type of app, we’re probably there. Check us out. If not, go to another one. Subscribe. Share. Thank you. We love you. We can’t do it without you. So finally, keep spreading the word. We’re out there. We’re all in. And we want to do this with you all for a dad site, built for dads by a couple of dads.

Intro
Mike’s background
Ice cream, ice cream trucks, and snowballs
Duckpin bowling
Steelers versus Ravens, football
Haloti Ngata’s connection with Gold In Fight
Mike and wife Liane’s story
Mike’s kids and grandkids
How COVID and quarantine affects the family
How COVID affects the kids in the foundation
Treatment for the kids with cancer
Story of 2 kids undergoing the same thing but with different results
What is Gold In Fight?
Gold is the color of childhood cancer
Parents sacrifices for kids with cancer
People started wanting to donate to Gold In Fight
Facebook page became a support group
Gold In Fight logo
Care not only for the kid with cancer but also for the siblings
Impact on dads
Hard time for the whole family
Parking pass
Help with the funeral cost
Being so close to the family is a problem when kids pass away
Flip side when kids ring the bell
Survivor’s guilt
Easy application process
Events for the whole family
Types of cancer that are prevalent in kids
Different journeys of families
Managing a low administration budget
Always do the right thing
Military roots
What money goes to the family
Future plans with Gold In Fight
Complications after cancer-free
Government putting money on childhood cancer research
How the work impacts Mike’s view as a father and grandfather
Granddaughter donates to Gold In Fight
Principles to instill kids and grandkids
Hope Mike’s kids and grandkids remember his heart
Talk to the Private the same way you talk to the General
What would Mike’s kids say about him
Where to find and get in touch with Gold In Fight
Advice to other parents
Outro