ARGABRIGHT: A Pie In The Face For Charity

Dave Argabright

INDIANAPOLIS — Some people deserve a pie in the face and we all know who they are.

The annoying next-door neighbor who goes to work at 5 a.m. each morning with his stereo thumping, rattling the windows. The friend who hijacks Facebook posts to talk about himself. The brother-in-law who continues to retell the story of when you built the deck out back and it collapsed under the weight of Aunt Clara’s Chihuahua.

Pie in the face — definitely.

And wouldn’t it be great if you could deliver that classic, gooey, non-violent white message-to-the-face and know that you are also doing something special for sick children?

Now’s your chance, hombre.
#WhipCancerwithJoy is a fundraising campaign launched by the Jessie Rees Foundation, a nonprofit 501c(3) public charity with a mission to serve children fighting cancer. With support from Lucas Oil Products, the campaign hopes to raise awareness — and money — and offer encouragement to children in the midst of a traumatic and life-changing medical emergency.

Anyone on social media over the past couple of years will surely recall the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to raise money for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) research. The campaign became a social phenomenon, with an estimated 117 million people uploading a video to social media in 2014 and according to the ALS Ass’n an estimated $115 million was raised.

#WhipCancerwithJoy hopes to capitalize on the same idea: Do something fun and do something good at the same time.

Doing good — it’s an idea that 12-year-old Jessie Rees understood with sparkling clarity. Jessie was diagnosed with DIPG — a highly aggressive form of brain tumors — in 2011. While undergoing a very challenging scenario, Jessie looked beyond herself and resolved to help other children who were also struggling with cancer.

Jessie knew firsthand that cancer brought a daunting sense of fear and loneliness to children, so she began assembling the Joy Jar — a 64-ounce plastic jar stuffed with age-appropriate toys. With the help of her family, she personally created and distributed more than 3,000 Joy Jars to children at various hospitals and clinics.

Jessie’s motto: Never Ever Give Up. That phrase — shortened to NEGU (pronounced KNEE-goo) — is today the centerpiece of her legacy.

Sadly, Jessie succumbed to DIPG in early 2012. But with the help of her family and various corporate partners, the Jessie Rees Foundation continues to encourage and support children in all 50 states and 32 countries.

Earlier this year the Lucas Oil Products promotional team came up with the #WhipCancerwithJoy idea. The concept is simple: Pledge $20 to the Jessie Rees Foundation and upload a video to social media of you putting a whipped cream pie in someone’s face. You can also do the pledge and have someone put a pie in your face. You then nominate three of your friends to also take the #WhipCancerwithJoy challenge.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how much fun this could be. But here’s the key: This will only work if people actually go online and donate $20 to the foundation. Yes, the pie-in-the-face is fun; but it’s only GOOD if you follow-up with the donation.

This campaign offers some especially interesting possibilities in motorsports. Wouldn’t it be cool to see Kyle Busch put a pie in the face of Joey Logano? Or Chip Ganassi lay a whipped cream pie in the face of Roger Penske?

Short-track racing has some especially intriguing scenarios. Imagine a raffle where fans purchase a $20 chance to put a pie in the face of Scott Bloomquist, or Brett Hearn, or Donny Schatz, on the front straightaway during intermission. It would be wonderful stuff, especially with the knowledge that every $20 — EVERY $20 — buys a Joy Jar for a child who at that moment is feeling sick and lonely and scared.

The campaign gets underway on April 8. The appropriate handles are:

Facebook: @JessieReesFoundation and @OfficialLucasOil

Twitter: @TeamNEGU and @LucasOil

Instagram: @jessiereesfoundation and @lucasoilproducts

I wish I had met Jessie Rees. The concept of placing the wellbeing of other children ahead of her own is utterly beautiful, an idea that all of us should pause and contemplate.

Think about Jessie when you’re plastering your buddy with a whipped cream pie and a good time is had by all. Think about her and her dream of encouraging sick and lonely children around the world.

It’s a good dream. We should help her carry it out.