Striking Out Childhood Cancer
Braves favorite Tom Glavine and his wife, Christine, go to bat for a worthy cause.
For more than 20 years, two-time Cy Young Award winner and Baseball Hall of Famer Tom Glavine made Atlanta sports fans roar, but what might be less known about this local celeb is that he was just as adept at making them open their wallets. With his 18-year teammate and wife, Christine, Glavine has lent his name and energy to the cause of curing childhood cancer.
The Glavines are quick to point out that their five kids, ranging from second grade to college age, have never had to fight the disease. But 13 years ago, when one of their young classmates was diagnosed, it made the couple realize how little is being done for juveniles with cancer.
“Our eyes were opened,” says Christine. “Since then, only two drugs have been introduced for kids with cancer, despite all the research. I knew people would listen to us about the problem because of Tommy’s name, so I started a luncheon to raise money.”
This year’s event on September 24 marks the 12th year the event raised awareness and funds for CURE Childhood Cancer, an Atlanta-based organization with a global reach. “It helps someone diagnosed at Children’s Healthcare, but it’s not just for those being treated in Atlanta,” says Christine.
An average of 600 seats are snapped up every year for the event that usually raises around $300,000, says Glavine. “After all these years, we’re going toward $4 million. That’s a big deal. But what really drew us in, other than watching the pain families are going through, was the fact that little is being done. Whatever money the government allots, only 4 percent goes to childhood cancer.”
The Glavines were so hyped by the success of the annual luncheon that three years ago they took their efforts to a higher level and got behind the Believe Ball, a swanky gala at the St. Regis in Buckhead that has pulled in over a million this year.
“If it were up to me, I’d be in sweatpants all day,” says Christine with a laugh, “but I have to wear a gown, and Tommy has to wear a tux. And we get to meet some pretty amazing kids and parents.”
The ball was just another avenue for spreading the story of their mission, says Glavine. “We are constantly trying to figure out new ways to raise awareness, and for me, Major League Baseball was a no-brainer. A number of clubs have had childhood cancer nights, and we’re doing another this year in September [Go Gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Day, September 10]. I hope it will be an annual thing.”
Along with raising five kids, doing color commentary for the Braves and working for children’s cancer research, Glavine is also involved with the Georgia Transplant Foundation, sponsoring an annual game night that invites participants to play a round of poker or pool with local celebs. That kind of community involvement keeps them grounded, says Christine. “When you’re trudging through life thinking, ‘I’ve got carpool, I’ve got so much to do,’ just listening to these stories help me realize I can handle what’s on my plate a little more easily.”
To learn more or to make a donation, visit curechildhoodcancer.org. Find more information about the Believe Ball online at believeball.org. Follow CURE Childhood Cancer on Twitter at @CUREchildcancer and Facebook at facebook.com/curechildhoodcancer. You can also follow Tom and Christine Glavine on Twitter at @Tom_Glavine and @cglavine, respectively.
STORY: H.M. Cauley
PHOTO: Sara Hanna