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The Iron Man vs. Lung Cancer

by Edited by SU2C

Filed under | Living With Cancer

The Iron Man vs. Lung Cancer
Cal Sr and Cal Jr in '83 (Jerry Wachter)

SU2C is working with the top experts in cancer research to forge a new way to develop breakthroughs that will end cancer.

Hall of Fame Shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr., in addition to being one of baseball’s all-time greats and an active philanthropist, is an advocate and spokesperson for the Lung Cancer Alliance. The Iron Man recently spoke with Stand Up To Cancer:

SU2C: What connection do you have to Cancer? How have you been affected by the disease?

Cal: In 1999 I lost my father to lung cancer and it was a very painful time in my life. It seems as though everyone has been affected by cancer in one way or another.

How did you become involved with the Lung Cancer Alliance?

The Lung Cancer Alliance contacted my office. I heard about the good work that they do through the people who help run the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and it seemed like an organization that I would like to assist. 

What are the key things you want people to be aware of when it comes to Lung Cancer?

The good news is that there is so much more information at our fingertips these days about the dangers of tobacco use and the inherent cancer risks. I would just encourage people to make themselves aware of the risks and educate their children about those risks. 

Why do you think baseball and baseball players seem to have such a strong commitment to the fight against cancer? From your advocacy on Lung Cancer to MLB’s Father’s Day and Mother’s Day initiatives to their 10 million dollar donation to Stand Up To Cancer, there is a diverse support from a variety of angles. Is there a league wide awareness among players that you’ve noticed?

I don’t know. It seems as though Major League Baseball is committed to the fight against cancer and that is great. As I mentioned earlier so many people have been affected by cancer in so many different ways that it makes sense to see segments of society, in this case ballplayers, stepping up to fight against it.

Charity and philanthropy efforts seem to be a central focus for you post-baseball. Do you plan on getting back involved in the game as a coach professionally?

I have taken a lot of pride in what we have been able to do for disadvantaged kids through the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. As for coaching at the major league level there are certain aspects that are interesting to me but my greater interest would be an opportunity to shape an entire organization. Whether or not an opportunity like that ever presents itself remains to be seen.

You seem to have taken on so many different responsibilities now that your playing career is over. After 2632 games in a row, didn’t you want to just go on vacation for a few decades?

I am just not built that way I guess. Towards the middle to the end of my playing career I started to think about what I wanted to do next because I would be a young guy when I retired. I knew that baseball would be a focus and we have been able to grow our business primarily focused on youth baseball and minor league baseball. 

You’re an inspiration to baseball fans everywhere, a paragon of excellence, endurance and perseverance. How cool is it being Cal Ripken, Jr.?

I really don’t know how to answer a question like that. I am a very normal guy with a wonderful family. I have been very fortunate to have had some success during my playing career and sometimes I get a little more attention than I deserve because of that.

Cal Ripken Jr.

The Lung Cancer Alliance is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing patient support and advocacy for people living with or at risk of the disease. The Lung Cancer Alliance is helping to reverse decades of stigma and neglect by empowering patients, elevating awareness, and changing health policy.


SU2C is working with the top experts in cancer research to forge a new way to develop breakthroughs that will end cancer. Tune in September 5th and find out more.

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