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GODSTRONG: How One Family Raised $24,590 for Cancer Treatment

Godstrong tshirt

Nearly everybody knows someone who has been affected by cancer. It’s one of the leading causes of death in countries around the world.

As the world works to find a cure for cancers, families are forced to pay for the expensive medical treatments. Such was the case with the Strebe family.

Jon and Donna Strebe are a couple who have faced numerous challenges over the past few years. Jon has been diagnosed with cancer three times in his life. The family also has three children, including one set of twins.

After beating cancer a first and second time, Jon faced a third cancer diagnosis early in 2012. His previous diagnosis of testicular cancer had metastasized to his lungs. As a result, Jon required surgery, a lung biopsy, an additional round of chemo, stem cell therapy, and thoracic surgery. 

Jon and family at Disney World

In response to the third cancer diagnosis, a family friend decided to do something to help. That family friend, Mandy, decided to launch a Bonfire fundraiser.

The shirts & hoodies feature a popular Bible verse: “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37)

The fundraiser was an overwhelming success. Over 1300 t-shirts were sold in total. That led to a total donation amount of $24,590 in support of Jon’s cancer treatment.

GODSTRONG t-shirts could be spotted on people across the country. Jon and his family wore the t-shirts on family trips and entire communities and schools rallied around the cause.

So what made the GODSTRONG fundraiser such a huge success?

We love hearing feedback from successful fundraisers. After the GODSTRONG fundraiser was complete, we heard back from Mandy, the family friend who initially started the fundraiser:

"We had heard of Bonfire but never imagined we could raise 25,000 to help fight cancer for Jon Strebe. Bonfire did a great job with our GODSTRONG tshirt design. They were so responsive to all of our questions and concerns. They had the marketing available through social media and website access that could not have been created on our own. It allowed us to maximize the fundraising opportunity. Brian and the team were quick to get back to us and did everything in their power to accomodate anything we asked for. It made this process easy and therefore successful for everyone involved. We look forward to partnering with Bonfire again in the near future!"

Mandy continues with some valuable insight into what made the fund so successful:

"We started our fund last September I believe :) we spread the word through social media, creating a video about the Tshirt linked to you tube that people could share on their FB walls etc. The video really helped tell the story of Jon and Donna. We found people were more likely to share that (the video) and then buy a Tshirt even if they didn't know the Strebe's because the story connected with could be our husband or son, etc We also used the phrase "buy a shirt tell the story". That seemed to resonate with folks as we spread the word through social media and people were more likely to retell the story.

We contacted doctors and teams and coaches in Indianapolis where Jon was receiving treatment at IU Cancer Center. We simply sent them the link and asked them to share it or tweet it out. We went to principals of schools Donna and Jon had attended and taught at and asked them to share the link. We found people were much more responsive to a personal email or phone call then a mass group. Our goal was 2,000. I thought we would be successful if we got that. At last count we were closing in on 25,000 so this far exceeded anything we could hope for.

Advice would be on the front end to contact as many people in DIFFERENT arenas as you can to get them to retell your story. In other words we tend to think about our immediate circle but where did these people grow up? Who has connections with a well known coach or celebrity? Don't try to do it yourself or in just your circle. Enlist captains of teams, presidents of company's, leaders of groups that people will listen to. Duke basketball players would never listen to us but they will listen to Coach somehow we have to get to Coach K...that's how we viewed this...get to the person who can tell this story and let them do it for us."

Many health insurance companies do not cover stem cell therapy – despite its continued success rate at treating a diverse range of serious conditions. Even those with complete health insurance coverage often have to pay for stem cell treatment 100% on their own. Using custom Bonfire shirts, the Strebe family and their friend Mandy were able to raise money to cover treatment costs. Jon’s story is an inspiration to anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer.  

Today, Jon is well on the path to recovery. As of late December 2013, Jon is cancer free and able to enjoy time with his wife and children. You can read more about the Strebes’ story here: