TDC Group Supports Pediatric Cancer Research and Helps Seniors Stay H.O.M.E.

The biggest concern for first-time “shavees” is what shape their head will turn out to be, says Jeff McDonald, CPCU, ARM, Executive Vice President at TDC Specialty Underwriters (TDCSU), part of TDC Group. When people shave their heads to raise funds for pediatric cancer research, they wonder, “What if it’s lumpy?” But getting into the barber’s chair is a breeze for Mr. McDonald, a four-time shavee for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises funds for pediatric cancer research.

A Fundraising Dare

Jeff McDonald Shaved Head Image

St. Baldrick’s Foundation began in 1999 as a fundraising dare among friends, three reinsurance executives who shaved their heads for donations to raise funds for kids with cancer. They could not have known that their initial effort would grow into an international juggernaut for pediatric cancer research.

The organization depends upon its army of volunteers, each of whom invites family members, friends, coworkers, and community members to chip in for a chance to support kids with cancer—and a chance to check out their new look with a shaved head.

Crucially, the research funded by St. Baldrick’s not only improves children’s odds of survival, but their chance for treatments that are faster and less painful. For instance, to keep cancer in remission, most childhood leukemia survivors must remain in chemotherapy for years. Researchers hope to shorten the duration of such grueling treatments to get kids feeling better sooner and back to their normal routines with family, school, and friends.

A Repeat Competitor, Supported by Colleagues

Fortunately, St. Baldrick’s thrives on repeat fundraising success from people like Mr. McDonald. He has now achieved the title of “Squire of Hope,” one of the foundation’s playful designations for those whose contributions span years.

“I have always known very generous people in insurance,” says Mr. McDonald, and the secret to his recent success has been “leaning on colleagues” at TDCSU to make personal donations to St. Baldrick’s. Many personal donations from employees of TDC Group are eligible for corporate matching funds. In 2023, with a fundraising goal of $25,000, Mr. McDonald went to the barber’s chair with $28,750 total raised. The big event was hosted by an Irish pub in Chicago around St. Patrick’s Day, with an atmosphere he described as “very jovial.”

Post-shave, it’s a “liberating feeling,” he says. “It’s rewarding on every level.”

A Reason to Give

Family at St. Baldrick's

“People are naturally inclined to give if they understand where the money goes and what it’s for,” he says. In an email to colleagues, Mr. McDonald wrote, “Across the globe, a child is diagnosed with cancer once every two minutes. And cancer claims the lives of more children than nearly all other diseases combined. These are sobering statistics, and the chance of cancer impacting a child you or I know remains unacceptably high.”

Mr. McDonald’s long history of racking up big wins in fundraising competitions began in 2007, when he completed his first marathon to raise funds for Children’s Memorial Hospital, where his then two-year-old son had recently recovered successfully from a spinal injury. That event “gave me the bug,” he says, and he developed a strong motivation to assist children’s charities—as a parent of three healthy children, he is keenly aware that not all are so fortunate.

Like many, Mr. McDonald has personally known cancer survivors. For instance, he witnessed a neighbor’s then nine-year-old daughter undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. She survived, and may even be able to have children of her own one day—further evidence of the success of pediatric cancer researchers’ creation of treatments that cause fewer adverse effects down the line of children’s lives.

Catching Up on Contributions

Like many charitable organizations, St. Baldrick’s has experienced pandemic-related disruptions in their funding. Helping to fill the gaps, Mr. McDonald’s 2023 fundraising efforts included working with Susan Duke, who manages TDC Group Community Investment programs, to create prepopulated forms so that coworkers could have the easiest possible access to the Employee Gift Matching Program for their donations. TDC Group and TDCSU both also contributed through their respective Corporate Charitable Giving Programs.

Mr. McDonald admits to getting a bit competitive in his fundraising. Fortunately, he says, “When you’re competing for charity, everyone wins.”

Making the Match

The employees of TDC Group—The Doctors Company, Healthcare Risk Advisors, TDC Specialty Underwriters, and Medical Advantage—consistently demonstrate their generosity to the causes they care most about. Many seek matching funds from the TDC Group Employee Gift Matching Program to double their donations to causes they care about. For those concerned about administrative hassles, Mr. McDonald offers the assurance that the new matching system “couldn’t be easier”: “If the cause is important to you, why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?”

Helping Seniors Stay H.O.M.E.

Mr. McDonald is an enthusiastic supporter of organizations that support seniors, as well as kids. “The first charity I think of every year is H.O.M.E.,” says Mr. McDonald, who has been a regular donor to H.O.M.E. for almost 20 years.

H.O.M.E. Gala Image

Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly, or H.O.M.E., provides free and low-cost repairs for low-income seniors, plus a shopping bus and other assistance from caring volunteers. They also create supportive, assistive communities through intergenerational housing. For Mr. McDonald, H.O.M.E. struck a nerve. He thought, “This is indiscriminate. We all, God willing, age.”

Soon after joining TDCSU, Mr. McDonald wondered if TDC Group could sponsor a table at the H.O.M.E. gala—and now TDC Group has sponsored a table for five years running. “We are in their annual report every year” as a major donor, he says.

Supporting the Communities Where We Live and Work

Mr. McDonald’s story of bringing his charitable commitments with him into his position at TDCSU shows how, as employees around the U.S. identify worthy causes in their regions, the TDC Group Community Relations team can take advantage of these opportunities to directly support the communities where we live and work. Our investments aim to address the social determinants of health—creating environments that promote good health for all.

TDC Group is building the preeminent organization for service to healthcare. We encourage employees to use the Employee Gift Matching Program as they invest in the health of their communities.

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