The Backstory

At first, Charles Tillman and Jake Beckley found themselves turning up at the same fundraisers – occasionally competing for silent auction items, always showing up to support kids and their parents. Soon they discovered they were on different sides of the same problem, childhood disease, and before long they were showing up to support each other. 

Tillman’s “Cornerstone Foundation” carried the substantial weight of his celebrity status, while Jake’s “Beckley Foundation” was supported by his extreme fundraising efforts. (In the past, he’s done everything from climb Mt. Williamson to solo-row across Lake Michigan.)

Once emails turned to texts turned to phone calls, their common bond became a common cause: fighting for children and their families.

WHy We’re doing This?

The physical effect of disease on children is obvious. Aggressive treatment can take its toll. But there’s a physical effect on families too, as they try to manage life in an unending healthcare spiral.  Countless hours in waiting rooms and at their child’s bedside add up to fatigue and fast food-heavy diets. Priorities are shifted to the patient while the parents pay a hefty physical price.

Emotions are another concern. Each new medical consult or treatment is a barometer for hope. Fear and frustration contribute to frayed nerves that often impact even the strongest families, and the urgent needs of one child can often foster a sense of loneliness and abandonment in siblings.

Ultimately, families may be forced to rely on relatives and friends for support, even for simple, daily needs that are suddenly overwhelming. Picking kids up from school, caring for the home, preparing meals, ensuring homework is done, these all become burdens that are easily neglected. Not to mention, time to socialize with friends, spend free-time as a couple or simply have some privacy evaporates. Surrounded by “helpers,” parents can, surprisingly, find themselves isolated and alone, especially as they face mounting bills.

While a parent can’t begin to calculate the value of their child’s life, hospitals and clinics do. Loss of income, temporary housing, meals on the road and help at home all add unexpected costs to the family budget. Regardless of the patient outcome, the bills must get paid, jeopardizing families’ entire futures.

These realities are what brought the Cornerstone Foundation and the Beckley Foundation together. Our sense of urgency to make a difference and our willingness to join forces has created more than a common purpose, it’s created a friendship. Thus begins Row4Kids, an event built to raise the bar for philanthropy everywhere.