Stopping Cancer Early – The Best Possible Investment


Founders Expedite Change

October 30, 2012

Founders of nonprofit organizations are motivated to make a big difference where they see a problem in society. They come to understand there is a great need that only a nonprofit can fill. They allocate resources into starting the nonprofit and to developing a community that will help further the mission and resolve the problem. Canary Foundation was conceived by founder Don Listwin, who gives his all to generating affordable and easy early cancer detection biomarkers and imaging tools as part of Canary Foundation’s mission.

If you look at the history of philanthropy, you may be surprised to learn how far back this idea goes, and marvel at the rich environment of direct services, research, innovation, education, culture and arts the nonprofit sector has spawned. We can trace this idea as far back as Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher who donated his farm to his nephew upon his death in 347 A.D., to fund students and faculty in the Academy of Athens he founded.

Some examples taken from The A Chronological HISTORY OF PHILANTHROPY In America, created by the National Philanthropic Trust are:

1638: John Harvard, Harvard University
John Harvard (1607-1638) bequeaths library and half of his estate to newly founded school in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

1731:  Benjamin Franklin, The Library Company of Philadelphia
Benjamin Franklin and fifty friends start The Library Company of Philadelphia, the country’s first successful circulation library, so that people of moderate means can better themselves through reading.

1826:  James Smithson, Smithsonian Institution
James Smithson, a British scientist, draws up his last will and testament, naming his nephew as beneficiary. Smithson stipulates that, should the nephew die without heirs (as he would in 1835), the estate should go “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.”

1843:  Robert Hartley, New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor
Robert Hartley and other charity reformers organize New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor

1922:  Albert C. Barnes, The Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation was established by Albert C. Barnes, a Philadelphia physician, and entrepreneur to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts.”

After seeing his mother suffer due to a misdiagnosis and undergo treatment that did not save her life, Don Listwin was highly motivated to change a situation that touches so many people. He met with Nobel Prize winner Lee Hartwell, then the Director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and came to the conclusion that research for cancer early detection had the most potential to save lives and sadly receives very little funding nationally. Billions of dollars are spent on late stage treatments rather than finding cancer early when the chance of survival is greatest.

In response, he took up the task of organizing a nonprofit in 2004 to advance research to make tools for cancer early detection a reality.  In addition to his own financial commitment, he has developed the support of the community, academic institutions and government to help advance these efforts.  A former Cisco executive, he leverages his business background to create effective scientific teams and foster innovation with a focus on measureable results. Because of this, Canary Foundation has been able to move projects to clinical trials with patients in a relatively short amount of time.

We are grateful to you for being part of this special community and for supporting the founder. We hope you will consider making a donation to the Founder’s Fund, a fund directed by the founder to meet challenges and unmet needs, and to help Canary Foundation continue to make great strides towards saving lives by finding cancer early.