"High School Musical" - Style Production in the Halls of RPCI

Friday, December 11, 2009

Roswell Park Cancer Institute Produces Hip Hop Song and Video to Raise Cancer Awareness Among Generation Y

The nation’s first cancer center has created a new hip hop song and video to show young people that they can help build a world without cancer. “How Big Is Your Heart,” an MTV-like commercial, features nurses and cancer patients dancing alongside professional dancers through the halls of Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

The song, written and recorded by record producer Jeremy “Cochise” Ball, conveys the message that no gift is too small - anyone can make a difference in the fight against cancer. Ball, who is now based in Buffalo, has worked with numerous award-winning artists including Notorious B.I.G. and Akon.

“We want to affect people’s lives when we’re making music, and this is a great opportunity to us our form of art to really affect lives in a positive way,” says Ball.

Roswell Park also partnered with nationally known dance choreographer Darlene Ceglia, formerly a dancer on broadway, to create the dance moves for the “How Big Is Your Heart” commercial. Shot in the hospital’s halls and lobby, the video features cancer survivors, patients and Roswell Park Cancer Institute medical professionals dancing alongside nationally award-winning dancers, many of whom have a personal connection to cancer.

“This is very personal to me. My mother had colon and ovarian cancer. She died when I was 15,” says Ceglia. “My father had skin cancer, and he was treated here at Roswell. And my brother is cancer free today because of this amazing facility, the care, the treatment and his doctors.”

The hip hop music approach is part of a unique, ongoing effort to reach out to Generation Y through a revolutionary campaign called Yroswell. Roswell Park Cancer Institute launched the campaign in 2007 with Yroswell.com, an interactive website targeted to Gen-Y.

“Through YRoswell, today's youth can get connected with others facing similar life experiences. Kids who have cancer or have a parent or sibling with cancer, can connect with others going through similar experiences they may be having,” says Laurel DiBrog, Vice President for Marketing and Planning at Roswell Park. “YRoswell members also have opportunities to find mentors if they want to pursue careers in health care, medicine or science. We encourage young people to look at the bigger picture of life and help those that may be less fortunate and to give back any way they can - either through donating time, raising dollars to help fight cancer through research or to help remove the stigma surrounding cancer, by becoming knowledgeable enough to become a resource for others who need answers."

The Yroswell site is designed to meet three primary goals: education to attract students to careers in cancer medicine and research; support for students coping with cancer themselves, in their family or in their social group; and volunteerism to engage a new generation of volunteers.

“We’ve got to really get people excited about this,” notes Dr. Michael Wong, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology. “And this is an attempt to reach out and bring together a new generation that will fight and beat cancer.”

To date, young volunteers and donors have helped raise nearly $1 million for cancer patients and research at Roswell Park.

The “How Big Is Your Heart” premiered at the KISSmas Bash concert on December 6, 2009 in Buffalo, and is airing on area TV stations, Yroswell.com and YouTube.com.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org