A Promise Kept

By: Kelly Bradley on September 25th, 2020

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A Promise Kept

Giving back

Have you ever made a promise to do something for the rest of your life? 

Who hasn’t? 

Maybe it was something like a promise to floss every day or never eat sweets ever again.

Well, some people make promises much more meaningful and impactful than that – and keep them. We recently spoke with John and Jane Ellis, who after losing three close family members to Lymphoma, committed their lives to supporting those impacted by cancer.

John and Jane founded the Connecticut Cancer Foundation and over the past 33 years, their patient assistance program has granted more than $6.1 million to more than 7,000 families in Connecticut! 

And if that was not enough, they've also provided $2.2 million to support ongoing cancer research through ILROG, a worldwide forum to further the understanding of radiotherapy in the treatment of lymphoma in children and adults around the globe. 

How it All Started

John lost his sister, brother, and sister-in-law to cancer and when he was diagnosed himself before the age of 40 he didn’t think he would live and thought he was going to have that same terrible outcome. 

Fortunately, he was treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and had a happy outcome. During his treatment process, he saw all the hardship the other families experienced. He made a promise that if he survived, he would devote the rest of his life to helping other Connecticut cancer patients.

When John recovered, he and his wife Jane formed a foundation to help people undergoing cancer treatment make ends meet so they could concentrate on healing. When you’re paying for treatment, hospital bills, and everything else that comes with that, most people can’t pay their bills. There’s not money left over for rent, utilities, or food and clothing for your family.

Over the past 33 years, the Connecticut Cancer Foundation has been helping people who were already living paycheck to paycheck and now are faced with impossibly high medical bills on top of it. When they get the diagnosis, everything seems to fall apart.


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A Baseball Legacy

Have we mentioned yet that John Ellis played 13 seasons in the MLB, including playing for the New York Yankees?

John was a catcher and first baseman who came up with the Yankees in 1969 and retired with the Texas Rangers in 1981. He was a career .262 hitter and in 1974 caught a no-hitter from Dick Boseman.

Being a professional athlete, he had the idea that they could focus on sports and enlisting sports celebrities to help raise money for their foundation.

He believed that players don't get enough credit for giving back to the community. Many of them attended events, raised funds, and even had foundations of their own for causes they’re passionate about. 

John and Jane organized dinners to raise money for the Connecticut Cancer Foundation, which included the likes of Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford. 

33 years later, they’ve had many great names in baseball and are still holding annual dinner galas to this day. You can learn more about the Connecticut Cancer Foundation, their celebrity dinners, and the meaningful work they engage in at https://www.ctcancerfoundation.org/.