It can be hard to imagine the reach of a ripple when that first stone makes its impact.
In 2003, an entrepreneurial teammate at Under Armour was watching a family member fight a bitter battle with breast cancer. Julie Block, Under Armour’s Women’s and Girls Product Developer at the time, channeled her energy and pain towards a project that would bring positive change, creating Under Armour’s POWER IN PINK collection – a product line with proceeds going to various breast health and cancer centers.
Block’s passion project grew into an annual line that ultimately led to the Under Armour Breast Health Innovation Center, part of Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, with the most advanced clinical care, education, and community services under one roof.
Under Armour’s $10 million donation to Johns Hopkins, the company’s largest donation to a single project, funded the Under Armour Breast Health Innovation Center on the top floor of the Skip Viragh Cancer Outpatient Building, sitting in the heart of Baltimore, MD.
Long before ground was broken on the site, the head of Under Armour’s Global Philanthropy, Stacey Ullrich, asked Dr. Vered Stearns, Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Program, what her vision was for the Breast Cancer Program. Dr. Stearns stated that she wanted a place where cancer patients’ every need was met: from treatment, to prescriptions, to rehabilitation, and consultations. Having everything under one roof was not the case previously, and the journey that patients and their families would have to endure to address their needs was quite taxing.
“Bringing Dr. Stearns vision to life fit perfectly with Under Armour’s mission to ‘make you better,’” said Ullrich. “That made the decision to be involved practically an imperative.”
Under Armour teammate Bobby Jones, Sr. Lead of Project Delivery, has felt the impact of the newly integrated Under Armour Breast Health Innovation Center, firsthand. Jones’ wife, Linda, has Stage IV breast cancer. Ullrich connected the Joneses to a doctor at Johns Hopkins in 2014, and Linda has been receiving treatment at the Skip Viragh Cancer Outpatient center since this May, when it opened.
For Linda, the new center signifies a “rebirth” not only for the patients but for all the doctors and staff who take care of them.
“They get to work in this brand new place with new tools and innovation, in a new environment, that doesn’t feel like a traditional hospital and everyone is excited,” said Linda, who added that the energy is infectious. The positive mindset is essential for everyone – the patient, caregivers, and especially the nurses.
The Under Armour Breast Health Innovation center is the first of its kind: patients receive everything from diagnosis to treatment plans consisting of physical and occupational therapies, all on the same floor. Linda remembers starting treatment two years ago and struggling with the huge scale of Hopkins.
“A new building with everything in one place dedicated specifically to my type of cancer makes it so easy: scheduling, appointments, you have your treatments, it’s all in one place and it takes the burden of that off.”
Before, Linda would need to get her doctor’s appointment scheduled in one room, have her tests run in another, meet another doctor in a different building, and maybe even receive a PET scan down in the basement of another building. Now she sees all of her team in one place. Even the smallest things like parking, scheduling, eating, are located in one building. Linda explained how “you don’t have that feeling of peacefulness very often” as a cancer patient. This peacefulness that Linda had so missed comfortably graces the center, whether it be in the eyes of the doctors and nurses, or in the hearts of the patients.
Linda’s favorite part of the center is the view. It’s easy to get lost in the incredible view of Baltimore. For Bobby, it’s knowing that he is taking Linda to a place that is “technologically current, new, and clean.” And he loves knowing that the center was built “with all the right intentions.”