Media Contact: Beata Mostafavi 734-764-2220

Wolverine-Badger challenge helps raise more than $5.9 M for childhood cancer research

Michigan wins first time fundraising competition with Wisconsin during childhood cancer awareness month

ANN ARBOR, Mich. —    Before the game even started on Saturday, the Wolverines had already beat the Badgers. But fans on both sides had something to cheer about.

The first-ever Wolverine-Badger challenge between C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin’s American Family Children’s Hospital helped raise more than $5.9 million for pediatric cancer research.

The Oct.1 football game between the two schools was the culmination of a month-long competition between the rivals to see who could raise the most money during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

For much of the month, the Badgers were in the lead. But thanks to a large gift from an anonymous donor, Michigan leaped ahead in the last week. Nine-year-old leukemia-fighter Ethan Watts led the marching band to Michigan Stadium Saturday and was invited onto the football field to accept the plaque on behalf of Mott Children’s.

“In one month, Wolverine and Badger fans helped raise more than $5.9 million to support groundbreaking research to find better, safer cures for childhood cancers. Everyone wins,” says Valerie Opipari M.D., a pediatric oncologist and chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.  

 “We may cheer for different teams in the stands, but we are on the same side in the fight against childhood cancer. When we work together, we can make a difference for so many children and families affected by this devastating disease.”  

The Wolverine-Badger challenge is part of the month-long Block Out Cancer campaign at Mott, designed to increase awareness about the need for pediatric cancer research in September.  

Several celebrities and athletes participated in the #BlockOutCancer campaign, including NFL stars Charles Woodson, Randy Moss, Matt Hasselbeck, Trent Dilfer, Drew Stanton and LaMarr Woodley. Other participants included Top Chef Fabio Viviani, actor Jack Falahee, ESPN’s Jemele Hill, Detroit Red Wings’ goalie Jimmy Howard, ESPN analyst Adam Schefter and Detroit Lions’ quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Dan Orlovsky.

Each year, more than 13,000 parents will learn that their child has cancer. Despite great advancements in research and treatment, one out of five children with cancer does not survive, and cancer is still the leading cause of death by disease among children in the U.S.

Research aimed at uncovering cures is woefully underfunded – with just 4 percent of federal funding for cancer research supporting children’s cancer.

For more information on how you can play a role in #BlockOutCancer, visit


NOTICE: Except where otherwise noted, all articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. You are free to copy, distribute, adapt, transmit, or make commercial use of this work as long as you attribute Michigan Medicine as the original creator and include a link to this article.

Media Inquiries:  734-764-2220 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ET 

734-936-4000 after hours, weekends, and holidays (ask for the PR person on call) for embargoed news, videos & more