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FREETHOUGHT MOVEMENT RAISING $1 MILLION TO FIGHT CANCER

Effort on Behalf of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Honors the Late Christopher Hitchens, Noted Atheist Author

ATLANTA, Ga. (2/16/2012) -- Foundation Beyond Belief, a nontheist charity, aims to raise $1 million for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) this year through its popular Light The Night Walk fundraising program.

"This is one of the biggest giving efforts of its kind in the history of our movement," said humanist philanthropist Todd Stiefel, of Raleigh, N.C. "Our goal is to improve the lives of countless cancer patients and their families, while demonstrating that freethinkers are a legitimate force for good in the world."

To encourage other nontheists to step up to this cause, Stiefel and his family have pledged to match dollar-for-dollar the first $500,000 raised by the Foundation Beyond Belief Light The Night initiative.


PERSONAL APPEAL FROM TODD STIEFEL TO FREETHOUGHT COMMUNITY

http://foundationbeyondbelief.org/LLS-letter


Foundation Beyond Belief is a national 501(c)(3) charity, based in Atlanta, Ga., created to focus, encourage and demonstrate generosity and compassion in the nontheistic community throughout the United States. The Foundation is a "Special Friend" partner with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, meaning that local groups of nontheists around the world can contribute to the $1 million goal by organizing Light The Night teams under the banner of Foundation Beyond Belief.

Since the organization's launch in January 2010, more than 1,000 Foundation Beyond Belief members have raised more than $247,000 for charities at work around the world. Though $1 million is an ambitious fundraising goal for the growing charity, the group has received an unprecedented amount of grassroots support from the larger freethought community. Already nearly a dozen national nontheist organizations have signed on as allies with the Foundation to support the effort: American Atheists, American Humanist Association, Atheist Alliance of America, Camp Quest, Center For Inquiry, Centre For Inquiry Canada, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy & Alumni, Secular Student Alliance, and the United Coalition of Reason. Together these allies have a combined membership numbering in the tens of thousands.

"This is an opportunity for atheists to rally behind something big that reflects what we do believe in: the healing power of scientific research, education and compassionate patient services," said Stiefel. "The most positive way to be 'out' as a nontheist is to fundraise for a great charity that everyone can support. We may not believe the same things as our neighbors, but we can all unite against cancer."

Stiefel is quick to note that Foundation Beyond Belief Light The Night team members will not debate religion or attempt to "de-convert" any religious believers during the walk. Instead, he hopes the teams will be known as the most fun, positive, and friendly people at the events.

"The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is incredibly appreciative that Foundation Beyond Belief has chosen to support our efforts to beat blood cancer, and has set such a generous goal," said Nancy L. Klein, LLS chief marketing and revenue officer. "We look forward to having their teams join our walks."

ABOUT LIGHT THE NIGHT

The Light The Night Walk is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's evening walk and fundraising event to pay tribute and bring hope to people battling cancer. Thousands of participants raise funds for vital, lifesaving research and patient services and, on these special nights, they carry illuminated balloons in a show of support from a caring community. All proceeds from the walks go to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

There are about 185 Light The Night Walks throughout the U.S. and Canada. Foundation Beyond Belief is aiming to have at least 100 local teams participating in 2012. Should the effort succeed, the Foundation would be the first team in LLS history to bring in more than $1 million in their first year.

IN MEMORY OF CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS

The "Honored Hero" of this year's Foundation Beyond Belief Light The Night effort will be the late Christopher Hitchens. At age 62, Hitchens died this December from complications resulting from esophageal cancer. A prominent atheist and best-selling author, Hitchens was best known for his essays about politics and religion. While he did not have blood cancer, Stiefel notes that drugs developed for blood cancers are often used to treat other cancers as well.

"Hitch devoted so much to our movement during his life," Stiefel said. "Now we can give something back in his memory."

FREETHOUGHT GRANTS FOR TOP LIGHT THE NIGHT FUNDRAISING TEAMS

The Stiefel Freethought Foundation is giving $18,000 to Foundation Beyond Belief for an incentive program.

The top FBB Light The Night fundraising teams in multiple categories will have the opportunity to direct up to $5,000 in grants to qualifying freethought nonprofit organizations. Winning teams can direct up to half of the grant money to a local 501(c)3 freethought organization of their choice. Winning teams will also choose to direct at least half of the grant money to one of the national Foundation Beyond Belief Light The Night ally organizations.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

For information and to register with the Foundation Beyond Belief Light The Night Team, visit: http://foundationbeyondbelief.org/LLS-lightthenight

For information about Todd Stiefel and the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, visit: http://www.stiefelfreethoughtfoundation.org

For information about Light The Night, visit: http://www.lightthenight.org

CONTACT (MEDIA ONLY)

Todd Stiefel, press@foundationbeyondbelief.org

TAGGED: ANNOUNCEMENTS, HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS


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