San Diego is a flourishing mecca of charitably minded people and organizations. We have upwards of 10,000 nonprofit organizations deeply committed to our region … which is what makes San Diego so special; besides the sunshine and beaches, of course.

San Diegans have a deep love and commitment for and to “our home.” San Diegans are also incredibly resilient. We have lived through two devastating fires and we have countless people who embody perseverance –Craig Pollard, for one.

Pollard was a typical SoCal teenager with a passion for baseball and a dream to play forever. Unlike his other 15-year-old peers, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s, a lymphoma cancer that can affect anyone at any age. When Pollard’s doctor told him he wasn’t going to be able to play baseball, Craig took on cancer like a true champion. His treatment included nine months of chemotherapy, three months of radiation and surgery resulting in the removal of his spleen, appendix and several lymph nodes.

Despite the doctor’s caution, Pollard never stopped playing baseball and excelled in school. He earned a merit scholarship to the University of Southern California and signed on with the nationally ranked Trojan baseball program. With a college career ahead, his girlfriend Stacey by his side and the Delta Tau Delta fraternity brothers for support, life seemed full of promise for Pollard.

Unfortunately, cancer returned, and this time it was back with a vengeance.

At 19, the disease quickly took over Pollard’s body and tested his will to survive once again. While in the hospital, he pleaded with God for the chance to live and promised if given that opportunity, he would use his life to make a difference in the world. After a life-saving bone marrow transplant through the City of Hope, his health slowly returned, defeating cancer for a second time.

He got back to college and onto the baseball field, but his life goals and passions were beginning to shift to an overwhelming desire to help others who faced the same struggles he knew firsthand. To the surprise of teammates, friends and family, Pollard walked off the baseball field and hung up his jersey. He had not given up. He took on a higher calling; to live out the promise he made in the hospital.

While volunteering with Camp Ronald McDonald, Pollard learned many parents of children with cancer face significant financial hardship, using every last dime to keep their children alive. It’s not unusual for families to drain their savings, mortgage their homes and incur tremendous debt. Pollard realized he could make a difference in the world by helping these families save for college by founding a nonprofit, Cancer for College.

In 1993, 24 members of Pollard’s family and closest fraternity brothers hosted the first fund-raising golf tournament, awarding the charity’s first $500 scholarships. Will Ferrell, one of the most famous comedians of our time, was one of those closest friends and fraternity brothers at USC. Ferrell participated in many of the organization’s early events and has remained a dedicated supporter, never forgetting his dear friend Craig Pollard.

Both Will and wife Viveca Ferrell now regularly host the Cancer for College annual golf tournaments, and Pollard attributes much of the charity’s success and dynamic growth to their support. Oh, and Ferrell even endorses a number of the organization’s promotional products–just picture an image of Will Ferrell in Speedos on a bottle of sunscreen called, “Will Ferrell’s Super Sexy Hot Tan.” Yep, you get the idea, and for a simple donation, you, too, can take a bottle home.

Cancer for College has now granted out more than $1.75 million in scholarships to 1,000+ cancer survivors nationwide through annual golf tournament in San Diego, and multiple events throughout the year in Seattle, Texas and North Carolina and with plans to expand to New York soon.

In case you were wondering, Pollard finally married his college sweetheart Stacey, and they started a family of their own. He’s now battled cancer three times and has even lost some of his limbs. But he remains an inspiration for so many, with a fearless charge to never give up hope.

To learn more or find out how you can get involved with Cancer for College, visit their website at www.cancerforcollege.org. You might even want to pick up some exclusive merchandise like a Will Ferrell autographed cowbell. Oh yeah, “Gotta have more cowbell!”