Since COVID-19 prevented us from gathering in-person this year, many community members have not yet had the opportunity to meet our Head of Philanthropy, Kenny Brighton. When Kenny joined the Foundation in 2019, he brought with him a decade of professional fundraising expertise and a personal passion for changing the odds for people affected by chordoma. Even in this most unique of years, Kenny’s diligence and focus have helped ensure that critical research and patient support continued uninterrupted and that our efforts to pursue a cure for chordoma aggressively have accelerated, not slowed.
Kenny was initially drawn to the Foundation through a personal experience with chordoma — the diagnosis, journey, and eventual loss of his uncle Mike, who fought a heroic battle with the disease for many years. He knows our community because he IS our community, and he shares our urgency for sound scientific solutions and reliable support for chordoma families.
Get to know Kenny and his work — through his own words — in our Q&A below. We’re thrilled to have him on board and invite you to connect directly.
Questions or ideas for Kenny?
Email him at email@example.com.
1. What drew you to the Chordoma Foundation?
I was drawn into the chordoma community after my Uncle Mike was diagnosed with chordoma in 2004. He battled for many years, ultimately succumbing to the cancer. Since his death, my family, led by his son Mark, has hosted a golf tournament in his memory, with proceeds being donated to the Chordoma Foundation. Through my involvement in this tournament, I was able to see firsthand the vital role the Chordoma Foundation plays in serving patients and caregivers, and in driving the pace of research. Then, when this position was created, it was almost too good to be true — an opportunity to sustain my uncle’s memory and to serve a community that is close to my heart by using my professional experience and skills. I have been in fundraising since 2007, first raising funds for the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and their healthcare system, then for Habitat for Humanity, and, most recently, for a child welfare nonprofit. I am honored to be here and cherish every minute I spend working with the unbelievable team at the Foundation and the inspiring members of the chordoma community around the world.
2. What is your philosophy on philanthropy?
My philosophy is centered around the idea that generosity is the driving force behind progress. Throughout my career, I have seen time and again, the massive impact that can be made through a simple act of generosity. This philosophy fits especially well within a rare disease community like the chordoma community — which has to work harder and smarter to overcome common research roadblocks and expand access to reliable information and support. In a community like ours, every act of generosity, no matter how large or small, truly makes an impact.
My goal is to make sure that inadequate resources never hold back the Chordoma Foundation. The work being done, both in research and patient services, is too important and too urgent to be limited by a lack of funding. In short, I hope to make an impact on our community by forging the long-term funding partnerships that will make all of our goals possible.
3. How do you work with the members of the chordoma community?
I am here to help our community members envision, and then bring to fruition, their own version of what the future can be. Whether it is a future filled with improved treatment options or a future in which patients have better access to support services, I work with donors to design a practical roadmap for making that future possible. From supporting individuals who wish to undertake their own philanthropic projects to connecting those with a shared vision of progress to co-creating initiatives that advance the areas of our work donors are most passionate about, I am here to serve as your steward and ensure that your generosity has the greatest impact possible.
4. What are you most excited about right now?
The line of sight that we have to treatments that target the Achilles’ heel of chordoma, brachyury, is truly exciting. The knowledge that research is being undertaken that has the potential to not only improve treatment for people fighting chordoma today but also, one day, eliminate chordoma all together is incredibly motivating. When people ask what I do for a living, I get to say “trying to cure cancer!” — WHAT COULD BE MORE EXCITING???
5. Outside of work, what’s one thing you want our community to know about you?
Besides my family (my wife, Ali, and my dog, Broccoli), I am a passionate triathlete. I am currently training for a ten-day race that will cover 24 miles of swimming, 1,120 miles of biking, and 262 miles of running. So, if I’m not working or spending time with my wife/dog, you can find me on a bike or in a pool!