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Making an impact Frogs for the Cure leader creates fund-raising phenomena

🕐 5 min read

Ann Louden

Texas Christian University

Legacy Award 2015 HealthCare Heros

For the last decade, Ann Louden has outdone herself year after year to make TCU Frogs for the Cure a really big deal – an energetic, fund-raising phenomena to help support the work of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Her work has paid off, for Komen, for TCU, for college football, for professional football and – most importantly – for women stricken with the disease and their families.

From the first-ever “pink-out” football game in Fort Worth 10 years ago to this year’s music video, filmed across the nation from Washington D.C. to Chicago and New York City, to the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif., and, of course, back to the TCU campus, Frogs for the Cure makes a huge splash each fall. Since the initial “pink-out,” the pink ribbon game tributes have become established traditions at high school, college and NFL football games across the U.S. during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“Frogs for the Cure has achieved national reach as the first program in higher education to combine college athletics with a tribute to breast cancer survivors,” says Ann Louden, a member of the TCU Chancellor’s executive team.

Before she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Louden was involved with a number of issues in the Fort Worth community, one being women’s health care.

Since helming Frogs for the Cure, her influence has spread.

“Ann is a role model for what being brave is all about, and her passion is contagious,” says Heidi Johnson, founder of Charity Matters, a California-based nonprofit, whom Louden met while filming this year’s video in Pasadena. “She has taken adversity and turned it into inspiration. As TCU Frogs for the Cure celebrates this 10-year anniversary, I am inspired by the continuing message of hope they bring to so many truly brave women.”

With her own cancer survival as fuel for her passion, Louden enlists hundreds of TCU student athletes, singers, dancers, cheerleaders, band members, coaches, faculty, alumni, parents, donors and cancer survivors each year, to celebrate the fight against breast cancer.

This year, she also enlisted international recording artist Josh Groban and his song, Brave, former First Lady Laura Bush, CBS newsman Bob Schieffer and his Honky Tonk Confidential Western Swing band, Tony Award-winning actress Bernadette Peters and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra to round out a celebration at Bass Hall.

This is the fifth year Frogs for the Cure has made an original, new, high-energy music video, and Louden, TCU chancellor’s associate for strategic partnerships and chair of Frogs for the Cure, is already planning next fall’s celebration.

Frogs for the Cure has raised more than $250,000.

“Frogs for the Cure gives me a way to deal with a difficult personal challenge by building a movement to inspire, encourage and support those who follow in my footsteps,” Louden says. “I am so proud that we are celebrating our 10-year anniversary during this academic year. We have taken it big with the music video and our football team’s victory at our Frogs for the Cure blackout football game Nov. 8. That victory over Kansas State clinched a Peach Bowl invitation and our subsequent win over Ole Miss, Dec. 31.

“Now we prepare for the second decade in the breast cancer fight with the entire university community behind us.”

What drew you to the health care field?

I have long been engaged in supporting the health care concerns of women and children. But, my breast cancer diagnosis in 2006 catapulted me without warning into another side of health care – being the patient. I was thrown into a club I never intended to join – recruited with no chance to decline the invitation.

What was your biggest inspiration?

First were the survivors, who had already been through what I was beginning to experience: the shock of the words, “You have cancer,” the conflicting emotions, the loss of control, the searching for a community who could understand and the initial sheer terror of facing your own mortality. Their stories, their courage, their surrender to the bad news with determination to keep pushing for their own good health and their practical advice and support were both bolstering and inspiring.

Second were the health care providers – doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, telephone answerers, door openers and car parkers. Their expertise, skill, concern, knowledge, awareness of where I was and what I needed was both lifesaving and life affirming. After my diagnosis I kept a gratitude journal to record the blessings I encountered. Almost every entry was a reflection on the unexpected generosity of people I had never known.

Third was the TCU community. The year before I was diagnosed, TCU’s athletics marketing staff created Frogs for the Cure to support the work of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. In that first year, TCU pioneered the first-ever pink-out football game, a tradition that has taken off with not just college teams, but professional and high school teams of all types.

What is your best advice for people getting into health care?

My deepest hope is that those who seek careers in the health professions embrace being connectors. It’s no surprise that nurse navigators are so highly prized. Patients in distress need people around them who first, see them as individuals and care for their overall wellbeing. Personal connection builds trust and fosters communication and ultimately can significantly impact healing.

If you could change one thing that would improve health care for everyone, what would it be?

The health care industry sorely needs greater collaboration between payers and providers in all fields of medicine. The greatest frustration is the battle between physicians who recommend treatment plans and insurance companies that are unwilling to authorize and cover those plans. In many cases there is no agreement on what treatment is required, and the ultimate loser is the patient.

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