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Will Ferrell: Back To School For Cancer Cause

Veronica Werhane |
October 14, 2013 | 4:27 p.m. PDT

Senior Arts and Culture Editor

Will Ferrell and Craig Pollard met at USC as fraternity brothers (Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies/EventBrite)
Will Ferrell and Craig Pollard met at USC as fraternity brothers (Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies/EventBrite)
Will Ferrell is taking a break from Ron Burgundy to go back to college with his good friend Craig Pollard. On Monday evening, Ferrell and Pollard will share their careers, friendship and philosophies at their alma mater, the University of Southern California, at the appropriately titled event, “Will Ferrell and Craig Pollard: A Will-Powered Friendship.”

Hosted by the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, the sold-out event will focus on the positive change young people can make right away in life, drawing inspiration from the strong bond that formed between Ferrell and Pollard as fraternity brothers at USC and highlighting Pollard’s powerful life story as a repeat cancer survivor, amputee and successful businessman.

Pollard is the co-founder of Global Golf Tour, a successful golf accessories company, and during his senior year at USC he wrote the business plan for Cancer for College, a foundation that has funded nearly $2 million in scholarships for students and families facing the financial hardship of cancer and college. The foundation has been awarding scholarships since 1994, and in 2006 it extended its scholarships to amputees after Pollard lost both legs battling yet another unexpected illness.

Without ever meeting Pollard in person, his strength, positivity and resilience are evident from reading his story on Cancer for College’s website. If there is anyone who captures USC’s credo of “fighting on,” it is Pollard. Pollard is even more inspirational in conversation, and deeply values making a difference in peoples’ lives.

“When you have a life threatening illness and you’re on your deathbed, you don’t think of what kind of car you have or how much money you make in a day. You think about the people you love—your friends, your family,” said Pollard. “The only thing that matters in life is making a positive difference or influence on people.”

David Belasco, co-director and adjunct professor for the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, will be leading the discussion with Pollard and Ferrell and echoed Pollard’s emphasis on making a difference in the world. When asked what message he wanted the audience to walk away with Monday night, Belasco said he wants young people to understand the importance of making a difference right away in life. 

“Do whatever you can, when you can,” said Belasco. “Don’t wait until you’re 75 years-old and have a billion dollars to start giving and serving. Make a difference right now.”

Both Belasco and Pollard attribute Cancer for College’s success to this “pay-it-forward” philosophy, noting the inspiration that comes from helping college students who have been hit by cancer, medical expenses and finding a way to afford college.

“At all of our events, we have our scholarship winners speak and tell their story, and for everyone battling a life threatening illness, the motivation that gives you is inspiring,” said Pollard. “We’re a pay-it-forward kind of charity and I think people come back to give because that could be their child or themselves sitting in the doctor’s office, or there’s a nurse or someone else who’s been through that.”

Ferrell is a celebrity spokesman for Cancer for College, and has been a strong supporter since the foundation’s inception, both as a believer in the cause and as a dear friend to Pollard.

One-hundred percent of Will Ferrell Sunscreen's proceeds benefits College for Cancer. (Will Ferrell Sunscreen/Facebook)
One-hundred percent of Will Ferrell Sunscreen's proceeds benefits College for Cancer. (Will Ferrell Sunscreen/Facebook)

“When we were in college he was still doing standup in random restaurants and bars,” said Pollard. “And anything we were doing to support him, he continues to support us with the charity and that’s what our friendship is all about.”

Pollard explained that he and Ferrell coined the term “will-powered” to capture the contributions Ferrell continues to give to the charity through his celebrity, but also their long friendship of mutual support and honest camaraderie. 

“Will’s friendship means the world to me not just because of what he’s become in his career, but he’s been there supporting me and the idea of the charity before anybody even knew who he was," Pollard said.

Ferrell attends many Cancer for College events, among his many avenues of contribution. True to his comedic persona, Ferrell found a way to bring joy and humor to the cause, launching a line of sunscreens for Cancer for College with slapstick names such as "Super Sexy Hot Tan" and "Sunstroke," showcasing his best "assets" on the label.

A will-powered friendship, indeed.

"Will Ferrell and Craig Pollard: A Will–Powered Friendship" will be held at 7 p.m. Monday evening at USC’s Bovard Auditorium. More information about the event can be found hereStay tuned for Neon Tommy’s coverage of the event.

Learn more about Cancer for College here. You can also make a donation to get your own Will Ferrell sunscreen.

Reach Senior Arts and Culture Editor Veronica Werhane here. Follow Veronica on Twitter here.



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