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For me, one of the most rewarding things about being part of The Max Foundation team is being connected to a global network of colleagues, partners, advocates, patients, and caregivers united by a shared desire to ensure that people facing a cancer diagnosis live with dignity and hope. This desire is the common thread that ties all of us together, and it knows no cultural, economic or geographical boundaries.

As many of you know, 2017 is an important year for us at The Max Foundation, as it marks our 20th year as an organization. More importantly, it marks 20 years of partnering with dozens of bold, brave and dedicated patient advocacy organizations who are truly making a difference in the lives of people facing cancer in their communities. For Max’s Day on October 19th, we wanted to make sure that everyone was included in the celebration – if only from a distance – so we introduced a new tradition among our global community. 

The Thai tradition of Bai Sri Soo Kwan, which was first introduced to us by our Thailand colleague, Wirat Sae-Kuai, is a welcome ceremony that is used in many villages and small towns in Thailand to honor and bless important visitors such as relatives or friends. During the ceremony, a string is tied to the wrist of visitor and a simple blessing is bestowed upon them. Inspired by this beautiful tradition, The Max Foundation mailed over 5,000 blue ribbons with the printed message “Celebrating Life for 20 Years with The Max Foundation.” In addition to the ribbons, partners also received a thank you note from The Max Foundation and an overview of how to use the ribbons to host their own unique variations of the Bae Sri Soo Kwan ceremony. From July through September, our amazing partner organizations hosted their own celebrations using the ribbons as a symbol of unity and gratitude.

Erin Lindsay Schneider participates in our ribbon ceremony at The Max Foundation’s 20th Anniversary Celebration.

We also celebrated our anniversary milestone with nearly 200 friends and partners on Max’s Day, October 19th, 2017, with a celebration in Seattle, WA. While we knew that it would logistically impossible for representatives from the over 70 Max Global Network partner organizations to travel to Seattle to join us, we honored them by having two members of our community spotlight the network, Viji Venkatesh, Region Head for South Asia, and Rod Padua, President of Touched by Max, a patient support group in the Philippines. During the celebration in Seattle, guests also took a moment to tie ribbons onto each other’s wrists, while viewing a slide show of the many photos we received from our partners around conducting their own unique celebrations. It was a moment of international unity and gratitude for the hard work and dedication or all our partners worldwide. 

I invite you all to view the slideshow showcasing our partners’ Bai Sri Soo Kwan inspired activities around the world. We hope it makes you smile as much as it makes us smile! Special thanks to all who participated!