Balls for Cancer

So I have this totally terrible idea that involves ping pong balls and a bunch of kids with cancer and I’m going to need you to give me $30. I promise it’s going to be… well, mostly just stupid and ridiculous. But still probably worth it.

You see, one night, around 9 months ago, I was sitting in my house, drinking too much and watching Twitter while my husband and one of our friends watched a football game.

And that night, while I was watching twitter, I saw something amazing happen. Wil Wheaton sold a dented ping pong ball that he found in his garage for over $1100 on eBay. A dented ping pong ball. $1100.

And in my drunkenness, I was like FUCK THAT! Who has $1100 for an unusable ping pong ball? And I kept drinking and not socializing while I sat on my computer and the guys watched football.

A few days later, there was a knock on my door. I opened the door and it was the UPS man, holding an Amazon box… which confused me because I wasn’t expecting a package… but I signed for it and brought it into my house and opened the box (I know I know… WHAT? YOU OPENED THE PACKAGE THAT WAS DELIVERED TO YOU? REALLY? TELL US MORE, ELYSE! THIS IS FUCKING FASCINATING! DID IT HAVE TAPE? WAS THERE A RETURN ADDRESS? DEEEEETAILS!) Inside the box was 144 perfect ping pong balls.

I stood there for several minutes, blinking at this box of balls, I guess in some kind of an attempt to get them to explain to me what the hell they were doing in my house. Then it came back to me… when I was angry and drunk, I decided I was going to flood the market with ping pong balls, driving down the price and sticking it to the man. So I went on Amazon and purchased twelve dozen. It was brilliant! I would sell them to the public on the cheap. PING PONG BALLS WOULD BE ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE! Everyone who never cared about ping pong balls before would now be able to own one. PING PONG FOR THE PEOPLE! It’s practically a fucking human right, if you think about it… while drunk.


I laughed at my own joke because doing so is not distateful if the joke’s punchline involves future-you staring at a giant bag of surprise balls that drunk-you delivered to yourself. And also because, let’s face it, it’s pretty funny.

But after I stopped laughing, I was actually stuck with a gross of balls… and once I stopped laughing at “gross balls”, I realized didn’t exactly know what my plan was to get these to The People. I just knew it would involve raising money for charity.

So they’ve been sitting in my closet since September, just waiting for their chance to change the world.

And now, I have a plan.

A few months before the ping pong ball incident—a year ago this week, actually—I had my stomach removed after my doctor found a tumor. And last summer I decided I was going to have to do the obvious thing that everyone does after beating cancer—start running half marathons to raise money for cancer research. So, two months after my surgery, I started training.

I’ve run two half marathons now,  but I’m a selfish jerk and ran them for me, not for any charities.

So I changed my goal. Instead of running a half marathon, I’m running a full marathon to raise money for cancer research. I signed up to run the Chicago Marathon this October, and joined the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training.Print

That’s a commitment to run 26.2 miles. And a commitment to raise money to cure cancer. Because cancer is the worst and it costs a shitload of money to cure… and even though we’ve already spent billions on research, we’re still not there yet. And while we’re not there yet, horrible people are claiming THEY are and they are robbing actual cancer patients, offering them sham treatments, and leaving them to die. We need to work as hard as hard as we can to fund real research for real cures and end that bullshit.

So here’s where I’m at: I can’t run this marathon if I don’t raise enough money. And we can’t cure cancer if we don’t raise enough money. And I have this huge-ass bag of ping pong balls. And we have you.

If Wil W. sold one old, dented pingpong ball for $1135 to raise money for charity, I can sell 144 dented ping pong balls for $30 for charity, putting me just above my fundraising goal. In fact, I will dent them to order. I can even email you a photo of me denting your ping pong ball. And additional customizations are available upon request. I can sign them, color them with markers, put lipstick on them, stuff them in an empty toilet paper roll. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE LIMITLESS*! (*not actually limitless.)

All you have to do is go to my fundraising page and donate $30 and include your address with your donation and any preferences regarding what you’d like me to do to your ball. (Let’s pretend we all read that like we’re grown ups.) The balls and shipping will be paid by me, out of my own pocket, so your entire $30 donation goes directly to LLS.

photo (15)So to recap, you donate $30, and you get:

  • An official, limited edition PING PONG FOR THE PEOPLE ping pong ball, dented to order.

  • A digital photo of your ball being dented.

  • A well-earned smug sense of satisfaction knowing you helped fund science based cancer research and patient support.

  • The well-earned smug sense of satisfaction that you are helping keep charity ping pong balls affordable for everyone.

  • The opportunity to sit on your couch while I run a marathon.

See? I promised you a terrible idea. I also said it would probably be worth it. SO WHO WANTS SOME BALLS?

And the best part is, if you don’t want a ball, you can still donate… and I’ll give your ball to a starving child for breakfast or something. EVERYONE WINS!

If you can’t donate $30, you can still help LLS fund research and patient support by donating any amount you can spare. And whether or not you donate cash, if you’re in the US, I encourage you to join the national bone marrow registry at where you can actually, personally, literally save someone’s life.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. I just donated because I’ve always admired your MoFo balls! Too bad you couldn’t actually run with the gross of little spheres. THAT would be cool to own a ball that traveled the Chicago Marathon!

  2. Hell yes! I’ll pay $30 for a ball signed by Elyse!
    Maybe get the other Skepchicks to sign some and some folks will collect the full set!

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