Rhode Island Tiger Cub Scout Christopher Schuler, 7, might not be old enough to know exactly what glioblastoma is, but he knows it’s a brain disease that took away his grandfather.
He might not yet be able to grasp the significance of the philanthropic work to which his Eagle Scout father, Chris, has devoted his life, but he knows they’re both living the section of the Scout Oath that says, “to help other people at all times.”
Their efforts recently led them to the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of being part of a team that rang the opening bell at Nasdaq. The Schulers were there as part of a delegation from the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, an Australian organization that is just now expanding its presence in the United States.
“It was the first time that a brain cancer organization has rang the bell at Nasdaq,” says Chris. “The opportunity to help ring the bell was huge, and having my son be a part of it was really special, with him losing his grandfather – my dad — who was really impactful to me in my Scouting experience.”
A philanthropy leader
Before his dad got sick, Chris had already dedicated his life to philanthropy. He worked two different stints at two different BSA councils before accepting a position in higher education and, later, the healthcare industry.
When Christopher was old enough, Chris signed him up for Cub Scout Pack 11 in Coventry, R.I.
Then, in July 2021, the unthinkable happened. Chris’ father, an otherwise healthy 69-year-old, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive and deadly form of brain cancer.
“It came out of nowhere,” Chris wrote on LinkedIn. “I grieved immediately. I cried. I felt anger, sadness, confusion, fear.”
But soon after, he dedicated his life to researching the disease and raising awareness through social media.
And that’s how he met Lance Kawaguchi, CEO of Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.
A connection with a common cause
Like Chris, Kawaguchi’s family was hit by cancer. His mother died from pancreatic cancer.
The former banker then switched gears, dedicating his life to finding better outcomes for people with cancer.
Kawaguchi and Chris met online, and when Kawaguchi’s organization received an invite to ring the Nasdaq bell, he called Chris and asked him to join him. Ringing the bell represented an enormous opportunity for the Cure Brain Cancer organization and the nonprofit movement as a whole.
“It’s very hard to get invited to these things,” says Chris. “They usually highlight much larger for-profit companies with hefty budgets.
“And it was a really unique experience for my son and daughter, for them to experience something that’s much bigger than they are.”
For Christopher, it was an opportunity to do a Good Turn, as he’s learned in Cub Scouts. That’s why Chris signed him up for Scouting in the first place, and why his daughter Leah will join as a Lion next fall.
“It was like I was in a different world,” Christopher says. “It was amazing.
“And it was important because Pop Pop had cancer, and because Lance’s mom had cancer.”