By Don C. Reed,

Dear Stem Cell Research Supporter:

First, consider sending this notice to everyone on your e-list. You’ll see why in a minute.

How are you going to celebrate the second annual Stem Cell Awareness Day, September 23rd.? (Hint: even if it is just that you wished your loved one a “Happy Stem Cell Awareness Day!”, be sure to send a note saying that to:

Folks, Stem Cell Awareness Day is our holiday; it is brand-new, only our second year. Last year, we celebrated only in two nations, America and Australia. This year we need to grow it, across the country, across the world.

Where? Everywhere. In every state or nation with people who might benefit from the healing powers of regenerative medicine—there is where we should raise attention to our cause.

In a moment, fifteen ways to celebrate: but first…

The Great International Stem Cell Day Poetry Contest!

This is something we are organizing here at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Don Gibbons and Ellen Rose are heading up the effort at CIRM; I am the enthusiastic volunteer.

What does that have to do with you? First, you support stem cell research. Second,
anyone who scribbles can throw a rhyme together—why not make one up to celebrate Stem Cell Awareness Day?

The THEME is: “What stem cell research means to me”. That is pretty broad: covers just about anything. Your poem could be fun, or serious. It could be about the agony of illness, the heroism of those who struggle on no matter what, and it definitely could be on the shining hope of cure.

LENGTH: It could be short as a couplet (two rhyming phrases) or as long as a page: (no longer, 250 words max, and only one poem per person, please.) Also, it should rhyme.

ATTITUDE: It must not be malicious, salacious or litigious — but a poem can let you say things you may have kept bottled up for a while, like:

“A pox on the enemies of research on stem cells,
May they get massive headaches, and have both their ankles swell!”

Um, well, moving right along…

Who can enter? Everybody. Patient advocates, family members, people who never thought about writing a poem, anyone who wants to try. Shakespeare is safe, we are not trying for literary masterpieces here.

And everybody will win. How so?

First, Don Gibbons, the indefatigable press agent for CIRM, says: “If we get a fair number of submissions from both scientists and patient advocates, there could be winners in multiple categories”.

AND—there will be prizes…nothing expensive, of course, just something small you will enjoy, and the very best poems will be printed in a CIRM official document, maybe posted on the web.

AND—you are guaranteed a place in our official stem cell endless poem!

Here’s how the “endless poem” works.

Everyone who sends in any poem will have something in our official endless poem. Maybe it will be a line from his/her poem, a phrase, a word, and/or their name, depending on the number of responses.

As official volunteer, I get to cobble representative phrases and/or author names into one loooooooong poem. (As a former English teacher, I have done this before, and it is perhaps not a literary achievement—okay, sometimes it is awful– but it is fun, and it can say something.

So, crank up your literary engines, and send your poem to:

Now. How else can we mark our holiday?

We want things easy, and doable. Think of the 4th of July. People have picnics, politicians make speeches. We can certainly do that!

Nothing spectacular: nobody has any money. (If you want spectacle, of course, go to the World Stem Cell Summit, September 21-23; Bernie Siegel has been working all year to make that event a standout; and it is still not too late to sign up; just google World Stem Cell Summit and you will find it at once.) Yet we must mark this day, in ways large and small, to rally awareness to the cause of cure—almost anything is better than silence.

Here are fifteen suggestions.

1. What about a Stem Cell Awareness Day backyard barbeque for friends? Everybody brings some food, sit around, gossip about whoever is not present. If you want to get fancy, hand out some one-page easy-reading fliers about the good news of stem cell research? (If everybody chips in a dollar, you just had a fund-raiser—and you could send the $10 or whatever it is to the group of your choice—they will be glad for donations of any size.)

2. What about a Stem Cell Awareness Block Party? Same as suggestion one, but with a couple home-made posters. (WANT MORE INFO ON STEM CELLS? Go to, lot of good stuff there, plus if you go to Youtube and look up CIRM stem cells you will find plenty of visuals. Try:

3. If you are a SCIENTIST, how about visiting your local high school, give a brief talk in a science class: nothing elaborate, just what you do, and your hopes for the future? Contact the principal of the school, ask him or her. Chances are, they will be delighted to have you speak!

4. Contact your local paper. Ask if they know that September 23rd is Stem Cell Awareness Day. They will say no. Then, ask if you could send them some materials– see below for your handy-dandy home-made press newsrelease!* They will almost certainly say yes. They might do an article on it—at very least, they can list the celebration of Stem Cell Awareness Day in their Announcements calendar.

5. Call your State Representative, or Senator, or Governor, ask him or her to issue a statement supporting Stem Cell Awareness Day, celebrating September 23rd official SCAD for your state. (They do this all the time, by the way, for industries important to their constituencies: there is Spinach appreciation day, etc. And it can vary year by year, so don’t worry about all the good days being taken).

6. Call your local college, ask if they have a stem cell science program, and if not, why not? Plant a seed!

7. Google “biomedicine” in your state, see how many companies there are in the Life Sciences in your area. Find a biomedical company (many of them are small right now, Mom and Pop companies, just starting off), ask if they give tours, or literature, find out a little about what they are doing. Stem cells are not only good, but good business too!

8. Join a patient advocacy group, one related to a condition whose cure you support. If you already belong to a group, ask the leadership to send an E-blast to everyone, reminding them that September 23rd is Stem Cell Awareness Day.

9. Help your newspaper write a story about your family member’s (or your) medical condition and your hopes for regenerative medicine. That is easily done. Make up the news release (see below), call the news desk, ask who does feature stories, talk a little bit, ask if you can send them a newsrelease—they are almost guaranteed to say yes (remember 70% of all newspaper stories are planted by someone outside, who calls up and requests the article.)

10. Write a one-page (250 words) family letter to the local newspaper, about your hopes for stem cell research—and reminding everyone that September 23rd is Stem Cell Awareness Day. And– SEND THAT MESSAGE (and this one, too, please) TO YOUR E-LIST.

11. Call your local radio talk show host, and make a comment on stem cell awareness. Ask them to do a show on stem cell research.

12. Contact the White House comment call number: (Comments: 202-456-1111) and remind President Obama that September 23 is Stem Cell Awareness Day—and thank him for keeping his campaign promise to reverse the Bush stem cell restrictions.

13. Paint a Stem Cells for Hope picture and send an electronic copy to CIRM.

14. Purchase a book about stem cells—nothing sends a message to publishers faster than a bought book—we need to encourage the sharing of stem cell information in every way.

15. Participate in the Great International Stem Cell Poetry Contest!

P.S. Here is a special message from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Stem Cell Awareness day is about outreach and education. The purpose of Stem Cell Awareness Day is to:

• Deliver information to the public about the science of stem cell research
• Raise awareness of the current state of research across all types of stem cell science
• Convey the future promise that stem cell science holds for a wide variety of therapies and diagnostic applications

Events being planned include:

In California: For Students:
On Stem Cell Awareness Day, CIRM will facilitate approximately 50 high school classroom presentations throughout the state by CIRM-funded stem cell researchers.

For the Public:
CIRM is working with stem cell researchers who have received Early Translational grants and patient advocacy groups to organize several public education events. These events will focus on specific applications of stem cells in treating disease.

Internationally: CIRM is working with the countries and organizations it collaborates with to organize additional activities for Stem Cell Awareness Day. This can include a range of activities such as: Public proclamations, symposia and workshops, outreach events, patient advocacy events.

CIRM is developing and hosting a Web site for Stem Cell Awareness Day – Please contact us at to have activities added to the site.



Contact info: Your name, phone number, email

Event: The ________family has a special reason for celebrating the second annual STEM CELL AWARENESS DAY on September 23rd. That reason is hope.

Background: (briefly state your personal reason for supporting stem cell research, in my case, I am the father of a paralyzed young man.)

Reason the article is important: Last year America spent $2.3 trillion on health care costs; 75% of that mountain of medical expense was due to chronic (incurable) illness. Nothing lowers medical costs like curing a disease.

Last year, for the first time, Stem Cell Awareness Day was celebrated in Australia and America. The ________ family hopes everyone who believes in the possibilities of regenerative medicine will consider celebrating Stem Cell Awareness Day.

The __________ hopes the special day will revitalize all families whose loved ones suffer, and who deserve access to the best medical treatment American science can provide.

For more information on Stem Cell Awareness Day, email

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