Photography: Courtesy John Wayne Cancer Foundation
Photography: Courtesy John Wayne Cancer Foundation

From May 26 to June 19, John Wayne fans can join the cancer fight with Duke-inspired selfies. #ShowYourGrit.

During the last days of John Wayne’s brave battle against the cancer that ultimately took his life, The Duke urged his loved ones to use his name to keep fighting the good fight against the dreaded disease. Decades later, Ethan Wayne continues to fulfill his legendary father’s final wish as director of the John Wayne Cancer Foundation.

“Over the years,” Ethan says, “we’ve helped fund the foundation through licensing agreements for merchandise tied to my father.” In turn, he adds, JWCF funds novel and innovative programs that improve cancer patients’ outcomes, and save lives through research, education, awareness, and support.

The John Wayne Cancer Foundation established the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. The institute’s research has led to groundbreaking procedures and treatments. JWCF also funds an innovative skin cancer awareness and prevention program for youth called Block the Blaze.

Until now, Ethan says, “We’ve been able to do deals that would create income for the foundation. But we’ve really pushed the foundation itself. Now we’re kind of saying, ‘Hey, look, the institute does incredible work — but they’re really focused on doing their research, clinical trials, and training new surgeons. Somebody needs to go out there and build a John Wayne brand in fighting cancer for the public to see.”

To that end, Ethan Wayne and his associates at JWCF are launching “Show Your Grit,” an initiative designed to provide a platform for people to honor the brave individuals in their lives who have fought cancer, while furthering the work of the foundation to find a cure.

“For me,” says Ethan, “the main thing is that we’re talking to people about John Wayne’s track record in fighting cancer, and giving them the opportunity to join him.

“I feel like a lot of people love John Wayne, but there’s not a lot for them to do with him. I think this gives them, one, something to do and, two, a great cause to support.”

“Show Your Grit” is a national fundraising and awareness campaign scheduled to kick off on May 26 — John Wayne’s birthday — and conclude 25 days later, on Father’s Day, June 19.

The campaign is meant to raise awareness and money for JWCF’s efforts by inviting people, businesses, and organizations to post cowboy-inspired selfies to social media using the hashtag #ShowYourGrit. The initiative also seeks to attract, engage, and retain a new generation of John Wayne cancer fighters, in order to form a community that will show support for the men and women who are currently battling the disease — while meaningfully supporting the foundation’s work.

Participants who post will be encouraged to challenge friends to create their own posts, and to donate directly to JWCF. All money raised will go to support innovative JWCF programs that improve the lives of cancer patients and their families.

But wait, there’s more: The campaign will end June 19 with a special screening of True Grit in select cities around the country, with a portion of the ticket sales going to “Show Your Grit.”

Additional information and updates can be obtained on the John Wayne Cancer Foundation website.