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SALT LAKE CITY — Midway through the third quarter of Wednesday's Utah Jazz game, the Vivint Arena lights darkened. With five individuals fighting cancer standing at midcourt, dots of light began to shimmer through the crowd. Some were red, some purple, others yellow, blue and white as fans brightened up the arena with their phone lights.
The special scene was part of 5 For The Fight Night. It's become a tradition — and a tradition that will continue. Last week, the Utah Jazz and Qualtrics announced that the 5 For The Fight patch would remain on the Jazz’s jersey through the 2022-23 season.
What started as a one-season thing to help fund the fight for cancer has turned into a full-on movement.
Qualtrics co-founder Ryan Smith still remembers the day. He was sitting in a San Francisco hotel when he received a call from his business partner Mike Maughan. Smith has just begun fundraising for 5 For The Fight, a new campaign to help fund cancer research, and Maughan called with a question.
“I have a crazy idea,” Maughan said. “What if we put 5 For The Fight on the jersey patch?”
“At the time, that was probably our largest single marketing campaign ever by about five (times),” Smith said. “And we were just getting enough guts to do it just with Qualtrics, let alone, give it to cancer. But that's when we kind of knew we were onto something. When it hurts, that's probably when you should do something.”
So they did. They started with one year, then it became two, and now it’s another four. The 5 For The Fight campaign has raised more than $24 million to support cancer research around the globe and after Wednesday’s night special ceremony where Emma Houston, Wyatt Page, Dani Phillips, Baylee Semrow and Dave Warren represented cancer fighters everywhere, that number is likely to grow.
“We've been at breakfast and all these different states and some people will come up with their 5 For The Fight notebook and 5 For The Fight pin,” Maughan said. “And with the reach of the Jazz and what the Jazz brings to this has been amazing to watch.”
The NBA has noticed too. Commissioner Adam Silver has praised the campaign and has even stated that he never thought the good that could come from the jersey patch.
“I think we were about 12 words into the conversation when I said, ‘Of course,’” Silver said at the Qualtrics Summit when recalling the conversation when the Jazz first asked if they could use the patch to support a cause.
The Jazz players have been willing participants in the campaign.
“It has been great to be able to impact some people's life outside of basketball,” Rudy Gobert said. “We have a great platform and being able to use it for the good and for changing lives is really what matters the most.”
And it’s only growing.
“5 For The Fight isn’t Qualtrics, it’s everyone,” Smith said. “We have 23-plus different companies doing 5 For The Fight campaigns. And that's the purpose of it. We don't want it to be Qualtrics or else we'd to put Qualtrics on (the patch). We want it to be something that the community can gravitate to.”
As thousands of lights lit up Vivint Arena on Wednesday, it’s clear the community has done just that.