It began with a promise from a father to his dying son.
In 1973, a high school student named T.J. Martell was battling leukemia. He asked his father, music industry executive Tony Martell, to raise a million dollars for cancer research so that “no one else will have to experience what I am going through.” Although he had no fundraising experience, Tony agreed.
Two years later, T.J. died at the age of nineteen, and as Tony explains today, “that put my promise in cement.” Soon after, Tony was joined by many of his musician friends like Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, and Duke Ellington to hold a fundraiser at Buddy Rich’s nightclub in New York. They raised $50,000 and the T.J. Martell Foundation was born.
Over the years, hundreds of volunteers have worked passionately to help provide more than $250 million for leukemia, cancer and AIDS research. We are proud of our long history and our reputation for innovation in fundraising and the research we support.
The Foundation is headquartered in New York with divisions in Nashville covering the southern region and in Los Angeles covering the west coast.