Rick Bender, Oral Cancer Survivor
Today, Rick Bender travels to schools throughout America sharing the story of his devastating battle with cancer caused by chewing tobacco.
Major League Baseball and state and local health departments are just a few of the organizations Rick works with to help deliver an anti-spit tobacco message intended to save lives. In addition to sharing his story with professional baseball players at Major League Baseball spring training camps, Bender presents school assemblies each year to thousands of students from Alaska to Florida. “If I can keep one student from each school from becoming addicted to tobacco and going through what I have, it will have been worth it,” says Rick.
“I started chewing tobacco when I was twelve years old. At 26, I was diagnosed with oral cancer and lost half my jaw and part of my tongue. I’m lucky to be alive, and want to warn as many people as possible about the dangers of using tobacco.”
Appearances on Nickelodeon, the Today Show, Nightline, and numerous national and local newscasts have helped Rick reach millions with the message that spit tobacco kills. “The tobacco companies call chewing tobacco smokeless because it makes it sound harmless. I call it spit tobacco and let people know that it can kill you,” says Bender.
Rick Bender is a National Advisory Board member of Oral Health America’s National Spit Tobacco Education Program and has worked with the Surgeon General’s Office and the National Cancer Institute. Rick knows how to talk to kids about tobacco. They listen. WOHF underwrites assemblies to ensure that he gets to talk to as many Washington kids as possible.
To learn more about scheduling an assembly for your school, contact the Foundation office at your earliest convenience. Rick’s assembly schedule fills in quickly.