Eagles fan Tom O’Connor of Philadelphia and his buddy, Miami native Eddie Peña — a fan of the Dolphins, Marlins and Heat — are the answer to your March Madness withdrawal.
Especially for all of us bracketless college basketball fans who also happen to love cats and hate cancer.
These two guys are co-founders of Cats vs. Cancer, home to March Meowdness. For five years, they’ve run a tournament every March, pitting felines against one another. The cat with the most clicks in each round advances to the final.
“Both Tom and I do this on a voluntary basis, on the side of our day-to-day gigs,” Peña told Outsports in an email. “Cats vs Cancer is run solely by volunteers and we’re always looking for new contributors. Our mission is to be the most entertaining and fun charity on the planet. We curate the most hilarious, adorable, and captivating cat-things from around the web for your enjoyment and viewing pleasure.”
Their slogan is: “Watch Cat Videos. Fight Cancer.” It’s that simple.
Patty Cake! Patty Cake! ❤️ #TwinCats #PattyCake #HighFivesPosted by Cats vs Cancer on Thursday, February 13, 2020
In 2015, the longtime friends launched their non-profit organization and the Cats vs. Cancer website. The idea was to cash-in on the insatiable internet fascination with cat videos: every time someone clicks, O’Connor and Peña raise money for charities that combat the disease by attracting advertisers who want to sell ads on their wildly popular site.
So, how successful are they? “It varies each year,” sais Peña, “getting as high as a million in previous years. We’re currently tracking to get in the low-mid hundreds of thousands.”
Here’s the bracket for this year’s tournament:
Hampton, the kitty with the bow tie featured above, won the first contest of round one, against Cheens, 55% to 45%. Each cat has its own Instagram account.
Right now you can vote for either Pishi or Sahar, and you have until midnight EDT tonight, March 19. Click here to cast your vote.
Each month the guys select a different charity to support. For March, money raised goes to For Pete’s Sake Cancer Respite Foundation in Plymouth Meeting, Penn., founded by a widow who lost her husband to cancer in 1999. The foundation lists Major League Baseball among its partners.
“We met through collegiate sports back in our heydays,” Peña told Outsports. By the way, I did ask, and they are straight allies.
O’Connor and Peña have this statement on their website about March Meowdnesst:
“As always, this tournament is all about simply raising awareness to our cause and the charity causes we support, and we hope you have fun with it.
“We sincerely thank you all for your support in our fight against cancer. Know that every time you or a friend stop by our site this month, and every month, you are helping us raise a little money for some people in need. For that, we are extremely grateful. To see how your time spent on Cats vs Cancer helps generate money for a great cause, check out this video:”
You can follow Cats vs. Cancer on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram.