“It was just one of those natural things like, ‘Hey, we can both win this,'” Dr Kneisl said. “Because the audience loved it, they loved Sam and they loved the Panthers. The rising tide floated all the boats. Everybody won. People all over the country were saying ‘Keep Pounding’ when they heard Panthers.”
The campaign continued beyond wristbands. Kerr said he sold 150,000 keychains that included a hammer. Today, the campaign continues with many other initiatives, including the annual Keep Pounding 5K attended by more than 1,000 runners who have crossed the finish line inside Bank of America Stadium every year since 2010.
The campaign also includes an online memorabilia auction and the ability to purchase a “Keep Pounding” license plate in North Carolina and South Carolina.
“Every time I drive and see a Keep Pounding license plate, it’s exciting to think about it,” Kerr said. “I hope that in addition to being a motto for the Panthers, people still remember Sam Mills enough to associate the chant with the fact that it’s also being used for a really good cause.”
Through initiatives, fundraisers and events over nearly 20 years, the fund has helped Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute and Levine Children’s Hospital focus on patient support, fund new research studies and add state-of-the-art equipment and technology to fight the disease. And, in 2019, the Keep Pounding Family Center, a family and drop-in center on the third floor of the Levine Cancer Institute, was opened, which included a mural honoring Mills and his “Keep Pounding” mantra.
Dr. Javier Oesterheld, vice president of clinical affairs for Atrium Health Levine Children’s and head of the Levine Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders division, said the fund was “integral” to supporting research and patient care. and survivors. He said Mills’ legacy lives on in his work at the hospital.
“I truly believe we need to continue to bring hope and new therapies to all of the children we treat,” Dr. Oesterheld said. “In turn, continuing to hammer is the way I approach my day-to-day work.”
And as Dr. Kneisl reflected on his early work with the Keep Pounding campaign, he remarked on its longevity and impact.
“It’s been one of the most enduring campaigns we’ve had,” Dr. Kneisl said. “It’s (been) 20 years old, and it’s still making money.”
Click here to learn more about how to support the Atrium Health Keep Pounding Fund.