Five years ago when Sarah Lauch brought home Roo, a pit bull rescue dog, she learned he needed surgery. That surgery would, unfortunately, reveal that Roo had a type of bone cancer that was untreatable.
“He was terminal. So we started a bucket list that went a little bit viral,” Lauch said.
That viral list, which was picked up by the Chicago Tribune and Access Hollywood, would include boat rides, ice cream, and a stay at the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago that someone who followed Roo’s final days paid for. After six months, Roo would pass away in October from his battle with cancer.
But thanks to Lauch, his legacy was just beginning.
“From there, everybody said, ‘You know, Sarah, what are you going to do now?’” Lauch said. “And I didn’t really know. But I started by sending cancer care packages to people going through the same thing.”
“When you go through something that devastating as a family, or even as a single person, it’s really hard on you. So I just did it with my own money to help people feel better. And from there it grew.”
Live Like Roo would be created soon after in February of 2016. The 501(c)(3) foundation not only sends cancer care packages to affected families but also assists with creating bucket lists for dogs and paying for medical bills as well.
“There are thousands of dogs going through a cancer diagnosis with bucket lists now. And I just love that we can be there to help them with a bucket list,” Lauch said.
“Give them a bucket list, give them care packages, like it means the world to me, it’s the most important thing we do for sure.”
For Lauch one of the more challenging aspects of getting Live Like Roo off the ground was making sure she took the proper time to mourn, having launched the foundation four months after Roo’s passing in February. Lauch also mentioned the difficulty of making sure everything was taken care of from a business perspective, as she also works her full-time job as an executive producer at NBC Sports Chicago.
“I never wanted to do that [run the foundation as a business],” Lauch said, “but you have to do it if you want it to be successful.”
“You have to put people in there that are way smarter than you in certain areas. And that is tough, sometimes. You know, as a founder of something, it is your passion. But you’ve got to accept the fact that you need help from everybody.”
Lauch credits her staff, board, husband, and bosses at NBCSN Chicago for keeping her going and motivated. She also gets her motivation from seeing what impact Live Like Roo has had on people.
“When you know how many people you’ve helped, and you see the emails, and you see the messages, and you know that a dog is alive because of you…it helps so much,” Lauch said.
Live Like Roo’s “Giving Tuesday” will be December 1st this year, a day in which Lauch hopes that the foundation reaches the $1 million dollar mark for donations in just the fourth year of its existence. But Lauch believes this year it’s particularly important to make a difference in the lives of pet owners.
“In this time, you know, if you have an animal, it could be saving your life,” Lauch said. “It’s really tough if you’re living alone, or you don’t have somebody else. Too many people like me that don’t have kids, their animals are their lives.”
“The work we do is for people that really, really need us and really, really need the funds or something as simple as a care package.”