Spotlight on a Toy Industry Philanthropist

August 20, 2018 | Whether it’s toy drives for underserved kids, donations to those hit by natural disasters, or bringing the magic of play to sick children, the toy community is no stranger to coming together for a good cause. Now one of the industry’s own is asking for support.

Rachel Griffin, vice president of communications at Jakks Pacific, is looking to raise $35,000 for pancreatic cancer research, patient care, advocacy, and more, by attempting a 22-mile open water swim off the coast of California. Having lost her mom 10 years ago to pancreatic cancer, Griffin is embarking on the solo swim from Catalina Island to Palos Verdes, CA on August 24 in her memory. The money Griffin raises from her swim will go to three organizations: The Hirshberg Foundation, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

“My mom’s battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer ended when she was 65 years old. I saw her struggle firsthand and witnessed the horrible pain she endured – this was my mom, and it was absolutely soul-crushing,” Griffin said. “Training and swimming the Catalina Channel is one of the hardest, not to mention most grueling, challenges of my life. However, it pales in comparison to what those battling this horrendous disease suffer. It’s in her honor that I proudly have taken on this challenge.”

Griffin is an industry veteran and an avid philanthropist. She oversees Jakks Pacific’s philanthropic division, Jakks Cares, which has donated more than $50 million in toys, school supplies, and monetary endowments to millions of underprivileged children around the world. Griffin is also integral to The Toy Foundation’s annual Play Your Part LA event. She is team captain for her company’s volunteer group and helps the Foundation recruit volunteers for Play Your Part, assists in event set up, and provides valuable insight into how to engage kids during the events. Griffin also mentors kids through the I Have A Dream Foundation and frequently volunteers at multiple LA-based organizations.

“Rachel is passionate about the work the Foundation does and is always helping out in a big way at our Play Your Part events,” said Elizabeth Max, senior foundation manager at The Toy Foundation. “From one philanthropic heart to another, we are proud of our dear friend and wish her the best of luck in her swim.”

The Catalina Channel is one of the hardest marathon swims and is included in the “Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming” along with the English Channel and Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.  From 1927 to date, only 450 people have successfully completed the Catalina Channel swim.

Griffin will be swimming the channel on what would have been her mother’s 76th birthday. 

To read more about Rachel’s plans and to donate to her cause, visit gofundme.com/catalinaforacure. Visit www.facebook.com/CatalinaForACure for up-to-date tracking information on the day of her swim.