The indomitable
Ann Louden

As TCU’s annual Frogs For The Cure turned 10 last fall, the effort’s driving force found new meaning in the cause.

The indomitable
Ann Louden

As TCU’s annual Frogs For The Cure turned 10 last fall, the effort’s driving force found new meaning in the cause.

Ann Louden admits there was a three-week stretch last fall that she hardly slept.

Even with an army of volunteer helpers and a collection of pro-bono contributors to pull together the 10th installment of Frogs For The Cure, there were so many details to track: costumes to be sewn, set pieces to be built, transportation to be arranged, schedules with the Secret Service coordinated, menus planned, publicity strategized.

A full night’s rest wasn’t on the agenda for the chancellor’s associate for strategic partnerships.

A well-known whirlwind who is no stranger to late nights, Louden ’84 MLA was exhausted, but she had to keep pushing.

“I can’t explain it physically, but I just know I care so much about the execution,” she said.

She’s also never too tired to recount the story behind “Brave,” the Josh Groban anthem that became the Frogs For The Cure theme in 2014.

It was after midnight in March 2013, and Louden was at work in front of her laptop in her kitchen. “Josh’s song came on, and when it got to the chorus, it had my full attention,” she remembered. “I had to turn up the volume to catch all the lyrics.”

“You wanna run away, run away … You wanna look away, look away … My reason to be brave,” Groban sang.

Instantly, she knew that “Brave” was the song she had been searching for. Groban’s song had the perfect message to inspire cancer survivors like her to keep up the fight.

“It’s about determination and resilience, overcoming fear to get through. I loved it,” she said.

Still 15 months away from filming the video, she had a vision for how to illustrate the song. She imagined crowds of survivors dancing, waving pom-poms and celebrating in front of recognizable landmarks across the country.

“I’ve always been a person who loves possibilities, and I can be pretty relentless to get there,” Louden said. “It’s part of my personality. I’m wired to be that way.”

But getting to Groban wouldn’t be easy.

“I worked the music contacts I had and every person told me, ‘There’s no way. You need to go a different direction. Try something else.’ But I wasn’t going to quit,” she said.

“That song had to be the one for the 10th anniversary, and I wanted Josh to record a PSA for us.”

“Music is powerful. It gives people hope. It inspires them, especially when they’re facing struggles.”
Ann Louden '84 MLA,
Chancellor’s associate for strategic partnerships

She used every means to get to Groban. She asked contacts to open doors. She turned to social media when emails weren’t returned. She even had a group of TCU friends come with her to New York for a Groban appearance.

Slowly, things began to happen. Groban agreed that she could have the song and that he would do the public service announcement for the cause.

Knowing the 10th installment of Frogs For The Cure had to be grander than ever, Louden had other plans too — more big names.

First, she contacted Bob Schieffer ’59 and his Honky Tonk Confidential band.

“Bob was in immediately,” Louden said. “He has always been there for TCU, and he is a cancer survivor himself. Plus, he wanted to perform at Bass Hall.”

The Sing For the Cure Gala would be at the grand downtown Fort Worth concert venue —a major selling point.

She also tapped contacts on Broadway to make a pitch to Bernadette Peters, a Fort Worth favorite.

“Bernadette is extremely generous. It helped that she knew Fort Worth and loves Fort Worth. And she does a lot of non-proift work. She was on board.”

Louden also pulled a coup in getting former first lady Laura Bush to be the keynote speaker at the Frogs For The Cure Pink Side Luncheon.

Her A-list plan was coming together.

But when she was on her way to New York to meet with lawyers to license the song, she hit another roadblock. Groban had changed managers, and his legal team wasn’t responding.

“I kept calling and calling. Eventually, a very kind paralegal answered. I was going to have to get more approvals. There were two other co-writers who had to sign off.”

Louden also would have to get the go-ahead from Groban’s new management team, his publicist, the record label and the publisher. Seven signatures in all.

“I admit, that was discouraging,” she said.

Months went by and the filming was closing in. All she could do was keep hustling.

Her trusty lieutenant Victoria Reneau ’12 (MEd ’13), film editor Katie Norry ’12 and others shot footage while Louden and lined up venues in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and the Rose Bowl in California.

But with less than a month to go before filming was to begin, she didn’t have all the permissions — and no song.

Finally, she reached Groban’s new manager, who was unaware of the old deal. Within two hours, however, he called back and said Groban wanted to keep his promise.

“I was just so grateful. It was finally going to happen as we hoped,” she said.

Louden’s devotion to Frogs For The Cure has new meaning now, Reneau said.

On the day she secured “Brave,” Louden’s sister Lee was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Ann is the strongest person I know — period,” Reneau said. “She loves TCU, and she loves survivors who are fighting to keep living just one more day. Her passion makes others want to be a part of it. And that just keeps driving her.”

Louden can take a breath now.

In October, the Sing For the Cure Gala with the A-listers on stage was sold out, and the audience raved over the debut of the “Brave” video.

A week later at the nationally televised TCU-Kansas State game, Frogs For The Cure played the video again on the stadium big screen to huge cheers.

As the calendar flipped to 2015, more affirmation came. The Fort Worth Business Press saluted her with the paper’s Legacy Healthcare Hero Award. A few weeks later, the fund-raising total came in: $185,000 was going to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

“Music is powerful,” she said. “It gives people hope. It inspires them, especially when they’re facing struggles. That’s what we want Frogs For The Cure to accomplish — help survivors find more strength and then rally around them when they need it most.”

Louden now has a new song for the 11th year of Frogs For The Cure: Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” which will be sung by Luke Wade, a Dublin, Texas, performer who appeared on the seventh season of “The Voice.” A video is in the works, too, and will debut at the TCU-West Virginia game on Oct. 29.

Related sites:
Frogs For The Cure home page