Hall of Fame Alumni
About Me - My Biography
Having lost her own father to bowel cancer at age 51, Can Too founder Annie Crawford knows first hand the devastating impact that Cancer can have on an individual and their family.
Originally a social worker, working in community mental health and later as a sexual assault counsellor, Annie Crawford successfully moved into human resources before helping to set up a biotechnology start-up in San Francisco, California. After returning to Australia in 2003, Annie decided that rather than re-enter the paid workforce, she would devote herself to a new project that was all about “making a difference”.
An accredited running coach and self-confessed “running addict” – Annie decided to combine her passion for running and fitness with raising money for a non-profit organisation. And so, the idea for Can Too was born. Five months later, in May 2005, the first Can Too program was up and running. “Losing my father was easily the biggest thing to ever impact on me,” said Annie. “I liked the idea of raising funds that went directly to cancer research – and so all of the money we raise goes directly toward funding researchers in all areas of cancer, through Cure Cancer Australia,” she said.
A competitive runner in high school, Annie started distance running some 20 years ago and continued running through the full-term of the pregnancies of her sons – now 18, 20 and 21. “Running keeps me sane – I absolutely could not live without it,” said Annie, who runs at least 50 kilometres a week and has completed eleven Can Too run and swim events since the organisation’s inception.
“I hoped that the idea of matching fitness incentives with a good cause would resonate with Australians, but never in my wildest dreams did I think we would raise $4 million in our first four years and we are on our way to raising five million in five years!” said Annie.
“For many of our participants, completing a Can Too program is totally life changing. It’s not just about the physical challenge. The transformation that occurs from making the impossible achievable, from putting yourself out there, taking risks, setting goals and doing something for others – is profound. I get such a kick out of this – it keeps me inspired and motivated every single day to keep doing what we’re doing,” she said.
Annie Crawford has worked extensively to make a difference in people’s lives, working as a social worker before starting up her own business, Can Too. Having lost her father to bowel cancer at age 51, Annie knows first hand the devastating impact that cancer can have on an individual and their family.
Inspired, she created Can Too in May 2005, combining her passion for running and fitness with raising money for a non-profit organisation.
Can Too trains people to achieve their goals, which range from running a marathon to participating in an ocean swim, while raising money for cancer research. Since 2005, over 7000 ‘Can Tooers’ have raised $10.5 million while doing something that has pushed them to their limits.
Annie’s motivation to give back to the community extends well beyond her efforts with Can Too, however. Annie dedicates her time as an Ambassador for Opportunity International, a microfinance organisation that funds small loans to women living in poverty in developing countries. She is also an Ambassador for Afrikun Tikkun, which is committed to development work in South African townships. Annie is currently on the Board of Cure Cancer Australia and 10 Thousand Girl Campaign.
Annie’s community values underpin her personal life as well. She and her husband have set up a foundation to fund organisations that they are passionate about, and encourage their three sons to ‘give back’.
She has been nominated for a number of awards, including Australian of the Year and Telstra Businesswoman of the Year. In 2011, she won the Sydney Alumni Community Award and was recognised as the Rotary Most Inspirational Woman.
Annie’s achievements – both personal and professional – have been the product of years of hard work and commitment. She has learnt to embrace risks and the possibilities that come with it.
“You can’t die of fear of failure or anxiety. You need to be prepared to take a risk and to live a full life… If you believe in something and are passionate about it – give it a go. You will never know what you can do with your life unless you are prepared to try.”
Strategies for Success
- Be passionate about what you do and show that you are.
- Be prepared to work hard, be persistent and walk the talk.
- Know your vision and your culture and make sure you communicate it effectively.
- Understand that business is about people and human relationships – look after people and success follows.
- Learn how to motivate and bring your vision to life. Believe in others and your vision will become alive.