COLUMBUS, Ohio – What started as a quest by Chris and Stefanie Spielman to raise $250,000 for breast cancer research has been embraced by the central Ohio community – so much so – that more than $10 million has been raised to support vital breast cancer research and patient assistance at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
The milestone fundraising achievement will be announced at NOON April 11 during the 13th annual Stefanie's Champions Awards luncheon that raises money for the Spielman Funds. The event honoring five extraordinary heroes in the lives of cancer patients will be held in the Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom at The Ohio State University's Ohio Union, 1739 N. High Street.
Media availability with Chris Spielman and physicians from The James will be from 11-11:40 a.m. April 11 in the Hays Cape room on the third floor of the Ohio Union.
The award, established by the Spielmans, is designed to honor an important factor in cancer treatment, the loving and healing presence of a devoted caregiver. Stefanie gave the first Champion award to her husband, Chris, after he put his professional football career on hold to care for her when she was first treated for breast cancer in 1998 at the OSUCCC – James. Stefanie's battle with breast cancer ended in November 2009.
Initially, Stefanie and Chris had a goal of raising $250,000, but within the first six months, more than $1 million dollars had been raised for The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research. Today – through their work and the extraordinary grassroots support by Community Partners – $10 million has been raised to support breast cancer patients and research at the OSUCCC – James.
"This is an extraordinary milestone for our University and for cancer research at The James," said Ohio State's President E. Gordon Gee. "We are forever grateful for the remarkable spirit, leadership, and advocacy of the Spielman family, who continue to be an unwavering inspiration in our mission to end cancer."
The couple started raising money and awareness shortly after Stefanie's diagnosis of stage II breast cancer at age 30. During the next decade, Stefanie publicly shared her diagnosis, treatment and participation in clinical trials as she worked to raise awareness about the importance of having regular mammograms and the need to fund breast cancer research.
The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research is devoted to advancing research in breast cancer, while the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Patient Assistance helps breast cancer patients and their families who struggle to afford the costs associated with treatment.
"This grassroots support has been critical to the $10 million raised so far for the Spielman Funds," said Dr. Michael Caligiuri, director of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. "Cancer is a complex disease that differs in each person. No two cancers are alike, and there is no one-size-fits-all way to prevent, detect, treat and cure. Our brightest hope for creating a world without cancer lies in research. With your support, we are funding the cancer discoveries of tomorrow at Ohio State."
In addition to the Stefanie Spielman Breast Cancer Research Fund and the Patient Assistance fund, she also established the Stefanie Spielman Chair for Cancer Imaging, held by Dr. Michael Tweedle, and the Genetic Tumor Bank.
"These are significant tools in the breast cancer battle. Through these initiatives, we are learning new things everyday about this disease, how to detect it earlier and how we can most effectively treat it," said Dr. Charles Shapiro, her breast medical oncologist and director of the breast cancer research program at OSUCCC – James. "Reaching this fundraising milestone is a true testament to the tremendous leadership, bravery and spirit of Stefanie Spielman. Few non-doctors have touched the medical community as she has."
The Spielman Breast Cancer Tissue Archive Services and Spielman Breast Cancer Tumor Bank allow for promising genes or proteins first discovered in the laboratory using cell lines or animal models to be quickly tested for their importance and relevance to human breast cancers, Shapiro said.
The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Patient Assistance has provided essential equipment and services, including circulation pumps for lymphedema, compression garments, wigs, nutrition supplements, gas cards, restaurant gift cards and assistance with transportation.
"Despite battling breast cancer for a decade, Stefanie never stopped fighting to find a cure. She left us with one mission: Continue to fight. Continue to live. We will continue that fight – for Stefanie, for all those diagnosed with breast cancer and for all their families and loved ones," said Dr. William Farrar, director of the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center, which was dedicated in her honor in October.
Last year, more than 230 events were held to raise money for the Spielman Funds, including the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer, Spielman Gridiron Football games and the Step Up for Stefanie 5K. Other fundraisers include a homecoming walk at Ohio Northern University, Ride for the Ribbon horse shows nationwide, Angel Open golf tournament and Barrington Elementary School's Buckeye Bonanza.
"Stefanie would be so proud to see that so many people are committed to finding a cure for breast cancer. We want to build the best breast cancer program because we know there's no such thing as a routine breast cancer, and that breast cancer is not one disease but many," said Chris Spielman. "I can't do this alone. We've reached a major milestone, but there's still a lot more work to do. I'm incredibly grateful to the community and The James for standing with me and helping me to continue the fight."
Immediately following the Stefanie's Champions luncheon, Spielman will sign his new biography that chronicles their love story and battle with breast cancer, "That's Why I'm Here: The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story" (Zondervan, April 2012).
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only seven centers funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials. The NCI recently rated Ohio State's cancer program as "exceptional," the highest rating given by NCI survey teams. As the cancer program's 210-bed adult patient-care component, The James is a "Top Hospital" as named by the Leapfrog Group and one of the top 20 cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
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Click here for a photo of Chris and Stefanie Spielman.
Contact: Eileen Scahill, Medical Center Public Affairs and Media Relations, 614-293-3737 or Eileen.Scahill@osumc.edu