A Home for Hope: Game-changing Diagnosis Ignites a Passion for Hope

For Charles Ruma, CEO of Virginia Homes and testicular cancer survivor, cancer was a game changer.

“When you’re a 36-year-old seemingly healthy person and you hear the words, ‘You have cancer,’ that’s a curve ball you don’t expect,” says Ruma, now 43. A self-described hospitalphobe, Ruma’s diagnosis forced him to make peace with the idea of waiting rooms, doctors and treatments.

Thankfully, he chose to be treated at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center –James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), where he received top-notch care from Kamal Pohar, MD, and the rest of the cancer team.

“From the first moment I walked into The James, I knew I was in the right place,” Ruma says. “With the high level of knowledge and expertise there, I knew I was going to have great care and the best outcome possible. And I was there so frequently that it became a comfortable place to be.”

Indeed, comfort is important to the man who oversees the building of state-of-the-art homes. Not one to sit back and watch as others pursue an end to cancer, Ruma came up with an idea that would meld his passion for home building with his desire to eradicate cancer: the Home for Hope.

Virginia Homes, with donations from suppliers, built the first Home for Hope in 2011 in Dublin’s Tartan West development. The home, outfitted with air and water filtration systems meant to reduce contaminants, and other amenities to promote a healthy environment, raised approximately $65,000 for cancer research at auction. The knowledge Ruma and his colleagues amassed during the building of the first Home for Hope now influences every home the company builds, as they choose products with low volatile organic compounds and other options to reduce exposure to chemicals.

Virginia Homes is now building a second Home for Hope in Dublin’s highly sought-after Wellington Reserve neighborhood. Rather than being sold at auction, this high-end home will be sold under contract—a move Ruma hopes will entice buyers who can customize the home to their tastes while doubling the amount of money raised for cutting-edge research at the OSUCCC – James.

“Cancer is going to be cured at The James,” says Ruma, who is now co-chair of the James Ambassadors Society and a member of the James Foundation Board. “It’s just a matter of time and resources, and private dollars are very important to the fight. That’s where we come in. We can’t create more time, but we can create more resources.”

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