Keith and Julie Brooks
It was a childhood friendship of Julie Althoff Brooks that began the long relationship that she and her husband Keith are so committed to today. As a young adult, Julie’s best friend lost her father, Herbie Block, to cancer. Months after his death, his wife and their large, young family decided, along with the input of a few friends, to start The Herbert J. Block Tournament. That was 1983. Some thirty-one years later, The Herbert J. Block Memorial Golf Tournament is still going strong, and so is Julie and Keith’s commitment to the OSUCCC – James. To date, the one-day tournament – held annually at various prestigious country clubs in Columbus – has raised over $4.8 million. What started as a simple golf outing has become one of the most sought-after tee times in town.
Julie and Keith have supported the tournament in many ways over the past 31 years. From the beginning they have held fundraising events in their home, sponsored beverage carts and sold raffle tickets; anything they could to raise money and awareness to fight cancer. Today, while still helping to coordinate tournament details, their shared passion is the OSUCCC – James. After last year’s successful 30th anniversary of the tournament, they increased their annual gift and have made a five-year commitment to the Block Memorial Tournament and The James. It was a decision that came easily, given their faith in the OSUCCC – James and the groundbreaking research and compassionate patient care that takes place at Ohio State. The Brookses serve as ambassadors for The James, encouraging everyone who will listen to give what they can. “There is not a gift too small if given from your heart,” Julie says. “There are many ways to give.”
One striking aspect of the OSUCCC – James that has been important to the Brooks couple is the unparalleled commitment to excellence from everyone within the institution. This commitment is seen through all avenues: the compassionate and kind care of the physicians, the people who keep the facilities clean, the researchers working on genetic sequencing, and the construction workers pouring the pavement at the site of the new James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, opening in December of this year.
“The James reflects the best of what Columbus is – friendly, compassionate and devoted to what is important. Having this world-class institution in central Ohio is something to be really proud of in our city. It is a true privilege to be a part of The James family, and anyone can make a difference, whether through dollars, volunteerism or an act of kindness,” says Julie.
In the early 1990s, basketball coach Gary Williams was the honorary chair for the Block Memorial Tournament. Keith and Julie distinctly remember his words: “It is not if cancer will touch you, it is when cancer touches you.” On Jan. 20, 2014, this battle became even more personal. Julie’s sister was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, which was especially shocking for their family since she did not have risk factors typically associated with the disease. Through this very personal and painful experience, Julie has learned even more about the OSUCCC – James and all of which it is capable. And the exceptional care shown to her sister and family will continue to inspire her and Keith, who hope in turn to inspire many others.
“We can assure you that The James is a wonderful place to invest your dollars,” says Keith. “And it is an investment – an investment in mankind. It’s about making the world a better place, and we have found the return to be tenfold.”