Twenty years ago, Chris Corcoran and another vendor in the architectural/design/commercial furnishings industry saw their male colleagues playing golf together all the time and thought, “Why don’t we invite some ladies to golf?”

The other vendor’s mother was going through breast cancer at the time, so they decided to raise some money for The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) while they were at it.

The result? Chix With Stix, a women-only, nine-hole “golf outing for non-golfers” that benefits the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research. From modest beginnings—the first outing in 1999 had 30 participants and a handful of sponsors—the 20th Chix With Stix held Sept. 7 at Raymond Memorial Golf Course drew 172 registrations and boasted a long list of industry sponsors. The event also put Chix With Stix on the brink of a major fundraising milestone: $500,000 raised for breast cancer research at the OSUCCC – James.

While some events wane in popularity over time, Chix With Stix shows no signs of slowing. It’s become an incredible draw for the architectural/design/commercial furnishings industry, which supports the event through sponsorships and volunteerism—enabling men to get involved, as well. Says Lesley Collett-Felix, longtime member of the event’s planning committee, “I love seeing all these people who compete against each other every day in a very competitive industry taking that hat off for one day and coming together for an amazing cause.”

And what better way to engage competitive designer-types than through a spirit contest? “The contest started organically,” Chris says. “A couple of golfers dressed up, and then some vendors decorated their golf cart. Now, many teams dress up, and there’s a big focus on breast cancer awareness.” From a team dressed in bridesmaids' dresses (“Maid to beat cancer”) to pirate-themed costumes (“We treasure our chest”), puns abound. So does the fun.

Another secret to the event’s success? Keeping costs down to maximize their donation to the Spielman Fund. “We don't do frills. I remind everyone that every penny we spend takes away from the check we write at the end. And that’s not my typical approach to spending money,” Lesley laughs.

That’s what it all comes back to: a passion for breast cancer research. Organizers have invited speakers and guests from the OSUCCC – James to remind golfers and volunteers why the event is so important. Stefanie Spielman rallied the crowd at a few of the past events, and her daughter Maddie carried the mantle at the most recent outing, delivering inspirational remarks that continued her mother’s legacy of raising money for breast cancer research.

It’s a goal Chix With Stix is happy to assist with. “We’ve all known people who have gone through breast cancer, and we all know and were touched by a designer who passed away,” committee member Tricia Mahoney says. “Being able to support the research efforts of The James and to give back in that way is great.”

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