The 12th annual Stefanie’s Champions awards luncheon honored five extraordinary heroes on Wednesday, April 13, 2011. This year’s event took on a true Ohio State theme – scarlet, gray and pink – to pay tribute to the Champions in the lives of cancer survivors. The Champion Award, established by Stefanie Spielman and her husband, Chris Spielman, is designed to honor an important factor in cancer treatment, the loving and healing presence of a devoted caregiver.
Net proceeds from the luncheon benefit the Stefanie Spielman Patient Assistance Fund and the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). Since 1999, more than $8 million has been raised for the funds through community events and donations.
Special thanks to our 2011 Sponsors
Presenting Sponsor: William H. Davis, Dorothy M. Davis and William C. Davis Foundation
Champion Sponsors: Genentech, The Kroger Co., Mills James;
Media Sponsors: The Dispatch Printing Co., WBNS 10TV, 97.1 The Fan
Luncheon Sponsors: Abigail and Les Wexner
Meet our 2011 Stefanie's Champions!
Champion Brittany Camburn nominated by her mother, Jodi Pfeiffer
When Jodi Pfeiffer was diagnosed in August of 2009, her daughter, Brittany Camburn was there to help cook, clean and transport her to many doctor appointments. After Jodi’s second round of chemotherapy, Brittany moved in to help her mom, all while attending nursing school and caring for her own 2-year-old son. She also planned a dinner and silent action to help pay for her mother’s doctors bills after Jodi was laid off from work.
“My daughter stepped up in a very hard time in my life and made my cancer seem like it was just a small block in the road,” writes Jodi. Brittany was always one step ahead of her mom in knowing what she wanted and needed.
“I cannot say enough about the daughter that forever changed my life and gave me a gift of life,” writes Jodi. “Without Brittany in my corner fighting for me, I would not be here today.”
Champion Alan Gallaway nominated by his wife, Marilyn Gallaway
When Marilyn Gallaway discovered she had pancreatic cancer in August 2009, her husband Alan Gallaway was still recovering from mouth surgery to remove a lymph node from his neck as part of his treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Despite his own rigorous daily radiation treatment schedule in Mansfield, Alan still managed to take Marilyn to every doctor appointment in Columbus, while also pitching in to cook and clean around the house.
“The person who has proven to be my faithful and loving ‘best friend’ through all of our hardships has been Alan,” writes Marilyn.
He even helped her set specific goals to achieve, including a trip to see her newborn grandson in New Orleans. With the help of Alan, Marilyn did achieve her goal, and she also was well enough to attend a family vacation on Lake Michigan and celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary with a party.
“As we often joke among ourselves, ‘The first 40 years were just fun and games,’ the rest test has come and Alan has passed with flying colors. Alan has been more than a husband, more than a caregiver, more than a friend. He has encouraged me when I was down, cheered me, held me. He continues to surprise me each day,” writes Marilyn.
Champion Christina Gehrisch, nominated by her friend Chloe Hammond
Christina was in Paris in December 2009 when she heard that Chloe had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 22. The next day, Christina flew back to Columbus to be with her for the full four months Chloe was in treatment. Christina put her life on hold – including a boyfriend and other friends in New York where she lived. Christina was there for Chloe whenever she needed to talk, and even made wig shopping fun.
“Looking back on those four months, I have such a wide range of emotions. I remember we laughed a lot, cried a lot and talked a lot. She became my person. She was there for all of it. For every single appointment, chemotherapy, every blood draw, every scan, every test. She was my right hand gal. I knew that she would be there, and she wasn’t going anywhere,” writes Chloe.
After discovering she was in remission, Chloe decided to move to New York City with Christina. They are still living together and trying to live healthy and positive lives.
“I had always had love for Christina, but I never knew I could love another person outside my family as much as I loved her. I truly consider her my sister,” writes Chloe.
Champion Justin Milam nominated by his wife, Chantil Milam
From the first day Chantil was diagnosed with liposarcoma in 2009, Justin has been there to support and care for her, even staying home from work during her recovery from surgery to remove the tumor.
Justin researched to learn more about liposarcoma, which is a rare disease in which cancer forms in fat cells in deep soft tissue. Together, the Milams started “Steps for Sarcoma,” a 5K/1mile walk held last summer in central Ohio raise awareness and money for sarcoma research in an effort to help other sarcoma survivors. Justin planned and publicized the event by creating a website and a Facebook page and contacting local media. More than 430 people participated, raising more than $12,000 for sarcoma research at OSUCCC – James.
“It was our vision, but Justin really made it happen. Everything that he did was not only for me, but for everyone who has been affected by sarcoma. I don’t know about most husbands, I only know about mine, and he is and always will be my champion, and for that I am eternally grateful,” writes Chantil.
Champion Faith Potter nominated by her grandmother, Deborah Yothers
When Deborah Yothers was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2007, her then 12-year-old granddaughter, Faith, became her constant support. Faith would call or visit her grandmother everyday, and was there with other adult members of the family when Deborah had her surgery. During her recovery, Faith visited every weekend and during the week when she didn’t have school, and even helped her pick out a wig.
“She made me breakfast and lunch even when I was too sick from my chemo treatments to eat. She would say, ‘Grammy, just try to eat so you won’t get weak.’ When my hair fell out and I felt I looked so ugly being bald, she said I was pretty.”
Last year, Faith and her mother, along with Deborah and her husband, walked the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Columbus, which raises money for breast cancer research. Faith also volunteers at the Race for the Cure table at Macy’s.
“I have never seen a child so dedicated in helping me get through my cancer. She kept me strong and positive, and helped me want to keep going when I thought there was no hope for me,” writes Deborah. “When other children were out playing, she was there being my support.”