Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
While many people probably think of coach Urban Meyer as a force on the football field, he’s also making his presence known in cancer research at Ohio State.
Meyer and his wife, Shelley, served as honorary chairs of the 2013 Stefanie’s Champions awards luncheon Wednesday at the Ohio Union. Chris Spielman, the face of the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research, introduced them as two people who understand the meaning of service.
“We are joining the fight, we are not sitting back,” Urban Meyer said.
The Meyers have established the Urban and Shelley Meyer Fund for Cancer Research to benefit OSU’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.
Urban Meyer lost both of his parents to cancer and spent many hours throughout his parents’ treatments in the OSU medical centers. Urban Meyer discovered his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer during his first year at OSU while working as a graduate assistant.
“They actually put her in a room that overlooked the stadium,” Urban Meyer said. “I never forgot that, the way they treated my mom.”
When Urban Meyer returned to OSU, he knew he wanted to get involved with the hospitals. He called to set up meetings with people from the medical centers.
“We are going to be a part of the new James Hospital and we are going (to) build a room there, a reception room with all kinds of memorabilia,” he said.
The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research was started by former OSU football player Chris Spielman and his wife, Stefanie, with the goal of raising $250,000 for breast cancer research. The fund has raised more than $10 million for The James.
Stefanie Spielman, who was first treated for breast cancer in late 1990s, died from the disease in 2009.
The Spielmans presented awards to this year’s five “Stefanie’s Champions” during the luncheon on Wednesday, which are given to individuals who provide care and support during times of treatment and are based on nominations from cancer survivors.
The five Stefanie’s Champions were to James Caudill, David Zartman, Josh Huffman, Kathy Peugh and Dennis McFadden, all Ohio residents. Caudill, Zartman and Huffman were nominated by their wives, Peugh by her mother-in-law and McFadden by his friend.
Cancer costs the U.S. about $125 billion per year, not just in research, but also in lives lost, said Michael Caligiuri, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“The federal government has flat-lined cancer research and now with sequestration, there will be another 9 percent cut to us this year,” Caligiuri said.
The sequester is a series of budget cuts set to remove $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade,
“If we are ever going to get ahead, we have to one, reverse the federal trend, and two, we in the mean time have to call on our supporters like Chris Spielman to step up and fill that gap,” Caligiuiri said.
Shelley Meyer sees that necessity as well.
“Fighting cancer is a cause that Urban and I are extremely passionate about,” Shelley Meyer said.
Shelley Meyer’s first-grade friend, Angie, was brought to the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center after a second bout of cancer was discovered. The diagnosis came two weeks after Shelley Meyer’s friend Angie attended the first home Buckeye game with Urban Meyer as coach. Angie transferred all of her care to the treatment center after her impressive stay, Shelley Meyer said, and continues to fight under the supervision of OSU oncologists.
“She is so grateful for the care she has received,” Shelley Meyer said.