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ITOR Philanthropic Initiatives Highlighted

The Institute for Translational Oncology Research (ITOR) of Greenville Health System (GHS) is supported by various philanthropic initiatives highlighted below.

2011 ITOR Designer Showcase Home

The inaugural 2011 ITOR Designer Showcase Home, presented by Cancer Centers of the Carolinas and benefiting ITOR, combines an opportunity to support cancer research with the chance to see some of the best area designers at work. When you walk through this gorgeous, 7,000 square-foot, custom-designed home built by Stoneledge Properties in the Five Forks area estate community of Southampton, you're not just seeing creativity at work; you're building the very future of cancer care right here in the Upstate through ITOR and the GHS Cancer Center. Take your tour Friday-Sunday March 4-20, or glimpse an exclusive sneak peek at the preview party March 3.


Dragon Boat Festival

The festival is a grand one-day community event to benefit the Cancer Center of Greenville Health System. Expect to see more than 45 teams working together to raise funds and paddling as if a life depends on it. The festival's annual tent competition, which has become very popular, allows team members to decorate their tent and win "best theme" prizes. Free musical entertainment and great camaraderie are also part of the festivities. Twenty (20) paddlers and one (1) drummer all work together (along with a professional oarsman) to race on the waters of Lake Hartwell. A Dragon Boat Team entry fee is $2,500. Captains and their teams are encouraged to generate donations for this worthy cause between now and the annual April event utilizing the Dragon Boat Upstate Festival Web site.


ITOR Featured Stories

Palmetto Peloton Project

What started as a bike ride to benefit cancer research in the Upstate has now expanded to multiple cycling events that can help change the future of cancer care worldwide.

The Palmetto Peloton Project, or P3, promotes cancer research and advocacy efforts locally, regionally and nationally through fundraising cycling events.

Since its start in 2005, this volunteer-led group has raised nearly $400,000 to benefit the ITOR Clinical Research Unit (CRU), as well as the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

"P3 was started as a way for the cycling community to give back something to the Upstate," said group organizer Kevin Dunn, an insurance agent who lives with his wife, Sally, in Greenville. "Cancer was chosen because it seems to impact everyone. All of us have a cancer story."

Fundraising and rides take place in the Upstate and across the country: there's the Pleasant Ridge Riders Cup Challenge (March), Freedom Ride (Memorial Weekend), Stars and Stripes Challenge Ride (Labor Weekend) and the Challenge to Conquer Cancer Relay Ride from Greenville to Austin, Texas. In each race, riders commit to raising a set amount. For the Austin relay, each rider raises at least $5,000 and support team members raise $1,800.

P3 volunteer and GHS employee Lisa Barwick recounts why she participates:

"In two words, I do the volunteer work with P3 because I can. I think about these individuals, millions impacted by a cancer diagnosis, losing their ability to do what they love to do - temporarily or permanently, physically or emotionally. My volunteer efforts are really minor compared to what they go through."

P3's goal is to fund three core areas: "before" (ITOR of GHS research), "during" (advocacy efforts of the Lance Armstrong Foundation) and "after" (oncology rehab). Focusing on these needs helps current and future patients with cancer.

Volunteer John Cash, an internationally competitive cyclist, became involved with P3 early on. With deep personal reasons - both parents dying of cancer and a sister a cancer survivor - Cash had ridden with Lance Armstrong on a Trek tour in Italy.

"That morning changed my life," recalled Cash. "Lance's passion was contagious; I really understood his line, 'It's not about the bike.' I realized that I, too, could make a difference in people's lives."

That first year, Cash raised $2,600. In 2006, he raised $7,000 and $9,000 in 2007. For the race to Austin, Cash sold 2,500 magnets, inscribed with a donor's or honoree's name, for $5. These magnets adorned the bus to Austin, netting $10,000 for the cause.

P3 recently presented a check for $120,000 to ITOR CRU, where trials are conducted for new pharmaceutical treatments on cancerous tumors to limit their growth or eliminate them altogether. The CRU conducts in-house translational medicine, bringing the most current treatment options from the laboratory to the bedside and exemplifying a new and visionary way to pursue cancer research.

Individuals such as Dunn, Barwick and Cash demonstrate how one person's efforts can make a difference for others.

"I became involved in the P3 organization," commented Barwick, "because of my cycling hobby - something that I love to do. I remain an advocate and volunteer for the P3 mission because I believe that I can change the future for cancer patients and survivors."

Winn the Fight

The Winn family lost one of their own to cancer when Karl Winn passed away in September 2007. In his memory, they brought their community together to help others through cancer research.

When Karl Winn lost his fight with cancer, family members approached his oncologist, saying, "We're mad, and we want to do something!"

That "something" became Winn the Fight, an ongoing fundraiser created by the Winn family to benefit cancer research at the ITOR Clinical Research Unit.

The ITOR CRU is a collaborative effort of Greenville Health System and Cancer Centers of the Carolinas. Dr. Stephenson heads the ITOR CRU, where new pharmaceutical treatments are trialed on cancerous tumors, either to limit their growth or eliminate them altogether.

The ITOR CRU is one of only a few elite centers in the Southeast conducting in-house translational medicine. The dedicated unit has an adjacent operating room suite to help bring the most current treatment options from the laboratory to the bedside, demonstrating a new and visionary way to conduct cancer research in a more cost-efficient and patient-friendly manner.

Since 2007, Winn the Fight has raised more than $60,000 toward a goal of $250,000 for the Winn Tissue Bank. Spearheaded by Karl's wife, Janet, niece Kristy Way and other family members, sundry events such as tennis tournaments, BBQ/silent auctions, and birdhouse sales help keep alive the memory of Karl Winn to family and friends and spur on cancer research and treatment. To learn more, visit WinnTheFight.org.

The Winn Tissue Bank will help provide funding for the infrastructure of two groundbreaking ITOR programs in the fight against cancer: Total Cancer Care (TCC) and Target Now. With TCC, individual tumors are tested for approximately 30,000 genes; the information is collected in a national database and used to develop new therapies personalized to patients. Target Now uses molecular profiling analysis to devise treatment options for patients who are not responding well to standard care, have certain rare tumors or are diagnosed with very aggressive cancers.

Janet Winn remembers her husband as her "best friend for 32 years." Karl had lost his father to cancer and wanted to handle the news of his own diagnosis in a different way. He and Janet sat down with their sons and told them they planned to fight it to the end.

"He had a strong faith in God," recalled Janet Winn. "One day I was taking him on a slow trip to the bathroom. He was so tired, but he looked at me and said, 'How did I ever get so lucky?' "

She continued, "No matter how tragic something is in your life, you can find the good in it. 'Winn the Fight' has been our silver lining."

According to family member Megan Saltmarsh, "The day we lost Karl, there was a cool breeze in the air, and we were at peace knowing that he was called home. But we were also filled with a desire to help other families enduring this disease. Our conversations over the next few months never included 'should we do something,' but rather 'we have to do something.' We knew if Karl were still here, he would be an activist for cancer research and a support system to anyone battling cancer. 'Winn the Fight' has been a blessing to all of us, and we feel the tissue bank will have endless benefits."

One of Karl's hobbies was to build birdhouses, which he did with and for neighborhood children. During his illness, friends gathered on a hot summer day to build a ramp for Karl when he could no longer walk. After his death, Janet Winn used the wood from the ramp to build birdhouses with the children.

Neighborhood mom and friend Susan Leonard-Ray said,

"This project helped the children to heal and to remember Karl and all he taught them. Now the birdhouses are beautifying yards, providing space for wildlife and raising funds for cancer research. It's amazing how the gathering to build the ramp and the ramp itself has created additional opportunity for Janet and the children to convert their pain into something helpful and good."

Nearly 30 children have participated in the Winn family birdhouse project, and donations are still being accepted by the family.

"Author Scott Adams wrote, 'Remember there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Each act creates a ripple with no logical end,' "commented Jim Kaltenbach, director of Cancer Services at GHS Office of Philanthropy & Partnership. "A donated ramp to Karl cast three ripples that we can count so far: It helped Karl stay mobile, it helped children turn their grief into action, and it continues to raise money for cancer research. I predict no end to this amazing story. In partnering with families such as the Winns in raising important dollars for cancer research, the Office of Philanthropy sees ripples casting out each day to help families in the Upstate."

Connection Points

Diane Gluck (seated) and others listen to ITOR leadership discuss the latest updates on cancer research progress.

Malcolm Isley, vice president of Strategic Services at Greenville Health System (GHS), stood before a room of people, detailing the innovative care GHS and ITOR offer to patients. Then Larry Gluck, M.D., medical director of the GHS Cancer Center, impressed the audience with the progress being made in cancer care and research in the Upstate.

This presentation was not being made in a conference room or lecture hall before other medical professionals. Instead, it took place in the living room of Caleb and Mary Freeman's home in front of the Freemans' friends and Caleb's parents, David and Keller Freeman. From time to time, families such as the Freemans initiate a gathering such as this one, where ITOR leadership can communicate the latest developments in cancer research offered at ITOR CRU and hear questions and ideas from community leaders.

David Freeman, a graduate of the University of South Carolina and Harvard Law School, is a partner at Greenville's well-known Wyche, Burgess, Freeman & Parham law firm, where he has practiced since 1964. Keller Freeman has taught philosophy and other subjects at Clemson and Furman universities and Greenville Technical College. Caleb Freeman earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a law degree from USC. After practicing law for 14 years in Alexandria, Va., he returned to the Upstate to expand his career as a venture capitalist and developer.

Philanthropy holds an important place in both Freeman generations. David and Keller have given generously to the arts and education in the Upstate for many years. Caleb and Mary founded the Dragon Boat Upstate Festival in 2006, which benefits ITOR CRU.

When the younger Freemans were choosing the beneficiary for the Dragon Boat Upstate Festival, they knew it would be an organization involved in finding a cure for cancer.

"Everybody I know is touched by cancer one way or another," Caleb Freeman explained. "My wife and I wanted to support the groundbreaking cancer research they're doing at ITOR CRU."

Now, the Freemans are sharing with their friends the exciting things they've learned about ITOR CRU cancer treatment programs. These gatherings are crucial vehicles to spread the word to the community about the innovative research taking place at ITOR CRU and the state-of-the-art treatment offered to patients.

"My parents, Mary and I appreciate how fortunate our community is in having such world-class cancer research and care right here in Greenville. By sharing this appreciation, soon everyone in Greenville will realize that our combined support will speed the ITOR CRU's progress in fighting cancer," Caleb said.

The gatherings also give GHS' executive leadership an opportunity to receive feedback from community members about what they're most interested in and what other kinds of research and programs they would like to see in Greenville. These get-togethers mutually benefit the hospital system and the community. GHS relies on members of the community to serve as ambassadors of the high-quality care available there and to provide the financial gifts that make these advancements possible. And these guests get an inside look at what makes GHS' Cancer Center a world-class facility.

For more information on opportunities to support the Cancer Center, contact Jim Kaltenbach at (864) 797-7734 or jkaltenbach@ghs.org.