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Spielman walk raises money for cancer research

The South Oval was a sea of pink Saturday as about 400 people came out to participate in Scarlet, Gray and Pink, a walk to honor the late Stefanie Spielman and raise breast cancer awareness.

With Stefanie’s husband and former Ohio State football player Chris Spielman, his daughters, and Stefanie’s mother leading the way, the walk began through a pink-and-white balloon archway in the South Oval, then took a one mile loop around the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library and through the Oval, ending at the Ohio Union West Plaza, where a Resource Fair provided participants with free food, drinks and information on organizations devoted to raise awareness for breast cancer.

Before the walk began, Chris Spielman spoke to the crowd and said how humbled he was at the turnout, mentioning that one of the greatest things people can give is their time.

“What [Stefanie] was able to do — to take something that’s private and personal and make it public — I think people saw her as a sign of hope, and they want to be a part of that,” Spielman said.

President Gee was also on hand to speak to the walkers, in addition to Athletic Director Gene Smith and Dr. Charles Shapiro, director of the breast cancer program for the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

Gee, sporting a pink baseball cap and apologizing for not wearing a pink bowtie, expressed his hopes that researchers at the James Cancer Hospital would find a cure for cancer.

“We’re going to put [cancer] in a headlock and get rid of the damn thing,” Gee said.

Participation in the walk was $10 for OSU students and children under 18, and $20 for non-OSU students and adults. The walk raised about $6,300 for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer
Research, said Katie Krajny, graduate administrative associate at the Ohio Union and staff coordinator for the walk.

Since Spielman was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998, the Ohio Union has typically sponsored an event every year raising breast cancer awareness in her honor, said Christine Wernery, student coordinator for the event and member of the Ohio Union Major Campus Events Committee, which planned the walk.

However, Spielman passed away in November 2009, prompting a new challenge in figuring out how to organize the walk without Spielman and how to “make it right,” Wernery said.

“We wanted to make sure we were properly honoring her and celebrating her life and her battle with breast cancer,” Wernery said.
“We didn’t want to be too somber, especially on a day like this, with the Spring Game and other fun events going on on campus, but we didn’t want to overlook it as something that wasn’t meaningful, and I think we found a good balance.”

Wernery worked with the Athletic Department to coincide the walk with the Spring Game. In honor of the walk earlier that morning, the OSU football team sported specially made jerseys with pink numbers at the game. Those jerseys will eventually be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research.

Before Spielman died, she and her husband Chris, former OSU football player and professional football player, used their public name to raise awareness for breast cancer research. They established the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at the OSU Comprehensive Cancer — Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. Since then, they have raised more than $6.5 million for breast cancer research.

That number will continue to grow. Wernery said she hopes OSU will continue to hold fundraising events in Stefanie’s honor.

To learn more on the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research, visit spielmanfund.com.

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