Stefanie Spielman grew up in a loving home in northeastern Ohio and married her high school sweetheart after they graduated from Ohio State. Her husband, Chris, was an All-American football player and went on to have an all-pro career in the NFL for over ten years.
During a breast self exam in 1998, Stefanie found a lemon-sized lump. She mentioned it to her doctor, who diagnosed her with breast cancer. Stefanie was only 30 years old.
The Spielmans’ strong belief in family led Chris to take a year off from football to stay home and care for his family, bringing them unexpected national attention. By publicly talking about breast cancer, more and more people learned about the disease and the importance of education and prevention. Stefanie and Chris realized they could use their unique situation to do more.
Among the many well-wishers, a local grocery chain asked Chris what they could do to help. He urged them to raise money for the OSUCCC-James, where Stefanie was undergoing treatment. For one dollar, shoppers bought paper footballs to sign to be plastered on store windows. Across the state and especially in central Ohio, support came in many forms – bake sales, golf tournaments and lots in between as a way to raise money for the fund.
Initially, Stefanie and Chris had a goal of raising $250,000. Within the first six months, more than $1 million dollars had been raised for The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research. Today – through their work and the extraordinary grassroots support by Community Partners – more than $8 million has been raised to support breast cancer patients and research at the OSUCCC-James.
In November 2009, after a decade-long battle, Stefanie left us with some final thoughts: continue to fight.Through it all, Stefanie kept a positive attitude and was always grateful for the blessings she felt life had given her. Knowing that there is still more work to be done, she has encouraged us all to keep fighting and she has left us with a legacy of hope.