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We know a future free of colon cancer is possible, but not without a dedicated community of individuals and organizations. That’s why at our National Conference earlier this month, we recognized some of the most inspiring innovators and leaders in the colon cancer field at the second annual Sapphire Awards ceremony. The awards were presented to an eclectic group of colon cancer advocates who are working to take down this disease. Couldn't be there? Check out who won what below!

[caption id="attachment_875" align="aligncenter" width="562"](L-R): Rodrick Samuels, Florence Kurtilla (accepting on behalf of C4), Paula Thomas (accepting on behalf of Jodi Jeffords), Dr. Jeanette Daly, Debbie Whitmore, Randy Cox, Stephanie Student (accepting on behalf of Tess Fraser), David Dubin, Martha Raymond (L-R): Rodrick Samuels, Florence Kurtilla (accepting on behalf of C4), Paula Thomas (accepting on behalf of Jodi Jeffords), Dr. Jeanette Daly, Debbie Whitmore, Randy Cox, Stephanie Student (accepting on behalf of Tess Fraser), David Dubin, Martha Raymond[/caption]

This year’s categories and winners are:

Distinguished Service Award

Tess Fraser (Buffalo, NY): When it comes to dedicated volunteers, Tess is at the top of the class. After her mother was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011, Tess set out to bring the Colon Cancer Alliance Undy 5000 5K Walk/Run to Buffalo, New York. Not only did she make this happen, but she’s been instrumental in making the event what it is today, raising more than $180,000 and 2,000+ participants. Through her inspirational commitment, she has had a monumental hand print in putting colon cancer awareness on the map in Western New York.

Visionary Awards

Alan Jackson: Last March, we recognized country music superstar Alan Jackson and his wife, Denise, at the Colon Cancer Alliance Stars Go Blue Benefit Concert for the overwhelming generosity they’ve showed us. Not only did Alan Jackson perform at this benefit concert, the couple also donated all proceeds from their Seasons of Sweetbriar book, a photographic collection created by Alan himself. We extend a very special thank you to the Jacksons for this continued support.

David Dubin (Greater NYC Area): What better word to describe David than resilient? After being diagnosed with colon cancer at 29 and again at 40 years old, David and his wife started the Alive And Kickn organization, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and funds for colon cancer and genetic cancers. Through his extensive involvement in the colon cancer community, he is a constant source of hope and support for the friends he makes all over the country. His positivity, selflessness and passion for the cause are contagious, and the change he continues to incite is refreshing.

Excellence in Patient Care Award

Jodi Jeffords (Ft. Worth, TX): Last year, Jodi became the first nurse navigator for gastroenterology cancers in the Fort Worth, Texas area. In addition to assisting newly diagnosed colon cancer patients, she has educated herself on local support services and the latest techniques for combating stage IV colon cancer to ensure she’s helping her patients as much as possible in the months following their diagnoses. Her overwhelming dedication extends beyond the workplace, as she works to educate those in her community and beyond about the need-to-know facts about colon cancer.

Organizational Leadership Award

California Colorectal (C4) (California): C4 has served as an inspirational partner for the Colon Cancer Alliance as they’ve worked tirelessly to increase screening in underserved California communities, advocating for a statewide colon cancer program and increasing capacity for colon cancer screening. C4 takes saving lives seriously and has served as a model to other states interested in increasing colon cancer screening rates.

Excellence in Research Award

Jeanette Daly, RN, PhD (Iowa City, IA): Dr. Jeanette Daly is an accomplished nurse researcher at the University of Iowa. Alongside her equally dedicated team, she works tirelessly to educate health professionals about specific health disparities related to colon cancer, best-practices for clinics to increase their screening rates and educates on the benefits of specific screening tests. Her research has provided a framework from which public health professionals in Iowa and across the nation can begin to work with clinical providers to reduce health disparities related to this disease. Dr. Daly’s work with clinicians, helping them gain more knowledge for both themselves and their patients, is truly exceptional.

Outstanding Volunteers

Randy Cox (Cambridge, MA): As a stage IV colon cancer survivor, Randy has been a volunteer and Buddy with the Colon Cancer Alliance since April 2012. We’re inspired by Randy because even while struggling with ongoing treatment, he continues to reach out to the community with his story in an effort to save lives and improve treatment for colon cancer patients. His willingness to help with any volunteer opportunity has been touching to the Colon Cancer Alliance, and his strength has been a pillar of hope for newly diagnosed patients all over the country.

Debbie Whitmore (Boston, MA): When Debbie was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, she was just 44 years old and had young children at home. This diagnosis turned her life upside down, encouraging her to reach out to others and share her story to help save lives. She has continued to go above and beyond as a Colon Cancer Alliance volunteer speaking at health fairs, conferences and other events, providing support and mentorship to patients and survivors through the Buddy Program and so much more.


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