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2014 Award Winners

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Each March at Call-on Congress, Fight Colorectal Cancer recognizes individuals who exemplify what our organization is all about. These people are not only advocates – they’re champions. Each of them offers their experience and passion to further the cause. This year’s 2014 Award Winners set the bar high.

Advocate of the Year – Gordon Cole

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A survivor of stage IV colorectal cancer since 2003, Gordon Cole is an inspiration. As a hands-on patient, he’s actively monitored his own treatment (which consists of multiple surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy and several clinical trials.) As an advocate, he’s pushed for better policy and research funding. His constant voice has helped us raise colorectal cancer issues to the forefront. Gordon’s served on the Board of Directors for Fight Colorectal Cancer and advocated on the Hill for many years. He’s attended Call-on Congress events, lobbied on the Hill with several of our advocacy partners and participated in research conferences on behalf of Fight CRC and other national cancer groups. Sharing his story and explaining how to be your best advocate, he served as a panelist for the Colon Cancer Alliance’s Annual Conference and volunteers his time to be part of the Buddy Program. At home in North Carolina, Gordon is a member of the North Carolina Advisory Committee on Cancer Coordination and Control, and Carolina Well (an LAF affiliate) that’s involved in outreach for cancer screening and education in underserved areas in NC. Within the survivor community, Gordon is a leader and a constant voice supporting others in their journey. He’s an amazing, humble advocate who uses his strength to inspire others in fight and their family members. We are honored to fight alongside champions like Gordon Cole.

Congressional Champion Award – Rep. Donald Payne, Jr.

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As an organization focused on political advocacy, the members of Congress who support our cause become invaluable. This year, we awarded Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) with our Congressional Champion Award. We connected with Rep. Payne, Jr. at the 2013 Call-on Congress when he opened up about his father, a congressman whose seat he filled upon his passing from colorectal cancer in 2012. Not only did Rep. Payne, Jr. inspire our advocates to come to Call-on Congress through a video we produced together, he actively got involved in the cause. He’s introduced “Dear Colleague” letters to his fellow House members asking for their support of several initiatives like recognition of March 2014 as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, support for H.R. 1070 and funding for colorectal cancer programs and research at the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Defense.

It was Rep. Payne, Jr.’s insistence and his leadership among his colleagues that helped get President Obama’s attention and the Presidential Proclamation recognizing March 2014 as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Rep. Payne, Jr. has become an advocate with Fight CRC and a friend to several of our New Jersey advocates (who he made sure to hug when he visited our group to receive his award.

Andrew Guisti Memorial Award

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The Andrew Guisti Memorial Award honors a research advocate who recognizes the importance of medical research and pushes for its prioritization. Andrea Kramer, a stage III survivor and board member of Fight Colorectal Cancer received the award this year in honor of her unending support of the Lisa Fund, a grant given by Fight CRC that funds late-stage colorectal cancer research. As a survivor passionate about research, Andrea recognizes that life-saving treatments lie within those working in the labs to understand cancer and find its cure. She frequently provides leadership and guidance to the Fight CRC team, making sure that research is a focus and top priority. Andy Guisti was a former board member and scientist who was working on a vaccine against colorectal cancer when diagnosed at age 40 with stage IV colorectal cancer. He laid the groundwork for the research program at Fight Colorectal Cancer and it’s in his memory we recognize those who keep his passion alive and the support of research going.

*NEW!* Health Champion Award

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This year Fight Colorectal Cancer introduced a new award within our organization – the Health Champion Award. A health champion is someone who uses their position and voice to take our cause up to the next level. This year we awarded Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health of the U.S. Health & Human Services (HHS) as the inaugural award winner. Over the past year, Dr. Koh has not only joined the colorectal cancer community in support of our mission – but he’s truly championed our cause. He, along with his staff, helped us and fellow members of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT) highlight the importance of screening and launch the 80 percent screened by 2018 goal (80% by 2018). Dr. Koh’s involvement unified the community and ensured that colorectal cancer is a national priority. With his leadership and passion for public health, we’re hopeful to meet our ambitious screening goal and prevent future cases of colorectal cancer.

These four individuals exemplify the values, passions and goals of our organization. We’re honored to work alongside them, as well as the hundreds of other advocates, who fight colorectal cancer with us.

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