Pickerington Times-Sun

Spielman tailgate slated

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Friends and family of the late Stefanie Spielman will host a football tailgate party Sept. 29 to honor the memory of the cancer crusader and raise money for state-of-the-art breast cancer screening technology.

Before Stefanie Spielman died in November 2009 at age 42, she battled breast cancer five times.

Through her fame as a tireless community activist and wife of Ohio State University and NFL football player Chris Spielman, she helped raise millions of dollars for cancer awareness, treatment and research.

After the first bout with the disease that ultimately took her away from her husband and the couple's four children Stefanie decided to organize an annual tailgate party in her back yard to, as her sister, Sue Fitz, said, "be thankful for another day and be together with family and friends."

It is in that spirit that Stefanie Spielman's friends and family created the "Stef's Celebrate Life Tailgate."

They also view it as an opportunity to raise funds for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer at the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute and for the Stefanie Spielman Humanitarian Awards, which each year are presented by the Upper Arlington Women's Club.

This is the second year for the event. In its inaugural year, event organizers set a fundraising goal of $5,000.

The tailgate generated $46,000.

So this year, organizers are hoping to raise even more money, the majority of which will go toward the purchase of a $200,000 piece of equipment that performs breast tomosynthesis for the James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute.

This new technology provides the benefits of digital mammography and combines it with fast, high-quality and three-dimensional imaging.

According to Fitz, experts have said tomosynthesis has the potential to change how screening and diagnostic mammography are performed.

"It will really help physicians detect breast cancer more easily and more effectively," Fitz said.

Stef's Celebrate Life Tailgate will be held Sept. 29 at the home of Matt and Claire Hamilton, 1919 Cambridge Blvd., Upper Arlington. It will begin at 3:30 p.m., which is the time for the kickoff of the OSU-Michigan State University football game to be played in East Lansing, Mich..

Tickets are available to anyone who wishes to attend and can be purchased online at www.stefscelebratelifetailgate.org.

Adult tickets are $50, student tickets are $20 and kids age 5 and younger can attend at no charge.

In addition to ticket sales, money will be raised through an auction planned to take place at the tailgate, Fitz said.

While most of the money raised will go toward the purchase of the tomosynthesis equipment, some proceeds also will help fund scholarships for five high school seniors through the Stefanie Spielman Humanitarian Awards program.

The Spielmans' oldest daughter, Maddie, a 2012 Upper Arlington High School graduate and current freshman at OSU, will speak at the event, as will a representative of the James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute.

Along with fundraising, Fitz said, the Sept. 29 tailgate party is meant to be an entertaining celebration of life.

The "neighborhood tailgate" for roughly 400 adults and children will feature big-screen televisions to watch the game, food trucks, inflatables and a "flash mob," in which children will be invited to participate.

A disc jockey will spin a multitude of songs by Stefanie's favorite performer, Michael Jackson.

"The most important component of this is that Stef wanted people to live each day to the fullest and take a step back to celebrate family and friends," Fitz said.

"Stef was all about enjoying life and we wanted this to be very similar to what her party was all about."

More information about the tailgate is available online stefscelebratelife.org.

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