A Gahanna mother and husband will be honored as caregivers.

A Gahanna mother and husband will be honored as caregivers.

The local residents will be honored at the 13th annual Stefanie's Champion's Awards on April 11 with the award established by Stefanie Spielman and her husband Chris, and designed to honor the loving and healing presence of a devoted caregiver.

Cindy Kip was nominated by her son Alex, a Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma cancer survivor and 2006 graduate of Gahanna Lincoln High School. Wynyki Alston, a multiple myeloma survivor, nominated her husband Alexander Alston III.

Cindy Kip, 52, was surprised by the nomination when her son called her from his home in New York to inform her she was selected.

"I was overwhelmed," she said. "He really has been an inspiration. He stayed positive and tried to turn all the bad things into something positive."

Kip, 24, was a senior studying musical theatre at the University of Michigan when he had voice and breathing issues a month before graduation.

"He ended up in the hospital after a biopsy because he couldn't breathe," Kip said. "He had a very large mass in his chest." Instead of pursuing his dream as an actor in New York City, Kip graduated from college and moved home with his parents to start chemotherapy treatments at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

"Initially he had a good prognosis, because that cancer is curable with chemo and radiation," Kip said. "But he was resistant to the treatment."

Kip had a stem cell transplant in the fall of 2011 using his own stem cells, followed by radiation.

"We were blessed in that it was successful," she said. "At one point, it was looking pretty grim. We were given a 10-30 percent chance of success. Now he's in total remission."

In his nomination, Alex Kip wrote: "My mother cared about one thing and one thing only: me."

While Kip spent time finding the best treatment for her son, she also encouraged a healthier lifestyle.

"Changing the eating habits of a college student is not an easy task," Alex Kip wrote. "Through leading by example, she pressured me to restructure my health habits, a crucial part in my battle and now daily life."

The healthy living goal event took Kip to a doctor that specializes in nutrition for optimal health.

"When you have a major event, it motivates you to do what you can," she said. "I thought it was important to experience it myself. I couldn't ask him to change if I wasn't doing it myself. We've always exercised and eaten healthy diets. This took it to the next level."

After suffering for months, in February 2009 Wynyki Alston learned she had cancer.

Alex Alston, 41, had served eight tours in the Middle East, but was about to help his wife fight a different battle.

"He arranged around-the-clock care for me and our three children while still fulfilling his full-time military responsibilities and running our family business," wrote Wynyki Alston in her nomination form.

Care included arranging for out-of-town family members to be with her at all times.

During recovery, she wrote, her husband helped her accomplish everything in life.

"Throughout it all, my husband, Alex, was willing to do whatever it took to hold our family together for my sake and the sake of our children," she wrote.

Two years later, Wynyki Alston was ready to attend her appointments alone but Alex would figure out a way to attend the appointments, even if it meant driving three hours.

"Who does that," Alston wrote. "My Alex does that. A Stefanie's Champion does that." Stefanie Spielman gave the first award to her husband after he put his professional football career on hold to care for her when she was first treated for breast cancer in 1998 at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center–James. Spielman's battle with breast cancer ended with her death in November 2009.

Net proceeds from the luncheon benefit the Stefanie Spielman Patient Assistance Fund and the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at OSUCCC-James.