Celebrating Impact at the 2024 Annual Update & Awards Celebration

On February 29, Lung Cancer Initiative hosted our Let’s Create Hope: Annual Update & Awards Celebration at Sheraton Imperial Hotel Raleigh-Durham Airport at Research Triangle Park. At this year’s event, 97 attendees celebrated lung cancer advocates from across the state for their remarkable contributions to the lung cancer community over the past year, reflected on the impact of important programs, and looked forward to goals for 2024.

Checkout this video with highlights over this past year.

This year’s awards were presented to six individuals that showed great dedication and passion in making a difference in the community around them. Our recipients all come from different backgrounds and communities across NC and beyond, and embody the core values of Lung Cancer Initiative. We are pleased to introduce this year’s recipients.

2023 Advocates of the Year

Bradley Icard, MD, 2023 Healthcare Professional of the Year

Dr. Bradley Icard represents a proactive, genuine, passionate and compassionate leader in the lung cancer community through his patient-centered approach to care, advocacy, and education. From providing an exceptional presentation about lung cancer screening and barriers to more than 700 primary care providers, to actively engaging with advocates during the Advocacy Summit, Dr. Icard made a significant impact on LCI’s community and provider education events in 2023 to connect more people to lung cancer screening in NC and beyond. Additionally, he has led efforts to increase access to screening in uninsured and underinsured populations at Cone Health through initiatives to cover screening costs and research to determine how to reach more underserved populations and individuals who are eligible for screening. Dr. Icard continues to support through his active participation in LCI committees.

Teri Barron, 2023 Volunteer of the Year

Teri Barron has the true embodiment of a heart of service and is considered a gem in the lung cancer community. Her story as a survivor sparks hope, and she is always willing to share this hope among others. As a host of Lung Cancer Initiative’s annual lung cancer wellness retreat, Teri works tirelessly to prepare the property and her home to welcome and support other lung cancer survivors. Teri also invites other fellow survivors to attend luncheons and other LCI events, creating a special reunion and connection for survivors and their families. In 2023, Teri filled an entire table at the annual gala with the retreat participants and their spouses and shared her story and the impact of the retreat as a part of the gala program. Teri continues to stay in touch with retreat participants throughout the year while offering encouragement, engagement, and a warm smile.

Matt Hellgeth, 2023 Caregiver of the Year

Matt Hellgeth is a caring, compassionate, and humble caregiver and husband and has been tremendously supportive throughout his wife’s lung cancer diagnosis and treatment. He sacrificed his career as an adjunct faculty at Western Carolina University to work as her caregiver in order to help her live her best life and give hope to others with lung cancer. Matt accompanied his wife to all her appointments, studies and treatments that would require long hours on the road and at the clinic and additionally wrote handwritten thank you notes to her many supporters that sponsored her on her first walk, providing updates of her progress. He has helped raise money for LCI through joining her on walks in Raleigh and recruiting sponsors for the LCI LUNGe Forward events. He has additionally been an active participant in other LCI programs and accompanied his wife to many LCI functions.

UNC Chapel Hill ALCSI Chapter, 2023 Community Partner of the Year

The UNC Chapel Hill American Lung Cancer Screening Initiative (ALCSI) Chapter is a student-run, self supported, on-campus volunteer organization that is always seeking ways to raise more awareness around lung cancer and screening efforts. They have supported and advocated for lung cancer awareness through multiple avenues, including exhibits on campus and building events as a part of The White Ribbon Project. To date, they have built more than 50 ribbons and partnered with other organizations to raise awareness. Students have also supported lung cancer survivors at the UNC-Chapel Hill Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center through in-person visits and white ribbon distribution. In addition, they sought support for a statewide bill for lung cancer screening.

Mary Frances White, 2023 Survivor of the Year

Mary Frances White is a survivor living in eastern NC that has made an impactful transformation in the lung cancer community by supporting other patients and survivors throughout their journey and always fostering a positive environment. Throughout her involvement in LCI’s programs and events, Mary Frances has played an active role in the planning and implementation of the Inaugural Greenville LUNGe Forward through reaching out to local businesses and elected officials and has been crucial to the event planning process. Mary Frances has also been an important member of LCI’s Survivor Steering Committee and offered her perspectives and input on the needs of lung cancer survivors in her community. Pure and lovely in her intentions, Mary Frances embodies all of LCI’s core values and truly makes a difference in everything she is involved in.

Jane Pederson, 2023 Committee Member of the Year

Jane Pederson is a strong individual that used grief and sadness to help a cause that made a difference for others to survive. She has contributed to the Triangle LUNGe Forward as a critical volunteer for more than 15 years since losing her mother to lung cancer in 2007. Managing the course, and recruiting volunteers as needed with a smile and can-do attitude, Jane plays an impactful role in making sure the event runs smoothly each year. She has always involved her family and encouraged many friends to come out and volunteer for the event. From managing the water station, to having her spouse ride in the police car to help participants stay on course, to having her daughter be the trail walker to lead participants, and last but not least, helping with packet pick up – Jane has provided great support in 2023 and has already committed to helping in 2024.

Congratulations to our winners, we thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for Lung Cancer Initiative.