Celebrating Impact at the 2022 Annual Update & Awards Celebration

On March 3, LCI hosted its Annual Update & Awards Celebration at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Brier Creek. At this year’s event, eighty-four attendees celebrated lung cancer advocates from across the state for their remarkable contributions over the past year, reflected on the impact of important programs, and looked forward to goals for 2022.

Kathryn Mileham, MD, a member of LCI’s Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Committee shared research program highlights including the following 2021 grantees:

  • Emily Ray, MD, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, 2021 Career Development Award Recipient
  • Chuan-Yuan Li, PhD, Duke University, 2021 Vicky Amidon Innovation in Lung Cancer Research Award Recipient

The awards program concluded with a celebration of the remarkable advocates who had a significant impact on the lung cancer community over the past year. Emily Parks, Secretary, Board of Directors presented our 2021 awards to six outstanding recipients who all come from different backgrounds and communities across NC, and embody the core values of Lung Cancer Initiative.

2021 Advocates of the Year

Jared Weiss, MD, 2021 Healthcare Professional of the Year

Dr. Jared Weiss is an oncologist, researcher, and former member of LCI’s Board of Directors. Dr. Weiss has worked tirelessly to provide quality patient care and innovative clinical technology for his lung cancer patients. He has also tremendously supported the lung cancer community through advocacy, promoting community and physician education at a number of community events. Dr. Weiss also manages an online forum for cancer patients, CancerGrace.org. In addition to being an innovative leader in research, he shows true compassion for those in his care and around him.

Sanjay Premakumar, 2021 Caregiver of the Year

Sanjay Premakumar lost his wife to lung cancer in October of 2021. Because his wife was an avid runner, Sanjay coordinated a memorial run with more than 300 participants to honor his wife and benefit lung cancer research and education. In a time of sorrow, Sanjay was able to unite loved ones to make a positive change for others affected by lung cancer. Sanjay has embodied LCI’s core values of building community and passionately supporting survivorship.

Caroline Wrisley, 2021 Survivor of the Year

Caroline Wrisley has shared her lung cancer journey and inspired others through the Charlotte LUNGe Forward 5K Run, Walk & Celebration. Caroline has integrated the community to support the event by opening her home to other committee members and expanding the Charlotte 5K committee. Caroline’s support and involvement goes further than just event planning though. She also makes signs and arranges cheering sections during the raise. Caroline has also raised awareness by sharing her journey and the importance of clinical research in a video and a magazine article published by the Carolinas College of Health Sciences.

Jen Colon, 2021 Volunteer of the Year

Jen Colon’s leadership shined throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Jen worked through all the pandemic challenges to ensure the Triangle LUNGe Forward continued to raise critical funds and celebrated hope, both virtually in 2020 and in-person in 2021. Her outstanding leadership, flexibility, and positivity played a vital role in the success of this event. Jen’s time and effort she has put into LCI is a testament to her passion for lung cancer advocacy.

Quentin Gunter, 2021 Committee Member of the Year

Quentin Gunter conveyed compassion, empathy, transparency, and integrity while planning the Triad LUNGe Forward 5K Run, Walk & Celebration. In addition to engaging in every step of the 5K event, Quentin also participates in community outreach. Here he demonstrates his ability to empathize and desire to serve people. The Triad LUNGe Forward 5K committee and the LCI community are extremely grateful for what Quentin has done to make a positive difference throughout the Triad region.

Alanis Menezes, 2021 Junior Volunteer of the Year

Three years ago, Alanis Menezes’ father was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Even though she was only in 6th grade, Alanis organized a school-wide fundraiser to increase awareness of lung cancer. Her fundraiser raised $1,059 for the Lung Cancer Initiative and helped to educate all of her fellow classmates on lung cancer. At the Evening of Hope Gala, Alanis and her brother volunteered by selling beads to guests. Despite her age, Alanis is dedicated to making a difference in the community and decreasing the stigma associated with lung cancer. We can’t wait for Alanis to join us as a volunteer at LCI this summer!