In 2011, for the first time in Wake ‘N Shake history, we added a “Team Champion” to each team. The Team Champion is an individual who has fought or is currently fighting cancer. At the event, they inspire dancers with their courage and strength as they speak about their battles with cancer. This page contains the list of Wake 'N Shake champions from years past.Click here to see this year's champions!
Gayle was diagnosed with malignant melanoma just before Thanksgiving in 2008. She was on an airplane headed somewhere across the US for work – clinical research, no less. Although her therapeutic area is oncology – she had no experience with melanoma and in the past had always dismissed it as something “they could just cut out”. Hearing the concern in her doctors’ voices, she knew this was not the case. Between November 2008 and March of 2014, she has had a lymphadenectomy, radiation, two small intestine resections, and treatment with ipilimumab. Suffering a side effect from “ipi” she was hospitalized for 51 days in the winter of 2014 and lost her colon (thus she calls herself a “semicolon”.) But today – this semicolon is cancer free! She was born and reared in Greensboro, NC, graduated from Meredith, taught high school biology in Northern Virginia and then in Wilmington, NC. She eventually left teaching and ended up in clinical research; in which she continues to work and loves! She married in 2013 and now resides in Mooresville, NC with a husband whom she met later in life and she says “He was worth the wait!”
Judy Coalson’s journey with cancer began last January when she was working in a dental practice associated with Baptist hospital here in Winston and she complained of a crown cutting her tongue. After a biopsy, it was determined that she was in the early stages of oral cancer. By the time she had her first surgery, the cancer had already spread to the lymph nodes in her neck. She went through extensive radiation and chemotherapy and was declared cancer-free several months later. She had the opportunity to work with Take The Fight, an organization that helps patients undergoing treatment, and said this made her experience much easier and she made several close friends through the organization. Although she had to retire early after the chemotherapy took a toll on her health, she has now moved to Mt. Airy where she has made lots of new friends, stays busy, and gets to see her daughter frequently. She even got a Chihuahua named Bentley! Her favorite quote is “where there is love, there is hope”.
Jean Lord is a native of Winston Salem. She went to Queen’s University of Charlotte with a BA in religion and philosophy. She lived in Greensboro for a time but settled permanently in Winston. Her first work was with Christian education and she then taught kindergarten in public school until retiring in 1994. She has 3 children, 3 children-in law, and 7 grandkids! The whole family lives in North Carolina and they get to spend a lot of time together. Jean’s husband passed away after a battle with Pancreatic cancer and she is currently battling her second round of adenocarcinoma, which she was diagnosed with in 2004. Even though both instances were the same variety of cancer, the two cases are unrelated. She has received chemotherapy treatment and surgeries and all of her care has been at Wake Forest. She is still in treatment for adenocarcinoma and is recovering from a recent surgery. In her free time Jean likes to spend time with her family and loves relaxing at the Outer Banks. She is a member Alpha Delta Kappa, an honor society for educators, and is very active in her church, Mount Tabor United Methodist. Jean has also spent time volunteering at Forsyth Medical Center, Meals on Wheels, and as a public school volunteer at Bolton Elementary School. Jean’s family describes her as a trouper and a hero, and we agree!
Cathy Chinlund’s journey with breast cancer began in June 2006. She discovered a lump in her breast which was diagnosed as early stage 3 lobular cancer (which does not show up on a mammogram!) 8 rounds of chemo 2 weeks apart began several weeks later, followed by a bilateral mastectomy in November. Two weeks after the surgery, she fell (going into the WFU-Vanderbilt basketball game!) and broke her arm, which led to a 7 week delay in radiation because she couldn’t raise her arm high enough to get it out of the way for radiation. 30 treatments later she was allowed to 'rest' from treatments during the summer. Mid-fall reconstruction was interrupted by a car wreck that fractured her sternum from the impact of the air bag. That necessitated an additional surgery to replace the expander. But almost 2 years after diagnosis she was put back together again, and now almost 9 years later, she is cancer-free! Cathy has worked at Wake Forest almost 29 years, mostly in University Advancement, and loves music and college ministry. In fact, the small group she sings with at her church has sung the National Anthem at a WFU basketball game 13 times, and the Deacs are 11-2 when they have sung! She is blessed to have the love and support of her husband Skip, daughter Katie ’06, and lots of family and friends.
Originally from Germanton, NC but currently residing in Walnut Cove, NC, Rick Rutledge is a brain tumor survivor whose journey began in 2012. Mr. Rutledge lost consciousness at his work place, where he works as a machine specialist and severely injured himself. After being assessed at a nearby hospital, he then was airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He suffered several injuries including a broken collar bone and ribs, but it was the further investigation into his brain injuries that revealed the tumor in his right frontal lobe. His family and faith gave him the strength to fight the cancer and endure the surgery which removed part of his tumor. In spite of his difficult circumstances, he continually demonstrated his compassion and kindness to those who cared for him. His home-made pound cakes brought joy and happiness to those he met, both staff, doctors, and fellow patients. In addition to being a dad, a husband, a baker, and a cancer survivor, Mr. Rutledge is a devoted runner. His passion for running is demonstrated in his numerous races that he has dedicated to cancer research. His courage, strength, perseverance, and journey are epitomized in his favorite quote that is engraved onto his running ID: 'Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.'
Dr. Ashley Mays is an otolaryngologist, or ear, nose and throat surgeon, completing her fourth and final year of residency at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. She is a Wake Forest alumna who received both the Presidential and Poteat Scholarships. She also served as the president of Screamin’ Demons when the Deacs excelled in both basketball and football! Dr. Mays was drawn to otolaryngology care and research due to her passion for the care of critically ill patients. She goes the extra mile to ensure the patient is as comfortable as possible during an extremely stressful time. Due to the nature of her field, Dr. Mays is often tasked with delivering delicate, devastating news to patients to better prepare them for future treatment. Dr. May’s research on this topic was recently published in both the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and Reuters. In her research, Dr. Mays developed an algorithm to determine whether or not patients would require feeding tubes after undergoing head and neck surgery. Dr. Mays hopes her findings will encourage doctors to take proactive action against unfavorable nutrition outcomes for patients post-surgery.
Haley Mellert is 34, and she has been cancer free for 9 years. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was 25 and just out of graduate school. She fought through 6 rounds of chemotherapy and beat the disease on December 22, 2006. Originally from West Virginia, Haley now lives in Winston-Salem and is now the Personnel Director for Maxim Healthcare Services. She loves to vacation in North Myrtle Beach with her sister and her nieces. She’s also an avid runner and loves participating in local 5K’s and races. Some of her favorite places to run in Winston-Salem include Salem lake and local neighborhoods. Last summer, she even participated in a Tough Mudder obstacle course with a fellow cancer survivor! Haley has a new outlook on life since her diagnosis. She no longer sweats the little things and doesn’t take anything for granted. To celebrate her victory, Haley adopted a kitten. She sees each one of its birthdays as another year she’s cancer-free. Despite her hardships, Haley gets through each day by remembering this quote by Gilda Radner: ”Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment, and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next.”
Windy Scott is a 3 year colon cancer survivor. Born in Alexander County, NC, she now resides in Statesville, NC. She has worked as an inspirational vocalist, travelling around North Carolina and singing internationally in place such as Africa and Israel. In 2001, Scott had the honor of singing for former Governor Mike Easley at his inauguration. After battling cancer, she began singing jazz as a way to start a new chapter in her life. She believes in living life to its fullest with no regrets, taking chances, and just living in the moment. Scott is the proud grandmother of 17 grandchildren. She loves the Dallas Cowboys, blue grass music, and southern gospel hymns.
Gator was born in 1952 in a small mining town named Mccoll, near the NC/SC line. From an early age he was fascinated by police officers and cars, and in June 1973 he began his 30 year career as a State Trooper. He retired in 2003 and moved with his wife, Stephanie, and his three children to Carroll County, VA. One day in May of 2006 he noticed a small knot on his left forearm, and after being forced to see the doctor by his wife he found out it was Merkell Cell Cancer. Gator received this news over the phone, and after hanging up he immediately prayed to God asking him to remove this illness from him. At that moment, he felt touched by a divine force, and was sure he would be spared from his disease. Gator soon received treatment and was not bothered by cancer for seven years. Then, just before Christmas of last year, he noticed another knot on his left knee. The Merkell Cell cancer had returned, and once again it was removed before it could spread. Gator’s faith, as well as his loving and supportive family, have helped him combat his disease twice now. His children are having successful academic careers, all enrolled at Emory and Mason College. Gator now works as a School Resource Officer for the Carroll County Virginia’s Sheriff’s Office, and loves the feeling of being a granddaddy to over 2,000 kids.
I graduated Cum Laude from the University of Georgia in 2000 with a BS in Cellular Biology and BSEd in Exercise Sports Science and was an Honors Program participant. I went to medical school at the Medical College of Georgia and graduated in 2004. After medical school I moved to North Carolina where I completed an Orthopaedic Surgery residency at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. After residency I spent one year at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine for specialized training in Orthopaedic Oncology. Upon completing my fellowship I returned to join the faculty of Wake Forest School of Medicine in 2010. In addition to my clinical work, my area of research focuses on ways to prevent complications associated with radiation that patients receive as part of their treatment for cancer.
Cindy Ferguson currently lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband John. She is the mother of two daughters - Elizabeth, who is currently a sophomore at Wake, and Emily, who is a junior at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta. Cindy was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer a year ago and still continues her fight. She has a passion for volunteering and serving others, and she serves on boards for The National Charity League, as well as for her church and her daughters' schools in Atlanta. Her favorite singer is George Strait, or really just about anything country, and one fun fact about Cindy is that she used to date Dean Cain, who then dumped her for Brooke Shields. Cindy is so excited to participate in Wake N Shake and can't wait to help raise money for an organization that is so dear to her heart.
Sandie Lewis was born and raised in the Motor City “Detroit, MI”. She relocated to the beautiful Winston-Salem in 2013. She is the youngest and the only girl of her family. Sandie spends her free time roller skating, shopping, and hanging out with her Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Sisters. She is a fan of New Edition and Beyoncé. A few months after Sandie’s relocation to Winston by herself, she felt a lump in her breasts. She had felt one before and it turned out to be benign. When she felt another, she wasn’t too concerned. When her doctor felt the lump during a routine check-up and knew something wasn’t right. She was concerned and insisted that she get a diagnostic ultrasound. Well, when she received the results that she indeed had cancer, she was in total shock. Being in Winston alone and not knowing what to do, she went into fight mode. She knew she wasn’t going to let this get her down. She was then scheduled for a lumpectomy and 36 rounds of radiation and she is happy to report she has been cancer free for almost 4 years. She want to share her story that even alone you can fight and win. If she can share her story to give courage to one person to let them know you can beat this and you must fight, that would make her day. This was a wake-up call for her. When something feels strange, don’t hesitate to get it checked out. It’s been almost 4 years since her surgery and she has never in my life felt better. Her mission is to spread knowledge about this disease and help raise monies to find a cure.
Omer Tomlinson graduated from California State University. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and his daughter, Alisha, is a Double Deac receiving both an undergraduate and masters degree from Wake Forest University. He has three beautiful grandchildren. Omer was an English and speech teacher at Anaheim Union High School District, and then had a long career in radio as a former DJ. He now works in TV advertising. Omer was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer this past December. He is currently undergoing Chemotherapy at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital with encouraging results!
Robin Bralley grew up in Clemmons and has called it home all her life. She has a degree from High Point University. She and her husband, Tim, have been married for 28 years and share two grown daughters, Briana and Morgan, as well as a new son-in-law, Briana’s husband, Jonathan! Robin started her journey this past November with a mammogram. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. She believes that cancer has a way of making you see life in a much different way. Every moment, even the little things are so much sweeter. Things you took for granted are now meaningful, and the things you thought were so important aren’t such a big deal after all. Robin and her family are avid Carolina Panthers fans and enjoy going to the movies and summer concerts. She loves the beach and especially her annual family vacations on the gulf coast of Florida. Her favorite group is Casting Crowns, but she is also an avid fan of country music! She is also an active member of Sunrise United Methodist Church and volunteers for bimonthly bread pick-up to support the Clemmons Food Pantry.
Jennah Morris lives in Todd, NC which is right outside of Boone. She is currently working as a bank teller at Wells Fargo. She was diagnosed with an ependymoma brain tumor December 23rd, 2015, had her surgery December 30th, 2015, and was at Baptist until March 7th, 2016, where she underwent 6 weeks of radiation therapy. She also was at the sticht center undergoing physical, occupational, recreational, and speech therapy. Jennah is a Carolina Panthers fan and a Tennessee Vols fan by blood! What got her through that tough time in her life was Jesus, her wonderful family, friends, and the prayers from all around the world. She looks forward to inspiring others to be positive in their journeys!
Mike Lambros is married to his wife, Sharon, for 38 years and together they have a son, Joshua. Mike has coached 38 seasons at North Davidson. He has coached football, wrestling, and softball. He has received the conference Coach of the Year award 28 times during his career and has coached 16 high school All Americans, 28 All South Region, All State and 205 All Conference players. In 2012, he was inducted into the Davidson County Sports Hall of Fame, inducted into the North Carolina FastPitch Coaches Association in 2013, and received the Long Leaf Pine Award in 2016. This past August, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is going through chemo treatments at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Larry Jordan currently lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with his wife Diane. His hobbies including fishing and watching sports. He especially loves Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Dallas Cowboys!. He was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the lung in October of 2014. Thanks to the support of Take the Fight as well as his doctors and wife, he has been able to handle his diagnosis and treatment. He thanks God that he is still in remission today.
Kathryn Gantt is from Statesville, NC. On Christmas Day, her husband noticed a lump over the top of her right breast and asked, "What is that?" Following an appointment with her doctor, she immediately went for a mammogram that determined she had a rare form of cancer called myeloid sarcoma; she was one of six with such a diagnosis. With God's strength, her husband’s unwavering support, and countless prayers, Kathryn finished her course of treatment at the end of the year. In looking to foster renewed happiness in her life, Kathryn began breeding Broodmare horses with the help of her cousin Steve. They now have three broodmares and greatly enjoy every aspect of the “horse-life.” Aside from caring for her horses, Shannon enjoys listening to the opera singer Andre Bocelli, even attending one of his concerts in Ft. Lauderdale.