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!
My name is Mimi Gallagher and I am a 7 year survivor of late stage ovarian cancer. To my complete surprise, I was diagnosed in 2012. I immediately underwent a difficult, yet very successful, 11 hour surgery to remove all of the cancer. 5 months of grueling chemotherapy followed. During the chemo, I lost all of my hair and was very sick. I completed my last treatment on 12/12/12….now my lucky number! The ovarian cancer survival statistics are very grim: 70 percent of late stage patients die within the first 5 years. This is in large part due to the fact that there are still no screening tools to find the cancer in its earliest stages. As a result, most women are diagnosed at a late stage when the cancer has spread. It is also a cancer that has a high recurrence rate, which often makes long term survival even harder to achieve. I am so grateful to live in the Boston area despite how much I hate the cold weather! Some of the best physicians and medical facilities are right in my backyard. As a result, I was, and still am, cared for by an amazing team of doctors. One thing cancer has taught me is to soak up all the joy life has to offer in both big and small ways. Long walks with the dogs on a sunny day. Vacationing on Hilton Head and Nantucket. Family dinners on the screened porch Although the journey from diagnosis, through treatment to health has been difficult, I can honestly say I am the luckiest of the unlucky!
I'm a mom, a wife, and a singer. We're also new, pizza shop owners and I'm launching a bra line this year. So there's not much time for anything extra :). We are huge sports fans, so any free time is watching sports (or going to games in Philly when I sing the anthem) and of course spend as much time with our daughter, who is 10 years old. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma at age 16. I underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment. I was cancer free for 11 years and the cancer returned. I underwent chemotherapy and was cancer free for another 9 years. in 2009, the cancer returned and I had aggressive chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. I have been cancer free ever since! Fun facts.. let's see.... I'm a singer and that has allowed me to sing all over the world. I'm proud to have sung at the White House for President and Mrs. Bush, but my greatest thrill was to sing for Jeff & Tina Lurie's dinner (Philadelphia Eagles' owner) the night before Super Bowl 52. We won, by the way:). Little known tidbit...I didn't know until after the fact, but I was considered to replace PINK for the national anthem had she not been able to perform for the Super Bowl.
Chris Boulton was born in New York City before moving to Chicago. In middle school, he moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Chris attended UNC Chapel Hill where studied Business and worked in the athletic department. In the summer of college, Chris worked at Disney World as a steamboat captain and briefly dated one of the seven dwarfs. After college, he worked at NBC, helping with shows like Saturday Night Live, the Olympics, and the Super Bowl. He and his wife, Susan, moved back to Chapel Hill where they had three children – Allie, Tyler, and Kat. Chris currently works in the legal division at SAS Institute and his Tar Heel wife works at the Duke Cancer Institute. Allie and Tyler live and work in Durham, NC and Kat is a Junior at Wake. In 2017, Chris was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Last summer, Chris had surgery to remove the cancer and shows no signs of recurrence. Since then, Chris has enjoyed spending time on his sailboat and walking with his golden retriever, Rooney, and pug, Pug.
The type of cancer I had was Breast Cancer, it was discovered during a routine mammogram when I was 45. There are no cancer risks in my family, so, I was not at all concerned when I was called back for a second look and then a biopsy. When we received the diagnosis, it truly shocked us both. I received a bilateral mastectomy on October 19, 2011. I have had at least 6 operations to reconstruct what cancer took away. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it, and the way it has affected my family. I am an athlete, fitness trainer, Cyclebar Instructor, 2nd grade teacher, mommy to two wild teens and a wife to Chan, who I like to call Big Daddy. I have tried not to let this experience take away from the things I love to do, such as exercise and be strong, I have just had to learn different ways to do it. I live in Greenville, SC.
I am a North Carolina native, born in Burlington, NC. My initial professional training was in pharmacy. I received a BS and MS in pharmacy (there was no Pharm D program way back then). While teaching at UNC and working as a Clinical Pharmacist for the Nephrology service, my interests expanded beyond my job description, so I went back to Medical School at UNC for Internal Medicine training, I then completed a 3 year Fellowship at Duke in Nephrology and Hypertension. I have practiced with Carolina Kidney Associates in Greensboro, NC since 1991 and am looking forward to retirement from full time practice this year. My journey with breast cancer started in 2003 (at a time when my daughter was 13 and her Dad had just died the year before). I underwent mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. I was initially told I had a 50-50 change of being alive in 5 years. It was an incredibly difficult time for us. Well, I am currently 16 years beyond that diagnosis a long time though, at a very personal level, I was paralyzed by the overwhelming fear of recurrence. You could say I was alive, but not really living. About 10 years ago I had an “aha” moment, and I recognized that I needed to start really living. I lived to celebrate my daughter’s high school and college graduations, and her wedding to her wonderful husband Jonathan. She and I went to the summer Olympics in Beijing. I have flown in a helicopter, zip lined in Alaska, ice skated on Lake Louise, driven a snowmobile in the mountains of Golden BC, and most importantly rekindled my lifelong love for horses. The barn has become my “happy place“, and is where I have had the privilege of meeting and riding with McGee Bosworth who asked me to be a Champion this year. Every year I get a tattoo hash mark (I have 16 now) on my right arm to celebrate those years beyond a diagnosis of cancer, and to remind me how important it is to live every single minute of the life I have been given. In addition, being on the receiving end of medical treatment for a life threatening illness clearly made me a better doctor, a much more empathetic provider to my patients, all of whom have life changing if not life threatening problems. One of my favorite quotes “live well - love life - and do all things with kindness.“
Kila Tripp is from Cincinnati, Ohio and is a senior at Wake Forest University studying Politics and Economics. On January 3rd 2012, as a freshman in high school, she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells. She and her family knew something was wrong when she fainted playing tennis over Christmas break. Her cancer had an Ikaros mutation which had only been discovered five years prior to her diagnosis. Following her diagnosis, she underwent nine chemotherapy drugs, countless medications to mitigate side effects, as well as radiation treatment for 2.5 years. All of these treatments were made possible through cancer research. This April she will be celebrating five years of being cancer free. Her cancer experience and her grandmother’s battle with cancer has motivated Kila to be very involved with Wake ‘N Shake while at Wake Forest. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her friends and family and traveling. From her own cancer journey, Kila has seen the positive impact from cancer research. She hopes that by raising money for the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fun the threat of cancer can be eliminated and more birthdays can be celebrated. She is excited for her last time dancing at Wake ‘N Shake before she graduates and moves to Washington, D.C.
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.
Karly Billips is from Greensboro, North Carolina and is a Senior at Northwest Guilford High school. She has been accepted and will be attending Appalachian State University in the Fall of 2020 after taking a gap year to work with an African Childrens choir from Uganda. On June 18th 2018, she was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of your lymphatic system, at 17 years of age. Karly began treatment on July 16th 2018 which would consist of 6 different types of chemo along with many other medications that would bring harsh side affects. Throughout her treatments Karly had many complications and underwent 2 blood infections and a port infection delaying her treatments. She finally finished and rang the bell on October 15th of 2018. Karly has just celebrated 6 months free of treatment and is thankful for each and every day. She truly believes that her journey would not have been made possible if it weren’t for the faith she has, the faith of her family, and the faithfulness of her church. During her journey Karly’s community supported her and her family constantly. Through her treatment she has realized the overwhelming importance of cancer research and has a new desire to help to raise money for support of research so that other kids will not have to go through the extensive journey that cancer encompasses. She desires to be part of Wake and Shake so that more people can be encouraged and see first hand affects of their efforts.
Rusty is from Morganton, North Carolina. The type of cancer he had was lymphoma, which means it attacked his bone marrow and stem cells, affecting his entire body rather than just one or two organs. In many ways he believes this was fortunate in that he didn't have to undergo radiation to a specific spot on his body, but he did have to endure massive amounts of chemo. Even then, in order to eradicate the cancerous cells from inside him, his doctor essentially had to kill all of his white blood cells and keep him in isolation for 28 days as she harvested new ones from him, grew them more in a clean lab, then replanted them intravenously back into him, which is what a “stem cell/bone marrow“ transplant is all about. He says though it was a nauseating experience, his system is essentially almost 4 years old, like a partially rebuilt engine in a car, and he still free and clear of the disease! Rusty doesn’t consider himself a champion or hero. Rather, he sees life as having to play the cards you’re dealt. Due to the absolutely amazing science and technology out there and available to his doctors at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital, he is alive today. They, therefore, and by extension the entire medical community are the heros.
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!
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.
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.
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.