October 2, 2017

Mercy Development Foundation awards highest honor

During the recent Mercy Development Foundation Founders Day Donor Recognition event, the foundation awarded patient Rhonda Griffin and her husband Perry its highest honor—the St. Augustine Award for Distinguished Service. The annual award recognizes individuals whose leadership and vision have impacted and helped transform Mercy Medical Center.

Since 2009, the Griffins’ fundraiser, Cruisin for Cancer, a car show they hold every year in Louisville, Ohio, has raised more than $60,000 for Mercy Cancer Center. Their gifts assist Mercy cancer patients with the purchase of wigs, prostheses, head coverings, skin care products, physician office co-pays and transportation costs.

Rhonda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and underwent surgery and radiation treatment at Mercy. Since July 2017, Rhonda has been cancer free for eight years. She credits the diligence of Diane Wofsey, breast nurse navigator, as well as Mercy Cancer Center's exceptional care, with saving her life. She says the experience opened her eyes to people in need in her own community, as well as to the programs that exist to help.

During her treatment at Mercy, Rhonda met many other cancer patients and learned about their stories. "I quickly realized how fortunate I was to have good health insurance," said Rhonda. "I paid very little out of pocket for my care. Yet, I often would sit next to someone who had very little.”

Interactions at the cancer center, together with a love of cars that she and her husband share, sparked the car show idea. They were motivated by the desire to promote early cancer detection, community resources for cancer patients and giving locally. The event has grown each year, attracting hundreds of cars and nearly 1,000 visitors. Mercy also provides health screenings at the event.

In 2013, the Griffins started partnering with the Stark County Sheriff's Department, which not only assists in collecting donations, but also wrapped a Sheriff's cruiser in pink. This pink cruiser has become a visible symbol in the community of the commitment of the sheriff's office in the fight against cancer. This year, Barley's Heating and Air Conditioning in Canton, along with other sponsors and patrons, extended the Griffins’ generosity even further.

Each year, Mercy Development Foundation recognizes the founding of Mercy Medical Center by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, who opened the hospital’s doors on September 24, 1908 – the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mercy. In September 2011, Mercy Medical Center formally and publicly launched Mercy Development Foundation as a separate, non-profit, fundraising arm of the hospital with a sole purpose of enhancing Mercy’s capabilities, allowing it to be responsive to the health care needs of the community, and helping it continue the mission established by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine 109 years ago.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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