Don and Angie Ward say it wasn’t one particular event that cemented their support for The Ohio State University Medical Center. Instead, it was a series of small, happy events that led the couple to become two of the University’s biggest boosters and lifelong benefactors of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.
The couple, former owners of Special Claims Services Inc., has used proceeds from their business to create a charitable gifts fund for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research and for human cancer genetics. “Every dollar that goes to the Stefanie Spielman Fund is used for cancer research,” notes Angie. “It makes giving to the fund very real and very meaningful.”
The Wards’ relationship with Ohio State took root in the 1980s when the couple lived in Northern Ohio. All eyes were focused on soon-to-be OSU football great Chris Spielman, who then was a nationally recognized high school football star in Massillon. “We lived in Canal Fulton when Chris Spielman was on the Wheaties box,” says Angie. “His wife was from (nearby) Jackson Township. We always thought of them like our hometown neighbors who did good.”
When the Wards later moved to the Mount Vernon area, they became entrenched in OSU football. “We’ve been football fans for many years now,” says Angie. “We would come down for games and tailgates. We kind of became fanatics.” Don and Angie soon joined the OSU Alumni Club of Knox County, a group that included both alumni and friends.
When David Schuller, MD, Ohio State physician and emeritus chief executive officer of The James, came to speak to the alumni club, it inspired the Wards to learn more. “There’s so much you can do for Ohio State,” she notes. “People
don’t always realize that they can contribute and make a
The couple toured The James with Schuller and Stefanie Spielman, whom they had long admired. Schuller and Spielman related stories to the couple that demonstrated how Ohio State research has led to exciting advances in the fight against cancer. “That all made it very real for us.” In fact, the tour was so powerful that the Wards felt compelled to find ways to support the hospital.
Today, the Wards split their time between Ohio and Florida, although the Ohio State spirit is never far from their hearts. “OSU is full of down-to-earth people,” says Angie, “But isn’t that the Midwestern way?”
This story was written by Laura Wise-Blau.