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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

The Afterglow of Special Love Inc. Gala!

October 1, 2022

Ahh, it was nice to wake up and not think about a video to post. The Special Love Gala was outstanding last night, raising funds for their programs with Childhood Cancer Camps - BRASS and Camp Fantastic, and being in-person at an event we’ve (almost) long forgotten how to be because of the isolation from Covid.

Events are now shipping with guests in attendance thrilled to be part of something once again. At least, that’s how I felt the entire night.

It was an exciting night with the Circle of Love award bestowed to Dr. Steve Chanock, a kind, compassionate, and caring Camp Doc for over 27 summers in the mountains of Front Royal, VA. When he is not planning for 100 cancer kid campers to descend on the 4-H Center, Dr. Steve is a leading expert in the discovery and characterization of cancer susceptibility regions in the human genome and currently serves as Director of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI). My/our son, Ryan, goes back 26 years with Dr. Steve and all the camps and weekends they attended together.

What I found most appealing was when he stepped up to the microphone, after a standing ovation, that he mentioned several times in his speech that it was the kids he has treated for over two decades who have become the biggest inspirations in his life (his family, too!). The kids facing insurmountable odds are the most resilient humans he has ever worked with in his illustrious career.

Over 300 people, including our table of 10, became instant fans of Dr. Steve (wearing his trademark crazy hat the entire night).

Sitting there and seeing many families we’ve come to know through the Special Love Programs kept me smiling ear to ear. We found our tribe in 1997 and never looked back. I couldn’t be more grateful for the powerful combination of volunteers and an astute medical staff to accommodate thousands of kids and families for 39 years! Plus, my hubby Bill has served on the Board for close to five years!


The evening was magical and a fitting end to celebrating Childhood Cancer Awareness month. I took a few videos I may post down the line, but my two favorite photos of the night are for today’s post.



Table 20: Beth and Don Tomoff; Linda Blachly, Karen and Dale Ewing; me, Ryan, Bill, Susie Steveson, and Patty Lubin.

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