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Living to Give

BY Riki Altman-Yee and David M. Brown | October 25, 2017 | Feature Features National

From eradicating life-threatening diseases and spreading smiles to improving the arts and ushering in a new generation of givers, these champions of charity are raising the bar on generosity in the Valley.
Billy and Nicole Cundiff with daughter Chloe

Seeking a Cure
Nicole and Billy Cundiff set their sights on eradicating ovarian cancer once and for all.

Nicole and Billy Cundiff know ovarian cancer is not a hot topic of conversation. It certainly was not top of mind Sept. 16, 2007, when the couple eagerly awaited Billy’s next NFL kicker contract. But when Nicole’s mom, Colleen Drury, was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer that day, everything changed. The couple learned that particular disease is the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in America, and less than half of those diagnosed at advanced stages live more than five years. The Cundiffs returned to Arizona and started a nonprofit with Nicole’s three sisters and her parents. “We had enough knowledge to be dangerous,” Billy says. “And we were crazy enough to think it would work,” Nicole adds. Colleen’s Dream Foundation was born, destined to generate awareness and fund research that would hopefully lead to reliable early detection tests and improved, more humane treatment for women with late-stage ovarian cancer. Many local businesses help the foundation raise money, and even the Cundiffs’ 9-year-old daughter, Chloe, has earned more than $7,000 selling lemonade on weekends, but its largest fundraiser has been the annual Colleen’s Dream Golf Tournament (Feb. 23, 10:30am, Biltmore Golf Club, Adobe Course, 2400 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix) and Evening of Dreams Gala (Feb. 24, 5:30pm, JW Marriott Camelback Inn, 5402 E. Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale), which has helped the foundation grant more than $650,000 to researchers throughout the country. This year, some of the proceeds raised supported Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, which, Nicole says, is close to initiating a clinical trial of a new targeted treatment option. Billy, who jokingly admits he knows “entirely too much about female reproductive health,” says he is determined to enlighten everyone about ovarian cancer, starting with the basics: “Everybody has a mom.”

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