By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Kristi Ramsey doesn’t like attention, but for a good cause, she’s stepping into the spotlight.
The London resident and leukemia survivor is one of five nominees for Woman of the Year through the Central Ohio chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Nominees are asked to raise money for the Society. Each dollar raised equals one vote. At the end of the 10-week fundraising run, the nominee with the most “votes” is named Woman of the Year and recognized at a gala on May 16. Six men are vying for Man of the Year honors.
Ramsey teaches fourth grade at St. Catharine Elementary in Bexley. A parent of one of her former students made the nomination. Fellow teachers jumped in feet first, organizing a penny war, St. Patrick Day raffle, euchre tournament, dance, jewelry party and more, all to benefit the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society.
“I’m just overwhelmed,” Ramsey said of the outpouring of support and the fundraising challenge. “It’s a lot of work but it’s a lot of fun, especially when you believe in what you are doing.”
Family and friends are helping with fundraisers, too, including a raffle slated for March 26 at Rothwell’s Restaurant in London.
Ramsey, 40, was 14 when she was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow and the most common cancer in children. After radiation, chemotherapy and a one-month hospital stay, Ramsey’s cancer went into remission.
Three years later, the cancer was back. Treatment the second time around was especially intense: total body radiation, high-dose chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
Ramsey’s sister, Aliese, 13 at the time, served as the bone marrow donor. Unfortunately, Ramsey contracted graft versus host disease when her body rejected the donor marrow. Treatment involved high-dose steroids, which weakened her femurs. She had both of her hips replaced in 1992 and the left hip replaced again in April 2013.
“Other than that, I’m healthy. There have been no more recurrences,” Ramsey said. “And I have two children, which was a total, happy surprise because I was told that probably would not happen.”
Ramsey and her husband, Chris, will celebrate their 15th anniversary in June. Their daughter, Emma, is 12. Their son, Jacob, is 4.
Ramsey said she is appreciative of the work the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society does, from providing information to families of newly diagnosed patients to funding research. In her fundraising quest, she is drawing inspiration from the Society’s Boy of the Year, Evan Schroeder, 8, of Delaware, and Lina Harris, 4, of Pickerington. Both have been diagnosed with different forms of leukemia.
“I got to meet them at a preview party the Society held in February. I also met the other Woman of the Year and Man of the Year candidates,” Ramsey said.
The Woman of the Year and Man of the Year kick-off party took place March 6. In April, the group will meet again for a mid-point rallying party. Fundraising will wrap up in May before the finale gala.
Over one million people in the United States are living with or in remission from blood cancers. Every four minutes, someone new is diagnosed. New cases account for 9 percent of the 1.5 million new cancer diagnoses each year.
For more information, go to www.lls.org.