September 29, 2011

Those frustrated by current tensions and bitterness on Capitol Hill would have relished the warmth and unity as a bipartisan, bicameral group of Members, their spouses and family members gathered for the 19th annual Congressional Families Action for Cancer Awareness Awards luncheon.  The theme was Celebrating 20 years of Families Who Serve, an observance of the 20 year milestone of the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention program founded in 1991. (The Prevent Cancer Foundation program provides tools to Congressional spouses and family members for use in their home states and nationwide.)

Award recipients: (L. to R.) Freda Manzullo, The Honorable Lois Capps, Steve Andrews, Erin Andrews

With well known television journalist Paula Zahn (currently hosting Investigation Discovery Channel’s On the Case with Paula Zahn) ably at the helm as Mistress of Ceremonies, the following awards were presented:

The Congressional Families Leadership Award was presented to Freda Manzullo, (wife of Congressman Don Manzullo, Illinois) by her dear friend, Diana Enzi (wife of Senator Mike Enzi, Wyoming).   A lymphoma survivor, Freda has made it her mission to raise awareness, especially about listening to signs from our bodies and getting checked by a health practitioner.

The Excellence in Cancer Awareness Award went to House Cancer Caucus co-chair Congresswoman Lois Capps.  In presenting the award, her daughter Laura Burton Capps shared the pain of losing her sister Lisa at age 35 to lung cancer. Congresswoman Capps, a former nurse, uses her experience, compassion and legislative skills as a national leader in this area. She pledged to reintroduce the Comprehensive Cancer Care Improvement Act.

The final presentation of the Distinguished Service in Journalism Award was to our first father-daughter duo:  seven time Emmy winning journalist Steve Andrews of Florida, a prostate cancer survivor, with daughter Erin Andrews — an ESPN broadcaster, Emmy award winner, and “Dancing with the Stars” finalist.  Together, they are using their talents and visibility to educate the public about prostate cancer awareness through “On the Line”. The initiative uses the power of sports entertainment to encourage freer conversation about prostate cancer. Alfredia Aaron Scott, (wife of Congressman David Scott, Georgia and sister of baseball great Hank Aaron) presented the award vowing to talk to the men in her life about having prostate checkups.

The annual luncheon is held each September to thank Congressional families for their service throughout the year and inspire them to recommit to the fight against cancer by highlighting the stories of a few exceptional individuals.   This was my eighth luncheon as executive director and I was privileged to have the opportunity to thank these families who carry nationwide the message of prevention.

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