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Strobel Awards honor vital role played by volunteers at VUMC

May. 9, 2019, 9:25 AM

Lily Hensiek, here with Debra Friedman, MD, was honored for raising awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research.

by Paige Turner

Volunteers from across Vanderbilt University Medical Center were recognized at the Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Awards on April 30. The awards, held each year by Hands on Nashville, recognize the volunteers making a difference throughout the community.

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt patient and volunteer Lily Hensiek, 18, took home the award in the Capacity-Building Volunteer category for her work in raising awareness for pediatric cancer and funds to support discovery.

“I am so honored to have been nominated for this award,” Hensiek said in her acceptance speech. “I think back to when I was 7 years old and was first diagnosed with cancer. All I knew as a young kid was that cancer was horrible. I saw other kids suffering, and I knew I wanted to do something so that no child would ever have to go through that. I never dreamed that so many people would join me to support these efforts.”

A two-time leukemia survivor, Hensiek has raised millions of dollars through community fundraisers and individual donors to create the Lily’s Garden Endowed Lecture in Childhood Cancer and the Lily’s Garden Research Fund, supporting guest lectures and research opportunities for faculty members and fellows in pediatric hematology/oncology. Most recently, her family established a separate endowment to fully fund a named fellowship to support the training and research of future leaders in pediatric oncology.

Hensiek concluded her remarks by thanking her family, friends and community, as well as the team at Children’s Hospital, specifically recognizing her doctor, Debra Friedman, MD, E. Bronson Ingram Chair of Pediatric Oncology, and director of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

Children’s Hospital volunteers Henry Rothenberg, Heidi Garber, Timothy Dilks and his dog Riley also received nominations and were honored at the ceremony. Shannon Flahaven and Estella Pan were nominated from VUMC, and Keith Loftis received a nomination from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Volunteers play a vital role across the Medical Center. They advocate for programs, help make patients and families comfortable and provide support to staff. In 2018, approximately 1,031 volunteers provided more than 38,000 service hours.

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