The Butterfly Effect, by Michelle Shkolnick

For a long time, I continued my subscription to Newsweek magazine just because of one column written by a man with the gift of taking common and not-so-common happenings and turning them into great life lessons. I have never forgotten one particular issue in which the columnist wrote about “the butterfly effect.” At its core, the butterfly effect has to do with chaos theory and “is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place can result in large differences to a later state.” Simply put, the butterfly effect suggests that a butterfly flapping its wings could cause a tiny breeze that might ultimately change the course of a tornado or a hurricane on another continent.

Think about that…

Just one little butterfly flapping its wings…a small change in one corner of the world impacting weather patterns in another.

As we move full throttle into Relay season in Nebraska, I am reminded of how Relay started…one little butterfly flapping his wings.

The first Relay For Life in Tacoma, Washington, 1985. Dr. Gordon Klatt in center.

In 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon, wanted to show support for his patients and raise money for his local American Cancer Society office. He walked and ran around a track in Tacoma, WA for more than 83 miles over a 24-hour period. He had over 300 folks come out and show their support. Friends paid $25 to walk/run with Dr. Klatt that night, and as a result, he raised over $27,000. The following year, 19 teams took part and they raised $33,000.

Relay For Life was born…because Dr. Klatt flapped his wings.

 I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March of 2001. After my mastectomy, I underwent eight rounds of two different kinds of chemotherapy. This was followed by seven weeks of radiation, which was followed by five years of Tamoxifen, which was followed by five more years of Femara. Because of the precision of my treatment (and perhaps the flap of a butterfly’s wings somewhere in Moscow), I celebrated 11 years cancer free in March.

 My first Relay was the result of a “wing-flap” by my chemo nurses. About half way through my eight round protocol, one of them invited me out to this “neat little thing” they called Relay For Life that was happening the following day. I joined them on the track that warm night in June and my life has never been the same. The butterfly effect is rooted in the notion that small events can have large, widespread impacts. That one little wing-flap…the invitation to come out that night…has changed the course of my life forever.

 Think about this…

Dr. Gordy Klatt

…seemingly small things with large impacts…

Never doubt the difference WE are making in the fight against cancer. Since inception, Relay For Life has grown from one man walking a track in Tacoma, Washington to over 5,200 communities in the United States and over 20 countries across the globe. Relay has raised over $4.5 BILLION to fight cancer through research, education, advocacy and services. As a result, cancer death rates have decreased by 23% in men and 15% in women since the early 1990’s. In the last two decades, this means that more than a MILLION cancer deaths have been avoided and today, there are over 12 MILLION survivors…one of whom might be standing next to you in the grocery store check-out line or sitting next to you at your kid’s piano recital.

 …not bad for one little butterfly, on a track in Tacoma, Washington 27 years ago…

 …and not bad for all of us flapping our wings hoping to change the course of cancer in every corner of the world.

 Personal note: Earlier this year, Dr. Klatt was diagnosed with stomach cancer. As he wages a very personal battle with cancer, please keep our butterfly in your thoughts and prayers.

by Michelle Shkolnick – 2012 Hero of Hope

This is the third post of Michelle Shkolnick’s  series as a contributor for the site.  Shkolnick, who is an American Cancer Society Relay For Life Hero of Hope in 2012 will share her captivating writing ability with ACSNebraska readers every other week in May and June.  She will talk about her cancer journey, the American Cancer Society, Relay For Life, survivorship and the people she’s met along the way.  Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 and began Relaying in Omaha that summer.  This year, she travels across Nebraska talking to fellow Relayers and inspiring people to help the American Cancer Society make a difference by saving lives.  Please check back with or subscribe to the site because you won’t want to miss a word of Michelle’s stories.  Her next story is scheduled to be posted on Tuesday, June 19.


One-of-a-Kind Golf Tournament to Benefit the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is inviting Omaha area golfers to dust off their clubs and find some 80s garb for the Passport to the Cure Golf Tournament on August 23rd at the Field Club of Omaha (3615 Woolworth Ave.).  A one-of-a-kind tournament that boasts this year’s theme of “Caddyshacking it Up” is sure to be the event of the year.  This year’s event includes a four-person scramble followed by a cocktail reception.

“We are extremely excited about this year’s format,” commented event co-chair Andrea Wells.  “There’s no better way to support the fight against cancer than to spend a day on the golf course followed by a fun-filled cocktail reception.  We have some great things planned that will make it an unforgettable experience for all attendees.”

One of the many features at this year’s golf tournament is a hole in one contest with a chance to win a two-year lease of a Mercedes E 350 Sedan from Mercedes of Omaha. During the cocktail reception we will host a lively silent and live auction while, DJ Chris Suit Jones entertains the crowd.

Put on your plaid pants and lace up your golfing shoes as the day begins with a shotgun start at noon followed by the cocktail reception at 5 p.m.  Tickets are $500 for a foursome or $125 per golfer and include green fees, cart, food, beverage and tickets to the cocktail party.  Individual tickets for the cocktail party that include food and beverages may be purchased for $35. Sponsorship opportunities are still available at various levels. All tickets and sponsorships may be purchased by going to

If you would like more information about the event or how to get involved please contact your American Cancer Society staff partner Holly Goodrich at 402-398-0764 or

Lincoln Stars to Team Up with American Cancer Society for “Jerseys Off Our Backs” Night

The Lincoln Stars hockey team and the American Cancer Society are pleased to announce their partnership for the game Saturday, March 17 versus the Des Moines Buccaneers.  The game will include specially designed game-worn jerseys that will be auctioned off immediately following the contest at the “Jerseys Off Our Backs” auction. 

“The American Cancer Society is extremely excited to partner with the Lincoln Stars for this event for the fourth year in a row,” commented Mike Lefler, Director of Communications for the American Cancer Society.  “For the past several years, the Stars have been one of our organization’s biggest supporters here in Nebraska thanks to their commitment, and the commitment of their fans to the Society’s mission of saving lives and fighting back against cancer.”

The auction will be held in the Mutual of Omaha Bank Zone in the north end of the Ice Box.  Fans may register for a bid number at the Fan Services booth in the south entrance prior to the start of the auction.  Winners will receive the jersey, their photo with the player and a gift certificate from FastFrames Lincoln. Proceeds from the auction will go to benefit the American Cancer Society.

The Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League (USHL) are currently in their 16th season in Lincoln.  For more information or to purchase tickets for any of the Stars remaining home games, visit