American Cancer Society Recognizes Volunteers From Around the State

ACS Volunteer Awards 09 005.jpgIn a reception featuring nearly 100 volunteers from all corners of the Nebraska, the American Cancer Society recognized its volunteer leadership in the first-annual ACS Volunteer Recognition Celebration at the Cornhusker Marriott on Sunday.


Among the award winners was the American Cancer Society’s 2009 Volunteer of the Year, Betty Robinson.  While living in California in 2003, her seven-year-old granddaughter Jessica was diagnosed with a brain-stem glyoma (tumor in her brain stem).  Betty became one of Jessie’s primary caregivers, a task that included a daily 123 mile round-trip drive to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.  Less than a year after her diagnosis, Jessie lost her hard-fought battle with the disease.  Betty and her husband Jack moved to Lincoln soon after. 


Since moving to Lincoln, Robinson has played a large part in almost every aspect of the American Cancer Society’s events, programs and services in the area.  She has been an active member of the Relay For Life at Haymarket Park committee, a part of the ACS advocacy efforts and an office volunteer but is probably making her largest impact as the coordinator for Lincoln’s Road to Recovery program that coordinates rides for cancer patients who have no other way to get to their treatments.  Thanks to her, in 2009, Lincoln’s volunteers assisted patients with 807 round-trip rides to help them receive the life saving treatment they need.


ACS Volunteer Awards 09 912.jpgAlong with the Volunteer of the Year Award, the Society recognized several companies, media outlets and individuals for their part in the fight against cancer.  Among those honored were Pat Yahnke of Waverly who received the Development Partner of the Year award, Meg Trewhitt of Lincoln who received the Mission Delivery Partner of the Year award and Three Eagles Communications of Columbus which was named Media Partner of the Year.  (Photo L to R: Susan Littlefield-Three Eagles Communications, Meg Trewhitt, Betty Robinson, Pat Yahnke)


The afternoon event tied in a birthday theme to coincide with the American Cancer Society’s new brand as the Official Sponsor of Birthdays.  The Society’s 2009 accomplishments were shared by Charlotte Burke of Lincoln, who is serving as the chair of the ACS High Plains Board of Directors and a keynote address was delivered by Dr. Alan Thorson of Omaha, who will be sworn in as the American Cancer Society’s National President this month.  Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center was a presenting sponsor for this event.


Other Awards Presented:

Spirit of Hope – for in-kind donations from media – Broadcast House (Lincoln), Clear Channel Communications (Omaha), Cox Communications (Omaha), Norfolk Daily News (Norfolk), NRG Media (Kearney), Platte Valley Communications (Kearney), Three Eagles Communications (Columbus), Time Warner Cable (Lincoln)


Society Awards – for company donations – Alegent Health, American Family Insurance, Becton Dickinson, Bryan LGH Medical Center, Nebraska Cancer Specialists, Nebraska Hematology Oncology, Runza Restaurants, St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center, Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center.


Photos by Callie Tuck


Nebraska Government Relations Team Receives National Award

(Washington, DC) – American Cancer Society Grassroots Manager Dustin Perchal and Legislative Government Relations Director David Holmquist were recently recognized as “Government Relations Team of the Year” at a ceremony in Washington DC.

Smith_Holmquist_Perchal_Seffrin_WEB.jpgOn September 21, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) bestowed the award on Perchal and Holmquist for their ability to produce outstanding results as a team.

“It was a tremendous surprise and the greatest honor,” said Perchal. “We feel blessed that, out of all the state legislative staff teams, we were selected to receive this award.”

“This is an award that represents a tremendous amount of hard work and collaboration,” said Kelly Headrick, chief of government relations for the High Plains Division of the American Cancer Society. “Dustin Perchal and David Holmquist rolled up their sleeves and fought for important cancer control initiatives in Nebraska.”

Last year, Perchal and Holmquist helped pass a comprehensive statewide smoke-free law in Nebraska, which they successfully defended against efforts to weaken this year. The law became effective this past June. Also this year, despite the bad economy, Perchal and Holmquist successfully staffed efforts to fund breast and cervical cancer screening, colon cancer screening, and tobacco prevention and cessation. In the past few months, the two have worked hard on health care reform and were key to the passage of a bill that authorized the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco. Perchal and Holmquist have ensured that Nebraska’s advocacy volunteers are among the most active at the state and federal levels. Together, they have excelled at grassroots organization and at fundraising for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

The American Cancer Society’s High Plains Division is comprised of staff and volunteers throughout Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Hawaii who are dedicated to saving lives and creating more birthdays by helping people stay well and get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back against cancer. For more information, visit

ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate organization of the American Cancer Society, dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage lawmakers, candidates and government officials to support laws and policies that will make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer. For more information, visit