Val Skinner Foundation

2017 Heroes

2017 Heroes

Scott Hamilton

Scott Hamilton likes to say he’s made a hobby of collecting life-threatening illnesses. While that isn’t his day job, it’s certainly part of his story, and it’s why he’s so passionate about encouraging others to live life to its fullest.

The Olympic Gold Medalist figure skater has experienced many unique highlights throughout his life, captivating the world with his gold medal performance at the 1984 Olympic Winter Games, then building an extensive career through sports commentary, performing and authoring two best-selling books.

But for all the success, he has also experienced deep heartbreak right alongside it. Scott has faced the devastating effects of cancer time and time again, first by losing his mother to breast cancer, and then having been diagnosed with cancer himself. In 1997, he overcame testicular cancer. In 2004 and 2010, he survived recurring pituitary brain tumors. He was diagnosed with a third occurrence of the benign pituitary brain tumor in 2016.

Despite these hardships, Scott has never lost his hope. In fact, it’s grown stronger. A passion was born in Scott to not only live each one of his days to the fullest, but to use his life to encourage others to do the same. Rather than weighing him down, these difficult circumstances have propelled him forward to a deeper faith in God, and a stronger drive to make a difference.

In 2014, he created the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation, by expanding the mission of the Initiative he began at the Cleveland Clinic in 1998. CARES stands for the Cancer Alliance for Research, Education and Survivorship, and funds cancer research and early detection programs. Also in 2014, in giving back to the skating community, he founded the Scott Hamilton Skating Academy, in partnership with the Nashville Predators, in Antioch, TN.

Scott lives outside Nashville with his wife Tracie and their 4 kids, and enjoys golfing whenever his hectic schedule allows.

Kriss Fierro

Born in Mexico, Kriss Fierro has always had a warrior spirit. She immigrated alone to the U.S. on a scholarship to learn English at the age of 15. In 2014, at the age of 33, she was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer.

Then, during her first examination with Dr. Deborah Toppmeyer at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (RCINJ), Dr. Toppmeyer found a lymph node in her low anterior cervical area which changed the diagnosis to stage IV cancer. This led to an aggressive treatment regiment for the past three years.

Kriss made a decision to not feel sorry for herself but to serve as a model for others. She is a constant positive presence at RCINJ, even dressing as Mrs. Claus to deliver presents to pediatric patients during the holidays…with funds raised by her own supporters.

These supporters created t-shirts that read “Supporting our Warrior Kriss.” That’s how she defines herself and how she has led her life.

Today, Kriss is cancer free. She and her husband, Danny, and daughter, Bella, along with her mother and other family members, continue in their fight to help others.

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