Congratulations 2018 Spirit Award recipients!

Komen® NC Triangle to the Coast annually recognizes individuals and community partners who have made a difference in the fight against breast cancer with its annual Spirit Awards. These awards honor survivors and thrivers, co-survivors, volunteers, and community partners who are an inspiration to everyone touched by breast cancer. Each award pays tribute to those who bravely battle breast cancer and those who helped along their journey.

The 2018 Awards were presented at the 5th Annual Finding Solutions Research Luncheon on November, 29, 2018, held in Durham, NC, at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club.

Spirit to Inspire – Patricia Spears

The Spirit to Inspire award is given in memory of Jeanne Peck, Komen NCTC founder, to recognize a volunteer that demonstrates commitment, passion, energy and enthusiasm.

Patricia ”Patty” Spears is a 19- year breast cancer survivor, diagnosed at the age of 40 with locally advanced breast cancer. Following treatment, she began volunteering with the Komen NCTC as Chair of the Education Committee and joined the Board of Directors in December 2001. Currently, she serves as a Committee member for Triangle Race for the Cure, Young Researchers Roundtable Breakfast, and Finding Solutions through Science, Scholars, & Survivors Research Luncheon. Patty also serves as an advocate reviewer for the Susan G. Komen Research Program, the Duke Cancer Institute Cancer Protocol Committee, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. She is currently Chair of the Patient Advocate Committee of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and the University of North Carolina Patient Research Advocacy Group, and is also is Co-chair of Komen’s Advocates in Science Steering Committee, and she chairs its Membership Taskforce.


Spirit to Impact – Patricia Peele

The Spirit to Impact award is given to an individual that is making an impact by supporting survivors/thrivers and being a catalyst for change in breast cancer outcomes.

Patricia Peele, M.A.Ed., serves as the Women’s Health Educator with Rural Health Group. She has a long history and passion for community engagement and health equity, and has served as chairwoman of the Halifax County Board of Health, the Halifax County Tourism Board, Rural Health Group Board of Directors and Organizer/Senior Consultant of the Roanoke Valley Breast Cancer Coalition. Patricia has experience as a national breast cancer conference workshop presenter, Community Voices Leadership Training Program Facilitator, Resource Developer for health disparities outreach programs, and program management officer for non-profit organizations.  As a community-based health outreach and education specialist, she works feverishly toward raising awareness of breast cancer and women’s health in partnership with university health disparities programs at UNC-Chapel Hill, ECU, Morehouse School of Medicine as well as national breast cancer foundations including Komen NCTC, American Cancer Society, The Prevent Cancer Foundation, and Avon Foundation.

Spirit to Involve ­­- Walmart

The Spirit to Involve award is given to a corporate partner that supports our Affiliate year-round in our fight against breast cancer.

Komen NCTC’s partnership with Walmart began when the company provided food and water for over 10,000 participants at the 2015 Triangle Race for the Cure. In addition to product support, their annual corporate sponsorship has provided a cash donation to ensure our annual race is a success. Walmart staff employees manage the food and water distribution at the race site, and arrange for the local food back to receive any extra food at the end of the event. Whether arriving on race day to set up food and water stations or ensuring our survivor tent is stocked with several gluten-free options, the Walmart team have gone above and beyond in support of our race and our fight to end breast cancer.


Maureen Thomas Jordan Spirit of Survivorship/Thrivership Award – Rhonda Howell

The Spirit of Survivorship/Thrivership Award is given in memory of Maureen Thomas Jordan to a breast cancer survivor in the Triangle area who exemplifies the spirit of survivorship/thrivership.

Rhonda was diagnosed at age 34 with Stage II breast cancer, when her son was only 15 months old. After a double mastectomy, 4 rounds of IV chemotherapy, 35 radiation treatments and beginning to take tamoxifen daily, Rhonda was declared “cancer free” and told by her oncologist that her chance of recurrence was less than 1%. Two years later, in July 2015, after several weeks of intense back pain, Rhonda was diagnosed metastatic breast cancer at age 36. Rhonda has since become a patient advocate, as well as a stay at home wife and mother to their 6-year old son. Rhonda joined the Board of METAvivor Research and Support in January 2018. Rhonda and her husband co-hosted the first Triangle Metsquerade in April 2018, which raised net proceeds of $101,000, all of which benefitted METAVIVOR to fund Stage IV metastatic breast cancer research. She also served on Komen NCTC’s 2018 Metastatic Breast Cancer breakfast planning committee.