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Orion heroes honored at national cancer convention



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June 18, 2014 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

A international organization invited two local residents to the One Hundred 2014 gala event for the love and efforts they have given to fight cancer.

   The Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, a leading hospital in cancer research, honored Lake Orion resident Patricia Nolf and Orion Township resident Dan "the coffee man" Dewey at the One Hundred 2014 fundraising event in Boston, on June 10.

   For seven years Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center has honored 100 oncologists, caregivers, nurses, philanthropists and volunteers from around the United States and world for their work which became known within their communities.

   Nolf was selected for her ongoing work with The Pink Ribbon Trailblazers, a non-profit organization she created to provide underinsured women with breast health services including mammograms in Oakland County.

   Since its establishment in 2007, the Trailblazers has raised $125,840, or 1,165 mammograms (at $108 per mammogram) for women of all ages.

   Dewey, also known for his service Dan's Coffee Run, was honored for providing on average 90 Starbucks drinks a week to patients at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital, the Rose Center at Beaumont Hospital and the CARE House of Oakland County.

   Dewey began bringing coffee to St. Joe's when his late father started chemotherapy in 2007 and has been bringing an assortment of coffee and "fancy drinks" free of charge to patients ever since.

   "I just feel really fortunate that I can do this, it's just such a natural thing for a goofball like me," Dewey said, who is known for the pair of shorts he wore delivering hot chocolates and other drinks last winter.

   "When I go into the clinic and somebody's in a really bad way I just try and distract them a little, cheer them up, and most of them will smile and laugh and I'll get them going. I feel really blessed."

   Both Dewey and Nolf bumped into each other at the awards ceremony Tuesday, June 10 at the Westin Boston Waterfront in Boston.

   "I thought I gotta find Pat before this thing starts, and I looked up and there she was walking right towards me," Dewey said. "I thought 'wow, isn't that something, there is a bigger force working here."'

   Nolf experienced similar feelings.

   "There was an electricity in the air," she said. "It was amazing to see all of these people in the same room who are willing to help each other."

     The top one hundred honored at the event were selected from nearly 1,000 nominees from around the country and world. Fellow Trailblazer Laura Farwell nominated Nolf and Dewey still doesn't know who nominated him.

   "I can't deal with being special," he said. "I tell people over and over it's not me. "All the people that help, the nurses the doctors the social workers they do this work every day."

   Dewey will not take any orders and rarely orders coffees, only "for the people who really need them." Mostly he brings the fancy stuff: hot chocolate drinks and mochas in the winter months and cold frappuccino drinks in the summer.

In the beginning Dewey spent nearly $200 of his own money every week on specialty drinks, however, local fundraising efforts and donations pay for everything now.

   As part of Nolf's fundraising efforts she created a 2014 calendar of Oakland County women depicting each individual fighter's story. Nolf herself was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, battled with lumpectomy, mastectomy and staph infections and survived after 11 days at St. Joe's that she will never forget.

    She woke up one morning and decided it was time to give back to St. Joe's and created an annual "Stroll, Ride, Run 'Fun'draiser" on the Polly Ann Trail in Oxford the second week of September each year.

    An additional fundraiser this fall on September 14 will be held at the Great Harvest Bread Co. of Lake Orion at Baldwin and Clarkston roads. "Body Mind and Spirit" will showcase guest speaker Gail Evo who holds a P.H.D. in integrative medicine, focusing how the mind and body and spirit help patients with their diagnosis.

   To donate to Dewey's coffee service, visit Danscoffeerun.net, and check out the next free breast health clinics at www.pinkribbontrailblazers.com.  

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