2020 Honorees

Clay & Cathy Jackson, Red Door Champion Award

Over the last 22 years, Gilda's Club Middle Tennessee's red door has come to symbolize a place of belonging, understanding, hope, love, and community - the entry to a space in which anyone impacted by cancer finds people who care, who are present, who listen, and who provide unconditional support, so they feel better (and they do!).

From the beginning, Gilda's Club has been fortunate to have community partners who are determined to do the same for us - to care for us, be present for us, listen to us, and provide unwavering support. We call these individuals our Red Door Champions; we couldn't do what we do without them.

We are delighted to present our 2020 Red Door Champion Award to Clay and Cathy Jackson for their consistent, long-term support of Gilda's Club Middle Tennessee's mission. Through volunteerism, financial giving, and a commitment to building awareness of our organization and mission, this power couple has shown up for our organization again and again. The Jacksons first became involved with Gilda's Club when Cathy joined our Board of Directors. She served our organization in this capacity - with passion and determination - for several years, and was Board Chair in 2009/2010. Today, Cathy continues to guide Gilda's Club as a member of our Advisory Board. In addition, Clay and Cathy have been loyal Gilda's Club donors since 2002, supporting our 2005 capital campaign; participating in annual giving campaigns; and providing significant in-kind support, including hosting one of our most memorable dinner parties. The Jacksons also help create awareness of Gilda's Club's mission among their friends with honorary holiday gifts.


Earl & Julianne Fitz, Dr. Gail Addlestone Community Building Award

The Dr. Gail Addlestone Community Building Award was established in 2018 in honor of a remarkable woman who, in addition to being a daughter, wife, mother, friend, and trusted pediatrician, was a passionate advocate for Gilda's. First as a volunteer, then as a Gilda's Club member living with metastatic breast cancer, and finally as a part of our staff, Gail was perhaps best known for establishing what would later become Gilda's Gang, our marathon training program and fundraiser, which was held from 2006-2017 (and will return in 2021!). But Gail was so much more to our cancer support community? Her love for and commitment to our mission, her fellow support group members, and our staff knew no bounds - and our community was better for it.

We are happy to present our 2020 Dr. Gail Addlestone Community Building Award to Earl and Julianne (Juli) Fitz, who like Gail, are passionate advocates for Gilda's Club. In addition to contributing financially to our organization on an ongoing basis, Earl and Juli are frequently the first to raise their hands when we're in need of volunteers. From helping with calendar mailings and providing special event support to hosting recurring Program offerings like In Stitches and Coffee Talk, Earl and Juli are regular fixtures in our clubhouse. They're also known to use their in-clubhouse time to visit with Gilda's Club guests and love on our staff; their messages of praise and encouragement are so greatly appreciated.

Outside of our clubhouse, Earl and Juli help create awareness of Gilda's Club by speaking to Vanderbilt University students each semester about the importance of emotional and social support during a cancer journey. Juli is also known to carry a stack of Gilda's Club informational brochures for sharing as she meets people in the community who may benefit from our services or lend support to our organization.


Felice Apolinsky, LCSW, Retirement Celebration

Felice Apolinsky's impact on Gilda's Club is both foundational and transformative. On September 3, Felice will retire after serving as Gilda's Club Program Director for 22 years. She leaves behind an impressive legacy of serving thousands of individuals with cancer and their families, increasing community education and awareness about the impact of psychosocial support, and as a national thought leader in the cancer support space. Felice has practiced clinical social work in many settings, including Monroe Harding Children's Home, Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital, Family and Children's Service, prior to joining Gilda's Club. Our entire Gilda's Club family is so thankful for her time, talent, and, of course, her famous hugs.