It began as a way to honor her late grandfather – and it still is. But Ginger Dailey’s annual contributions to Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute have also become a tradition, one that has helped to shape her outlook on serving others in need.
Since age 12, Ginger has asked friends and family members to donate in support of Gibbs Cancer Center instead of buying her gifts for her birthday. She’s now 18, and her contributions over the years have totaled more than $11,000.
As she looks toward starting college in the fall, Ginger is proud of the support she has rallied to help those fighting cancer. “It’s neat to look back and think of the impact this has made,” she said.
The donations have been designated to Spartanburg Regional Foundation’s Cancer Special Needs Fund. The fund provides support for patients facing financial hardship. It can be used to cover the cost of medicine or transportation to appointments. Patients who have missed work because of their illness may receive assistance with rent or utility bills.
Ginger and her mother Tammy visited Gibbs Cancer Center in early March with an envelope full of checks and cash donated by more than 20 friends, family members and neighbors.
They were joined by John Dargan, who recently retired after serving as the Foundation’s senior director of philanthropy. He enjoyed getting to know Ginger over the years and wanted to be on hand as she made one last donation before heading to college.
“I think it’s tremendous to see a young person’s commitment to this,” Dargan said. “I wish we had more people like Ginger.”
Chad Dingman, director of oncology support services at Gibbs Cancer Center, has been impressed by Ginger, too. “In a time when most adolescents are concerned with material possessions, Ginger has continually used her birthday as an opportunity to help those less fortunate who are struggling with a cancer diagnosis,” he said. “She is not only a role model to her peers, but she understands the power and value of giving back and making positive change in our community.”
Ginger, who is a senior at Oakbrook Preparatory School, was featured in the Foundation’s 2016 annual report. She talked about how much her grandfather, Hoyle Roper, meant to her. They talked every night on the phone, and she would visit him at least once a week at his home in Forest City, N.C.
Roper passed away in 2013 following a brief battle with cancer. Ginger was 11, and when her next birthday came around, she had the idea of making a contribution in his honor that would support cancer patients.
The first year, she raised $500. Fundraising numbers grew over the years as more people – including Ginger’s teachers and Tammy’s friends on social media – learned about the effort. This year’s donations totaled $1,550.
For college, Ginger will be attending Clemson. Her goal is to become a lawyer. She said she hopes to work in an area of law that will give her the opportunity to help people and strengthen her community.
Wherever her ambitions take her, Ginger’s support over the years for cancer patients here in the Upstate will continue to be a source of inspiration. As Dingman put it, “Her mission to honor her grandfather has truly made a lasting impact at Gibbs Cancer Center.”
Donate to the Foundation’s Cancer Special Needs Fund online at regionalfoundation.com/donate-now/cancer/.