Victoria Slocum was able to honor the memory of a beloved great uncle in a special way.
Slocum, a Forsyth County resident, was recently named the 2012 Woman of the Year by the Georgia Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
She received the honor during a grand finale event of a 10-week fundraising campaign in Atlanta.
Slocum explained that each year, 15 people who have been active with the society are nominated for the titles of Woman and Man of the Year.
“This year there were 10 women and five men, and what happens is, you have 10 weeks to see who can raise the most money in a campaign individually,” Slocum said.
“So each of us built a team of people to help organize events, and over the 10 weeks with whatever means we could, we just raised as much money as we could.”
Slocum, who ended up raising $71,711 for the organization, was “shocked” when leaders called her name. While she knew how much she had raised leading up to the event, there were other fundraising opportunities that night.
“At the grand finale, they had a live and silent auction and also, in addition to that, people could just make a monetary donation on your behalf,” she said. “I had a lot of friends there and I think the grand finale night alone I must have raised more than $15,000.
“Going into the grand finale, I think I was just right around $50,000. So when they said, ‘The winner of this year’s woman of the year with $71,000,’ I thought to myself, ‘There’s no way that’s me.’ So when they said my name, I literally just fell over.”
Slocum has been involved with the organization for a little more than two years. She said she first got involved as a result of her great uncle, Ted Zuppa, who passed away two years ago after a battle with multiple myeloma.
Just before his death, she said, she joined a local fundraising team for the North Metro Light the Night, a fundraiser held for the first time last year at the Cumming Fairgrounds.
“My great uncle was such a giving man. I’m trying to make sure I do everything in his honor,” she said. “Even though he was my great uncle … I’ve always had a special connection with that side of the family.
“His daughter, Carol Ann Zuppa Good, and I have always had such a great connection. I call her my cousin, but … I have two brothers, so I would call her my sister in a heartbeat.”
After being nominated for the Woman of the Year campaign, Slocum took on a number of her own fundraising events.
Among them, she said, was a concert in Midtown Atlanta and a “Moms to Model” event, which gave moms the chance for a professional photo shoot.
“A lot of my girlfriends, we have young kids, so when we go to have photos made either we’re not in them or it’s always about making sure the children look cute and then we get whatever’s left over,” she joked. “So I had a couple of makeup artists and hair stylists come in and then a few local photographers, who took their head shots.
“I think I ended up with almost 20 girls coming to that event.”
But most of her funding, she said, just came from personal interaction.
“My biggest fundraiser was just reaching out personally, making phone calls, writing letters,” she said.
While the 10 weeks where a challenge, she was glad she took part.
“It was lot of work and it’s funny because when I was nominated I first said no because I just thought there is no way I do this,” said Slocum, who noted her husband, PGA Tour golfer Heath Slocum, is often out of town for work, leaving her to take care of their 2- and 4-year old daughters alone.
“I mean I can barely get dressed in the morning and on top of that I have a blog that I write for, so I just have a lot going on.”
But that changed after she meet the mother of 2012 Boy of Year Owen Fox, a blood cancer survivor who inspired competitors during the 10-week campaign.
“The boy of the year’s mother got up there and told her story about what they’ve been going through. And after listening to what she goes through on a daily basis, I was like, ‘OK, I can do this for 10 weeks,’” Slocum said.
She added that she plans to stay involved.
“I will always be involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,” she said. “It’s an amazing organization.”