Juliana Schafer Spirit of Hope Award

Honoring Volunteerism

Juliana Schafer and daughter Izzy

The Juliana Schafer Spirit of Hope Award recognizes and honors individuals, organizations or groups who generously donate their time and talents to further the ABTA mission. 

The award is named after Juliana Schafer, a long-time volunteer for the ABTA. Juliana was passionate about the ABTA’s mission, from the patient and caregiver resources to the funding of cutting-edge research it provides. 

Juliana, her family, and friends were dedicated to fundraising for and increasing awareness of the ABTA. Even from her hospice bed, Juliana was on her phone raising money through her Breakthrough for Brain Tumors 5K (BT5K) team, aptly named Team Hope. The pride she took in those efforts brought her comfort to the very end. Juliana passed away in 2021, but her spirit continues to live on.

Nominations Needed For the 2023 Spirit of Hope Award

Do you know of an outstanding ABTA volunteer who has made a positive impact on the brain tumor community through their volunteer efforts? Let us know by submitting a nomination! Please email the completed form to Sherrie Izban no later than June 30, 2023 for consideration.

Past Recipients

Deborah Rizzo, Brain Tumor Community Advocate

Deborah RizzoDeborah Rizzo truly lives every day to the fullest and makes a significant impact towards fulfilling the ABTA mission. Since the passing of her beloved college friend, Billy Misik, who lost his battle with GBM at the age of 21, and that of a close family friend, Lou Zucker, Deborah has devoted her time and effort to increasing brain tumor awareness and raising funds for brain tumor research. 

What started as a bucket-list item in honor of a friend turned into 10 years of racing, fundraising, educating, and advocating for the ABTA. In 2012, Deborah established “Team Carpe Diem” to inspire others to live by Billy’s motto, “Seize the Day,” his mantra while battling GBM. Deborah and Team Carpe Diem have since been running marathons, including the Bank of America Chicago Marathon (twice), half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks in several states. Their sole purpose: to raise funds for brain tumor research through the ABTA.

To date, Deborah’s efforts have raised nearly $20,000 for brain tumor research.

Like Juliana Schafer, Deborah demonstrates creativity, dedication, perseverance, and heartfelt empathy to those who have lost loved ones to brain tumors. As a music therapist, Deborah helps others, including brain tumor patients, process their emotions through the power of music.

As with Juliana Schafer, there is no quit in Deborah Rizzo. Her tremendous passion and unwavering support of the ABTA through her volunteerism continues to benefit the brain tumor community.