Maureen “Moe” Winckler’s Spirit Angel Award

This award is nominated to a individual or organization who has increased awareness about cervical cancer, funding for cervical cancer and/or themselves have fought a fearless fight against cervical cancer.

About the award

In 2013, we met Moe’s husband when he became involved with the Spirit Foundation. When we heard of Moe’s journey with cervical cancer, her strength, and the love and support she received from her family and friends, we knew we needed to honor her and others who have joined the fight against cervical cancer.   Here is her story:

In 2003, Moe was diagnosed with Stage 3 cervical cancer. Moe went every year for her annual exam. The cancer had already spread to her lymph system so she underwent 21 rounds of external radiation, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and 40 hours of internal radiation. Moe was a fighter and, in 2008, she celebrated five years of being cancer free. Two years later, symptoms returned, including vaginal bleeding, which required 86 blood transfusions. In March of 2011, Moe was given one year to live. She decided she still had a lot of life to live in a short amount of time. She wanted to attend the next family picnic, she wanted to see her favorite band play in concert, and she wanted to travel. She made it to the family picnic, she went to the concert, and she traveled. Moe passed away five months later on August 25, 2011 at the age of 37.

Moe’s strength, humor, and love during her fight with cervical cancer was inspirational as was that of family, friends, and strangers.  When Moe was ready to shave her remaining hair off due to chemotherapy, her family and friends surprised her by also shaving their heads. When she was undergoing blood transfusions, we hosted a blood drive to give back to the community with a goal of “100 Pints for Moe” and collected 150 pints. When she wanted to see her favorite band in concert, we rented a bus for everyone and arranged for her to meet the band. When she wanted to travel, we joined her. To carry out her final wishes, her family and friends retraced her last trip to Alaska so they would understand why she loved Alaska so dearly. Her ashes were spread on her favorite glacier.

Moe impacted those around her even during the most challenging of times.  She deeply valued the outpouring of support she received. She wanted to give back to those who helped her as well as help others on the same journey.  It is in that spirit that we, her family and friends, have continued to do what we can to raise awareness, offer support to others, advocate, and fundraise for cervical cancer. We do it in honor of Moe.   ~ John Winckler

This spirit of love, inspiration, and dedication to the fight against cervical cancer by Moe and her family and friends is what the Cervical Cancer Foundation formerly the Spirit Foundation wished to honor with the annual Maureen “Moe” Winckler Award. If you know of an individual(s)—whether a survivor, friend, family, individual, group, or organization—that has joined in the fight against cervical cancer and you would like to nominate them for this award, please send us their inspiring story and photos to [email protected]

Maureen (Moe) Winkler Spirit Angel Award to the family of Helen Thompson Whitley  

In 2019 Helen Thompson Whitley’s family  became involved with the Spirit Foundation and joined the fight against cervical cancer shortly after her passing in April of 2019 at the age of 57.

As a therapist, Helen was fulfilling her true calling, which was to help others.  Her last wish was for her husband to continue to bring awareness to this disease and to fight for others.

Helen is lovingly remembered by her husband of 23 years Craig Whitley, siblings Marilyn Altman (Dan Gaylord), Dan Thompson (Joe Bazemore), Edie Rose, and Reese Thompson (Bernice). Helen will also be lovingly remembered by her two nieces Samantha Rose Thompson and Kathryn Thompson Gaylord. In addition to  her family Helen leaves behind her many, many friends, she was loved by everyone who knew her, and will be greatly missed.

Here is her story:

In March 2018 Helen was diagnosed with Stage I Cervical Cancer by April she was diagnosed with Stage IV. Her cancer had metastasized to her spine and after a courageous battle she passed at home on April 23, 2019 with her husband Craig by her side.

On September 15, 1961, Helen was born in Jackson, Mississippi to parents Marilyn Sanderson Thompson and Dehart Hagan Thompson. It was in the city of Jackson that Helen lived out her formative years with her family until the summer of 1972, when the family moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Helen then completed her primary education in Dunwoody, Georgia. She continued her education at Georgia State University, studying psychology and counseling until she eventually earned the title of Licensed Clinical Social Worker, LCSW. Helen set up a private practice and enjoyed a 24-year career as a devoted therapist, helping many people during her tenure. Her mission was to make the world a better place and to help others lead happier, more fulfilling lives.

In 1999, Helen married Craig Whitley, a Clinical Hypnotherapist, and they began life together continuing to help others. From 2008 to 2013, Helen and Craig shared Laughter Yoga with thousands of people, often in large settings like the NASW convention and the Georgia Addiction Counselors Convention. They were hired by dozens of businesses to do presentations in-house. They also trained and certified almost 200 people in the 2-day weekend certified laughter yoga leader trainings. Helen was a pioneer in the field of laughter yoga due to her distinction of being the first person in the United States–and possibly the world–to get that 2-day training approved for continuing education units for mental health professionals. This training had the ripple effect wherein those trained in laughter yoga would, in turn train others, thereby spreading the joys of laughter yoga to an even wider audience.

As a therapist, Helen was fulfilling her true calling, which was to help others. She was one the fortunate people in life to have found her calling, and she gave it her all. One of Helen’s dreams was to one day retire to Florida, as she had always loved the beach. She considered this, but she knew she would have to start a new practice from scratch, and she would have had to leave her former practice behind, thereby breaking the close connections she had established with her Georgia patients. As much as she loved Florida, she loved her profession and her patients more.