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The Cutting Edge - Anything but Par for the Course

Cutting Edge Summer 2014

Anything but Par for the Course

Date: July 18, 2014

In memory of beloved brother, Cliff, Jeff Copeland creates golf tournament to raise funds in support of cancer research awareness.

Jeff Copeland, oncologist Michael Choti and Cliff Copeland together at immixGroup’s charity golf tournament.
Jeff Copeland, oncologist Michael Choti and Cliff Copeland together at immixGroup’s charity golf tournament.

Jeff Copeland had never been a golfer. But when his twin brother, Cliff, was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, the sport gained a foothold in his life.

In January 2004, Cliff sought treatment, including chemotherapy, from Johns Hopkins surgical oncologist Michael Choti. As family members rallied around Cliff, Jeff felt that he needed to do more. So, once Cliff’s disease was in remission, Jeff decided to try his hand at raising money for colon cancer awareness. And, as CEO of the Virginia-based consulting company immixGroup, Jeff had the perfect means to see his goal through.

Two years before, Jeff’s company had started an annual golf tournament at The Golf Club at Lansdowne in Lansdowne, Virginia. Back then, the tournament was a noncharitable venture intended to thank clients for their business. But, having faced Cliff’s illness, Jeff and his family realized that the tournament was a perfect fundraising opportunity.

At his sister’s urging, Jeff—with his company’s support—decided to turn the event into a fundraiser and use the proceeds to increase education and awareness about colon cancer. Choosing a benefactor was easy.

“When I asked my brother where he wanted the proceeds to go, he immediately said, ‘Dr. Choti,’” Jeff says. Unfortunately, Cliff Copeland passed away in 2012. Still grateful for the care he received at Johns Hopkins, Copeland’s family requested donations be made to Choti’s research in lieu of flowers. Meanwhile, the fundraiser continues going strong.      

Now entering its eighth year, the tournament has raised more than $1 million for Johns Hopkins through corporate sponsors, including technology giants like Hewlett-Packard, SAP, Oracle and Symantec.

So far, the proceeds have provided support for a surgical oncology fellowship, as well as various activities of the Johns Hopkins Colon Cancer Center, including a patient education day and a newsletter.

“Often it’s not until you or someone you love actually contracts a serious disease that you start learning about it,” Jeff says. “Education becomes an important part of dealing with illness.”

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