A 25-Year Reflection: Eric Interviews Capital Campaign Co-Leaders Cathy Langham and Tina Burks

For the past 25 years, Cancer Support Community Central Indiana (CSC) has led the charge in Indiana to build a vibrant community of cancer survivors and their loved ones, providing relevant and highly personalized support when and where it is needed most.

In celebration of Cancer Support Community Central Indiana’s 25th Anniversary, we’ll share stories looking at our beginning, our present, and our future on the 25th of each month. We’ll celebrate the visionaries who started our journey, chronicle stories of our participants, and show the impact of our services. We’ll also explore our hopes and plans for the next 25 years and beyond.

In 2008, Cancer Support Community-Central Indiana opened a brand new, state of the art facility that has contributed greatly toward our mission to make sure no one faces cancer alone. But a feat like this doesn’t come about through sheer luck. A committee of passionate, dedicated people worked tirelessly to help bring this new building into existence, and two incredible women were at the head.

For this month’s 25th anniversary story, President Eric Richards interviews Cathy Langham and Tina Burks, the co-leaders for CSC’s Capital Campaign to fund the opening of the Paulsen Family Center. Watch the video above for the full interview with Cathy and Tina.

“That is right up my alley.”

Tina Burks and Cathy Langham have been two powerhouses in the Indianapolis business and philanthropic communities for decades. They are two of the most well-connected and passionate people we’ve ever had the pleasure to interact with. But how did they get connected with Cancer Support Community (formerly the Wellness Community) in the first place?

Many people think Tina became involved with CSC because of her background in nursing, but the truth is much more…active. Back in 2002, she was working with a fitness trainer toward the goal of running in her first marathon. Her trainer had heard of this charity—The Wellness Community—that was in the midst of a unique fundraising campaign. Raise enough money, and you could participate in a marathon in Hawaii. Sounded pretty great to Tina, so she went for it…and raised $20,000! During the process she learned about what an amazing organization The Wellness Community was, and it didn’t take too much prodding to convince her to join the board for the Indiana branch.

Cathy’s path to the CSC was only slightly more straightforward. It started, as it often does, with someone who was already involved with us and passionate about our mission. Karen and Ben Lytle were instrumental to the success of the organization in those early days, and Cathy happened to be good friends with them. One day, Karen approached Cathy’s family, saying she could really use a Langham on the board of The Wellness Community. While Cathy did not end up joining the board, her brother John did, and she has remained close to the organization ever since.

On top of the connections she shares with people involved in The Wellness Community, Cathy also has a very personal reason for remaining close to CSC: she is a three-time cancer survivor. In high school, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease and underwent an intense chemotherapy and radiation regimen. Then in 2012, and again in 2017, she was diagnosed with and underwent treatment for two separate kinds of breast cancer. She knows firsthand how gut-wrenching a cancer diagnosis can be, how it’s at the front of your mind 24/7.

But she also knows how much there is to gain when one is forced to go on this journey. As terrible as it is, so much love and joy can come out of it, which people don’t tend to realize unless they’ve been through it themselves. One of the things she loves about CSC is that they understand this and are there for everyone, no matter where they are in the journey, or who they’re traveling with.

“When you get a couple type A personalities together…wonderful things happen.”

If you’ve never been involved with a capital fundraising campaign, you may not appreciate just how much work goes into it. From putting together a committee, creating materials, knocking on doors, picking up phones…and much, much more, it’s an incredibly big undertaking. For Cathy and Tina, who already had very busy lives, it certainly wasn’t easy. But they were dedicated to making work like this a priority, and wonderful things came about because of it.

They both agree that one of the most important aspects of the campaign was telling the stories—of the organization itself and of the people it benefitted—in order to emphasize why CSC was important for the community. Little was known about the Wellness Community at the time. Many people who had never heard of it assumed it was a fitness or diet place. The capital campaign team really had their work cut out for them, making sure the organization’s story and goals were as clear and impactful as possible.

They also stress the importance of follow up and stewardship when running a successful capital campaign. Many donors are very busy people, with stacks of requests from all sorts of charities landing on their desk daily. If you don’t follow up, Cathy asserts, the check may not get written. Tina adds that if you stay involved and engaged with the donors, that goes a long way toward making the campaign successful. Whether they gave one thousand dollars or one million, each donor is just as important as the other.

This was particularly important advice during our campaign, which was being run during the financial downturn of 2008. It was a difficult year for everyone, business-wise. But because of this, Cathy and Tina were able to get more creative with their approach. Since the Paulsen Family Center was a brick-and-mortar investment, they found opportunities to give naming rights throughout the building. For example, Cathy’s family contributed to the campaign, and Rose’s Kitchen was named in her mother’s honor. Tina mentions that the downturn of the economy just made the pledges they got that much more heartfelt.

“It’s certainly a blessing that you are here.”

Because of the dedication of Cathy and Tina—and the entire capital campaign committee—we have the beautiful 8,000 square foot Paulsen Family Center today. CSC has been able to expand our programs to fit the facility, offering not just support groups, but classes and activities for cancer patients and their families and caregivers.

In fact, we have been able to expand so much—throughout the state—that we have an exciting announcement to make: we are officially changing our name to Cancer Support Community-Indiana! When you put a goldfish in a pond, there’s no telling how big it can grow to be. And we owe so much of our growth to Cathy and Tina and all of the other people that helped us get to where we are today.

“Boy, wouldn’t it be great…”

So what do Cathy and Tina wish for CSC’s next 25 years? As with many of our previous interviewees, their first hope is that cancer will be eradicated and there will be no further use for an organization like ours. (And believe me, we’re right there with them!) But beyond that, they both wish for us to continue to grow, to use virtual technology and in-person programming to reach more and more people who could benefit from our services.

Thank you so much to Cathy and Tina for their dedication, passion, and generosity over the years!

Join Us for the Journey!

How have you been impacted by Cancer Support Community? We invite you to share your stories and memories by emailing info@cancersupportindy.org.

Thank you to our 25th Anniversary Celebration Sponsors!
  • Lilly Oncology
  • Tracy Haddad
  • Gary and Janet Stach
  • John, Cathy and Margaret Langham
  • Nicholas H. Noyes Jr. Memorial Foundation