East Bay Jefferson Award Winner Pays It Forward In Cancer Fight

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Jefferson Award winner Bob Hammer. (CBS)

Jefferson Award winner Bob Hammer. (CBS)

DANVILLE (KPIX 5) — An East Bay cancer survivor has turned his own diagnosis into an effort to heal others. A golf tournament he created has raised more than $1 million in the fight against the disease.

At just 29 years old, Bob Hammer was diagnosed with testicular cancer. His daughter, Shayna, was just one-year-old, and after 26 rounds of chemotherapy, having more children seemed impossible.

“I had about a 20% chance to live at that time,” Hammer recalled.

But he did survive, and three years later, he and his wife Kim celebrated the birth of their son Joshua. Hammer gives much of the credit to the doctors he met through the Livestrong Foundation.

“The end result: we conceived our son naturally,” Hammer explained.

When Hammer beat his cancer, he wanted to pay it forward, so he organized a golf tournament in hope of raising $2,500 to fight cancer. Eight years later, his “Have a Ball” golf tournament has raised over $1,300,000.

“I spent every night for three years learning Google for one, learning how to find someone’s email address, contacting organizations… that’s a lot of ‘No’s,’ that’s a lot of, ‘Who the hell do you think you are?'” Hammer said with a smile.

But Hammer’s hard work and his family’s story touched a lot of people, and momentum started to grow. Nick Rottler and Simon Miller participate in what is now an annual event.

“It’s not just a fundraising event,” Rottler said. “You actually feel like you’re a part of it, you’re a part of community, part of Bob and his family’s life, and that makes it more personal.”

“Once you look at all the cancer support groups and treatment centers that Bob’s events support you can’t help but get involved,” Miller added.

John Muir Health Foundation is one of 21 organizations that get money from the Have a Ball tournaments: they’ve received more than $40,000.

“We’ve been using that money to support oncology services, specifically our patients’ center,” explained Kim Bellinger for the Foundation.

And Jim Bouquin from Cancer Support Community of Walnut Creek said Hammer is making a real difference.

“As an organization, they have raised funds and helped so many people, but as a person, Bob has been inspiration to other cancer patients and their families,” Bouquin said.

“It’s the obligation of the cure, is what I like to call it,” Hammer said. “A lot of people in cancer community use that phrase — I like it.”

So for his dedication and drive in raising money to fight cancer, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Bob Hammer.

Have a Ball now holds golf tournaments in both Sunnyvale and Danville with 566 participants, hundreds of volunteers, and 207 corporations involved. To get involved, visit http://www.haveaballgolf.com/.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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