Q&A: Lisa Mellon, Organizer of Game On Against Cancer to Benefit the Thompson Cancer Survival Center

Lisa Mellon (pictured with husband, Scott) is co-owner of Games & Things, the site of Game On Against Cancer to benefit the Thompson Cancer Survival Center March 1. Attendees will challenge local celebrities in such games as billiards, cornhole, and blackjack.

How'd the event come about?

I don't have cancer, I have lupus, and I had a stroke when I was 39, that's how I'm a patient at the Thompson Cancer Survival Center—because of the residual effects of the stroke and some of the medications I have to go through, some are similar to cancer patients with chemotherapy. I had the idea that I would like to do something pertaining to fund-raising, because of being in there with other people having treatments. I also had a sales rep who had cancer, Sam Littleton. He passed away in 2011, but he inspired me to keep going, seeing him struggling through his treatments. I talked to my doctor, Daniel Ibach, and he suggested I talk to Thompson's foundation and that's how it started evolving.

Madeleine Rogero, is she good at a particular game?

She will be here playing shuffleboard. She also played last year.

What about Tim Burchett?

He will play pool. A lot of the celebrities we have like billiards—Tony Spezia, the president of Covenant Health, Mickey Dearstone of The Sports Animal, Mike Witcher from WBIR, they'll all be playing billiards.

Con Hunley will be there—is he going to sing?

He'll be there to play cornhole and cards—blackjack. In our showroom theater room we will have live music this year. I don't know if Con will sing or not. Bill Landry is also coming to play blackjack. Bill Williams will be playing table tennis.

Are you good at any of the games being played?

Good at, no. Like, yes. I'm responsible for being at the billiards. Six of our seven employees are participating, and some of the oncology nurses are also helping check in and monitoring events, lots of Covenant Health employees. Last year we had a combined 30+ volunteers, and we have 50 now-—the event has grown. We've added cornhole, that's pretty exciting, and air hockey. Chris Marion, who's on the air with Hallerin HIll on News/Talk 98.7, he will be one of the celebrities on air hockey, along with Abby Ham from WBIR.

Do the really good people play air hockey, or is that where you stick the less skilled?

All the celebrities volunteered to be on certain games. They may be good, they may not. People pay $50 to get in and with that you get one free play with a celebrity. You can buy more challenge tokens. On cornhole, it will be teams—one player and celebrity against another player and celebrity. Missy Kane will be playing that. Admission also includes one drink and food—Calhoun's is doing heavy appetizers and their brewery beer. It's also free to play chess, pinball, foosball, or go into the theater and relax. And we're having a silent auction—we've already got a couple of nice pool tables, and a cocktail video game.

Were any of the celebs particularly good last year?

Hallerin Hill was awesome in table tennis—he won a bunch of medals. The way it works, if a player beats a celebrity, they get a medal. At the end of the evening, whoever has the most gets the grand prize, a chalet getaway. Last year, there was no celebrity grand prize, but this year they're going to play for something—the Sam Littleton award plaque. His son, Dean Littleton, is the station manager at WVLT, and Sam is the one whose battle with cancer really touched me. A lot of the celebrities, even though they're not with VLT, Sam was still very well known in the media and they'll all know what this means. It just happens that Rick Russo of WVLT, who is back on the air following surgery for kidney cancer, he'll be here playing as a celebrity.

Anyone good at pool?

Bruce Pearl was very good at billiards. It was kind of interesting, people really gravitated around him playing, even though he wasn't the coach anymore, he still had a following. He's going to try to make the event this year, depending on whether he has another commitment or not with his new work.

Where will the money raised go?

It's going to the Thompson Cares Fund, which provides cancer patients in crisis with basic needs—for example, transportation or gas for going to treatment. Someone might need help with a prosthesis, or a wig, or medication, or a little help with rent. It's bad enough that patients have to go through this, but when they can't work it puts an added strain, and that's when the Care program comes into play. What specific item the money will go to you can't pinpoint. There's such a multitude of ways it helps—everybody has different needs. I think it's a pretty cool program.

Game On Against Cancer is at 10706 Kingston Pike. Purchase tickets by calling 541-1227, e-mailing mbrown@covhlth.com. For more info: thompsoncancer.com/gameon