Winn the Fight

The Winn family lost one of their own to cancer when Karl Winn passed away in September 2007. In his memory, they brought their community together to help others through cancer research.

When a loved one loses their fight with cancer, it leaves a family devastated, searching for answers to universal questions: Why did my loved one get cancer? Why did they not catch it in time? Why did it have to be my loved one? When Karl Stephen Winn lost his fight with cancer, his family and friends asked all the same questions. Then they asked one more: What can I do to make a difference?

In Karl’s memory, his wife Janet, along with their sons, extended family, and friends, founded Winn The Fight, a faith-based effort dedicated to funding cancer research. They took a particular interest in the Clinical Research Unit at the Cancer Institute of Greenville Health System (GHS) , now a part of the Institute for Translational Oncology Research (ITOR), and decided to focus their efforts on funding a regional “tissue bank."
The tissue bank in question is the Total Cancer Care Program, a partnership between GHS and the University of South Carolina to create a tissue repository that will eventually store cancer tissues from all surgical sites within the state. Each sample will be attached to relevant information about the patient and the cancer such as tumor location and type, age, sex, and treatments/outcomes. The information would be used to track the effectiveness of current and new treatments for all cancer types and to better understand and treat cancers through their genetic profiles. The tissue bank will be a powerful new tool for researchers in the fight against cancer.
The Winn Family believes in this program and all it will to do improve cancer care. They reached their goal of establishing the Winn the Fight Tissue Bank in 2012 after raising $250,000 through a tennis tournament, cookout, Dragon Boat Upstate Festival, a gift-wrapping fundraiser, and generous gifts from supporters.
“No matter how tragic something is in your life, you can find the good in it," said Janet Winn. "Our faith and family grew stronger. Winn the Fight has been our silver lining. We have found that in doing for others, you find the best medication for your grief. We hope our family, church, friends, and community will keep backing our effort to find every inch of our silver lining.”

Get Involved

If you'd like more information on supporting cancer patients and families, contact Philanthropy & Partnership Director of Cancer Services Jim Kaltenbach at (864) 797-7734 or

Donate to Dragon Boat