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Stephen Chanock Recognized at Special Love Gala

, by Jennifer K. Loukissas, M.P.P.

Stephen Chanock with campers from Camp Fantastic

Dr. Chanock with campers at the Special Love gala.

At the Special Love, Inc., annual gala held in Tysons Corner on September 30, 2022, Stephen J. Chanock, M.D., received the Randy Schools Light of Love Award "in grateful recognition of his nearly 30 years as Camp Fantastic medical director and his commitment and compassion to the children and families of Special Love."  

Camp Fantastic is a week-long adventure for children ages 7-17 years, who are undergoing treatment, or are within three years of their last cancer treatment, or within five years of bone marrow transplantation for cancer. The camp is run in cooperation with Special Love, a non-profit organization providing unique experiences for children with cancer and their families.  

For 27 years, Dr. Chanock served as the camp’s medical director, showing up with dozens of unique ‘crazy’ hats that he wore at every ‘Med Check’—this after devoting several weeks of the summer to reviewing medical charts for the ~100 campers. In his acceptance speech, he thanked his wife and children for their patience as he pursued this annual pilgrimage, an experience that he says resets his moral compass for the year, leaving him—as he quipped—physically exhausted but spiritually invigorated.  

Dr. Chanock with campers

Dr. Steve, as he is known at camp, gives a thumbs up in the 'med line'.

Credit: Special Love, Inc.

The celebration in September was the first in-person gathering since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to campers and their families, current and former counselors, and medical staff, the gala was attended by supporters of Special Love, friends and family of Dr. Chanock, and NCI staff who have helped with coordination of camp over the years. Former NIH Director, current science advisor to President Biden Dr. Francis Collins, and his wife Diane, were also in attendance; they are both regular guests at the 4H Center in Front Royal for Visitor’s Night. As is his habit, Dr. Collins celebrated Dr. Chanock with a song, a “camp version” of King of the Road. Principal Deputy Director Doug Lowy delivered remarks via recorded video.