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Schilling was diagnosed with stage 2 malignant melanoma in February 2001. A total of five surgeries left 25 scars crisscrossing her back, arms, legs and chest. The media picked up on her skin cancer scare during the 2001 World Series, when her husband Curt won the World Series co-MVP honor for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Her story was featured in People Magazine, Glamour, Family Circle, Pregnancy, Good Housekeeping and ABC's "The View." Shonda invited Good Morning America into the operating room to witness her fifth and final surgery in order to inspire others to have their skin checked and to alter their sun habits. In 2002, she accepted the Melanoma Monday national spokeswoman role with the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Shonda created the Shade Foundation of America.
Shade Foundation of America
Shonda Schilling founded the Shade Foundation of America in 2002 with the goal of changing society's attitude towards sun exposure. The wife of major league baseball pitcher Curt Schilling, she has traveled all over the United States promoting sun-safety awareness.
Schilling aligned the Shade Foundation with Major League Baseball and the Play it Smart When it Comes to the Sun Program in 2005, generating awareness in MLB Parks around the country and at the MLB All-Star Game in Detroit. The program continues to reach millions of Americans with a sun-safety message through media appearances with Geraldo At Large, Women's World Magazine among other local channels across the country.
Since 2005, Schilling has participated in running the Boston Marathon every year to raise money for the Shade Foundation. She also ran the PF Chang's Rock N Roll Marathon in 2005 on behalf of the Shade Foundation.
In 2004, the American Academy of Dermatology acknowledged Shonda's awareness efforts with an individual achievement Gold Triangle Award. She was also given the Alumni of the Year Award from Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority. In 2005, Schilling picked up an honorary doctorate degree in public service from Framingham State College. She was also presented with the exceptional women's award for community service by Boston radio station Magic 106.7. Merrimack College gave Shonda an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2006 and that same year she was awarded the Lady Baden Powell Good Scout Award by the Boston Minuteman Council. Schilling continues to serve as a commencement speaker at high school and college graduations.
Work with the ALS Association
Shonda and Curt have been active with the [ALS Association] since 1992 in developing public awareness and fundraising campaigns to improve the services of the ALS Association. Both have appeared in numerous public service announcements featuring Curt's Pitch'n to Win campaign that joins the ALS Association and Shaw's Supermarkets in which people can donate $1.38 or $3.38 to benefit the ALS Association. Together they have donated and raised more than $9 million for ALS. Shonda serves on the Board of Directors for the Philadelphia, Arizona and Massachusetts chapters. She represents ALS at numerous functions including lobbying in Washington D.C. for government funding and before the Food and Drug Administration to get the first trial drugs approved. Shonda regularly visits ALS patients, their family members and caregivers, and is involved in helping with a variety of events associated with ALS.
She chaired the "The Shonda Schilling Say It with Flowers" Luncheon in Arizona which raised more than $250,000 spanning three years (2002–04). When the Schillings relocated to Boston, Shonda and Dawn Timlin, wife of Red Sox pitcher Mike Timlin, implemented the “Say it with Flowers” campaign in the Boston area which raises over $200,000 annually to benefit the ALS.
The Schilling family participated in ALSA's National ALS Awareness Month public service announcement in 2004 and received the “Telly Award” for excellence in a national television commercial. Schilling and her husband received the 2002 Catfish Hunt Award from the North Carolina Chapter of the ALS Association and she was also presented the All-Star Award by ALSA. In 2001, ALS Association National Office presented Shonda with the Lawrence A. RAND Award recognizing her nationally for continued service and dedication.
Shonda and Curt have a son with Asperger's Syndrome (Grant) which has been a struggle for many years, but as Shonda describes in her book, "The Best Kind Of Different" it has been well worth it. Shonda has partnered with The Asperger's Association of New England (AANE) and Autism Speaks Also has done some work with Youth Care.