|Summer 2010-Advisory Board Profile|
“You never really get far from cancer,” says Callen Sparrow, president of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Advisory Board. In his own family, Mr. Sparrow lost his father to a rare type of bile duct cancer, and his mother battled both colon and bladder cancer before eventually passing away from lung cancer.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also had several friends who have had it,” he says. “By being involved with the Advisory Board, it’s nice to be doing something about it.”
Coming on Board
A Birmingham native, Mr. Sparrow was already familiar with the Cancer Center before joining the Advisory Board. His father was treated at UAB, as was his mother for one of her cancers. Mr. Sparrow fondly recalls the excellent care that his parents—particularly his mother—received at the center.
“When my mother was sick, I was stunned at just how wonderful the staff at the Cancer Center was—especially the infusion nurses,” he says. “The level of care she received was exceptional.”
Though both of his parents lost their battles with cancer in the late 1970s and late 1990s, respectively, several more years passed before Mr. Sparrow joined the Advisory Board. One of his lifelong friends, Frank Lynch, who still is an active member of the board, approached him about joining in 1999. The decision was a simple one, Mr. Sparrow recalls. “I was able to see how the board could help, and how we could make people aware of what was going on at the Cancer Center.”
Since joining the Advisory Board, Mr. Sparrow has been an active participant in its activities. He has served as chair of three of the board’s annual fundraising campaigns, and in 2009, he became the board’s 14th president. “It was time to become more active,” Mr. Sparrow says of his leadership role. “It has been a good experience, and I’m glad I did it.”
The Advisory Board’s mission is threefold: to raise money for research and related activities at the Cancer Center, to provide amenities and assistance to cancer patients and their families and to increase awareness of the center in the community. Mr. Sparrow feels particularly strong about this last point. “If we spread the word about the Cancer Center and the great work it’s doing, the rest will fall into place,” he says.
A Bright Outlook
In addition to the Cancer Center, Mr. Sparrow has been involved with several Birmingham-area civic organizations, including the Bo Johnson Foundation, which raises money for esophageal cancer research at UAB. A graduate of Hampden-Sydney College and the Cumberland School of Law of Samford University, he is a trial lawyer at the Birmingham law firm of Heninger, Garrison and Davis, LLC.
Mr. Sparrow is married to Caroline, his high school sweetheart. The couple has been married for 26 years and has two daughters: Elizabeth, a freshman at the University of Alabama, and C.C., a sophomore at Mountain Brook High School.
In his spare time, Mr. Sparrow enjoys golf, woodworking (an “off and on” hobby, he explains), reading and cooking. “I started off with just grilling, but now my cooking is all over the map,” he says.
Though Mr. Sparrow maintains a busy schedule, his work with the Advisory Board remains a priority, and in his eyes, the outlook is optimistic. “We’re starting to see the results of all the things we’ve been talking about all these years,” he says. “We have to continue our efforts to increase awareness of the Cancer Center in the community, and the Advisory Board has the tools to do that. We’ve done a lot, but we still have a lot of work to do.”