Four Lowcountry women will be honored at the Center for Women's third annual Be Brave event Aug. 1.
The Be Brave event celebrates Charleston residents, men and women, who have faced challenges with courage, said Leigh Ann Garrett, special events and marketing manager for the Center for Women. The Charleston-area nonprofit focuses on economic growth and advocacy for women.
"If we all take a moment to reflect on the impact of those who have done good around us, it will inspire us all to do better and be better," said Garrett. "The center is set up and designed to help women to succeed. We want women to support one another and be one another's cheerleaders in all aspects of life."
The community was asked to nominate the "bravest person I know," and dozens of submissions were received. Here are the four honorees.
Leslie Crawford Moore, 41, Hanahan
Who she is: Warriors 4 Warriors Foundation founder
Why nominated: After going through breast cancer treatment and realizing the difference it made to have support, Moore founded Warriors 4 Warriors.
"My doctor said, 'Don't start anything, take it easy,' but I'm not a very good listener," she said. "I realized that it wasn't about the cancer or even about me. It hit me like a freight train that God wanted me to do something more, although it was a few years before we really knew what our mission was."
The foundation provides a sense of community to breast cancer patients, survivors and their families through care packages, events and face-to-face visits that turn into friendships.
"I feel like I'm in such a position to see so many other brave women," she said. "I'm flattered, I'm humbled, but there's still a lot of work to be done."
Alison Piepmeier, 41, Charleston
Who she is: Director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program at College of Charleston
Why nominated: Involved in advocating for women's rights and LBGT rights at C of C. Piepmeier has always been politically active, but she was nominated for the Be Brave honor by a fellow College of Charleston professor for her most recent advocacy efforts. She was an outspoken critic of the political backlash surrounding last year's summer reading choice, "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,"
"Feminism is the movement to eradicate all forms of oppression that keep people from achieving their full humanity, and one of my life goals is to fulfill that," she said. "That's central to who I am and what I do."
"What I hope I am doing is making it possible for my students to be brave," she said. "I hope that I'm saying things that are brave, and I'm certainly willing to be very open with my opinion, but what I really want is for my students to have the opportunity to decide what they believe and to act on it."
Elisabeth Spencer, 62, North Charleston
Who she is: former City of Charleston investigator of elderly abuse
Why nominated: Starting as a volunteer in the Charleston Police Department, Spencer worked for 21 years investigating cases of elderly abuse and exploitation.
"She was brave in the regard that she fought the look-the-other-way mentality," said Sheryl O'Neal, who has worked with Spencer and nominated her for the award. "She made some enemies along the way, but she had no sense of worry about safety."
Two years ago, Spencer was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. She can no longer speak, but O'Neal said her courage continues to inspire.
"When you see someone so beautiful, so vital, so energetic, being affected by something she has no control over, it affects the way I live my life every day."
Debbie Stanitski, 61, Charleston
Who she is: Equestrian Medical Safety Association president; former pediatric orthopedic surgeon and professor at MUSC
Why nominated: Stanitski had been around horses for most of her life when she hit her head in a riding accident in 1999, suffering a traumatic brain injury. After months in the hospital and rehabilitation, she went back to doing the things she loved - just differently.
"Talking to my neurosurgeon, it was obvious that I had and have a number of problems," Stanitski said. "He told me I had two choices: accept this as the new normal or lay on the couch and feel sorry for myself. And not being that kind of person anyway, I said, 'Well, ok, I'll do it.'"
She returned to MUSC for a few years before retiring. Now, she's involved in equestrian safety advocacy and competes in para-equestrian dressage events across the country.
Stanitski said she doesn't see herself as particularly brave. She just lives by the mantra she picked up in physical therapy: "Well, I'll try it and see if it works or if it won't."
If you go
What: Be Brave Brunch
Guest speaker: Allison Black Cornelius, women's advocate from Alabama
When: Friday, Aug. 1, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park, Cooper River Room
Tickets: $35 for members, $60 for non-members
For more information: c4women.org/be-brave-brunch
Leslie Crawford Moore of Hanahan is one of four honorees recognized at the Center for Women’s Be Brave Brunch. She’s the founder of Warriors 4 Warriors, a support foundation for people with breast cancer and their families.×
Alison Piepmeier, director of College of Charleston’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program, is one of four honorees at the Center for Women’s 2014 Be Brave Brunch. She was nominated for her women’s and LGBTQ advocacy efforts at the college and across the state.×
Elisabeth Spencer is one of four honorees as the Center for Women’s 2014 Be Brave Brunch. She worked with the City of Charleston to investigate elderly abuse for more than two decades.×