Family traits are passed down from generation to generation, and a love of UNC-Chapel Hill and a spirit of philanthropic giving has been instilled for years in Beth and Julian Williamson’s family. The new members of UNC Lineberger’s Board of Visitors are excited to be ambassadors to spread the word about the cancer center’s mission of providing today’s best care and tomorrow’s best hope.
The Williamsons come from a long line of Carolina alums and got their first introduction to the great work being done at UNC Lineberger as basketball fans when they attended Roy Williams’ Fast Break Against Cancer. Julian’s mother, Blanche Bacon, a member of the Board of Visitors, bought the tickets for the couple, and they regularly attend the annual event that has raised more than $3 million for cancer research.
UNC Lineberger’s mission is important to the Williamson family, stretching across generations and one that the couple hopes to pass to their three daughters, Blanche, 18, Elizabeth, 15, and Pell, 21, a junior pursuing a degree in medicine at Carolina.
“His mom has instilled a philosophy of giving back and helping others, and we try to do what we can and impart that to our girls,” Beth Williamson said.
The Williamsons say they stress the “three S’s” with their daughters, an idea Julian recalls his mother expressing about money — to share with others, spend a little and save the rest. The couple is proud that this idea has made an impression on their children — Pell even mentioned it in a speech she gave about her grandmother. The Williamsons continue to set a good example for their children, and their message of philanthropy has hit the mark; the girls have even donated to the Campaign for Carolina, the university’s fundraising effort.
But UNC Lineberger remains close to their hearts due to their personal experiences with cancer. Beth Williamson’s father, Hardy Duerson, also a longtime Board of Visitors member, was treated for cancer at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital, the clinical home of UNC Lineberger. The couple have had other relatives and friends diagnosed with cancer. The Williamsons stay focused on all the good done at the cancer center and want to support those efforts as best they can.
“We feel strongly about UNC Lineberger being a public cancer center, where people can get the best treatment and care regardless of whether they can afford to pay for it,” Beth Williamson said. “I saw with my dad how expensive cancer care was, and with Julian’s aunt, we think about people who can’t afford those kinds of bills or are turned away for inability to pay.”
Julian Williamson credits UNC Lineberger’s leadership with having a clear vision to fight cancer and knows that their gift to the cancer center will be in good hands.
“When you see tangible good being done, when you see the fruits of your labor, that’s when it’s rewarding,” he said. “You can see the good they’re doing. I like the positive nature of what you’re trying to do.”
Julian Williamson mentioned a recent video featuring UNC Lineberger’s Stuart Gold, MD, the chief of pediatric hematology-oncology, as a great example of that positivity. The video featured pediatric staff from the N.C. Cancer Hospital and UNC Children’s dancing joyfully in the halls of the hospitals, and Julian said it was inspiring.
The couple is looking forward to supporting UNC Lineberger as Board of Visitors members. They have been inspired by the generosity of people who give
to the cancer center and hope to inspire others, as well.
“Cancer is something we can all relate to. We are all in this together in the fight against cancer, and if you have the ability to give, do that,” Beth Williamson said. “Cancer doesn’t discriminate and affects people of all ages.”