Like a lot of people who’ve overcome cancer, Charles Ruma decided to help repay the medical care he received by working for the benefit of the hospital that treated him.
As owner and president of Virginia Homes, Ruma knows home-building – and that’s the skill he decided to put to use for The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.
In 2006, at age 36, Ruma, a Dublin resident, was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He was treated at the James and was cancer-free by the end of the year.
“They have a team of all-stars there, and when you have a team of people like that … it’s a very rewarding feeling to be a part of the process,” Ruma says.
As effective as his treatment was, Ruma left the hospital wishing for others to not have to undergo what he underwent.
“(Cancer) really opened my eyes to a world I didn’t want to know,” he says. “Seeing that in person and being surrounded by it really left a lasting impression.”
Now 44, Ruma has remained cancer-free, and he heaps praise upon the James for everything its staff did to get him healthy again. To that end, he resolved to raise money for the James so it might better serve patients like him.
“Going through my treatment at the James, I realized I had to do something to give back because of the great work that they do,” Ruma says. “I knew just writing a check wasn’t going to make the difference I wanted to make.”
In 2011, Ruma and Virginia Homes built the first Home for Hope in Tartan West, near Dublin. Most of the $65,000 proceeds from the sale of the house went to the James, with the rest going to Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation, and many of the subcontractors who contributed to the house donated time and materials to ensure as much money as possible would go to the hospital.
Ruma is now working on a second Home for Hope, which he hopes will be finished by the end of the year. It’s located in Dublin’s Wellington Reserve neighborhood. This time, all the proceeds go to the James.
The two-story, 3,570-square-foot house, with four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms, is valued at $639,000. Ruma hopes the house will sell for $600,000 to $700,000, with a goal of $130,000 in proceeds to the James.
Home for Hope’s connection to health goes beyond its charitable beneficiary. It’s designed to encourage healthy living, too, as well as energy efficiency.
“Our effort was to create a home that promoted a healthy lifestyle, not only in the living environment, but also in some of the products that we used,” Ruma says. “Fighting cancer isn’t just finding a cure; it’s also preventing.”
For one thing, the paint, provided by Sherwin-Williams, is free of volatile organic compounds, commonly referred to as VOCs. VOCs increase indoor air pollutants and may be found in a variety of household products, such as paint, insulation, stain and carpeting.
The house also boasts advanced air and water filtration systems. The water is already city of Columbus water, which is fairly clean to begin with, but the water filter removes some of the chlorine from it to increase purity. The air filtration system – a technology called UVAIRx – adds a charge to the air to make particles bind together and also uses specialized lighting to kill germs and bacteria.
“It’s a similar technology to what’s used in (intensive care units) and other parts of a hospital,” Ruma says.
A few home-builders are beginning to explore advanced air filtration, Ruma says, but it’s rare to see a system as advanced as the one in the Home for Hope.
The 2011 home featured a garden seeded with an assortment of foods believed to fight or prevent cancer.
Once again, many subcontractors have decided to donate their services. A lot of them have been touched by cancer in some way, Ruma, says, which gives them a deeper understanding of the disease and the efforts being undertaken to treat it and search for a cure.
With the new James facility set to open at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center this month, it’s an opportune time to learn about just what the hospital has to offer, Ruma says. He gives as an example its clinical trials: Where many other cancer hospitals have a tough time cracking 8 or 9 percent, the James has 27 percent of its patients in clinical trials.
“It’s going to be one of the world’s best cancer hospitals, if not the best cancer hospital, right here in our back yard,” he says.
Ruma is a member of the James Foundation Board and is also on the foundation board of Recreation Unlimited.
More information on the home can be found at www.homeforhope.com.
Garth Bishop is managing editor. Feedback welcome at email@example.com.