COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Chris and Stefanie Spielman love story started as high school sweethearts. They headed off to college with Stefanie cheering Chris on through his time as a Buckeye and following that, in the NFL.

Later came four beautiful children as they truly lived the dream. Even through Stefanie’s breast cancer diagnosis and 12-year battle, the family wanted to give back, give hope and find a cure. Now in its 25th year, the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research carries on that mission and Stefanie’s legacy.

“It’s such an honor honestly, every time I get to drive down 315, I look out my window and see her name and it’s just a reminder to me that I think she’s still with us, and has never really left us,” said Maddie Spielman, who was just 4-years-old when her mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer. A diagnosis that the young mother decided to go public with.

“I’ll be 30 in a couple months and that was the age when she was initially diagnosed, and I just cannot imagine the strength that must’ve taken for her to bring that diagnosis forward,” said Maddie. “Because I think her biggest thing was, she just didn’t want people to feel like they were alone in the battle. If she could just impact one person that would make it all worth it.”

Stefanie had 5 recurrences of cancer and at 42, her battle was over, but her passion for research and awareness lives on.

“I think my mom wanted to do everything in her power to move this research forward, and she firmly believed in the power of research,” said Maddie. And she was such an advocate for just putting yourself on clinical trials, because you never know.”

Stefanie believed in trying clinical trials herself because even if they didn’t work for her, they might work for someone else. Through her battle, countless lives have been saved and millions of dollars have been raised for research.

“It’s honestly surreal to me. We started back in 1998 and my parents, when they first decided to take my mom’s fight public, they were like ‘alright if we can just raise $250,000 that would be awesome.’ That was their goal and they thought that was a lofty goal,” said Maddie. “Fast forward 25 years later we are well over $26 million in the fight against breast cancer.”

And most of that funding, $20 million, has been raised since her passing 15 years ago.

“I don’t know if she realized how many people she impacted. And I think she would just be so happy and honored,” said Maddie.

If you would like to learn more about the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer research or make a donation, visit here.