- OccupationVice President, Health Systems
- CompanyCardinal Health
- LocationMemphis, Tenn.
Quick-witted and feisty, 12-year-old Ali addressed the return of her cancer—neuroblastoma, first diagnosed at age 5—by calling a meeting of her three best friends, their mothers, and faculty at her school. “We’ve been through this before,” she said. “I don’t want any crying.” Ali died the following year, in 2005, at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Since then, her mother, Nancy Hula-Mills (shown above, right, with Ali), has been determined to help other families facing childhood cancer make the best of a terrible and frightening situation. The foundation named for her daughter, Ali’s Way, has raised more than $400,000 for related causes, such as the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis, which offers at no charge a welcoming place to stay for families of kids getting treatment at St. Jude. A Ronald McDonald board member, Hula-Mills is a constant presence at the house, hosting monthly dinners for families, organizing limos for Christmas-time outings—and most of all, just listening to parents. Her wish, she says, is to show families that even after something so awful as a pediatric cancer diagnosis, “you can still put one foot in the front of the other.”