Awareness • Early Detection • Treatment • Research • Survivorship

Tori Tomalia Is Changing the Face of Lung Cancer

Vada Murray was an athlete all his life. He grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio playing every sport he could. After graduating From Cincinnati Moeller High School, he went on to play defensive back under Bo Schembechler for the University of Michigan from 1986-1990 and went to 3 Rose Bowls during this time at Michigan.

Vada turned down an opportunity to play for the NFL, choosing instead to dedicate his life to public service by becoming a police officer for the Ann Arbor Police Department. He proudly served the city and the citizens of the Ann Arbor area for 21 years.

Vada married his wife Sarah in 2001. Together they had two beautiful and talented daughters. They enjoyed a rigorous health and fitness regimen.

Late in 2008, Vada was unexpectedly diagnosed with advanced lung cancer at the age of 41. Neither Vada nor his parents ever smoked. He endured months of chemotherapy and physical and emotional pain but remained determined to win the battle against this unexpected and unfair opponent. Tragically, Vada passed away on April 6th, 2011 at the age of 43, leaving behind his wife, Sarah, son Deric (12), and daughters Kendall (8) and Harper (6).

Vada was a man who had a quiet presence. With a physically imposing figure, an intense personality, a fierce dedication and loyalty to friends, and a tremendous commitment to his family, he was well respected by all those who knew him, especially his partners in law enforcement.

When Vada passed away he was involved in a promising clinical trial through Karmanos Cancer Center. The clinical trial was a source of hope for Vada. He believed that with more research, better treatment options would be available with better outcomes and greater hope for cancer prevention and cures, especially for people who lived healthy lifestyles.

Sarah has seen firsthand what cancer can do to someone physically, and the way that cancer can affect a family. In Vada’s honor, Sarah continues the fight. Her fight is a fight for hope. Determined to not be a victim, and to channel her feelings of anger and loss into something productive, Sarah is carrying on Vada’s legacy by matching the intensity and determination that Vada had for life in her efforts to raise money for cancer research.

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