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Bowling - Mon, Apr. 6, 2015
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BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - It's been a long journey for Union College head men's and women's bowling coach Chelsea Gilliam over the last year and a half.

Rewind back to October of 2013. There, after weeks of testing, Gilliam was diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer. Fortunately for GIlliam, the cancer was detected very early, and after almost  year that included various surgeries and treatments, Gilliam is back to 100 percent.

Now, Gilliam has been bestowed an honor only four other women across the United States receive each year, as she has been chosen by the United States Bowling Congress as a "Fabulous Four" recipient.

The program is a part of the USBC's continuing "Bowl for the Cure" program, which is a year-round fundraising and breast cancer awareness initiative sponsored in conjunction with Susan G. Komen®, the world's largest grassroots organization of breast cancer survivors and activists.

Gilliam, who had to submit an essay to the organization to qualify for selection, found out the news of her selection in an unusual way.

"I was in a hotel parking lot on the road when I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognize, and if I don't recognize it, I don't answer it," said Gilliam. "I looked up the area code and it was Arlington (Texas), so I thought, OK, maybe our girls team qualified for sectionals or something, they'll leave a voicemail.

"So, the voicemail pops up and I listen to it, and a public relations person from Bowl for the Cure was calling to notify me that I was selected. I was in shock, I had to listen to it again just to make sure that it was real. I was excited to say the least."

Gilliam will begin her trip as a Fabulous Four winner on Monday, when she will fly from Kentucky to Arlington, Texas to USBC headquarters where she will meet the other three recipients of the award on Tuesday morning.

From there, the group will head to the headquarters of Susan G. Komen in Dallas, where they will meet dignitaries from the organization, and enjoy dinner with leaders of the foundation.

On Wednesday, the team will head to the International Bowling Campus/Museum & Hall of Fame in Arlington, where they will receive a tour of the facility, and have a lesson with a member of the Team USA Coaching Staff.

Thursday, the group will pack up and fly to Reno, Nevada, where on Friday they will participate as a team in the 2015 USBC Women's Championships, and take part in the Opening Ceremony of the event.

Once Gillian gets to Reno, however, it will be all business, as she will then compete in both doubles and singles on Saturday, which is an option to each of the Fabulous Four recipients.

"I've always wanted to bowl in the bigger tournaments to eventually gain amateur sponsorship and maybe even go pro," said Gilliam. "So, this is kind of a kick-off to that."

For Gilliam, this week will complete a year and a half journey from diagnosis, to now bowling on a National stage as an inspiration to bowlers around the Country.  

"It was all a whirlwind when everything happened," said Gilliam. "Once it was found, my doctors moved very quickly and everything was done in almost a year. It was tough, because for a long time, I wasn't able to bowl a lot. I had to take months off from my surgeries, and each time I started up again, I had to start with a smaller ball and work my way up.

"I've been working hard, I'm finally throwing my normal equipment now. This week, I want to say to people that I'm back and I'm ready, let's go"

For more on the Fabulous Four Program, click here.