By ALAN SMASON, Exclusive to the CCJN
When the Hannah G. Solomon Award is presented at the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) annual luncheon this coming Monday, October 16, at the Marriott Hotel, there will probably be but a few people who won’t have a tear in their eyes from beaming pride for the honoree, Kim Sport.
The event, slated to run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the hotel located at 555 Canal Street, will honor Sport for her public work on behalf of cancer survivors as well as victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. But they will also honor Sport for her ability to persevere and be an inspiration as a three-time cancer survivor while retired from her legal practice.
“When I say I retired, I really mean from paid work,” she told the CCJN in a phone interview. “I don’t think I’ve ever stopped working and using my legal degree in one way or another. It’s just I’ve used it for not-for-profit purposes and also most recently to help represent victims of domestic violence in court and to help draft legislation to strengthen our domestic violence laws.”
Indeed, what Sport was able to do in 2014 was nothing short of extraordinary. “We have in Louisiana probably the strongest Second Amendment language in the nation,” she opined, “which says that any law passed which would restrict our ownership of a firearm has to pass strict scrutiny in the courts and they’re talking about a Constitutional-strict scrutiny.”
Given the level of support for gun possession and ownership in the state, even Sport was surprised what her efforts yielded. The Louisiana Legislature passed several laws to protect victims of domestic abuse that year, but in particular passed a law that expanded dispossession of a firearm from felons to include anybody convicted of domestic abuse battery, even if the conviction was for a misdemeanor.
The law mandated that any person who was subject to a protective order intended to protect someone who had been either physically or sexually abused, was also not allowed to possess any firearm for the duration of that protective order.
“That was huge,” Sport admitted. “I was absolutely shocked that someone could be subject to a protective order and still possess a firearm.”
To Sport’s credit and those women who craved change, the legislation passed unanimously through every committee and chamber of the Legislature before it was signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal. Jindal held a special event where he signed all of the 32 laws passed that year, which were intended to protect victims of domestic abuse.
Besides her public advocacy for women, Sport has also fought her own personal battles. Diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, she underwent a lumpectomy followed by 35 rounds of radiation therapy, several courses of chemotherapy and five years of oral administration of chemotherapy.
“I really thought I’d thrown the kitchen sink at that,” she said.
Then seven years later, in a routine follow-up examination, another primary cancer in that same breast was diagnosed. She had taken the maximum lifetime dosage of radiation initially, so her options were limited.
“There was no alternative, but to have a mastectomy, so I opted to have a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction,” Sport explained.
Then, within a year of that second diagnosis of breast cancer, she received even more devastating news. She had been stricken with thyroid cancer.
“So, I had my thyroid removed and then radiation ablation while hospitalized,” she continued.
Dealing with the difficulties of breast augmentation after surgery led Sport to the creation of a support group called Breastoration, a non-profit organization that helps women deal with the period of transition from surgery and beyond.
Sport is both honored and humbled by the honor and she feels even more special since she is not Jewish. “I was speechless when I was told,” she said. “They told me it was a community-wide award. It was for people who affected social change that is in alignment with the mission of the National Council of Jewish Women and Hannah G. Solomon.”
She had attended two previous luncheons where she saw two others receive the Hannah G. Solomon Award. But now Sport was spurred to learn more about Solomon, the founder of the NCJW.
“She was an extraordinary woman,” Sport acknowledged. “I read her autobiography when I heard I was getting the award. I’m amazed at what this woman was able to accomplish during her lifetime.”
Limited tickets for the Hannah G. Solomon Award Luncheon remain at $65.00 per person. Reserved tables are for 8 to 10 people. Valet parking is available at a special $17 event rate. Tickets can also be purchased online here.