Written by Noah Logan
Photos by Steve Babin

Dr. John Waples is a devoted cancer doctor at Clearview Cancer Institute with an enduring connection to Huntsville and an inspiring journey of philanthropy. His commitment to making a difference shines through each endeavor.

Waples attributed his inspiration for medicine to his mother, who became a nurse while he was in high school. “She really motivated me to look into medicine.” He continued, “My faith propelled me serve those in need, those who couldn’t help themselves. The next thing you know, I’m volunteering at churches, hospitals and clinics,” he recalled.

Over the past decade, Dr. Waples and wife Paulina have been enthusiastic supporters of HEALS, Inc., an organization dedicated to providing healthcare for children in need. He reflected on their longstanding involvement in the annual Stars Dancing for HEALS, a dance competition in the style of Dancing with the Stars, an event that raised more than $800,000 this year alone.

Dr. Waples’ journey with HEALS began a decade ago when he danced for the event and won the competition, raising a significant amount of money. Since then, he and his wife have actively supported the organization, contributing both their time and resources.

“We got involved 10 years ago and won the competition. We learned about what they do to help children in our community.” HEALS provides school-based medical, dental and optometry care at local schools. “My wife and I got on board, and next thing you know, a year or two later, we’re both dancing,” he recalled. Their commitment has been unwavering.

Dr. Waples, a man of faith, identifies his church as his number one priority. He also shed light on a new venture, an event supporting another cause near to his heart, the Russel Hill Cancer Foundation. The event, Fight Night: Knock Out Cancer Boxing Tournament, is a USA Boxing Sanctioned Match event. The inaugural Fight Night was in April 2023. Several local boxers from Rocket City Boxing participated in three-round matches leading up to the main event, featuring Waples and Dr. Jason Smith as the two headlining fighters. “We raised $112,000 on a first-year event,” Waples said proudly.

A notable participant in this year’s upcoming Fight Night is Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner. Turner also previously danced for HEALS and surpassed Dr. Waples’ record for the most money ever raised. “Records are meant to be broken, and I was proud that he broke it. That meant HEALS raised even more money. He created a new record that needs to be broken too.” Waples remarked.

This year’s Fight Night will be held on August 24 in VBC’s North Hall. “We moved it to August because Russel Hill’s major fundraiser, White Linen and Wine, is each February, making it challenging to organize another significant event right after. We want to spread out our events to help the foundation most.” Waples added, “It’s also before football season but after summer vacation.”

The Russel Hill Cancer Foundation is committed to improving the health of the North Alabama area through the support of innovative cancer research, cancer education efforts and patient assistance programs. Waples underscored the importance of the foundation in supporting cancer patients facing financial hardships during their treatments. “I’m a cancer doctor, and what patients and their caregivers and families go through is tough – physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and financially,” he said. “Russel Hill bridges the financial gap,” he said, pointing out an incident where the foundation assisted a breast cancer patient struggling to pay her electricity bill during her six-month treatment.

Discussing his philosophy of giving, Waples highlighted the importance of sharing time, talent, and treasures, “I think we’re called to give back to the community.” He encourages others to find true meaning in helping those in need. “If you’re blessed in this life, and you give back, it leads to a purpose-driven existence. My wife and I work to be successful so that we can help others. That success is made more meaningful because we give. I challenge everyone to give freely of your time, talents and treasur

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