When Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2011, she knew she was in for the fight of her life. Little did we know that Mom would fight her fight, AND she would inspire our family to fight for all lung cancer patients.
A few weeks before the first Bonnie J Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (BJALCF) 5K in Philadelphia in 2011, my son John turned to me and said, “Dad, why don’t we get a team for Grandmom?” And with that, our family started to fight lung cancer in a whole new way. John took charge, and contacted family and friends. We raised over $3,000 that year, and 20 people came to the 5K to support Mom.
Introductions to Bonnie J Addario
While there, Mom met Bonnie Addario, admired her work and they made an instant and deep connection. “They are doing God’s work,” Dad would later say, and I can still see Mom cheering on all of the runners at the finish line. Of course, she cheered a little longer and a whole lot louder for her grandchildren.
After Mom died in December, we
decided that if Mom could fight so hard for HER lung cancer, we would fight just as hard for ALL lung cancer. So the following year, we got ourselves a name, “Kathleen’s Krew,” my sister, Karen, made shirts, and we had 50+ people join us for the 2nd annual 5K. We wore the shirts proudly, letting everyone know that we are here to help and that we will forever be so very proud of our Amazing Mom.
It’s a Family Thing
As each year went on, more and more of the family got involved in new ways. My nephew, Connor, asked his high school to have a “dress-down day” to fight lung cancer, and they raised over $400. My son worked as an intern for a summer with Bonnie’s Foundation, and has also had his fraternity at Temple University volunteer during the 5Ks. My sister-in-law, Janet, runs our communication and you will see we have a presence on Facebook. We are learning and trying, and now she has passed that work to her daughter, Erin, who handles all of our social media work.
Two years ago, my niece, Bridget, decided we could also raise some money in memory of her Amazing Grandmom with a lemonade stand. This idea made it easy for more grandchildren to do their part to fight lung cancer in memory of their grandmoms.
The Heart of the Krew: Our Dad
All the while, Dad was the heart and soul of “The Krew,” caring deeply about the cause. He adored Bonnie and brought her holy water from each of his trips to Ireland. Dad also went to Washington, D.C. earlier this year to support the Lung Cancer Alliance.
He was fighting for all lung cancer patients, walking the halls of Congress to make sure his voice and their voices were heard. Dad passed away suddenly in July, and on his wrist he was wearing a BJALCF bracelet, fighting lung cancer until the very end.
6th Annual BJALCF 5K
Just last month, Kathleen’s Krew was at the 6th Annual 5K in Philadelphia to again help Bonnie and her awesome team. We raised a little over $22,000—marking a “Krew” record.
Over 100 people joined us at the 5K, and we again used that day to celebrate the life of our Amazing Mom.
My 2017 cross country bike ride will raise more awareness and more money for all lung cancer patients. In the coming months you’ll hear more about our plan including the route, dates, communications, how you can help and much, much more.
And as always, there is a way you too can help now. Please share, comment, and ask questions about this blog so more people are familiar with the ride. Together, we will change the course of lung cancer and your ideas and support will make it happen!