Shannon Fogarty holds the distinction of being one of our most successful fundraisers who is also a past retreat participant. To date, this family member served-turned Inheritance of Hope super fundraiser has sent six families on a life-changing Legacy RetreatⓇ. Just a year after he was diagnosed with a malignant, inoperable brain tumor, Shannon attended the August 2011 Orlando retreat with his wife Alicia and daughter Alexa.
One of the newest members of the Inheritance of Hope family plans to come back as soon as she can. Dionna Koval turned in her volunteer application just weeks after participating in our NYC Legacy RetreatⓇ this past November. Before their retreat, Dionna and her son Diego, 17, were understandably nervous and unsure of what to expect. “I told him to just give it a chance,” she shared, “I didn’t know what it would be like either, and we decided we would just see how it went. The first night, Diego said, ‘I kind of like this,’ and afterwards on the way home, he hugged me, thanked me, and said it was one of the best trips ever.”
While most people were eating leftovers or searching for Black Friday deals, on the day after Thanksgiving in 2016, Tracy Higley was diagnosed with de novo stage IV metastatic breast cancer. This was her first incidence of cancer, thus the label “de novo,” a less common variant of the disease.
“Overwhelmed” would be an understatement in describing how she and her family felt. “We were reeling,” Tracy said. Approached a few months later by a breast cancer survivor at a basketball game, Tracy learned about Inheritance of Hope and considered applying. She remembers feeling hesitant, “I didn’t feel like I needed it, and didn’t want to take another’s spot. I also didn’t want to put my kids through this sad thing. But, then I talked to Betsy at IoH, and even without meeting her, I felt so comfortable. I knew this organization really cared about our family.” Tracy, her husband Troy, and their blended family of three children attended the Kendra Scott-sponsored Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando in January 2018.
In the fall of 2016, Melinda Hodge had a routine, normal mammogram. Six months later, a lump was discovered at her yearly well visit, and she was subsequently diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Scans showed that it had already spread to her brain and bones, and she was told she had 18 months or less to live. 18 months to do all the things she had planned and hoped to do, and 18 months to pour as much love as possible into her three daughters, ages 16, 14, and nine at the time.
Lauren Latimer vividly remembers her introduction to Inheritance of Hope, “When my mom first told me she wanted our family to go on an IoH Legacy RetreatⓇ, I was like, ‘Sorry. That doesn’t sound like fun. I don’t want to go on a cancer retreat.’” The Latimers--mom Karen, dad Rob, Lauren, and her sister Anna--attended the January 2016 retreat to Orlando over their daughters’ objections. Lauren, at the time 17, admits that her mom guilted her into going. Now a repeat IoH volunteer, she is more than happy to concede, “A depressing ‘cancer retreat’ is the exact opposite of what IoH is. By the end of the weekend, the volunteers and other families were my family, and I didn't want to leave. And, that is the consensus of everyone who comes on a retreat.”
Now is the time of year when we consider all that the past year held for us, and ponder what the year ahead will bring. This can stir up a vast array of emotions . . . hope, worry, excitement, fear, gratitude, fatigue, doubt, peace, longing, joy . . . sometimes several at once.
Since the Strebe family attended an Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ in February 2014, Jon and Donna have only missed a handful. Between the two of them, they have volunteered at 12 retreats. That’s worth repeating--a dozen Legacy Retreats!
|The Strebe family at their Legacy RetreatⓇ in February 2014|
A chance click of the mouse led Bob Sauer to Inheritance of Hope (IoH), but his involvement since then has been nothing short of dedicated. While scrolling through charity partners on the Marine Corps Marathon website, Bob came across the IoH logo and double-clicked to learn more. He later received a bib through the marathon’s lottery program--meaning he could run without supporting a non-profit sponsor--but Bob was already hooked, and even decided to double his initial fundraising goal for IoH! By race time, Bob was leading Team IoH in fundraising for the Marine Corps Marathon, and funded two children on our November 2018 New York City Legacy RetreatⓇ.
Almost two years ago, Cristina Tebolt, described by her husband Seiji Shiraishi as a “city girl,” visited New York City for the last time. Having lived there before the couple married, Cristina was in her element. The Big Apple was decked out for the holidays, and Cristina could not have been happier to be a part of it. Through an IoH Legacy RetreatⓇ, Cristina, Seiji, and their children Karina and Oliver were treated to a boat tour, the view from Top of the Rock, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and more. As important as these precious memories will always be, the Tebolt-Shiraishi family gained something else invaluable--a support system of other families all facing the terminal illness of a parent.
Elise Barrett has sound advice for caregivers who are walking the same path she has walked: “One of the things I had to learn over and over again is that human capacity is limited,” she recently shared. “These experiences take more out of you than you can replenish, and you can’t blame yourself. You are going to be compromised. You are not going to be able to always be patient, be loving, plan, or make meals. Whatever your thing is, you might not be able to do it. It is so important to normalize that uncomfortable truth, and to find ways of accepting it, and to discover ways of adapting. There will be many seasons, and letting each season be what it is can be what survival looks like.”