Jenna Maier, 14, wants to “ show that no matter your age, you can make a difference.” The Willow Creek Middle School eighth grader from Rochester, Minnesota, has done just that. In November, Jenna cooked up a fundraising campaign for Inheritance of Hope. By February, she had raised $500 selling homemade cookies.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else for my birthday,” said Katelyn Hodge of turning 18 while serving on the most recent Kendra Scott-sponsored Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando. The feeling was mutual--and we hope to celebrate 19 with her as well!
|Events Director, Betsy Ogren, surprises Katelyn on her 18th birthday|
Hannah Black will graduate from high school on March 22, just days ahead of her 22nd birthday, and when she does, her contagious smile will say what words cannot. The young artist is unable to use speech to communicate, but expresses herself through facial cues, a generous spirit, and art. No diploma could ever capture Hannah’s accomplishments.
Last year Hannah sold her artwork and donated all proceeds to Inheritance of Hope (IoH), a nonprofit organization serving young families in which a parent has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Hannah knows the struggles of IoH families all too well, as she lost her own mother Laura to glioblastoma in April 2016.
Henry Nicsinger was cured of cancer once, then he was cured again, and again, and again, and again. Diagnosed with testicular cancer at 31, declared cancer-free after undergoing surgery, Henry went through surgery once more twenty years later when he was found to have a second primary bilateral occurrence of the disease.
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.”
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|