“Scents of Hope,” Marti Ogren’s candle business, is aptly named. The preschool teacher, who also spent 35 years in a first grade classroom, has found her second calling, and her purpose is bigger than filling your home with pleasant fragrances. Lest you get the wrong idea, Marti is passionate about the process of developing, testing, and making her soy-based candles. She embraces every step, from brainstorming new products to pouring the warm clear liquid and watching it cool to a creamy solid. But, she is even more passionate about inspiring hope.
Meet families impacted by Inheritance of Hope!
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.
Those who come into the world with another person, a twin, are never alone. The lives of identical twins are so innately blended together that moving from an “us” to a “me” can seem impossible. Losing Kris meant losing my identity--my PLURAL identity--and all of a sudden, I have found myself having to “grow up” all over again as a singular “individual.” It is curious… exceptional… unnatural.
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.
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|