It started as a simple and direct way to remember a friend and maybe raise a little money for a good cause. Then it turned into a mission.
“We all realized we had a chance to do something special and do it in the name of a very special person,’’ Karen Nestor said. “We were serious about making a difference. And now it’s become something that’s grown and grown and become very close to the hearts of a lot of people.’’
“It’’ is The Cindy Foundation, which Nestor and several friends started as a memorial to Cindy DiPinto, who died of ovarian cancer in 2009. DiPinto touched many lives throughout her life and now she’s touching lives even in death – The Cindy Foundation has raised approximately $70,000 in the last four years and is staffed strictly by volunteers so every penny goes directly to help fight ovarian cancer.
The foundation’s next fundraiser is the annual 5K Run/Walk for Cindy, which will be run next Wednesday along the Wilmington riverfront. Registration is $20 before the day of the race and $25 the day of the race at Dravo Plaza. Register at www.races2run.com or call 984-2423 for more details.
Nestor was DiPinto’s roommate for many years, and even after DiPinto married and moved out they remained best friends. And Nestor remembers the day her friend told her the terrible news that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
“Cindy was just amazing,’’ Nestor said. “It was typical of her that she was more concerned about how her family and friends would deal with the news than she was with how it would affect her.’’
DiPinto fought the disease for six years before succumbing to it in 2009 and it was the way she dealt with the cancer that really struck a chord with those who were close to her.
“She battled,’’ Nestor said. “Cindy was always strong and she never, ever gave up hope. She was a Catholic who really believed in her faith and she drew a lot of strength from that. She was the one with this terrible disease and yet she was the one who gave us all the courage to deal with it.”
And when DiPinto finally died, it took her family and friends less than a week to decide that they needed to do something to remember her and to help fight the disease that claimed her life. Nestor, along with DiPinto’s husband, Jim DiPinto, and friends Bud Freel, Ed Freel, Bobby Byrd, Helene Keeley, Kim Jones and J.J. Davis formed the non-profit The Cindy Foundation and quickly put together the first 5K Run/Walk for Cindy, which annually has drawn more than 300 runners-walkers to the Wilmington Riverfront.
The Cindy Foundation stresses four things in fighting ovarian cancer: awareness, education, research and a cure. The American Cancer Society estimates that 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 and 15,000 women will die from the disease.
The money raised by The Cindy Foundation is earmarked for three cancer-fighting agencies – the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Ovarian Cancer Research Center, the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and the University of Pennsylvania Ovarian Cancer Research Center.
“I know Cindy is so proud of us,’’ Nestor said. “And she would be thrilled that we’re doing this, not because it’s in memory of her, but because we’re doing something that might prevent other women from going through the same thing she did.
“Cindy always thought of other people first when she was here on earth,’’ Nestor added, “and I know she’s still thinking of other people now that she’s in heaven.”
Contact Kevin Noonan at email@example.com.