PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Two New Jersey teenagers found inspiration in a tumultuous time and created an organization to financially assist women fighting with breast cancer.
Erika Rech is a freshman at Villanova University and takes on more than most teenagers in her class. She and her cousin Mike Ruane co-founded Breast Friends Forever when they were in high school.
“We’ll pay things, wigs, co-pays, prosthetics, anything we can help with,” said Erika.
The idea came after Erika’s mom and aunt were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.
“We were surrounded by chemo, radiation, surgeries, and we wanted to get involved,” said Erika.
Mike and Erika raised $1000 for a breast cancer race, but they really wanted to give the money directly to patients.
“They looked around and said, ‘But there are so many women here that need’ – that woman needed a wig and that woman didn’t have a prosthetic,” said Erika’s mother, Carol.
To figure out who receives money, the group reviews requests each week. Since Mike attends Rutgers University, he often Skypes into meetings.
“There’s a lot of people, especially in my town and all over America, that need help, and there is really not that many charities that are helping like we are,” said Mike.
Breast Friends Forever has raised nearly $150,000 selling T-Shirts and wrist bands, and holding galas. They’ve helped more than 100 women like Tracey Neal of Burlington County.
“I’m a single mom and it’s very hard, working all the time and trying to raise children and having a home. It’s very hard,” said Tracey.
Breast Friends Forever paid Tracey’s electric, water and mortgage for a month.
“It’s unbelievable that children can do that,” she said.
There are events throughout the year. There’s even a gala this weekend. To find out more, go to BreastFriendsForever.org.
Do you know someone doing good in the community? Email Dave at Huddleston@cbs3.com.
Reported by: Dave Huddleston