By Susan Barnett
CHESTER COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — Friends of Joe Mak say he was the life of the party. When he died of lung cancer in his early 30s, they wanted to spread the word about him and help others.
At the Leach house in Chester County, Steven Leach and two of his three sons play Frisbee. They smile, but two people are missing. Their brother Gabe is away on vacation. Then, there’s their mom.
“The hope was she would get cured,” said Steven Leach. “Now the hope is we’ll see her in heaven.”
Dawn Leach died less than a year ago of breast cancer. She was 40.
Her son, Jake, who is 10, said simply, “She was nice.”
Her son Isaac, 14, said, “Obviously there’s less money. Not two incomes. It’s just been different and a little more challenging.”
Not that far away, Toni-Marie Wise was also missing her friend, Joe Mak, who had died at 34 of lung cancer in 2009.
“We always said he was the glue that held everybody together,” Wise said.
So Toni-Marie and other friends of Joe Mak started a small non-profit, Down Goes Cancer, raising money for two causes: lung cancer research and awareness, and helping other families with cancer.
“Let’s try to do something fun for them. Let’s try to put something good in their lives,” said Wise.
When they heard about the Leach family, they bought the boys a trip to an Eagles game.
Wise said, “We got Eagles tickets, a limousine, Eagles gear,” like a hat signed by DeSean Jackson.
Steven Leach joked, “Of course, when he first got it, Luke wanted to wear it all the time!”
It was a big day of fun to remember both Dawn and Joe.
“Just gives you a moment of joy in what is a really tough time,” said Steven.
For more on Down Goes Cancer, visit the website.