By Chris May

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Eric Iraheta was only 13 when he met his future wife, a gregarious girl named Sarah. They were instantly best friends, but just friends.

“I guess it was love at first sight,” Eric said. “We just didn’t know until seven years later.”

Sarah Iraheta’s biggest wish was to be a mother. Little Eric came first. When she was pregnant with her second child, she felt a lump in her breast.

“We didn’t know she had cancer until it was too late,” Eric said. “It came down to lose the child and get help, or keep the child and take your chances.”

She gave birth to Tony. By then, her cancer was at stage 4. During the grueling treatments, Sarah stayed out of the hospital as much as she could to go on beach outings, parasailing, jet skiing.

“I saw how she brought the family closer,” said Charlie Alejandro, Sarah’s mother-in-law.

“You don’t want to miss out on those memories. Especially when you know they’re going to end,” said Eric. Sarah was just 32 when she died on March 16, 2012.

Eric and his mother Charlie Alejandro started Sarah’s Joy Foundation to help families dealing with terminal cancer, “just for families to be able to go away and have fun for a while,” said Alejandro.

They’ve already raised money for four families, donating $3,000 total for bills and fun outings.

“Every time we see the smiles on people’s faces or they give you a hug or they thank you,” said Alejandro, “it’s kind of like they’re thanking and hugging her because that’s the way she was,” living life even at the end.

On Sunday, September 15, Sarah’s Joy Foundation will hold a 5K at Ridley Creek State Park in Media.  It starts at 10:00 a.m. Participants can register as an individual or a team. The registration fee is $25 for individuals, $75 for a team up to five members, and $5 for children. To register, please visit

Sarah’s Joy Foundation



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