On New Year’s Eve 2016, Maureen Dodgson and Jerry Donahue were married in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Instead of distributing wedding favors, the couple made donations to charities that were important to them. Jerry, who previously worked in refugee resettlement, decided to support the Refugee Assistance and Information Network International. And Maureen made a gift to T.E.A.L.® in honor of her mother Colleen, who has been cancer-free for nine years and counting.

It was actually the second time that someone had used the money from wedding favors to make a donation to T.E.A.L.® in honor of Colleen.  Two years ago, one of Maureen’s best friends, Elizabeth, was so impressed with Colleen’s strength in the face of ovarian cancer that she came up with the idea initially.  Maureen followed in her footsteps when it came time to plan her own wedding.

T.E.A.L.® has played an important role in the family’s life.  For the past six years, Colleen and her husband Donny have traveled from Scranton to participate in the annual T.E.A.L.® walk in Brooklyn.  Colleen’s Team started out small, but numbers up to 15 people, including Maureen and Jerry, who are based in Manhattan, and another daughter Sarah, who lives in New Jersey.  The parents visit for the weekend, and the family has a nice lunch after the walk.  The event has become a yearly tradition.

The team walks in honor of Colleen and also in memory of Colleen’s older sister Junie, who passed away from ovarian cancer in 2014.  Colleen was lucky that her illness was caught at an early stage, back in 2007.  She experienced various symptoms and, after a procedure to address a ruptured cyst, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  Her sister Junie was diagnosed in 2010, but unfortunately the disease had already progressed to an advanced stage by then.  With her family by her side, Junie fought bravely to the end.

Colleen and Maureen are committed to raising awareness of ovarian cancer, especially in Scranton. Both feel lucky to have had so many amazing ladies in their lives and think it’s important for all of us to do our part now so that women can stay healthy long into the future.  That means telling every amazing lady about ovarian cancer®, educating them about signs and symptoms, and helping to raise funds—even replacing wedding favors with a donation.  Through steps like these, we can move closer to early detection, better testing, and hopefully a cure.

Written by Jennifer Moon