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Local donors give to cancer programs

Area high school student organization contribute to Angel Fund Endowment

By Candace Sipos -- csipos@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- Kevin Callanan, the director of foundations for Valley Health, distinctly remembers receiving the starter check for the Angel Fund Endowment. It was for $50,000, and it was from a woman who had 30 days left to live, or so she was told.

"I just talked to her this morning," Callanan said Friday. He noted that the woman continues to donate to the fund, which goes toward non-medical expenses a patient may be unable to take care of while in the hospital, such as a house or car payment.

Other people have heard her story, though many don't know her name, and followed in her footsteps. One man makes a monetary gift to the fund every year in memory of his wife.

Now, Sherando High School's DECA Club is added to the list of dozens of donors. The club donated more than $2,200 to the Angel Fund during a ceremony Thursday. At the same ceremony, Musselman High School's volleyball team contributed more than $800 to Valley Health.

While it was the first year for the students and LL McKee Salon, which donated $2,800 to the Angel Fund, other regular donors also presented checks Thursday. Village Square has contributed more than $56,000 to Valley Health in the past six years, including $10,000 this year, and Panera Bread has donated $6,000 over two years.

All in all, Valley Health received more than $19,000 on Thursday. Some of the contributions went toward Wellspring, a service of Winchester Medical Center that addresses non-medical needs of patients with cancer or other chronic diseases.

Wellspring offers a full-service hair salon, a private room for post-mastectomy prosthesis fittings, support groups and massage therapy, among other services, according to its website.

"We are so ... blessed and humbled by how these teenagers decided to give, to do fundraising for Wellspring," said Becky McDowell, coordinator of Wellspring.

McDowell was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May 2006, and is on her third occurrence.

"I just feel inspired by the people I'm able to meet and to be able to give hope to because I'm blessed that I've done so well," she said.

Callanan was also impressed with the donations, especially those from the students, who took it upon themselves to raise funds.

"These student organizations, they did this from the bottom of their hearts," Callanan said. "If you ever feel just a little nervous about where the world's going, you see this."

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