A mother's love and legacy lives on
It has been 10 years, and the love and legacy of one local mother, Traci Gibson, lives on. Plans are underway for the 10th annual Traci's Hope barbecue on Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Firemen's Field Days grounds in Apalachin, N.Y. Support for the non-profit organization has grown tremendously in the Southern Tier of New York and Northeast Pennsylvania. Many fundraisers in support of the organization have already taken place this year, and more are anticipated.
One of the most recent fundraising events held this year was the Traci's Hope Pink Elk 5K Run in Vestal on April 29. Approximately 200 people ran or walked at the inaugural event. One participant commented to Traci's father, Gordon Shiner, "I'm so surprised how big this event is." Gordon replied as he said he does after hearing other similar comments, "Actually, it's not surprising. Traci had a vision that Traci's Hope would become something very big someday."
This summer, returning events for Traci's Hope fundraisers include a Ladies Golf Tournament at Hiawatha Links in Apalachin, N.Y. and a mini-golf tournament at Skate Estate in Vestal, N.Y. A new event raising funds for Traci's Hope is scheduled Saturday, May 18 - a Zumbathon Fitness Party at the Endicott Elks. The Traci's Hope website, tracishope.com, lists upcoming events.
Traci Gibson was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 31. Following the ongoing support she received from family, friends and other community members during the seven years she lived with the disease, and prior to losing the battle, she wanted to give back by helping others. Traci's Hope was her inspiration, a not-for-profit fund set up to help men and women who are dealing with breast cancer in our area. When you read the words on the main page of the website, tracishope.com, you are reading Traci Gibson's own words. It was Traci's hope to help others as much as she had been helped. According to Traci's parents, Gordon and Mary Shiner, the group helped 91 people in 2012, assisting with $73,800 toward the cost of various expenses.
Traci's Hope is a non-profit group that receives no government funding, originally formed to help men and women in Tioga and Broome Counties in New York, and then later expanded into neighboring Susquehanna County. Going forward, Gordon and Mary Shiner and other Board members will decide how to help in the Northeast Bradford (NEB) community.
The Northeast Bradford School District in Rome has been a significant supporter of Traci's Hope. Sandy Morris, a NEB High School Teacher and National Honor Society (NHS) Adviser, stated that five years ago a student in the NHS suggested they support Traci's Hope, in honor of their local community members dealing with breast cancer, and also by the suggestion of another student familiar with the organization. Their walk/run, now called the Pink Panther 5K, was renamed during the planning for the second year, incorporating their school mascot with the pink breast cancer awareness theme. The event has grown from 40 participants six years ago to 170 runners and walkers who braved the cold on March 23. Gordon and Mary Shiner attended the event. Morris explained, "Their words and kindness inspires all of us to keep hosting this event." Sandy Morris anticipates about $2,500 will be donated to Traci's Hope from the Pink Panther 5K.
In Montrose, Curves will be hosting its annual "Pink Light Night" fundraiser for Traci's Hope on Oct. 19. Event coordinators Kathy Curtis, Cookie Capotosto and Stephanie Gow donate profits to Traci's Hope, in honor of Gow's mother, and also because they feel more comfortable knowing the money stays local. Gow commented, "Gordon and Mary Shiner are wonderful to work with, this will be our fourth year donating profits to Traci's Hope."
Participants at the Pink Light Night bring flashlights for a walk through town, and then light lanterns which are set off into the night sky. The event has grown so much over the last eight years that it will be held this year at the Montrose Fire House. Mary Shiner added, "The lanterns are an amazing sight to see."
Gordon and Mary Shiner are genuinely pleased about the number of young people getting involved with Traci's Hope. It was Traci's desire to include young people so that their generation would learn more about caring for others. For example, Gordon and Mary shared a story about a 16-year old girl who asked guests to give Traci's Hope donations instead of giving birthday gifts to her.
Countless family members, friends and even Traci's Hope recipients have volunteered for the organization, many of them returning every year. And like other organizations, Traci's Hope utilizes multiple methods of communication. Shari Wallace, Traci's sister-in-law, manages the Facebook page, Twitter account, and also updates the website. Now living in southern Pennsylvania, Shari's contribution is one she can help with while living away from the community. She also writes and distributes letters to various organizations to help gather donations for the annual barbecues' raffle baskets. Another example of a young person volunteering for Traci's Hope is Shari's daughter, who is busy planning her own booth for the October fundraiser.
When you load the Traci's Hope website, a special message appears, "Here For You Always." Ten years ago, Traci Gibson had a vision that Traci's Hope would be really big, and she was right.