NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

June 12, 2013

Thanks for coming together in cancer fight


Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

In 2006 we received the news that no family ever wants to hear: Cancer had touched one of the youngest members in our family, Molly. We thought we knew how devastating and tragic cancer could be, but we didn’t. We watched Molly undergo grueling chemotherapy treatments along with Mike’s dad and our dear friend, John Hayden. In Dick Barlow’s words, “Why do they say someone fights cancer courageously? You have no choice but to battle it.” We have since watched close friends struggle to deal with their new diagnosis. It seems as if everyone you speak with has somehow been hurt by cancer in one way or another. So how do you help those in their battle? How do you take back some control over this horrific disease?

Seven years ago, The Make Way for Molly team started riding the Pan Mass Challenge to raise money for cancer research. Five years ago, we decided to throw a fundraiser to raise the money for cancer victims. By hosting the Make Way for Molly event, we wanted to give back a night of fun and celebration to those who had given to us. From the moment we tossed the idea out to close family and friends, the response has been overwhelming. The first year we were hoping for 50 people to come; now it is close to 200. A few raffle items have turned into over 70 donations and the list keeps growing every year. The support we have received from the greater Newburyport community, our close friends and wonderful family never ceases to amaze us. Everyone wants to help. The hardest part of the fundraiser is trying to convey to all of you how thankful we are for making this happen.

Well. the fifth annual Make Way for Molly PMC fundraiser held on May 18 exceeded all of our expectations and more. Raising over $18,000 was outstanding, but it was the emotion of the evening that was immeasurable. As the doors opened at 7 p.m., people started to trickle in and by 7:30 the Elks was full. A friend of ours was sitting with a young couple and asked them how they knew the Barlows. They proceeded to tell her that they didn’t know us or anyone in the room, as they had just moved to Newburyport a year ago. They read about the event and Molly’s story in the paper and thought they should come. The couple, Mary Jane and Gordon, lost their young daughter, Ashley, to cancer three years ago. She also received treatment at Children’s Hospital, undergoing grueling chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Mary Jane told me that she thinks of her daughter as an angel now in heaven. Watching everyone in the room welcome Mary Jane and Gordon while paying tribute to their daughter was so overwhelming we could not get the words out to thank everyone there. Without you, we could not do this.

So thank you for making the Make Way for Molly PMC Fundraiser everything it is and more. Thank you for joining us year after year to celebrate those lives touched by cancer. Thank you for coming together with us to show that cancer cannot destroy the goodness in people and their willingness to help. Thank you for welcoming Mary Jane and Gordon to this caring community. Most importantly, thank you for helping those who have no choice but to battle and for honoring those who have lost their battle.

The Barlows