When Linda Grassi was struggling with ovarian cancer, family, friends and co-workers of the teacher at the Glenwood Avenue Elem-entary School in Wildwood raised money to help with family and medical bills.
Grassi died in 1994 at age 46, but the friends who supported her kept going, forming the non-profit Love of Linda Cancer Fund which continues to raise money to help cancer patients in Cape May County.
Typically the group holds three fundraisers each year, a spaghetti dinner, a beef and beer dinner, and a golf tournament. The proceeds, along with private donations, raise about $75,000 per year. This month the group will add an event at The Club at Diamond Beach in Wildwood Crest from 4 to 8 p.m. July 20.
"One of our members was at an event (at the club) last year and asked about doing one for us to raise extra money," said Amy Mahon, of Ocean City, president of the group.
Mahon was a childhood friend of Grassi's daughter, Christa Grassi Nocito, of North Wildwood. She joined the group in 2006. The group's revenue was hurt by the recession, while requests for assistance increased, so they are always looking for new ways to raise money and new members to help plan events, Mahon said.
"We have a lot of active patients, and we've had to cap the amounts we can give them," Mahon said. "But we are dedicated to keeping it going."
Fund treasurer Margaret Clark, of Wildwood, knew Linda Grassi when Clark's son had Grassi as his third grade teacher.
"She was always a bubbly person," she said. "I helped her move into a new classroom when she was pregnant, and we became friends."
Clark said the fund has raised almost $1.6 million since its inception, and helped about 2,400 cancer patients. She said there has been a turnover of members as Linda's friends have gotten older, and Christa's have gotten involved.
Clark said most requests are to help pay for medications, travel expenses to hospitals out of the area or to help with bills, since patients are typically working less.
Nocito said she is proud that the fund has stood the test of time and that so many people continue supporting it.
Mahon said about a dozen people make up the core group, but other clubs and groups come out to help with individual events, and some hold their own fundraisers for Love of Linda.
Nocito was only 13 when her mother died and is now pregnant with her second child. She said the fund has been a great way to keep her mother's memory alive, and she hopes it continues so that her own children can help out at the events.
"She really was special," Nocito said. "This is a great way for her legacy to live on."
(More information on the fund and its services is online at loveoflinda.org. Donations can also be made to Love of Linda Cancer Fund, Inc., P.O. Box 1053 Wildwood, NJ 08260. Call 609-729-0456 or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Contact Diane D'Amico:
If You Go
Love of Linda party, 4 p.m. to
8 p.m. Saturday at The Club at Diamond Beach, 60 E. Raleigh Ave., Wildwood Crest. Music by Chatterband. $5 at the door. Gift certificates and door prizes welcome.