PEEKSKILL, N.Y. — Sometime after her mother died of cervical cancer in 2001, Crystal Schwer came to the realization that she wanted to do more to help cure cancer than just participate in Relay for Life events and donate to Locks of Love.
She and her sister loved to plan parties, so they combined their talents to start the Kathleen F. Marks Foundation to host fundraisers for cancer research. Named for her mother, the organization was officially launched last summer and is now gathering sponsorships from local businesses.
"We have our business cards printed up and we're just networking right now," said the Peekskill native. "We're trying to figure out who will be interested in participating and supporting us."
As one of its first events, the Kathleen F. Marks Foundation participated in last August's Peekskill Celebration, at which Schwer set up a goldfish-toss game made possible in part by donations from the Zoo Pet Center in Peekskill.
Last fall, she and her sister brought the same game to the Yorktown Street Fair and organized a holiday raffle. Through those efforts, the foundation was proud to make its first donation to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for $500, Schwer said.
“One thing about our organization is that we don’t discriminate about which cancer we want to try to cure. We hate all cancer equally,” she added.
Schwer’s goal is for the foundation to host four fundraisers a year. In addition to participating in the Peekskill and Yorktown events, she plans to host an annual masquerade gala in October to pay homage to two significant events: her mother’s favorite holiday, Halloween, and her death on Oct. 11. At some point down the road the foundation will add another fundraiser.
“We’re good at party planning, so we came up with the idea to throw fundraisers, have fun with it, and do something good,” Schwer said.
If you are a local business that would like to donate or would like more information on future events, go to the Kathleen F. Marks Foundation website.