Team of the Week

Team Debbie

 

Keeping Debbie Blumenthal’s hope alive.


Jennifer Blumenthal, her father, Peter, and sister, Karen Huber, formed Team Debbie in 2004 in memory of their mother and wife, Debbie, who lost her six and one-half year battle with breast cancer that spring.  

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Team Debbie in 2006.

“My mom fought the disease with such a force — an everlasting passion for life and a hope that a cure would be found,” said Jennifer Blumenthal.  “We walk each year to keep her hope alive and in honor and memory of the life she led.”  The team’s motivation increased on September 18, 2009 when Elise, Karen’s daughter, was born.  This year’s Race falls on Elise’s second birthday.  “We continue to hope that she will not know the devastation that breast cancer causes,” stated Blumenthal.

Last year the team had 11 members (some were unable to walk due to pregnancy) and raised  $17,614.  This year, the Blumenthals hope to raise $25,000.

Since it’s inception, Team Debbie has been made up of Peter Blumenthal, his daughters, son-in-law and closest family friends.  The first year, the team only included people who knew Debbie, but as it’s grown, it’s added friends and their friends, family members, colleagues and more.  “The team has grown each year,” said Blumenthal, “but it has some fluctuation due to pregnancies and weddings.”  Everyone on the team has known someone whose life has been impacted by breast cancer.  “My mom was diagnosed in 1998, but we have had other family members who have fought the disease before then and since,” she explained.

When they started Team Debbie, the Blumenthals wanted to do something extra to bring the group together, so they decided to create their own t-shirts.  For five out of the eight years the team has walked in the Race, Karen Huber has designed a t-shirt or baseball cap (with some input from her sister and father).  The first team shirt just listed team members, but later versions have feet “to demonstrate that each step makes a difference.”  Most of the shirts and hats also have a giraffe on them.  “It was my mom’s favorite animal,” explained Blumenthal.  “I think a giraffe is fitting, since it stands tall at all times.  That was how my mom was no matter what cancer threw her way — smiling, laughing and fighting for her life.”

The team recruits new members via email, Facebook posts, as well as talking about the Race with family, friends and colleagues.  For fundraising, the Blumenthals network, talking about the event, sharing information on Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and discussing why they walk each year.  “Team Debbie has been around for seven years, so we have people who look for our fundraising emails,” said Blumenthal.  “We have had continued support from them and create new supporters each year.”

When asked about the team’s favorite memory, Blumenthal said “Team Debbie has brought friends and family together, and as we walk, we laugh about memories of my mom and from the past, and also talk about our hopes for the future.’’ She continued,  “Seeing the survivors walking in their pink shirts each year brings us hope that we will beat this disease.”