Thanks to the internet and social media, I recently met an incredible woman, Lorraine Kerz, who took the experience of losing her son to cancer and turned it into a mission to help others. I wanted to let others know about the great work she is doing so Lorraine kindly agreed to a blog interview.
Lorraine, can you please tell us about Sy’s Fund, who it serves and how it works?
Sy’s Fund serves young adults throughout the USA, ages 18 through 39, with cancer or serious ongoing medical issues related to their cancer. We fund meaningful gifts and integrative therapies, tangible things with the goal of making an extremely challenging time a bit easier. Some of the gifts we have funded over this past year have been laptops, iPads, shopping trips, and a bike to name a few.
Life changes so drastically after a cancer diagnosis. For young adults who are busy dating, going to college, partying with friends, starting families, and moving along with careers, this is devastating. Cancer often brings fear, isolation, and the reality that much is now beyond their control. To a young adult who is hospitalized frequently, a gift like a laptop can make a world of difference. This enables them to stay in touch with family and friends, watch videos and play online games, reach out to other young adults with cancer through social sites, and stay involved with what is going on around them.
Who inspired you to create it?
Sy’s Fund was inspired by my son Silas “Sy” River Bennett, who was diagnosed with late stage cancer four days before his 29th birthday. Silas fought his cancer with the same tenacity, humor, and courage in which he lived life before cancer.
Sy was a generous young man who always lent a shoulder to lean on for those who needed it. He was passionate about social change and about making a difference in the world. Silas taught me so much about life and living it to the fullest.
During his illness, he never failed to say “thank you” to those around him no matter how sick he was, be it family or friends visiting, or a random stranger who held the elevator door open for him.
After his death, I was lost and heartbroken. During Sy’s illness, he and I spoke of how often we are not given a choice as to what we are handed in life, only in how we choose to deal with those things. Silas chose a positive attitude and caring spirit, and I am able to carry his legacy forward through Sy’s Fund.
I talked with a close friend who really believed in what I was doing. She was instrumental in helping to get the fund off of the ground. We brainstormed, filled out paperwork, met with a lawyer, and brought people onto the original board of directors.
I spoke to other people who had started nonprofits and got ideas and inspiration to keep going. I ran ideas past the young adult cancer community. I ignored the people who said “this can’t be done,” or who thought this was some crazy way I was dealing with the grief of losing Silas, and that I would “get over it.”
Check back in on Friday for part two of my interview with Lorraine to find out how she overcame the obstacles she faced while launching Sy’s Fund reality and learn more about how you can help.