In December 2010, Susan Wit’s 28-year-old son, Adam, was diagnosed with Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia (WM), a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The Michigan-based family soon found themselves halfway across the country at Dana-Farber’s Bing Center in Boston, the country’s largest WM referral center, and the only center in the world dedicated exclusively to advancing the understanding of WM’s causes.
The Wit family’s experience at the Bing Center, and specifically with Dr. Steven Treon, helped ease the overwhelming struggles of Adam’s diagnosis and treatment. “It was really calming after our world had been rocked,” said Susan. “We were able to come home feeling like there were some options available to us.”
After Adam’s diagnosis, Susan’s close-knit community reached out, wanting to help in any way they could. “I knew the only thing that would help me cope with Adam’s diagnosis was feeling like I was personally helping with his success,” said Susan, “and I knew I could fundraise.”
A seasoned fundraiser in her church and community, Wit channeled that experience into organizing a wide array of fundraising efforts in her Harrison Township, Michigan community.
In partnership with the Knights of Columbus Council 11658, Susan began annually hosting fish fries, bake sales, Easter basket sales, a Super Bowl Super Sunday Party, a Dueling Pianos event, and a wreath sale. All events run with the same motto, “good food, good fun, good cause.” To date, Susan has raised more than $118,000 for the Bing Center.
Susan credits her fundraising success to the strong commitment of her community, which between all of her events, includes over 2,000 donors and attendees every year. While all Susan’s events are opportunities to have a fun night out, they also raise awareness about the disease and serve as a support network for those affected by cancer.
“Everyone in that room has the potential to be impacted by cancer,” said Susan. “I want them to know they have options and they’re not alone. It’s amazing how many people contact me and say ‘my dad had that, my grandpa had that— I want to help.’”
That enthusiasm fuels Susan’s efforts year round. The long days and nights spent planning and executing her fundraising endeavors all pay off when the community comes together. And Susan recognizes the value of their support, noting that people often underestimate the impact of their gift.
“Even if it’s $10 or $50 or $100, maybe that’s the money that’ll put us over the top and make the discovery,” said Susan. “It makes a difference.”
In good health and receiving monthly blood tests, Adam, along with his wife, Sarah, recently welcomed baby Ezra. Adam still serves as inspiration for his mother’s hard work. “I think there is room for everyone to do something positive when you’re faced with something so negative,” said Susan. “And we’ll continue raising money. We may find we need to change things up here and there, but I’m hoping we can continue for a very long time.”
Never losing sight of her purpose, Susan carries on each event with the same enthusiasm as when she started: “I might not be the one to cure cancer, but I want to help the person who is.”
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