“Just working and pushing myself towards this goal had changed me in ways I couldn’t believe; I never got the chance to thank [Cindy] for that. This whole experience has changed my outlook on life and taught me to really appreciate it. I now strive to use all my time here to further or better the lives of others. I am also more sympathetic to people around me and have learned to open my eyes: everyone around me has some kind of story and some kind of struggle. Now that I see this I can better relate and open up to them. It’s really hard to describe how much Cindy taught me, though I hadn’t ever met her before.”
Helen Slivinski, a Sophomore at South Lakes High School, began her International Baccalaureate (IB) program service project knowing that she wanted it to benefit a good cause, and that she would incorporate her passion for performing arts. Helen’s projects to raise money and awareness include long term t-shirt and pin sales and culminate in a performing arts benefit show on March 20th. The campaign is branded “Think Love,” a theme and design created by Helen for the project.
Helen’s dance teacher, also her sponsor for the project, told her about a friend of a friend, Cindy Martin, who was struggling to pay for her cancer treatment. Cindy worked as a hairdresser in Helen’s community, and was known to be a friend to everyone she met. Cindy had no health insurance, so when she was diagnosed with brain cancer in August of 2010, she had no idea how she would pay for treatment. By the time Helen found Cindy, she was battling the remaining 10% of her malignant tumor, as well as a wave of overwhelming medical bills. With her sponsor’s guidance, Helen decided that the proceeds from the fundraiser would be used to offset Cindy’s treatment costs.
“Everyone at the fundraiser had some strange connection to the both of us and affected our lives indirectly. It was so strange: I don’t think I could describe it in words except to just call it fate. “
As preparations were being made for the benefit show, they received horrible news. On February 23rd, Ms. Martin passed away. She caught pneumonia, and her immune system was too weak to handle the disease and the treatment.
“It was devastating to find out that all my work was unnecessary. I was too late to help her. I didn’t even have a chance to meet her.”
According to the family’s wishes, the total raised after the benefit show will be split evenly between Imerman Angels and the National Brain Tumor Society. Helen’s hope for the show is to raise awareness and create a sense of closure for Cindy’s friends and family. Imerman Angels is lucky to have supporters like Helen. The thoughtfulness and effort invested in this project is truly inspiring. The “Think Love” benefit show, upcoming on March 20th, will include performances by students and local professionals. If you live in or around Washington DC, we strongly encourage you to attend! The show will take place at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Dr, Reston, VA 20191).