When my dad, Fred Gontarek, was diagnosed with lung cancer, I felt lost. I wasn’t sure where to turn. I searched the internet as most people do to see what support was out there and what was being done to raise funds for research. Sadly, there were not many local organizations or funds being raised for lung cancer. I vowed to try to change that. I found the Breathe Deep Philadelphia Event was coming up in the Fall of 2011 and knew we needed to be there for Dad and with Dad.
Team Fred started in April 2011 with the motto “No One Fights Alone” to show my dad how many supporters he had and to give him hope during his battle with lung cancer. Fred fought as hard as he could until he passed away on April 28, 2012. The motto was then changed to “Never Forget” since our memories of him and what he meant to us continues to live on. Team Fred first walked in 2011 with Fred by our side and today we still walk in his memory as he watches over us.
I first formed a team for Breathe Deep Philadelphia in 2011 and have continued to volunteer each year after that. This year it is an honor for me to be the event coordinator for Breathe Deep Philadelphia. The Breathe Deep events program provides knowledge and support during a difficult time. These events give friends and loved ones a chance to gather together to not only raise funds but raise awareness and offer their support.
The most rewarding part of being a Breathe Deep event coordinator is knowing that I have a part in raising the funds necessary for critical lung cancer research. My dad was a man who would do anything for anyone and I know that if he were here today he would be right by my side helping in any way he could. My focus is keeping his memory alive while hoping to positively change the lives of others.
I hope my fundraising efforts will support life-saving research that is necessary so that one day we can live in a world where no one dies from lung cancer.
Kara (right) and Team Fred at Breathe Deep Philadelphia
Kara and Fred dancing at her wedding