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Widow creates lung-cancer foundation

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006



After Michael Connolly died of lung cancer at 39, his wife and son wanted to do something to keep his memory alive.

Penny Connolly talked with Dr. Leslie Kohman, one of her husband's doctors from SUNY Upstate Medical University. "I didn't realize what we were taking on," Connolly admits now.

"We wanted to make a difference three years ago. It's a huge process. We really didn't officially kick if off until a year ago. We have our board here, and we're meeting every other month. I wanted to race to the finish, but there's a lot of crawling first. It's not easy raising funds."

Connolly and her son, Ryan, 19, of Binghamton, established an endowment - the Michael E. Connolly Lung Cancer Research Endowment - and they are trying to grow it to $1 million.

Michael Connolly died in August 2002, after a 22-month battle with lung cancer. He never smoked. He was in good health and a star athlete. Lung cancer was the last thing doctors suspected when he developed a cough. They found lung cancer had spread to his bone and lymph nodes.

"The impetus for creating this endowment in Michael's name is to ensure that others faced with the same diagnosis have a better chance at winning the battle through advanced research and treatment," Connolly says.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and women.

The Upstate endowment would be used to pay for a researcher who would concentrate on lung cancer, and Connolly said officials are fielding research proposals.

She's concentrating on raising money.

If you'd like to help, visit her Web site at www.lungcancer research.org or call the Upstate foundation at 464-4416.

Overweight kid?

Struggling with a child who is struggling with weight problems?

A new book that tackles the subject just won a "most excellent product" award from iParenting Media, at www.iparent ing.com

"It's Not Your Fault That You're Overweight: A Story of Enlightenment, Empowerment and Accomplishment for Overweight and Obese Kids" (Starbound Books, $11.95) comes in a version for girls or boys.

It's a 48-page illustrated book designed for parents to read with their kids, plus discussion questions and a "healthy living" tip sheet.

Reach Health & Fitness editor Amber Smith at 470-2188 or by e-mail at asmith@syracuse.com.

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