BY MORGAN FECTO
Debbie Levy was a yoga buff who loved meditation, travel, and walks on the Northwest Branch Trail near her Silver Spring home.
“She was incredibly supportive and a real inspiration,” said daughter Shira Levy of her mother.
She had a passion for helping others, and ran Debra Levy Elder Care Associates, but she never shirked on being a good mom.
“She lived her whole life helping other people,” said nephew Adam Grunley.
In July 2012, Debbie Levy was diagnosed with a stage four brain tumor, a notoriously untreatable cancer. She died just three months later in October.
“It was a very moving experience,” said Grunley of his aunt’s death. “But it brought my whole family closer.”
Running for research
To help others with brain tumors, and to honor Debbie’s selflessness, members of her family will run the Race for Hope Sunday, May 5.
The proceeds from the annual 5k go to Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure and The National Brain Tumor Society for brain tumor research.
The 120 different types of brain tumors make effective treatment difficult, said race organizer Nike Beddow, whose sister founded the race in 1998 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.
“There are first line of defense treatment options,” said Levy about glioblastomas, the deadliest of malignant brain tumors, the type that her mom had. “But there really are no second line of defense treatments.”
Levy decided participate so her mom’s tragic death would “have some positive impact.” After attending support groups for families of cancer victims, she connected with people from the Race for Hope.
“I feel really connected to this community,” said Levy. “For better or for worse.”
The Race for Hope is an event that derives success from kindred bonds. It inspired over 11,000 participants to put on their running shoes, and collected over $2,500,000 last year.
“It definitely was a grassroots movement among family and friends,” said Beddow of the first Race for Hope. “I jumped in to get involved.”
“That’s really the strength of the race, the family and friends teams,” said Beddow.
“Team Debbie” is one of over 500 family and friend sponsored teams that fundraise for the Race for Hope, said Beddow. The team raised money and recruited members through Facebook, Twitter, and by hosting a fundraising night at Vinoteca, a bar and bistro in DC.
“I was overwhelmed by how many people wanted to help,” said Levy, who had to increase the fundraising goal for “Team Debbie” twice after it met its original goals early on.
Grunley said, “It’s something that I know would make my aunt Debbie proud.”
Grunley and Levy said that making online donations to the Race for Hope is simple, and that people can donate or walk in the race to get involved.
Hope for others
“I know if she were here, she’d be a member of the team,” said Levy of her mom. “She was a tough fighter.”
The impact of brain tumors was not just felt by Debbie Levy and her family, but by many who see the Race for Hope as a chance to help others, and to stay connected in difficult circumstances.
“I was amazed,” said Levy after spending time reading other teams’ stories on the Race for Hope website.
“Brain cancer touches so many peoples’ lives,” said Levy.