Sue Paterno won’t be golfing Saturday during the second day of the fundraising event for the Eileen Morgan Foundation.
But on Friday, Paterno spoke during the fundraising gala at the Nittany Lion Inn that helped support the foundation’s mission to provide financial, emotional and spiritual support for people diagnosed with cancer.
The goal for the two-day event is to raise funds to put toward an endowment fund.
“When a person can find a way to give back, it’s always special,” Paterno said. “She found an incredible way to help others, advocate and spread awareness.”
Two years ago, Eileen Morgan created the foundation. Morgan, a Penn State graduate, said it was sparked after she was diagnosed with a form of uterine cancer in 2009. Morgan said on Aug. 13 that she has been cancer free for three years after going through treatment shortly after her diagnosis.
“You never realize how much out of pocket expenses like the co-payment of medical bills and medication can be until you go through it, even with insurance,” Morgan said. “I was fortunate and blessed to be able to pay for it myself, but there are so many others who can’t.”
Morgan said the foundation has helped four people so far — including one who was once on the other side of the situation.
Liz Gilmore worked for an oncology supply company, where she sold the medical equipment she had to used once she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011.
“You can’t believe it when you get the news,” she said. “Cancer is something that can hit anyone. It doesn’t discriminate.”
Gilmore said she heard of the foundation when she attended a cancer survivor’s event. A business card was tucked away in a gift basket.
“It’s humbling when people want to help and follow through long after,” Gilmore said.
Gilmore was one of about 50 people in attendance at the gala Friday where hors d’oeuvres, dinner, speeches and an auction were part of the event.
Former Penn State and NFL players Kenny Jackson and Blair Thomas signed footballs, helmets and banners for auction.
“I’ve known Eileen for a long time. After I coached with the Steelers, I got to really know her and found out she had cancer,” Jackson said. “Cancer affects everyone. Blair and I talked with her because we knew she was a little alone in the process other than having her daughter. We helped her and tried to be a big support system.’
Now, Jackson said he couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the foundation with Morgan and help spread its awareness.
“It’s a new foundation, but I think Eileen has her affairs in order to really make an impact on others for a long time,” he said.
The fundraising event will continue Saturday with a golf tournament at Skytop Mountain Golf Club.
Morgan said about 60 people are participating the event. She added that major fundraising opportunities like the gala and golf tournament are something she will coordinate once a year, while holding smaller events throughout the year.
And people like Paterno said it’s something she is also proud to be a part of as cancer impacts many people.
“I’ve been a part of it since the beginning. It’s a foundation that is so new, but so successful,” Paterno said. “Cancer can impact anyone. It’s ironic that he (Joe Paterno), who never smoked a cigarette in his life had lung cancer. You don’t know what treatment you might need.”
Paterno said she and her husband were heavily involved in foundations and other programs of this nature.
“He would have loved this,” she said about what her husband’s reaction would have been to the foundation.
For more information or to donate to the foundation, visit www.eileenmorganfoundation.org.