Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Leaving a legacy in this world…

“Doing good” is a value that is reinforced as a member of Delta Gamma. Helping others was the passion of DG alumna Suzy McGrane, Epsilon Chi-South Carolina, whose huge heart but all-too-short life is still making an impact in her home state of South Carolina.

According to Epsilon Chi sister Stephanie Stein Fulmer, Suzy was a kind and fun-loving gal. “She loved Delta Gamma and just gave her whole heart to whatever project we were involved in as a group, whether it was Anchor Splash, Derby Days or Greek Week. (She) was always upbeat and positive, never a complainer.”

“Whenever you were with Suzy, it was fun,” added Anne-Marie Campbell Jones, Epsilon Chi-South Carolina. “Suzy was (our chapter’s) Anchor Splash chair and ‘unofficial’ social director. She had the natural ability to make people feel at ease.”

Her great smile and sense of humor are what Jacki Van Besien Allston remembers best about her Delta Gamma sister. “I remember having a lot of laughs with her, like the time we scouted the USC Greek directory for formal dates. (She) was always up for a challenge.”

Unfortunately, Suzy faced an incredible challenge in her early twenties when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. While Suzy was undergoing treatment near family in Arizona, her friends in South Carolina got together to try to assist her with the enormous financial burden of medical costs. A fundraising event titled “Save Our Suzy” (SOS) was held in Columbia and through it, Suzy’s friends were able to contribute a significant amount of money to assist with bills.

Suzy completed her treatments and, while in remission, returned to Columbia with one goal in mind: to help other breast cancer patients. She introduced her SOS friends to new breast cancer patients and the group continued fundraising, realizing from Suzy that patients had more than medical needs during treatment. Suzy, herself, worked directly with breast cancer patients at a local cancer center, sharing her love, laughter and support.

“Suzy didn’t have the luxury of ignorance. She knew what she was dealing with every day because of what she saw others face, yet she had the courage of heart to literally hold patients’ hands as they died,” said John Buxton, Suzy's friend and current SOS board member. “You meet very few amazing people in your life but Suzy was just that – amazing!”

The number of people Suzy made an impact on continued to multiply as she worked as a photographer in the Columbia area. Members of a local band, Hootie and the Blowfish, were among the subjects of her photography and the friends in her heart. After the group’s influence and popularity grew, they were kind enough to donate original band memorabilia to an SOS fundraiser to help Suzy.

During Suzy’s second diagnosis, SOS was again able to assist her financially during treatment. Upon her tragic passing in October 2005, the SOS organization changed its name to “Share Our Suzy” in an effort to share Suzy’s passion for helping others. Today, the charitable organization continues to work to help breast cancer patients across the entire state of South Carolina.

SOS’s goal is to assist breast cancer patients with the financial stresses of treatment so they can focus solely on recovery. The organization raises funds to help with everyday needs like wigs, prosthetics, child care, utility bills and more. Their hope is to help cover critical areas of living with cancer that insurance does not.

Annual fundraisers now include the Black & White black tie event held each January in Charleston, a “Get in the Pink” 5K and 10K run each Mother’s Day weekend in Columbia, a Suzy McGrane Memorial Concert held each Memorial Day weekend in Charleston and a “Bridging the Gap” wine-tasting event each fall in Columbia. The group also solicits donations on its website.

“SOS has provided more than $250,000 in assistance to breast cancer patients in South Carolina since Suzy’s passing (in October 2005),” stated Margaret Nevill, a friend of Suzy’s and current SOS board member. “We are honored to continue her dream of helping others like herself.”

For more information on Suzy McGrane’s legacy SOS organization, please visit their website at www.shareoursuzy.org. Thank you to Stephanie Jackson Martin, Epsilon Chi-South Carolina, for sharing Suzy's story with us.

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