By Amy Allen
Great things can happen when a group comes together to work toward a common goal, and when a young Rutland Town mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, six fellow Rutland Town moms took immediate action to support their friend.
A Rutland native, Heather Myhre Todd, 37, is the mother of Rutland Town Elementary School students Kaden, age 8, and Kiauna, 7, and wife of state police officer Andrew Todd. Heather was diagnosed with breast cancer this May and began treatment this June.
“I’ll never forget the day I was diagnosed,” Todd said. “It was May 27. I had surgery for removal and lymph node dissection on June 4 and started chemo on June 8. A lot has happened in just a few months! I’m hoping the upcoming months go just as fast,” she said.
Susan Cooley, a Rutland Town mom and friend, started a meal preparation chain for the family using a website where friends could sign up to make dinners to deliver to the family, giving them a break from having to prepare dinner.
Cara Solimano, another Rutland Town School mom and friend of Todd’s, had a different idea: What if she and her group of running friends used the upcoming 100 on 100 Relay race they compete in annually, as a fundraising platform for Heather and her family? Solimano ran the idea by the other women on the team and the response was a resounding “Yes!”
The relay is a 100 mile event, from Stowe to Okemo, held along Route 100. This year’s race will be held on August 16, and it will be the third time that Solimano, Cooley, and teammates Amy Allen, Beth Coughlin, Jessica Lighthart, and Erin Bellomo have competed in the event, wearing their signature hot-pink, polka dot socks. The six Rutland Town mothers, whose team name is “The Hot Mamas” will run this year’s race with a slightly altered name: “Hot Mamas for Heather.”
The group got right to work organizing the fundraiser, fueled by their cause. With Heather’s permission, the women used the fundraising website, gofundme.com, to create a fundraising page, complete with pictures and Heather’s story, and began sharing the fundraising link with their friends and families.
The initial goal of $5,000 was met in just over one week. The women realized they could aim higher, and a new goal of $10,000 was established. Their current total is $7,780, with all of the money going directly into the Todd’s family bank account to help defray the medical costs associated with Heather’s treatment, which is still significant after insurance coverage, and to help cover the loss of her salary.
“It really shows you the power of social media, and the overall generosity of the human spirit,” says Solimano. “People who have never even met Heather have donated. There’s a feeling of support and solidarity that one gets when reading people’s comments on the donation site. It’s touching and overwhelming.”
The road ahead for Heather is a challenging one. She has completed round one of her chemotherapy treatment and is scheduled for a double mastectomy on August 12. Todd works as a speech pathologist and will be out of work for five to seven weeks to recover. In September she will begin round two of chemotherapy, which will last for eight weeks. After that round is finished she will undergo six weeks of radiation, marking the end of her cancer treatment.
“I can’t wait for that day!” Heather said. “This has been the most difficult few months of my life and will continue to get more difficult after surgery but I still feel so lucky to have such amazing support from friends, family, and complete strangers. My family and I have had such an outpouring of support on a daily basis that it is overwhelming. I have so many amazing people cooking meals every day, taking care of my children when I’m sick, and sending messages and cards of support. I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of so many. The Hot Mamas are six amazing and wonderful ladies whom I cannot ever thank enough. I am in awe of the donations made by both friends and people that my husband and I do not even know. We are so thankful. No one ever wants to be seriously ill, but through this tough journey I have realized how wonderful and caring people in this world still are. Through life we sometimes forget that there is still amazing kindness and love all around us; it just sometimes take tough situations to see the wonderful people we are surrounded by every day.”
Heather will be home recovering from her surgery on race day, August 16, but her husband and children will be there to watch as the race passes through Killington and the women make their way through town and up the access road toward Ramshead Base Lodge.
“It could be any one of us,” comments Allen. “It means something to live in a community as supportive as ours. You get the feeling that if this happened to you, your friends would be rallying around you with the same type of support. I can tell you that Heather, Andrew, Kaden, and Kiauna will be on our minds with every footstep on race day. There will be many hugs shared, high fives, tears shed, and memories made on August 16th, and Heather will be in our hearts for every one of those 100 miles.”
For more information or to make a donation to the Todd family, go to www.gofundme.com and search “100 miles for Heather Todd.”