In the spring of 2004, Hillary DeLone, a 34 year old mother, was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. By July 2004, Hillary's treatments were almost complete and she was overwhelmed with gratitude and relief that her prognosis was positive. While Hillary and her family were celebrating her good news, she could not help but think of the families who were not as fortunate has her family—the families in which mothers of children had died. Hillary was determined to find a way to support these families.
In August 2004, Hillary contacted Mommy's Light Lives On Fund, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support maternally grieving children and teens, and said she wanted to volunteer. While any amount of time that Hillary would have offered to Mommy’s Light would have been appreciated, Hillary wanted to do something that would have a significant impact on the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.
She offered to organize and chair a 5K race to raise much needed funding for Mommy’s Light's direct services and bereavement education materials. When asked whether she had ever done anything like this before, Hillary responded no, but didn’t see why that should stop her and she invited several women to form a race committee and they planned an April 2005 race. By race day, Hillary had raised more than $20,000 in sponsorships an amazing feat for a first race, for a very local race.
The 1st Annual Mommy’s Light 5 K Race and 1 Mile Fun Walk founded by Hillary DeLone took place on a very rainy Saturday morning in April. There were more than 230 participants and more than $23,000 was raised for Mommy’s Light. The feedback from all involved was overwhelmingly positive. Hillary volunteered to chair the race again in April 2006 and decided that she didn’t want to limit her contributions to her success with the 5K run.
Mommy’s Light decided to produce a DVD to educate surviving fathers and family members as to the needs of grieving children. Because of lack of funding, Mommy's Light put the DVD on hold. Realizing the worth of the project, Hillary recruited a donor for this $40,000 undertaking, and as a result, the DVD was completed. The 2nd Annual Mommy’s Light 5K Race and 1 Mile Walk yielded over 700 participants, 75 volunteers and more than $30,000 in sponsorships. What really made this event extraordinary was Hillary’s ability to involve 3 local elementary school children whose mothers had died. These children, their families and classmates wore special race t-shirts with memory patches in honor of their mothers.
Hillary is already making notes for how to improve on next year’s race. She is reaching out to potential donors to fund Mommy’s Lights geographic expansion so that we can reach out to the 626,000 maternally bereaved children nationally.