FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Jodi Jovevski lost her daughter, Emily, to cancer in 2018 after a courageous battle with the disease.
Emily was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma her freshman year of high school. After six years of treatment, remission, a second cancer diagnosis, and a bone marrow transplant, Emily died soon after her 20th birthday.
Jovevski says, along with an infectious smile and laugh, her daughter had an enormous love for life, and lived it to the fullest. She misses her every day.
“Her strong will and courage and strength is what I‘m trying to draw from to keep her little legacy alive,” Jovevski said.
True to her word, she keeps Emily’s legacy alive by continuing her daughter’s passionate work of helping other kids battling cancer. Before she passed, Emily was involved with the Riley Dance Marathon and she participated in Relay for Life with NACS, an event that raises money for the American Cancer Society.
While Jodi and her Relay for Life team “Emmystrong” still participate in the annual event in Emily’s memory, they also head up local fundraisers to collect money for research and programs in the fight against pediatric cancer.
“Pediatric cancer gets less than 4% of the national funding for research so it means a lot that 100% of what we’re raising is going toward research and programs and helping those kids so families hopefully don’t have to go through what we went through,” said Jovevski. “These kids need new medicine, they need new treatment plans.”
Emily also had dreams of becoming a pediatric oncology nurse, and to work at the same hospital where she received treatment so many years.
“Since she was unable to do that, we’re gonna help her carry out her plan of helping kids one way or another,” said Jovevski.
Emmystrong is also a GOLDTOGETHER team, meaning every cent they raise throughout the relay season goes toward fighting pediatric cancer. So far this season they’ve raised $23,000, the third most in the nation, and through an ongoing shoe drive they’re hoping to hit their $25,000 goal.
They’ve currently collected about 40 bags of shoes, but are hoping to fill 100. The amount of money raised through the shoe drive is determined by the total weight of the shoes collected. After the fundraiser is over, the shoes will be repurposed, sent to other counties, and micro-entrepreneurs will resell the shoes.
Jovevski says the fundraisers she leads, including “Emmy’s Evening of Hope” planned for the the fall, keep her daughter’s memory alive, and make a difference in the lives of others.
“We definitely do it for her,” she said. “She was always my strength through everything so I’m just trying to carry on her strength, and I hope we’re making her proud.”
Jovevski will be collecting shoes through the end of June. There are collection bins at:
- Well Grounded Café in Huntertown
- OPS location on Dupont Rd.
Jovevski is also holding a Dine2Donate event at Salsa Grille North on June 21, and in addition she’ll be collecting shoes during Olivia Stoy’s annual block party.