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“Michael was a very special person. Education was very important to him, and he advocated for people who were disadvantaged and underserved. He was hard working and made his family laugh right up until the end,” said Cathy Benecke Varunok, co-founder of Miles of Hope.
“Our family has been devastated by cancer. My sister died after a breast cancer diagnosis when she was in her 30s, and my mother had the disease as well,” Mrs. Varunok said. “We wanted to remember Michael by establishing this scholarship fund in his name to help students with a financial contribution to their education.”
Mrs. Varunok started the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation ten years ago with co-founder Dana Effron to address some of the holes in the system which left breast cancer patients and their families without support.
The Foundation has four pillar programs which are funded annually: the Medical Gap Care program, helping people in treatment with a financial emergency; a peer-to-peer hotline, connecting newly diagnosed patients with trained survivors; scholarships to high school seniors whose lives have been affected by breast cancer; and Complementary Medicine programs like massage, acupuncture, exercise, music, dance and art therapies.