Our seventh heroes, Mike Ruane and Erika Rech of Breast Friends Forever, were announced this morning. They came to the Governor's Residence, Drumthwacket, for a gathering with their families, board members, doctors they work with, patients they have helped, and various members of the breast cancer awareness community throughout the state to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness month. Commissioner O'Dowd from the Department of Health and Senior Services was also here today to highlight a program the state has to help women in need get the screenings that are necessary to detect this cancer.
Mike and Erika started Breast Friends Forever (BFF) when they were just 15 years old. Erika's mom was diagnosed with breast cancer around this time and being cousins, Mike and Erika watched the struggle and toll it took on their family. They wanted to help women in need who were diagnosed with cancer in their community and state. They started fundraising at their local church and shopping center, with the proceeds going directly to the women who needed it. They helped pay women's mortgages, electric and heating bills, costs for wigs, and even school supplies for some of their children. In the past few years they have raised over $300,000 for women throughout our state. It just goes to show you that no matter what age you are, you can make a difference. They have since opened chapters in 6 other states, with 10 states on the waiting list for their own chapters. They are both a real inspiration and I truly admire the work they are doing, and continue to do, for these women.