Westerville News & Public Opinion

Foundation forms to back Crowe, support participation in clinical trials

A major fundraising event is set for July 27-28 at Westerville Central

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The news that Westerville school board member Cindy Crowe had been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, hit close to home for Emerson Magnet School Principal Vicki Jarrell.

Jarrell's brother, Donnie, a triathlete, coach and special education teacher, succumbed to the disease seven years ago.

"They gave him six months to live, and he wasn't having any of that. He made it 27 months before he got to the point where he was ready to go," Jarrell said. "ALS is the worst, and I love Cindy."

In her brother's Louisiana hometown, a foundation was started in his name to help support ALS victims.

Jarrell proposed doing the same for Crowe.

Crowe said she hesitated at first, unsure of how her sons -- 23-year-old Brandon and 20-year-old Tyler -- would cope with her diagnosis and the added task of advocating, organizing and fundraising.

As they got excited, Crowe said she did, too.

"I have kids who need to deal with this. I want them to feel empowered and supported," Crowe said.

So, Jarrell got to work on a new foundation, named "Crowe-Wentzel Winning the Fight."

Per Crowe's wishes, money raised through the foundation will help support people diagnosed with ALS as they participate in clinical trials.

The foundation already has partnered with local restaurant Wendell's, which this week began handing out cards to patrons upon request earlier this week. As the cards are shown, 5 percent of the customer's bill will go toward the foundation.

Between 50 and 60 people have signed up to help organize the foundation's main event, a walkathon and campout July 27 and 28 at Westerville Central High School, Jarrell said.

Organizers are asking people locally to create teams to commit to walking. The day of the event, people will be able to pay an admission fee to enjoy all the walkathon has to offer, which will be live entertainment, games and food.

"I think it's going to be a pretty amazing fundraiser," Crowe said. "It's just a power team (organizing it). It's going to be a hit."

As the event takes shape, Jarrell said organizers are seeking corporate sponsors and for local entertainers interested in performing, along with anyone who might have interest in organizing some of the event's activities.

Jarrell said the amount of people who already have stepped forward to support Crowe and the foundation has given her confidence Westerville can have an impact.

"Our goals were kind of modest to begin with, but the more people that get involved, I'm thinking 'we can really do this,' " Jarrell said.

"If we could do a couple of events for a year, I think that will help the foundation get its feet under it, and we'll be able to help some people in central Ohio who are really struggling with this disease."

"It's a cruel disease that devastates families," Jarrell added.

She said it's time for people locally to "make a little noise so they'll pay attention and we'll be able to do something with it."

More information on the foundation can be found online at FightALSwithCindy.org.

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