BENEFITING: CODE 3 FOR A CURE FOUNDATION
Greetings! My name is Peggy Abundiz, and I am honored to represent the Code 3 for a Cure Foundation, a national nonprofit 501(c)3 public charity organization which provides financial support to firefighters across the nation who are battling cancer. I compete in various races in firefighter gear (including air tank and helmet) to represent my husband Lorenzo, who would do it himself, except that he is no longer able to walk/run long distances due to his three cancer battles and other injuries caused by his firefighting career. I also wear the gear to call attention to the fact that, even though firefighters wear this protective equipment, it isn't always enough to protect them from the toxic atmospheres that cause cancer, which they often face in the line of duty. The helmet I wear was worn by Lorenzo during a call in which he rescued two firefighters at a tire company fire. During that call, a facade fell on top of his comrades, and Lorenzo had no time to hook up his breathing apparatus, so he ran in without it to rescue them. It was this call that caused his first cancer, a rare and highly aggressive leiomyosarcoma.
The journey of Code 3 for a Cure began 10 years before it existed. It was April 6, 1998. My name was Peggy Beeuwsaert. I was 30 years old and in the middle of a human resources career with the City of Santa Ana. That was the day Firefighter/Engineer Lorenzo Abundiz walked into City Hall, and my life was forever changed as I fell in love and discovered I had met my best friend and soul mate. But five weeks later, Lorenzo was fighting for his life against a highly aggressive cancer and a cold and callous workers' compensation system. A lot has happened since then (including our marriage in 2001, Lorenzo's two additional bouts with cancer, and a myriad of other medical calamities) which I cannot describe in detail herein because of limited space; suffice it to say that it has been enough to plant a deep-seated desire within our hearts to do our part to help firefighters across the nation who are battling cancer. That's why we formed Code 3 for a Cure in 2008.
Code 3 for a Cure was formed based on the conviction that no firefighter should have to endure what Lorenzo, and many others like him, have endured when faced with a cancer diagnosis. While cancer can strike anyone, numerous studies have proven that firefighters are more likely to contract the disease due to the toxins to which they are exposed in the line of duty as they risk their lives to save people like you and me. Many assume firefighters are well taken care of when diagnosed with cancer, but often quite the opposite is true. Since Code 3 for a Cure began, we have heard countless stories, similar to Lorenzo's, of firefighters who are struggling to get the proper medical care they need, stay on top of mounting medical bills, afford fuel costs to get to and from their treatments, continue to support their families, and keep their homes. 70 percent of this nation's firefighters are volunteer, and even those who are paid a salary or have medical insurance often struggle financially when fighting cancer. The very first recipient of financial assistance from Code 3 was a retired firefighter out of Joplin, MO who was spending his entire monthly retirement check on liver medications as he battled liver cancer.
I have set my fundraising goal at $625,000, which is the minimum goal our Board of Directors has set in order to become fully operational. Once Code 3 for a Cure reaches that goal, 80%, or $500,000, will be available for distribution to firefighters in need across the nation who are battling cancer.
Firefighters are there to help us when we need it most; and, as if facing the imminent dangers of their duties weren't enough, firefighters have a better chance than the average citizen of contracting cancer as a direct result of their heroic deeds, sometimes years later. Let's join together to let our firefighter heroes know their service and sacrifice will not be forgotten as they battle cancer, most likely caused as they were saving the lives of people like you and me. Let's help them fight for theirs!