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Linked By Pink was established in September of 2008.
Heather Stempka – Founder and President
In March of 2008, at the age of 32, Heather was undergoing treatment for her second diagnosis of breast cancer. Due to some complications from her treatment, Heather found herself on a leave from her job. In order to fill up her days, she fell back on her pastime of creating calendars as presents for her family. She felt she would be able to raise some money for organizations and be able to meet other young breast cancer survivors like herself.
She was featured in an article in her local cancer center’s newsletter. She put a call out to other young breast cancer survivors to share their story in a calendar. Nine local women answered that call. The women shared their courageous stories and with the generous help of a local photographer and printing company that first calendar was published in August of 2008. The women featured came together and held a softball tournament in September of 2008 to offset the costs of publishing their calendar. Together, they were able to donate $2000 each to the Regional Cancer Center, where many of them received treatment, and to the Kanzius Foundation, which offers a promising treatment for cancer without harsh side effects.
At the time of Heather’s initial diagnosis, she was 28 years old, a single mother of two young children, working full time and going to school. Her desire to help others and her unyielding passion has been the foundation and driving force of Linked By Pink.
Norma Zimmer – Co-Founder and Executive Director
In March of 2008, Norma had just finished up chemotherapy and was going through radiation treatments for her breast cancer diagnosis. She read Heather’s story in the local cancer center’s newsletter. She answered the call for young women to share their story in hopes that her story would help someone else.
Heather and Norma worked hand-in-hand, with the help of the women featured in the calendar, to put together that first calendar and the successful first softball tournament.
At the time of Norma’s diagnosis, at the age of 42, she was a stay at home mom to three pre-teen/teen boys. Her hope that no other woman would have to face the fear of a diagnosis alone, along with her passion to help others was what spurred her on to join forces with Heather. She also volunteers her time as a Reach to Recovery volunteer with the American Cancer Society.
In September of 2008, a core group of the women in that first calendar decided that the camaraderie and support of being with other young survivors was needed in the Erie community. And so, Linked By Pink was officially formed.