“A Surprise Birthday with an Unexpected Gift”
By Tatjana Luethi
This January, a year after my father-in-law Tyrone passed away from pancreatic cancer, my husband Mark’s 40th Birthday was quickly approaching. Mark’s mother Meta, sister Debbie, and I wanted to do something to celebrate my husband’s life and honor his father memory. So we set out to plan a surprise birthday party and raise funds to donate to The Hirshberg Foundation. This would be our gift to him. I wanted to support a foundation near us that was making a difference for patients and families affected by pancreatic cancer.
Our conspiracy was to keep Mark “busy” by our friends before his party. As it turned out Mark was and wasn’t surprised! Invitation websites simply don’t always work perfectly – oh well, lesson learned. However, by the end of the evening 65 of his close friends and family joined us and had a blast! He was genuinely touched by the fund we’d created and appreciative of all the contributions.
We’re so grateful to all who generously participated in our fundraiser. They stood by us in support of research that will help families in the future in hopes of finding a way for early detection and new treatment options of this deadly disease! We did this as a tribute to Mark’s dad. It hadn’t been long since Tyrone passed away and I remember my husband’s powerful reflection on his father’s life, the time they spent together, and some of their final memories. Mark wrote, “The last few months and days were both difficult and beautiful. My sister and I are his legacy. His beautiful grandchildren are his legacy. We are the gentle, giving, intelligent, and humorous children and adults we are today not in-spite of our experiences but because of them.”
Planning this unique gift turned into a wonderful experience and great collaboration with The Hirshberg Foundation. Mark’s surprise birthday party is a memory that will always stay with us.