Sometimes, you just need to take things into your own hands if you want something done right. That’s what BlueGrace Franchise Owner, Jason Eckhardt and his wife Sherri did five years ago when they decided to create a charity that in their eyes would truly make a difference for the betterment of breast cancer survivors and research. In 2009, Jason Eckhardt came up with an idea that would support his wife Sherri in a way she never imagined.
In 1983, Sherri’s mother, Arlene Ruccio Meyer passed away from breast cancer. It was only 2 days after her 35th birthday and 3 days before Christmas. Sherri was only 5-years old and didn’t understand the impact her mother’s death would have on her life until she reached adulthood. Her mother was diagnosed in 1981 and doctors told her she only had two months to live. After undergoing treatment and much to her surprise, she was able to spend another 2 years with her family. Little did she know her future son-in-law would come up with an idea that would benefit families who were faced with her tragic circumstance, all the while supporting of her daughter… his wife, Sherri.
“You don’t understand the loss as a kid. It means so much more to me (having my mother around) now that I’m a mother,” says Sherri Eckhardt.
On the 25th anniversary of Arlene’s passing, Jason wanted to go above and beyond for the purpose of remembering his wife’s late mother. As he was contemplating his master plan, he came up with “ARM’s Away.” He took this idea to the golf course in the form of a charitable event using “ARM’s” as an acronym representing the initials of Arlene’s full name. In addition, they created their own acronym that would give the charity a global meaning: Awareness. Research. Making a Difference.
When he first presented it to Sherri they had no idea just how successful this would become. The first year of ARM’s Away was raising $5,000 and they exceeded their expectations by raising $7,500. Each year they set goals to raise money and each year they surpass them. Just last year, the Eckhardt’s set a goal to raise $15,000 at the 5th Annual ARM’s Away Golf Outing and they raised over $17,000! To date, Jason and Sherri have raised over $68,000 and have gained the support of businesses, individuals and families from all over the state of New Jersey. But their biggest-little supporters live with them… they are their kids.
Today, Sherri is a mother of two beautiful children (son, Austin, 6; daughter, Kylie, 3) who don’t quite comprehend what a charity stands for or means for that matter. All they know is that it’s for Grandma and that ARM’s Away helps people get better. That alone encourages them to give to the greater good of breast cancer research. They are active participants and donate to ARM’s Away themselves. Last year, their 6 year-old sons Austin, earned tips for work he had done during the event and on his own took every penny to the event’s donation center because “he wanted to make a difference too.”
All proceeds raised at the event are donated to the Stacy Goldstein Breast Cancer Center at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Rutgers uses the donations for two very powerful reasons: to enhance the technology used in treatment and to support patients who need assistance to be treated themselves. The center unites scientists from several disciplines to focus on the causes, detection, prevention, and treatment of breast cancer. Today, you can visit Rutgers University and see a Wall of Remembrance, which recognizes the years of donations ARM’s Away has provided to their initiatives. BlueGrace is proud to be a sponsor of this great event and hopes that this year they can once again surpass their goals.
“My husband (Jason Eckhardt) and my Dad should win the MEN OF THE YEAR award because of all they’ve done to help bring this charity to fruition. Without their help, support and guidance it would never be possible,” says Sherri Eckhardt.
To donate to the ARM’s Away charity, please visit: http://cinjfoundation.donordrive.com/event/ARMSAWAY2014