Three Strohm Sisters Family Foundation
For the six siblings of the Strohm family, their childhood is one that is tinged with sadness. Their mother was hospitalized with tuberculosis in 1947 until her death in 1951. After her hospitalization, the two youngest children, Lucille and Frank, went to live with relatives in Long Island at the ages of two and four. When their mother died, Kathy also moved to live with an aunt in Long Island. The remaining siblings, Jane, Joseph and Edward, stayed in Brooklyn with their father until his death in April 1955.
Despite the hardships the children faced while growing up, however, charity and giving back were always an important part of their lives. In the summer of 1949, Kathy, 9, and her sister Jane, 13, went knocking on the doors of their neighbors to raise money for the March of Dimes. They raised $15. Later, as young women, Kathy and Lucille joined the Ladies Auxiliary and would give out coffee to the volunteer firefighters of the Elmont Fire Department during times of emergency.
But after the three sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer between June 1991 and January 1994, they took their philanthropic nature to another level. They founded the Three Strohm Sisters Family Foundation, which holds about five fundraising events a year in the Long Island-area to raise money for cancer research. Over the past 12 years, they have donated a significant portion of their proceeds to the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation (SWCRF), giving more than $300,000 to support research through the SWCRF.
Looking at her family tree, Kathy (whose married name is Sarna) knows that cancer has plagued three generations of the Strohm family. Breast cancer isn't the only type of cancer to strike the family either. One of her brothers, Edward, died three years ago from lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. Another brother, Frank, is a prostate cancer survivor. Of 10 female first cousins on their father's side, eight were diagnosed with cancer, including breast and ovarian. Four of those cousins died from the disease. "We also have male cousins who have had cancer," said Sarna.
With so many different forms of cancer having affected her family, knowing the money they raise for the SWCRF will go toward innovative and critical research for all types of cancer is important to the family, said Sarna. "We don't bring in millions, but it's like a million to us because we work hard at it," she said. "We'll do anything to raise money [for cancer research]."
(Pictured above: Lucille Montrony, Jane Stanczuk, Kathy Sarna)