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Ashton businessman raises funds for ovarian cancer in memory of his late sister

by Judith Hruz


Losing a sibling is devastating.

Losing a brother or a sister, especially if it happens much too early in life, is like losing a part of your heart, your soul, the very core of who you are.

Ashton businessman Jeff Schwartz, president of Ashton Manor Environmental, lost his sister to ovarian cancer last year.

His sister, Debra, a lifelong resident of Montgomery County, “lived her life to the fullest,” he said.

She battled ovarian cancer with grace and dignity and strength for eight years — like a rock star, Schwartz said — and passed away on April 16, 2022. She was buried four days later on April 20, her birthday.

Schwartz and his family have found a way to keep Debra’s spirit alive – by raising funds for, and awareness of, the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC).

Last year, his team— Team Silver Linings — raised the most funds with over $70,000. Individually, he raised over $50,000 – the most in the nation.

This year, he is on track to repeat that feat.

He and his daughter, Taryn, will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro as part of NOCC’s Team Teal fundraiser and at press time they had already raised just over $52,000 of their $55,000 goal.

But he would love to break last year’s record. And anyone who knows Schwartz knows he is likely to do it.

Jeff and his brother, Barry, caught the attention of Vanda Soldati, senior regional manager of the Mid-Atlantic Region of NOCC, when she was planning the trip to Kilimanjaro.

“Jeff was somebody that I wanted on the trip,” she said. “It takes a particular type of person to be on this trip.”

Schwartz’s daughter and his niece, Anna, Debra’s daughter, had little hesitation: What are we waiting for?, they said.

Taryn will go off to college this fall, and Schwartz realized he could not say no to this father-daughter trip of a lifetime.

So, Jeff and Taryn will be part of a group of 15 climbers, guides and some 50 support team “porters” who will take on Kilimanjaro this summer.

Every year for the past 10, Team Teal – the color that symbolizes ovarian cancer – had undertaken an endurance program.

“It is a way for people to use their love of the outdoors and fitness for a fundraiser, Soldati said.

Team Teal has participated in the New York City Marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon – and this year, it’s Mount Kilimanjaro.

Before the trip to Africa, Schwartz will join together with two other local businesses – F45 Olney and Inn at Silo Falls – for “Workout for a Cause” from 11 a.m. to noon May 21.

F45 Olney will supply the fitness coaches and Silo Falls will donate the space for the hour-long boot camp.

Anyone who would like to participate for a $15 minimum donation) can be assured that all proceeds will go toward NOCC; the money will not fund the trip to Kilimanjaro.

The workout will be followed by a social event.

“I am super excited to help Jeff raise money” for ovarian cancer,” said Bridget Bonanno, manager of F45 Olney.

She said she is happy to be part of a community-centric event that brings businesses and residents together for a good cause. And what’s more, her mother-in-law had ovarian cancer, so this is a personal endeavor for her.

To register, send an email to [email protected].

To make a donation directly to Jeff Schwartz’s fundraising effort, visit https://tinyurl.com/m4uprwza.

For more information on the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, visit ovarian.org.

As for the adventure in front of him and Taryn, Jeff is looking forward to it.

His strategy? One stop at a time.

He knows it will not be easy.

“But our time and training will pale in comparison to what my sister endured,” he says on his fundraising page. “We are now her voice, and will continue to fight this disease on her behalf.”

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