Lois Warlick-Jarvie had a former colleague who died of brain cancer. Talking to friends, she learned so many had brothers, sisters and their own friends who succumbed.
"All we need to do is talk about this and we're finding people who are connected to brain cancer and want to do something," she said.
Warlick-Jarvie, who saw fundraising events being held for other diseases, had one question for her circle of friends: If she organized an event, would they help?
"They said yes," she recalled.
Warlick-Jarvie and a core group of about 20 supporters last fall started Adding Candles , a nonprofit that raises money for brain cancer research and supports UR Medicine's Wilmot Cancer Institute.
The name comes from the fact that people light candles for many reasons — for birthdays, for prayer, for remembrance, Warlick-Jarvie said. "Whatever it means for people. When I said to my friends I had this idea in my head of adding candles, they said they love it."
She said fundraising already has netted about $30,000 toward a first-year goal of $50,000. The organization will host Adding Candles for a Cure, from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 24 at Midvale Country Club, 2387 Baird Road, Penfield.
According to the American Brain Tumor Association, brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in children younger than 20. Brain cancers are the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in males ages 20 to 39 and fifth-leading cause in females ages 20 to 39.
Nearly 700,000 people in the U.S. are living with a brain tumor, according to a fact sheet from the association. This year, nearly 70,000 new primary brain tumors will be diagnosed, and approximately 14,000 will die from the disease.
Adding Candles' first major event is a gala without the formal wear. Warlick-Jarvie described it as an after-work get-together with food stations, an auction and other activities.
"This has become a passion," said the 57-year-old Mendon resident, who retired after a career at Birds Eye Foods.
The group turned its initial excitement into a commitment by forming a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, which has legal and tax implications and as Warlick-Jarvie described it, "is not for the faint of heart."
Fewer than 20 percent of groups that donate to Wilmot are nonprofits, according to Tiffany Paine-Cirrincione, associate director of advancement and community events.
"The groups that do that tend to think about the longevity of their efforts," she said. "It shows a certain determination, and we're grateful for that."
Considering the money is targeted to brain cancer research, it can have immediate effect, said Dr. Nimish Mohile, division chief of neuro-oncology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and he takes care of brain tumor patients at Wilmot.
"We're interested in starting a clinical trial for glioblastoma,"said Mohile, who serves as advising physician to Adding Candles. "We could start a research project with this money."
For more information on a local nonprofit that supports brain cancer research, go to www.addingcandles.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.