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Sacco Fight for Life group winds down great run

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

After seven years, the DeeDee Sacco Fight for Life organization is shutting down but its members want people to continue working for its cause.

Since it was started in 2005, the group has raised about $285,000 for the UPMC Cancer Center's Patient Assistance Fund at the Hillman Cancer Center. The fund helps people going through cancer treatment, said Alana Sacco.

“This is direct to the people,” Sacco said. “This helps with nutrition, getting to treatment, medicines.”

That was especially important for DeeDee Sacco. She died in 2004 after being diagnosed with sarcoma of the lung six years earlier.

Sacco said DeeDee, her daughter, would do what she could to help others with cancer, even as she waged her own battle.

Rebecca Panza said the fund does the work DeeDee supported.

“We are sort of promoting her legacy and what she would have wanted if she were still here,” Panza said.

The Patient Assistance Fund provides items such as Giant Eagle gift cards, which can be used for food and prescriptions, Sacco said. It was started as a way to help patients who were struggling financially while receiving their treatments.

“Some of them didn't have food, didn't have money to buy their prescriptions,” Sacco said.

Members of the group plan to continue supporting the assistance fund, but time constraints mean it's time to move on from the Fight for Life group, Sacco said. She didn't want any of the events by the organization to lose their luster.

“We did not want to have a function that wasn't perfect,” Sacco said.

An annual golf outing and fundraiser were among the events put on by the organization.

Irene Ramsey said communities throughout the region have shown their support for the group.

“People from everywhere really have supported us,” Ramsey said.

Sacco said she wanted to thank everyone who has served on the group's committee and helped with events since its start. She said her daughter would be pleased with the work everyone has done.

“She'd be very proud,” Sacco said. “Through her sickness she helped people over at the Hillman through many different things.”

Tom McGee is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 1513 or tmcgee@tribweb.com.

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