The Frances Foundation Bringing Smiles to Kids Who Need Them Most
Like his mom Frances, Robert Heugle, Jr. has a real soft spot for children. In 2004 he named The Frances Foundation for Kids Fighting Cancer after his mother Frances Jean Nolan Heugle. She had died of colon cancer four years prior. The Frances Foundation’s original 48-member board came together to bring smiles to sick kids and their families, and they continue to assist children and their families in many special and often surprising ways.
Cabaret for Life became aware of The Frances Foundation when our Trustee Linda Lepore brought their work to our attention. CFL made our first donation to the Foundation last fall to support their annual gala. (The 11th annual gala will take place October 17, 2015.) A few weeks ago Linda visited with The Frances Foundation founder Bob Heugle. “Bob shared with me many photographs of the ‘Warriors’ (that’s what the Foundation calls their child clients!) including one panoramic shot of dozens of children and their families taken at last year’s gala. I was astonished that Bob knew every child by name and could tell me his or her story. He’s so lovingly attached to these kids. When I asked him how he handles getting so close to the kids, knowing how sick they are and that many likely won’t survive for very long, he said, ‘I cry and then put more energy into helping more children.'”
The Frances Foundation certainly continues living up to its mission — “Helping kids is our passion.” In its first ten years of operation, it has donated in excess of one million dollars to the Warriors and their families.
The Foundation strives to help to the children and their parents who are (together!) fighting cancer. The Foundation will do anything imaginable to bring a smile to the face of a Warrior or one of his or her parents. That could be a week at Disney, a Yankee or Rangers game or a Justin Bieber concert…or less “fun” possibilities, such as paying back rent, a car repair or any other stressful bills to keep the family going. All funds raised by the Foundation go directly to the children or their families.
One of the Foundation’s newest Warriors is high school senior Jeff Bryant, a Point Pleasant Beach basketball player, whose aspirations of attending a Division I college to play basketball were interrupted by his diagnosis of bone cancer in his right leg. When Bob Heugle heard about Jeff’s plight, he intervened and set up a trip for Jeff and his parents to attend the “March Madness” Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium this past season. Steve Edelson, Sports Writer for the Asbury Park Press, wrote an article on Jeff and Bob and the special trip that the Foundation arranged.
Bob was also anxious to talk about the wonderful volunteers who make The Frances Foundation’s work possible. Bob simply could not stop bragging about all of the great people who are affiliated with the Foundation, especially one of their new trustees, Angela Marra. Angela, whose daughter is one of the Foundation’s Warriors, organized a group of people to run in the NJ half marathon to raise money for the Foundation. Angela named her crew of eleven runners Team Gwennie. When she finished the race she immediately jumped in car to go to CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) to be with her daughter. Angela is running this year again this year.
Before wrapping up Linda’s interview, she asked Bob to confirm the address of The Frances Foundation (her notes said 8 Bryce Road in Holmdel). She was surprised by Bob’s response: “Where is the Foundation located? In our hearts and everywhere.” Linda truly loved his answer, “…because it’s so easy to see that he really feels that way. Here’s a guy who truly lives to help kids who he’s never met and instantaneously become part of The Frances Foundation family. Their mission statement has not changed since the start, and I don’t think it will.”
The Frances Foundation mainly assists families in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, though they are willing to help out any family who seeks out their help. They’ve responded to requests from other counties in NJ as well as other states. No one is refused.
Cabaret for Life is proud to count The Frances Foundation among our beneficiaries this year!