Oct 22, 2020

Each year the Board of Directors here at IMPACT Melanoma present the Keeper of the Hope Award to a deserving party within our IMPACT community whose generosity, vision, and commitment to the organization over time is unwavering. This award is named after Suzanne Donahue, a young woman who lost her battle with melanoma at age 37. Suzanne was gracious, giving and reminded us all about the power of giving-back no matter what your circumstance.

We’re thrilled to announce that the 2020 Keeper of the Hope Award Winner is being received by not a sole individual, but rather, the dynamic married duo of Missy and Dan Abbott! This is the first time in the history of the award that it will go to a “team” rather than an individual. Dan and Missy will be presented with his award at our 2020 Virtual Shades of Hope Gala on Saturday, November 7th on a computer (or device) screen near you!

Missy and Dan graciously sat down with us for a brief Q&A on what being selected as the 2020 Keeper of the Hope recipient means to them on a personal level and how their work with IMPACT is just an extension of what they live to do…

First things first, what do you appreciate about being named the recipient of the annual “Keeper of the Hope Award.” What does the honor mean to the both of you?

We appreciate being recognized for this Award for doing things that we already do for IMPACT Melanoma but didn’t expect recognition for them. For us, all that we have done and will continue to do is raise awareness for melanoma. This award reminds us that we are making an impact in the lives of the people around us. We have just wanted to share our story and journey with others and now our friends, family, and community have felt the effect of our “journey” with melanoma.

You’re the first “couple” to receive the award, which is unique, and fun. What can you say about being “stronger together”?

We know that everything we do is better together and we will always be there for each other. Everything we do we lean on each other which includes racing, fundraising, or supporting a cause. For us the best thing is our son understanding the importance of protecting our skin and now and he shares with others on his own that they need to be wearing their sunscreen and protecting themselves.

This year’s Shades of Hope Gala – where you’ll be presented with the award – is virtual. A definite change from years past due to obvious logistics at play in the world today. What excites you about the event? Why should folks attend (from the comforts of their own home)?

We are excited for this virtual event and all the great things planned. We enjoyed the Martinis for Melanoma event a few months ago and it was well done and planned, so we know that after that experience that it will be a great night of fun. Although this year the Gala is virtual we are excited to be able to attend from the comfort of our home. We would love to see people join us in a “formal” setting without having to be “formal.”

Can you tell us a bit about the dynamic/story at play as it relates to the melanoma survivor vs. support system the two of you have experienced together? What was that collective “time” (experience) like? How you initially got involved with IMPACT Melanoma. Why did you get involved?

Dan was diagnosed with melanoma in 2017. We began to think about experiences we wanted to make sure we did, because life is very precious, so we need to enjoy it. We both had always wanted to run the Boston Marathon and we both knew we could not qualify, so we started looking at charity running options. Dan found and reached out to IMPACT Melanoma and ran the 2018 marathon as a member of the IMPACT team and we have been involved ever since. Missy was a member of the team this year for the 2020 Boston Marathon IMPACT team.

What keeps you engaged with the organization?

We continue to be engaged with this great organization because of their mission by Improving Melanoma Prevention, through Awareness, Care & Teaching. We want our family and friends to become more aware of the seriousness of Melanoma and truly how it could “impact” your life and your family.

What is the importance of an organization like this existing?  

This national organization plays such a huge role in bringing the awareness of melanoma to the young, old and everyone in between. People take for granted their skin and they don’t make it a priority and this organization helps to continue to acknowledge the severity of this disorder.

Tell us about the ways you have or continue to assist in as it relates to IMPACT’s mission? What do you enjoy about pitching in and lending a helping hand? Are there specific IMPACT related initiatives that you look forward to on an annual basis?

We have been assisting IMPACT’s mission through fundraising with the Boston Marathon IMPACT Melanoma Team. Dan has also volunteered for the IMPACT tent at mile 17 for the marathon. We have been a part of this year’s virtual Martinis for Melanoma event. We also have worked in our community to get a sunscreen dispenser at a local miniature golf, driving range and batting cage business. We also have had the dispenser placed at a few local events for people to access through the day. We have done cookie fundraisers, Superbowl football squares, and local events like craft fairs to share with people about skin care and protection. Missy has also presented the Your Skin Is In program to her 5th grade class and she is looking forward to the opportunity to do that again this year. We think the feeling of knowing we helped educate someone about melanoma or we had the opportunity to listen to someone else’s story is the best part of helping with this Charity. It’s amazing how many lives have been affected by this disease

What’s your personal battle cry as it pertains to skin care? Why do YOU use sunscreen and protect the skin you’re in? Anything else you’d like to share?

Our battle cry would be to take care of your skin….protect it with sunscreen, hats, and apparel. We use sunscreen to protect us because we are adamant about taking care of our bodies physically and with the food we fuel our bodies with, why wouldn’t we take care of our bodies and skin this way too, by protecting our skin.

Join us at this year’s special version of the Shades of Hope Gala to help recognize and cheer on the efforts of Missy and Dan Abbott while taking in the sweet dulcet tones of one, Mr. Ziggy Marley (who will also be there…). For tickets and more information click here.

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