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Towne Salute: Nicole Maxwell of Leslie’s Week

Feb 01, 2018 09:00AM ● By Nicole Gould
It’s been said that the people we cross paths with in our lifetime happens for a reason. For Nicole Maxwell, taking the opposite turn in her neighborhood brought her one of the best gifts life could bring; Sandra Gun, founder of Leslie’s Week. 

“Our community only has about 50 people,” Maxwell says. “I would always walk by Sandra’s house with the dog and wave. One day I was driving, and I always make a left, but, on this particular day, I turned right and ended up in front of her house.”

What started as a small conversation between neighbors, turned into an opportunity Maxwell couldn’t resist. Over the last 2.5 years, Maxwell has become a dedicated volunteer and board member for Leslie’s Week, a nonprofit, all volunteer organization for women diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer and their families. 

“When Sandra told me about Leslie’s Week, I looked at her and asked how I could help,” Maxwell explains. “I don’t have breast cancer in my family, but I do have a number of friends that have gone through it. I had never heard that much about Stage 4 and I love to help people. I was very drawn to Sandra and what the organization stood for.”

During her first year with Leslie’s Week, Maxwell worked with everything from fundraising and gathering donors to sponsorships and helping with families; a jack of all trades she says. 

“Nicole has pushed above and beyond her limits in organizing fundraisers, contacting friends and family, and securing donations for this great cause,” Gun says.

While attending to these tasks, Maxwell was a huge help putting on the organization’s first event, Brunch for Stage 4, held at the Point at Pintail on the Eastern Shore. This year, Leslie’s Week
had their second brunch at the Paca House in Annapolis.

“It was an amazing event,” Maxwell says. “We had over 100 people there, a silent and live auction, and delicious catered food. We’re trying to do at least one event like this per year to help raise money for our vacations.”

According to Maxwell, these fundraising efforts helped Leslie’s Week send 20 families on a vacation to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. They’re hoping to double their numbers and send 40 families away in 2018. 

“People think we’re like Make-a-Wish because of the vacations and that’s our biggest challenge, is getting the word out of what Leslie’s Week is and what we do,” Maxwell explains. “We’re more
about finding happiness and creating memories that will outlast cancer.”

After finding out that the families enjoy each-other’s company, Leslie’s Week sends them to the resort for one week where they have the opportunity to be together, share stories, and make ever-lasting friendships. 

“In 2016, Sandra and I walked into the first spa day at the resort with the ladies and one women walked in, looked around,  and wasn’t sure what to do,” Maxwell says. “She said she had never done anything for herself because she felt like such a burden to her family. These women don’t get to do things like this because they’re consumed with their cancer. That moment really struck me and that’s when I knew that we’re really doing something wonderful for these women.”

What a lot of people don’t know is that Stage 4 breast cancer has no cure. So, when families take their vacation, the children are entered into a data base for education assistance funding. Once the child has graduated from high school, Leslie’s Week gives them a scholarship as part of Leslie’s Kids, no matter their grades or where they choose to go, in their late mother’s name.

“Leslie’s Week changes your life because you start to look at other people’s lives and think how quickly you could be in that situation,” Maxwell admits. “Everyone has a Leslie. Whether it’s your sister, aunt, mother, or daughter.”

For more information on Leslies Week, visit Lesliesweek.org. 

Do you have a volunteer to nominate? Email Nicole Gould at Ngould@WhatsUpMag.com  or fill out this online form