A local woman is doing all she can to honor the memory of her brother—and help prevent other families from losing a loved one. Carrie Stansbery and her parents, David and Charlene Schroeder, recently set up the Scott Schroeder Memorial Fund at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center. The growing fund, which just topped $20,000, honors Albuquerque businessman Scott Schroeder, who passed away from lung cancer in 2009 at the age of 42.

Schroeder was an avid cyclist who continued to ride even as he was being treated at the UNM Cancer Center. While racing in Arizona, Schroeder told his sister that as soon as he was well enough, he would work to support the Cancer Center and help other New Mexicans affected by cancer. After his death, his family resolved to carry out Schroeder's wish. The fund they have created has a special emphasis on supporting cancer research to improve early detection.

Once the Scott Schroeder Memorial Fund had been established at the UNM Cancer Center, Stansbery and her family set about attracting donations. Their first major fundraising effort involved, fittingly, a bike race. Stansbery, along with a close-knit group of family and friends, all of whom had cycled with Schroeder during his life, formed Team TSS (Troy Scott Schroeder). On June 5, they took part in America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride – Lake Tahoe, a race that Schroeder had wanted to ride in some day. Team TSS completed the 72-mile circuit of Lake Tahoe along with more than 2,700 other riders, braving the day's rain and hail.

"It was emotionally exhausting," admits Stansbery, who learned how to ride a bike from Schroeder. "After having ridden with my brother my entire life, this was the first event I rode without him, and I continued to look for him. My heart could not quite catch up with my brain."

Stansbery says the Lake Tahoe ride was the first of many fundraising events in which Team TSS plans to participate to reach their goal of raising $1 million for research into early detection. It's a cause they are championing in the hope that they can help other families avoid the grief and loss they have endured.

There are 21 funds similar to the Scott Schroeder Memorial Fund at the UNM Cancer Center, all created by families and friends to honor a loved one and thank those physicians, researchers and caregivers who provided treatment, support and expertise. At the same time, these funds often direct money to very specific and personal causes within the realm of cancer treatment and research. As endowed funds, they typically last in perpetuity and create a living legacy by providing a reliable stream of annual funding to support everything from patient services to endowed professorships to particular areas of cancer research.

"Funds like the Scott Schroeder Memorial Fund are incredibly important to the Cancer Center," says Cheryl Willman, MD, director and CEO of the UNM Cancer Center. "They help us pursue research and provide quality care, and they allow us to connect with the community in a valuable way. As a center dedicated to bringing world-class cancer care to all New Mexicans, we are grateful for opportunities to collaborate directly with the people we serve to improve cancer detection, treatment and prevention."

In a sense, the neon-green jerseys worn by Team TSS say it all. The Chinese characters down the front of each jersey stand for will, strength and the power to overcome. Schroeder had those characters tattooed over his right lung where the cancer first appeared. "He felt that the UNM Cancer Center was helping him accomplish all those things," says Stansbery, "and he was grateful to all of the people helping him on his journey to a cancer-free life." This is what—and whom—the team is riding for, she adds: "my brother; our hospital who provided incredible care for him; and the doctors and nurses and staff who helped every step of the way."

Story courtesy of UNM Cancer Center

Media contacts: Dorothy Hornbeck, James Korenchen Public Relations, (505) 797-6673; e-mail: dhornbeck@jameskorenchen.com or Audrey Manring, UNM Cancer Center (505) 925-0486; e-mail: amanring@salud.unm.edu