Nicole says her mom Penny was a fighter—someone who never let COPD get in her way.
“I never saw her suffer, or just laying in her bed. The day before my mother passed, we were watching a Browns football game together. She was wearing a Browns t-shirt and hat, and it was 14-0 [Browns were losing], fourth quarter. All she kept saying was, ‘the Browns still have a chance to win,’” Nicole recalls. “She was in such good spirits right up until her last days.”
After her mom passed away, Nicole felt as though she had to do something to honor her.
“My desire has always been to give back, and do something for people who had COPD. I saw how the disease took over my mother and I wanted to do something to support those [living with COPD],” Nicole says.
That’s where “Pennies for Penny” was born—out of Nicole’s desire to help others. She reached out to friends, family, and co-workers to garner feedback, and created her first fundraising tools, a Bingo game that features sayings from Penny, and a Penny trivia game. Nicole used these at her first fundraiser September 28th. She’s planning on hosting a second fundraiser, a pancake breakfast, during November—COPD Awareness Month.
In addition to hosting fundraisers, Nicole, who lives in Cleveland, OH, says she also set up a FirstGiving Page with the COPD Foundation, encouraging friends, family, co-workers, etc. to donate what they can.
“I want to do something all year-round. Cleveland Clinic is a big hospital here, and I’ve been thinking I’d eventually like to work at the pulmonary department there. I am looking to work in public health, once I complete school,” Nicole says. She’s currently majoring in business management as a local community college.
She says her mom loved to spend time with family, including Nicole’s children Butchie and Eleah, and made others so happy—so it’s nice to see others step up in memory of her.
“That’s why I want to go into public health to help people like my mom—I want to follow my vision and make it happen,” Nicole says. “I think anything starts off with a vision. If you have the passion to do it, your vision will come to you.”
“I had no idea what to do when my mom passed. First, it was like, ‘she’s no longer here.’ After that, I thought, ‘let me do something to honor my mom,’” she says. “I miss so many things about her, but my love and compassion keeps me going.”