BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – When a Davie wife and mother learned she had advanced stomach cancer, she didn't give up. Instead, she started an organization that is now raising money and awareness around the country.
And even though Debbie Zelman recently lost her battle with cancer, her dream is very much alive.
"I think what I tell people now is you have to be your own best advocate," Zelman said in 2012 while appearing on "Dr. Oz."
Zelman was diagnosed with stomach cancer four years before her TV appearance, when she was just 40.
The dynamic wife, mother and attorney spearheaded the Debbie's Dream Foundation to help others battling the deadly disease.
In 2014, Local 10 News talked to Zelman again about her fight for funding and awareness. Only 4 percent of stage four stomach cancer patients are alive after five years. Zelman was going on six.
"My twins were 10, my little one was 3, and I fought hard to have that third child. And I said to my husband, 'She's going to remember me. I'm going to be here and I'm going to live,'" Zelman said.
Local 10 News health reporter Kristi Krueger was honored to emcee Zelman's 50th birthday party and fundraiser last year. Sadly, a few months later, in December, Zelman passed away.
But her passion continues to inspire others battling stomach cancer, including Pat Campola.
"She had that certain something about her you see in few people," Campola said. "She grabbed ahold of something and would do everything to be successful."
And the hard work continues at the DDF offices, where the foundation has raised more than $850,000 for stomach cancer research.
"Debbie's dream is very much alive, and I for one am pleased," Campola said. "Many people like myself need a resource, and the organization is there. It's flourishing and I am happy to be associated with it."
The Debbie's Dream Foundation is holding a stomach cancer symposium during the day Saturday and a fundraising gala at night. Krueger will be receiving the foundation's "excellence in communications" award.
Click here to register for the eighth annual Stomach Cancer Education Symposium and Webcast.
The Dream Makers Gala will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood.
Tickets are available for $200 each or $1,900 for a table of 10 guests. Sponsorship opportunities are available and program book ads/tributes and donated auction items will be appreciated.
For more information, to purchase tickets, become a sponsor, place an ad/tribute, or donate an auction item, please contact the foundation at Events@DebbiesDream.org or (954) 475-1200.