Becky Broxmeyer said her father’s battle with pancreatic cancer wasn’t something she talked about with friends until after he died.
“My family kept it very private,” she said. “It wasn’t until the last week or two that he was sick that I told anyone.”
But now, less than a year after her father’s death, the Syosset teen is speaking out in his memory. Broxmeyer, 16, has partnered with her friend Sophie Fritz, 16, who lost her grandmother to pancreatic cancer in 2008, to raise money for The Lustgarten Foundation. The Bethpage-based advocacy organization for people with the disease was founded 13 years ago with the help of Cablevision, which owns Newsday.
The girls, both juniors at Friends Academy in Locust Valley, hope to raise about $200,000 in April by holding a benefit fashion show. Fashion 4 the Cure, a mother-daughter themed fashion show, will take place at 8 p.m. April 6 at the Engineers Country Club in Roslyn Harbor.
Kerri Kaplan, executive director of The Lustgarten Foundation, said the girls have worked tirelessly to put the event together. She said in two days they have sold 50 tickets, available on the foundation’s website in the first two days, raising $27,000.
“And we still have a month to go,” she said. “With raffles and donations, they’ll probably raise a couple hundred thousand. For a small community, that is a very big amount.”
Broxmeyer and Fritz said they sent out 150 invitations, each one was for a mother and a daughter. Adult tickets cost $100; tickets for anyone 18 and under cost $60; front-row seats are $200.
“We wanted the experience to be exactly like it would be at Lincoln Center or Bryant Park,” Fritz said. “It’s a real fashion show.”
The show will feature 16 teen models and eight mothers. Long Island-based designer Christina Makowsky will dress the adults, and international chain TopShop has donated clothing for the teens. There will be a cocktail hour before the show, a few vendors and possibly a silent auction.
Kaplan said Broxmeyer and Fritz have done all the work themselves despite demanding class schedules, S.A.T. preparation and college visits.
“On top of that, they are finding time to raise money for a cause,” she said. “We’re so proud of them.”
Fritz, of Roslyn Harbor, said she was devastated when her grandmother died just nine months after her diagnosis. She said that before her grandmother was diagnosed, she didn’t know much about the disease.
“I just knew it was one of the worst cancers to get, it’s basically a death sentence,” Fritz said. “It was just a horrible experience.”
Broxmeyer said both of their families are very proud of their efforts. She said they are hoping to inspire young people to find a passion and make a difference.
“We were both very affected by this disease and motivated to spread awareness,” she said. “We hope that one day we will find a cure so nobody will have to go through what we go through.”
Photo: Becky Broxmeyer, 16, of Syosset, left, and Sophie Fritz, 16, of Rosyln Harbor, right, are organizing a fashion show to raise money for the Lustgarten Foundation. (March 9, 2011)