Mandy Ewig’s fight with breast cancer inspired an over $30,000 donation.
In June 2022, local nonprofit Firefly Sisterhood received a check from Morrie’s Minnetonka for $36,569. “I was absolutely blown away,” says Amy Gallagher, the executive director of Firefly Sisterhood.
Every year, Subaru and its retailers host the Share the Love event. From mid-November to January 2, $250 to $300 from every vehicle sale is set aside for charity. “There’s four national charities, and then there’s the hometown charity,” says Scott Thomas, general sales manager for Morrie’s Minnetonka. This year, Firefly Sisterhood was the hometown choice.
“It was through Raquel Conway. She was tied in with Firefly Sisterhood,” Thomas says. “We had a lot of people who were either going through breast cancer or knew someone [who was]. Mandy [Ewig] passed away from breast cancer, and we just wanted to raise awareness and tie in breast cancer somewhere with what we were doing that year.”
Ewig was an executive assistant for two Morrie’s Minnetonka CEOs over the course of nearly 10 years. In 2017, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and became connected with Firefly Sisterhood. “Firefly was great in the sense that they had people that had kind of the same experience that she did,” says Brett Ewig, her husband.
Ewig was matched with a mentor who was in a similar position: same treatment, similar life experiences and had two young kids of her own. “Our program is really unique in that it’s a one-to-one support, versus a group support,” Gallagher says. “The matching of the mentor with the mentee, those are all intentional; it’s matching women by breast cancer types, stage, treatment plans [and] family lifestyle. It’s really intentional, down to the specific diagnosis or surgical options, those kinds of things, to form a really intentional and personal relationship.”
For about three years, Ewig’s cancer appeared to be in remission. In 2020, a checkup revealed it was not only back, but had spread. “Obviously, we tried the treatment again, but it was so aggressive that there was unfortunately nothing that could be done at that point,” Brett says. He notes that, over the course of both treatments, Morrie’s was accommodating to Ewig and her family’s needs. “I’m glad she had such an impact on Morrie’s that they continued to work with Firefly through this process,” he says.
Morrie’s donation gives the Firefly Sisterhood a chance to grow larger wings. “One of our main goals is furthering our outreach in the community,” Gallagher says. “We’re trying to diversify our program and also to reach out to the rural areas …”
Gallagher says that requests for support have been up by 41 percent since last June. “I think we’re really starting to see a big increase in the awareness of our program and just the need for support during breast cancer,” she says.
In 2021, the Firefly Sisterhood helped 375 women find support, but it’s not just the mentees that receive resources. “The women who are survivors and thrivers, that have lived with breast cancer or are living with it, we have training for them throughout the year,” Gallagher says. “We really try to make sure that survivors are equipped to mentor the women that need mentoring.”
Read more about Firefly Sisterhood’s founding in our 2015 article.