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A son's loss, a son's hope


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A son's loss, a son's hope

  1. 1. M Sports W Sports Athletics Info About Georgetown Hoyas Unlimited ROSTER | SCHEDULES/RESULTS | NEWS | ARCHIVES | MENS FOOTBALL HOMEA Sons Loss, A Sons Hope Printer-Friendly FormatJan. 3, 2006 E-mail this articleWashington, D.C. - Its around this time of year that we see the best come out in people.The holidays have a lot to do with it. Thanksgiving turns into Christmas and the decorations comeout, bringing out a festive and giving nature in just about everyone.For Georgetown University junior quarterback David Fajgenbaum, the seasons dont have much todo with his giving nature.For Fajgenbaum, its not a matter of giving back, its a matter of doing what he can, whenever hegets the chance.Thats why, the day after the Hoya football season ended on November 19, he wasnt sleeping in onthe first Sunday he had off since the summer.Rather than lounging around and enjoying the start of the off-season, Fajgenbaum did one of thethings he does best. He gathered up some of his teammates and was in a van off of the campus onthe Hilltop at 7 a.m. on that Sunday, headed into Capitol Hill to take part in a walk/run benefitingcancer research.Its a topic that hits close to home for Fajgenbaum, as the Hoyas back-up quarterback lost hismother to that disease just over a year ago. Georgetown University junior quarterback David"It certainly wasnt what most people would want to do on their first day off," he explained, "but the Fajgenbaum with his lateturnout was great and I was so pleased with the effort." mother, Anne Marie.Effort is something that comes easy to Fajgenbaum. Its not easy to lose a loved one. Its harder tolose a parent. And it makes it tougher when that parent is someone you consider your best friend. Football HomeBut when Fajgenbuams mother, Anne Marie, passed away after a 13-month battle with brain canceron October 26, 2004, David went into action.He mourned, like most people, but he also wanted to make a difference.Since that day, hes done just that.During his mothers final days, David wanted to try and find a way to honor his mothers life, and tohelp others like him at the same time. HEADLINES At his home in North Carolina last A Sons Loss, A Sons Christmas morning, Fajgenbaum came up Hope with the idea to host a "Boot Camp for Brain Cancer." Originally hoping to raise Georgetowns Michael $1,000, Fajgenbaum and his friends Ononibaku Earns raised nearly eight thousand dollars. National, Regional Honors from Don "It was a perfect day," Fajgenbaum said. Hansen Football "I wish that she was there. I wanted to Gazette run home and tell her all about it." Head Coach Bob Benson Resigns That day was just the start for Fajgenbaum. RELATED LINKS • Wire Propelled by that success and knowing • Email this to a friend how difficult it was to have lost a parent while being away from home at college, the idea came to start a support group for people like him, for students who have a terminally ill or deceased loved one. That was how the "Students of AMF" Support Network( was born. The organization stands for Students of Ailing Mothers and Fathers, and the acronym ofthe name comes directly from his mothers name, Anne Marie Fajgenbaum. The goal of the network is to help students to copewith the psychological, spiritual, social, and academic difficulties associated with having a sick loved one through service,support, and mentoring.AMF began as a support group for about 10 Georgetown students with sick or deceased parents. In less than one year thesupport group has grown to 40 students, who are all supported by faculty "Angels" and David began a service group that ismade up of more than 350 Georgetown students - including the Hoya football team - that organizes and participates in serviceprojects throughout the community in memory of lost loved ones.On Saturday, November 5, David organized a trip along with members of the support group to Baltimore to participate in theBrain Tumor Caregivers Workshop at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, where he spoke about the difficulties associated withhaving a terminally ill parent and how children can find support. And what began as a local group is now going national.
  2. 2. In just a few months of speaking about his group at various conferences, students from over 20 other colleges and universities- including the University of North Carolina, the University of Texas and the University of Florida - have contacted Fajgenbaumto express their interest in starting their own chapters.On Friday, November 11, David was invited to speak about how he formed the AMF network and ways to expand it at theAssociation of American Colleges and Universities "Civic Engagement Imperative: Student Learning and Public GoodConference" in Providence, Rhode Island."There are thousands of college students across the country in need of peer-support and positive outlets for their grievingenergy," Fajgenbaum said. "This initiative must spread."I know that my mom would be so proud of me and happy to know that AMF is supporting children like myself. That is whatinspires me to keep working harder every day."And its not just reaching college students. One night, the Georgetown chapter was visited by a middle-aged woman who hadrecently lost her husband to brain cancer. The woman, who worked nearby the campus, had heard about AMF through one ofFajgenbaums professors and suggested she visit a meeting."Any time you deal with something as sensitive as death, you want to help out," he said. "We all wanted to help out and reachout. It was a group of 20-year-olds reaching out to a 40-year-old, certainly not something you would expect."Fajgenbaum wasnt sure what to expect when he first started doing this work. Part of his inspiration to do something camefrom an athlete he admires, seven-time Tour de France cycling champion Lance Armstrong. While sitting with his mother in thehospital one night, David glanced down at the "Livestrong" bracelet he was wearing - the now-famous yellow bracelets thatArmstrong used as a way to raise money for cancer research - with the lettering AMF written on it."I had never even thought about doing something like this before," he explained. "But my mom looked at me, crying, and said,`One day, Im not going to be here. Her biggest concern was how I would be when she passed away."Right then, I told her I would be fine and that I would help other kids like me so that parents would not have to be afraid. Ilooked down at my wrist and saw my Livestrong bracelet that had AMF on it, and then it clicked."Id never had a desire to do anything like that before in my life. It just all came together."Upon returning back to campus after that weekend visit - Fajgenbaum was shuttling between school and his home in NorthCarolina every weekend - he went to find help. "I called campus ministry, counseling & psychiatric services and a friend of minein health education," he said. "I found out there was no support in place, but they directed me to CAPS (Counseling andPsychiatric Services)."This is not something, in my mind, that everyone needs treatment for. I think counseling is great, but I think that peersupport and service is so much more effective."And thats what really got him started.He found others.The first meeting was very casual. The group met in his apartment. But the first meeting spawned a second, and then a third,and a fourth. Soon enough, word had spread on campus and there were nearly 30 members. Thats when the service portion ofAMF started."This is not something that you simply get treated for," he explained. "Its something you can overcome with support from yourpeers, your family, your community. I think participating in service groups and reaching out to your community can be a greathealing factor."I think theres a stigma, which does need to be broken, about a psychiatrist or a therapist."Part of what has David motivated is the response hes gotten, not only on-campus, but from other schools. During the firstyear, he had e-mails from students at more than 20 schools asking about how to start a chapter. One father - the parent of aBucknell University student who had lost their mother - heard of this group and it was featured in a monthly New Jerseywomens magazine. Bucknell is now forming a chapter on its campus."Its even more frequent now because were getting bigger, but every e-mail is the same. These kids feel alone, helpless anddisconnected from their homes. Theres no where for them to turn. AMF puts people together who have gone through the samething."Fajgenbaum had the chance to meet one of his inspirations - Lance Armstrong - during the Fall.On October 8, the day the Hoyas were hosting Duquesne, Armstrongs Tour of Hope was riding through the nations capitol. Ledby Armstrong, the Tour of Hope was a nine-day trip across America by a team of 24 people who had been affected by cancer.At each stop - the tour started in San Diego before finishing in Washington - the riders stopped to share their stories and rallysupport for cancer research. While the ride was cancelled due to the rain, David had been selected as a representative of theGeorgetown University Medical Center, one of two people from the several hospitals in the area."It was such an honor to be asked to participate in such an incredible event. I have made it my lifes mission to fight canceron all levels, in particular the effects that it has on loved ones."Thats what Fajgenbaum plans on doing when hes finished with his undergraduate days. It is obvious that he has used hisunfortunate situation to empower him to cultivate a fledging AMF, perform on the football field, and achieve a 3.9 cumulativegrade-point average in a pre-medical curriculum, which recently helped him to attain Early Assurance to the GeorgetownUniversity School of Medicine.His days are long, and he may not see the benefits immediately, but he knows that hes making an impact."Anyone that would have their mom be this inspiring to them would do it," he said. "My mom was my best friend and to beable to put all my extra time into this drives me. Every time Im upset about something or need to take my mind off of it, Itry and do more work."I know this is something my mom would have loved. It would have been impossible not to do something."By Mike "Mex" Carey, Sports Information Director. For more information on Students of Ailing Mothers & Fathers, please
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