Raising money to honor my father

This article was printed in the May 20, 2005 Carmel section of the Indianapolis Star community voices section

By Natalie Sapper

On Dec. 13, 2003, my life forever changed.

Glioblastoma multiforme was the official name given to us by his doctor. These two words, so foreign and hard to pronounce, became the focus in my life. I needed to learn everything about these brain tumors. I spent countless hours poring over information on the Internet. What I found was shocking and grim, to say the least. I realized that my father, who loved life and lived his to the fullest, was in his final months.

It was in the winter of 2003-04 that I took the hardest journey of my life, walking down the path of death with my father, only 68 years of age. I split my time between my husband, Howard, and our three boys, Josh, 9; Zachary, 8; and Dylan, 7, to spend time with my parents in Boca Raton, Fla. As I sat outside in the hot Florida sun enjoying fresh sun tea with my father, I promised him that I would organize an event to raise awareness about brain tumors in our community.

It is estimated that more than 190,000 brain tumors are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Progress has been made, but so much is still unknown.

The first "Head for the Cure" -- just a dream a year ago -- will take place at West Park in Carmel this weekend. We will be raising money for the American Brain Tumor Association, a wonderful organization that funds research and assists people with brain tumors.

My father, Theodore -- or Ted, as he liked to be called -- was a very special man. Born in New York City in May 1935, he studied accounting at City College of New York and came to Indianapolis in the summer of 1957 to serve his country. While stationed at Fort Benjamin Harrison, he met my mother, Sema, the love of his life, and settled in Indianapolis. At the age of 51, he retired as a partner of Katz, Sapper and Miller. He knew how important it was to enjoy life.

He enjoyed the things that mattered most to him -- his family, which includes six grandchildren, his beloved golf, and his love of the stock market. My father had so many special gifts and talents. He had a smile that would light up any room he entered. With his warm and caring personality, people felt very comfortable around him.

He was the perfect dad. There are so many things I miss about him: his smile, his advice and his unconditional support and love. He taught me many things, and the irony is, in his death, he taught me the most important lesson -- to live each day because you never know when it will be taken away from you.

Today is May 20, 2005. It would have been his 70th birthday.

Tomorrow, we will honor his memory as we try to make a difference in the lives of many.

Please join the Sapper family at West Park on Saturday for the very first Head for the Cure 5K Family Fun Walk/Run.

Join us to make a difference!