Abbey Foltz was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma of the right tibia on January 31, 1996. She was 14 years old, a freshman at GlenOak High School in Canton, Ohio, and a competitive dancer. Family, friends, school, and dancing were her life. That life and all her plans were put on hold when Abbey and her family heard these words from her doctor, “your daughter has cancer.”
Abbey was the youngest of three children to Jeff and Nan Foltz. Her brothers, Jeremy and Ryan were active students and loved sports. Being 8 and 6 years younger, Abbey always tagged along to all her brothers’ events. At a young age, she was always so supportive of others and their causes.
When Abbey was 3 years old, her grandmother enrolled her in dance classes. As she walked in for her first lesson, Abbey tripped and fell. Her new teacher took note and figured she had a lot of work to do. However, Abbey proved her teacher wrong and became a beautiful dancer in ballet and, most especially, in tap. Dance was definitely a blessing in her life. Abbey continued to learn and compete until the day she experienced so much pain that she called home in tears.
That day was the beginning of her diagnosis, treatments and surgeries at Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron, Ohio. Abbey and her family would all live with childhood cancer together, Osteosarcoma. Along with having limb-salvage surgery, Abbey continued treatments, had a metastasis to her lungs and several to her brain. Abbey passed away at home on August 3, 2000 surrounded by her loving family.
As a teenager with a childhood cancer, Abbey taught us, and those around her, how to cope. She kept a smile, it seemed, at all times and made the best of her days. On her good days she was reading, Rainbow Fish to elementary students explaining why it was important to share and do good for others. She arranged two fundraisers for a local group, “Wishes Can Happen,” by selling strips of paper and making a paper chain to hang in their schools. This was an illustration so the kids could see how something so simple could make a difference to others.
Abbey also wanted to be with her family and friends as much as possible. Visiting her brothers at college, checking in with her cousins and friends, and making future plans that were not always possible never held her back.
Since she could not always be at school, Abbey learned by home instruction and would visit her high school when she was feeling well. Abbey was able to attend her 1999 high school graduation, and two quarters at The Ohio State University studying nursing and being cared for at The James Cancer Center on campus.
Three years following her death, our family held our first St. Baldrick’s Event. Abbey’s example of coping with her disease showed us that by helping others, we could learn to cope with our grief. In the last eighteen years, our event has raised approximately $1.9 million for childhood cancer research. It started out small in 2003 with 15 participants, raising $7,000. Our 2020 event had 827 participants and raised $353,293. We are thrilled with these results.
Now is the time for us to introduce the Abbey E. Foltz Hero Fund. Our hope is to fund research that will provide patients and families to have longer and healthier lives. With this fund our special interests are: Research in Northeastern Ohio, focused on chemotherapy resistance with Osteosarcoma and supportive care research focused on emotional health during and following treatment.
Start your own St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event to raise money on behalf of our Hero Fund! You’ll be paired with a staff member who will walk you through every step of the process, and you’ll have fun knowing you’re doing a great thing for kids with cancer.
Register to shave your head and raise money for our Hero Fund at any St. Baldrick’s event happening around the world! Not finding an event near you? Register as a virtual shavee and shave your head anytime, anywhere.