WHEELING - A local man is taking strides to raise money for cancer research, in honor of his late mother. Joe Allen, a physical education teacher and football coach at St. John Central Grade School in Bellaire, is raising funds for Relay for Life through his "40 for 40" Campaign.
Allen is seeking donations through the website gofundme.com, which details his campaign. Jill Allen passed away in April of 2011, after a fight with bladder cancer that had spread into her colon.
March 2, 2014 would have been the 40th anniversary of her marriage to Ted Allen. In honor of that significant date, Joe Allen will be walking 40 laps at the Relay for Life event that will take place in his hometown of Wheeling. Relay for Life is slated for August 8, 2014 from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., giving Allen just over four months to reach his fundraising goal of $5,000.
Allen describes his mother as a caring woman who loved endlessly and put others first.
"We were very close, my mother and I," he said.
Allen loved children so much that she opened an in-home daycare in 1998, which she operated until her illness struck in March of 2011.
"She was a firm believer that a child's formative years in the early stages of life require a loving and learning atmosphere," Allen said. "I got my love of education from her."
Allen added that his mother had a huge impact on all the children she cared for, and he and his sister's friends regarded her as a second mother. Jill Allen's caring nature inspired her son to coin the phrase "mother to many and friend to all" to describe her.
In addition to being a caring person, she was also a lover of the arts. Jill Allen was knowledgeable about interior design and architecture, especially Victorian houses, and enjoyed music and dance.
Allen said when he told his father, Ted, of his campaign, he was taken aback but proud.
"He's not a real emotional man, but I could see his eyes swell up a bit," he said. "I know he misses her every day too."
To make a donation to Allen's campaign, go to www.gofundme.com/78w7bk or contact Allen personally. The web page also allows users to comment on Allen's "40 for 40" campaign and invite others to donate on Facebook and Twitter.
Allen stated that every little bit helps.
"I just want to make a difference for those that are fighting cancer," he stated.
Warner may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.