Cancer survivor Maureen Walsh, of Sea Isle, touts the nonprofit organization Bringing Hope Home for the financial aid it gave to her and her husband.

By Donald Wittkowski

At the same time Maureen Walsh was fighting a particularly aggressive form of skin cancer that had invaded her right ear, neck and upper back, she had the added stress of mounting medical bills.

As Walsh and her husband, Chuck, struggled with their finances, she received a call one day from a nonprofit organization called Bringing Hope Home that caught her completely by surprise.

Looking to help the couple relieve some of their financial strain, the organization offered to pay their mortgage for a month.

“My husband and I cried our eyes out,” recalled the 56-year-old Walsh, who lives in Sea Isle City.

Now cancer-free after undergoing extensive surgery, as well as radiation treatments and chemotherapy, Walsh will be joining hundreds of participants in an annual run and walk in Sea Isle that helps to raise money for Bringing Hope Home.

The Sea Isle STOMPS Cancer 5K & Family Walk will be held Saturday, June 30, on the Promenade starting at 9 a.m. Between 700 and 800 participants are expected for the fourth annual event, which has drawn wide support from local businesses and organizations in the Sea Isle area.

“The sponsorship we receive is just astounding,” said Judy Swahl, family outreach coordinator for Bringing Hope Home. “More and more local businesses are getting to know us. It seems more and more people want to be involved.”

Representatives of Bringing Hope Home hold up a banner listing the sponsors for the fundraising run and walk. (Courtesy Bringing Hope Home Facebook page)

Swahl gave special recognition to James Bennett, operator of the LaCosta Lounge, the Sea Isle nightclub that annually serves as the event’s host. A post-race party will be held at LaCosta featuring awards, raffles and entertainment.

Bringing Hope Home, based in Malvern, Pa., and now in its 10th year, helps cancer patients and their families out with a one-time payment for essential household expenses, including rent, mortgages, utility bills and groceries.

The organization has provided assistance to nearly 5,000 families in the Philadelphia region in 10 years, including 600 in South Jersey. Saturday’s event in Sea Isle is expected to raise about $30,000, enough money to help 30 more families, Swahl said.

Walsh spoke of the help she received from Bringing Hope Home during an appearance at the June 5 meeting of the Sea Isle City Chamber of Commerce and Revitalization to promote the STOMPS Cancer event. She was joined by Swahl, who has a home in Sea Isle, and Paul Isenberg, Bringing Hope Home’s chief executive officer.

Isenberg, whose wife, Nicole, died of cancer in 2003, inspiring him to found Bringing Hope Home, said the organization resists using the word “patients,” preferring instead to say it helps families.

“We don’t help patients. We help families,” he said. “They are our families. They belong to us. We’re just very fortunate to do what we do.”

From left, Maureen Walsh is joined by Bringing Hope Home CEO Paul Isenberg and Family Outreach Coordinator Judy Swahl at Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House in Sea Isle City.

Walsh told the Chamber of Commerce audience she was diagnosed with cancer on her neck and head three years ago and was advised that her condition was terminal. One local hospital encouraged her to seek hospice care.

“I had no options,” she said.

However, unwilling to surrender to cancer, she underwent extensive surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

“I’m cancer-free for two years now,” Walsh said, drawing applause from the Chamber audience.

Walsh, whose right side of her face is bandaged, lost her right ear and part of her face to cancer and is undergoing reconstructive surgery. She will also need major dental work to replace 13 teeth, but Bringing Hope Home has found a dentist who will perform the work for free.

“I jokingly say that they’re putting Humpty Dumpty back together,” Walsh said.

During her struggle with cancer, Walsh and her husband faced soaring medical bills after her surgery. It was then that the call came from Bringing Hope Home offering to pay their mortgage for a month.

“What they did was make us feel like family,” she said.

On Saturday, during the run and walk, Walsh will head a fundraising team of about 50 people dubbed “Hoggie’s Heroes.” Hoggie is the comical nickname given to Walsh by her family because of her tendency to “hog” her beloved grandchildren.

For more information on the Sea Isle City STOMPS Cancer 5K & Family Walk, visit

Between 700 and 800 participants are expected for Saturday’s Sea Isle STOMPS Cancer 5K & Family Walk on the Promenade. (Courtesy Bringing Hope Home)