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Rising Stars: Meet Andrew Fitzgerald

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrew Fitzgerald.

Hi Andrew, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My story started as a hard-working guy. I worked in a food factory making snack bars. I was in what I believed a happy marriage at the time. To this day, I believe things happen for a reason, even if at the time you don’t see it. Basically, one day my life turned into a dark, scary roller coaster and it felt like the ride would never end. I had done some things around the house and decided to take a nap. When I awoke, I couldn’t get out of bed; the pain in my back was through the roof. It was as if someone stabbed me with a knife and twisted it. As I learned, later on, I had an extreme bulged disc and another minor one. I had to have surgery to fix the issue. Prior to surgery, I was basically dragging my left leg. After surgery, I could walk much better and I thank God for that. It still wasn’t rainbows and puppies, though, as I was still experiencing lots of pain even after surgery.

To this day, I still have horrible back pain that I treat with lots of pills and controlling what I do and don’t do. I fought extreme depression because I had lost who I was and what I could do. This brought extreme pressure on my marriage and our financials as we lost my income for three months before disability pay kicked in from work. Still, it was only far cry from where I stood money-wise and was forced to file bankruptcy all while fighting for Social Security Disability that took three years to get. Then came the worst news, my mother had bile duct cancer. She fought tooth and nail to extend her life as there were no cures for bile duct cancer at the time. I decided to live at my parents and spend time with my mother. Unknown to me at the time was that my wife was cheating on me while I was spending time with my mother. She had been fed up that I was broken and depressed. Her only tribute was to tell me to get over my depression. As if it was so easy to get over. My mother passed away on December 11th, 2016. It was devastating and to add to the torture my wife a week later told me that she wanted a divorce; I was a mess. I stayed with my father, which healed us both. I started feeling better, as I was in a loving environment. I was free from something I didn’t know I needed freed from. Looking back after all that hell, I could see; clearly I was in a horrible relationship and we were both to blame in respect to how we fought with each other.

As time went on, I joined eHarmony and met my now wife, Molly. She made me realize how it felt to be truly loved and appreciated for who you are and not what you can do. As we fell in love, we eventually moved in together and got married. In that time, I reflected on my past and my mom. She couldn’t afford organic food with all the bills and such. I had always wanted to make organic food affordable to those that needed it most. I thought of Food for the Cure, a non-profit that would grow organic food and donate it to cancer patients in need. So one day, I got on NextDoor to see if anyone would help. I got two others to fund the start of Food for the Cure! It was magical. With the power of some volunteers and money, we grew and gave away 220 pounds of food to seven people from our first garden in 2020.

Food for the Cure was created in honor and memory of my mother, Brenda Fitzgerald. People who have cancer should have free access to organic food to help them fight cancer, as it’s hard enough to pay your bills and get by. One day I want Food for the Cure to be a huge Food Pantry dedicated to organic food for cancer patients and be able to replace all their food with organic choices.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
One of the largest challenges for Food for the Cure is volunteers. It’s hard work to be in a garden and unfortunately, I can’t do that hard work due to my back disability. People simply don’t understand where their food comes from and loose sight on all the hard work it takes to garden and farm.

Also, being a very tiny non-profit money is the next big challenge. We will never become a huge food pantry unless we get lots of donations. Even if we grew most of the food, we would still need to buy other organic options like milk and other finished goods. At our current state, we can only donate a little food to each person at a time as it grows in the garden. I would love to replace all their food with organic choices but that simply can’t be done unless we receive major donations.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
With my disability, I have some time to volunteer to Food for the Cure. I donate my time on the Board of Directors and manage our small group of volunteers by letting them know what needs to be done in the garden. With the help of volunteers and my wife, we somehow manage to get the garden growing and get the much-needed food into the hands of our cancer patients. I am just proud of how a community can come together to help people in need. I hear stories about people who fall through the cracks and need help and can’t get it because they make too much money. But due to their illness and bills, they can’t get by. It breaks my heart. It is an honor to help these people in any way I can.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
To me, it’s about God and my faith that shaped my life. Even the darkest days led me here. If anything changed, Food for the Cure and my wife Molly may not have been in my life.

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Image Credits
Molly Fitzgerald

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1 Comment

  1. Rhonda Enzinna

    August 20, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    My family is a recipient of food for the cure. My husband is recovering from colorectal cancer. He never smoked, he exercised regularly, ate healthy foods and lived an all around clean life. So my husband keeps wondering what we can do now to prevent his cancer from returning, and to help both our chances of not developing future cancers. When we learned of Food for the cure we knew that was our answer. We contacted Food Fir The Cure and received a wonderful bounty of vegetables the next week. Beside the vegetables being wonderfully delicious, it helps us financially since, as noted in the article, cancer treatment even with medical insurance can be extremely expensive. We had already loss income due to Covid-19 layoffs. With the cancer my husband loss unemployment benefits.The organic vegetables in the grocery stores were already beyond our budget. So Food for The Cure is a definite blessing. Thank you Andrew and Molly Fitzgerald,the donors and every single volunteer for Food For The Cure.

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