The death of one's child can be the most devastating blow to a person. It can bring
irreversible sorrow, pain and regret. My hero is a woman who did not let that happen to
her. When faced with such tragedy she found the strength in herself to take on a
tremendous challenge to help others who are suffering.
I first got to know Gladys as a coworker, and now am honored to call her a dear friend.
She lost her eldest son, Andy to cancer nearly three years ago. Undoubtedly it was the
most painful experience of her life, but it was also one that created hope for many
people. For within weeks of Andy's passing, Gladys began the Andy Ruenes Foundation in her
son's his memory. It is a small group dedicated to bring happiness to those suffering from
terminal illness. It was during the course of Andy's last few months, that Gladys realized
how vital it was to keep him happy, positive and above all hopeful. She realized how lucky
Andy had been to be surrounded by a loving support group of friends and family. A few days
before his passing she spoke with Andy about starting a foundation in his name that will
provide the same support and love he got to those who aren't as lucky as him. Today the
foundation, works with the American Cancer Society/Winn Dixie Hope Lodge, The Ronald
McDonald House, Jackson Memorial Hospital and with several local churches in Miami.
I look at Gladys in amazement. She struggles to raise money for the foundation, she
works a full time job, has grandchildren to take care of and worries about all the sick
patients. I've seen her suffering, I've seen her in moments of frustration and utter
fatigue, but I've never seen her give up or lose hope. She has an incredible amount of
compassion and I'm honored to be able to help her on her mission.