PHOTOS: Danielle Nutter+Shutterstock
Danielle Nutter knows the true meaning of hope, strength, courage and determination.
The Sorrento resident watched her mother, Brenda Nutter, valiantly battle breast cancer for 17 years.
“My mother always maintained a positive attitude and a fighting spirit,” Danielle said. “Her cancer was in remission twice and came back both times, but she was always determined to beat it.”
And, when the cancer ultimately metastasized to Brenda’s brain, doctors predicted her life expectancy would be drastically reduced because of the tumor’s massive size.
She defied all odds.
“The doctors gave her three months, but she ended up living a year and a half,” Danielle said. “No matter how bleak things were, she always had hope.”
Brenda lost her battle with cancer four years ago. But Danielle is making sure that her mother’s indomitable spirit continues shining bright.
Danielle is owner of Heal’n Thru Sports, a fundraising organization that sets up sporting events to support local and national nonprofits. She started the company shortly after moving from Maryland to Florida in September 2014.
For her first fundraising event, she is hosting a lacrosse tournament July 18-19 at Hickory Point in Tavares. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to “The Pink Fund,” a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to breast cancer patients who have difficulty paying their bills as a result of ongoing treatments.
She hopes that the event, which is free to the public, will raise a minimum of $4,000.
“I’m dedicating this first tournament to my mom,” Danielle said. “I know my mom would want to support other cancer patients who are in times of great need.”
The fundraiser, called the “North vs. South Challenge Cup,” is open to children and teenagers. There will be five divisions:
High school varsity, high school junior varsity, U-15, U-13 and U-11. Teams must pay a $1,200 entry fee. However, most teams will consist of 20 members, meaning each player will pay $60.
She expects the tournament to draw lacrosse teams from all over Florida.
“It’s open to players of all skill levels,” she said. “You can still come out here and have fun even if you are not athletic.”
While lacrosse certainly is not a household sport in Lake County, it continues to be one of the fastest growing sports nationwide. In fact, 290,046 high school students competed throughout the country in 2013.
“I feel it is important to introduce lacrosse in a place where the sport has limited exposure,” she said. “Plus, Hickory Point is an outstanding facility with a centralized location, nice amenities and convenient parking.”
Danielle, who spent 17 years as a physical education teacher, certainly is familiar with the sport. She served as a lacrosse referee for national high school and collegiate tournaments as far away as New York and Colorado.
“Hosting this tournament allows me to continue being involved with the sport, but in a different way,” said Danielle, who earned a master’s degree in recreation and resource management from Frostburg State University in Maryland. “Plus, children in today’s world can be cruel, so it’s good to get them involved in an event where they’re helping others.”
In the future, Danielle plans to hold similar fundraisers involving various sports to help other local and national nonprofit organizations.
And, with each fundraiser, Brenda undoubtedly will smile down from heaven knowing her big-hearted daughter is helping those in need.
For more information, please contact Danielle at 352.434.1357 or visit healn-thru-sports.com