“What we do is we really remove them from the environment that they’re in, usually their home, they’re confined to their home because of the illness, and we put them in a very, very comfortable destination,” explained Marci Schankweiler, the founder and CEO of For Pete’s Sake.
Schankweiler founded the organization after her late husband, Pete Bossow, was diagnosed with cancer in 1998, and their family and friends sent them on a respite vacation in the middle of his treatment.
“We were so engrossed with what cancer was doing to our everyday life and we had this chance just to step away,” explained Schankweiler. “We really wanted to give that same opportunity to other families that were going to walk our journey.”
Bossow passed away in 1999, so Schankweiler made it her mission to fulfill his wish that other cancer patients and their families would have a chance to take a break from the disease like they did. Schankweiler made a pivot from being a tax attorney to launch the nonprofit bearing his name.
“We send families away on respite and, unfortunately, some of the people we help don’t survive, and for those families that are able to carry on in the journey of their own lives, they always have that respite to hold on too,” said Schankweiler.
The pandemic has meant the organization has shifted to more staycations this year, and only sending families to the nearby Woodloch Resorts. For Pete’s Sake is also holding its first ever virtual experience on March 25.
“It’s an hour-long production that’s really going to speak about our mission,” Schankweiler explained.
The event will have musical acts and guest appearances that include stars Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt. The virtual experience will also pay tribute to the emotional impact cancer has on families and feature stories of overcoming adversity.
“I have been very, very fortunate, because my first husband gave me a great gift – yes it was a traumatizing experience – but I walked away with a gift of recognizing how to live, because you only get one chance at it,” Schankweiler said.
For Pete’s Sake has served more than 9,000 patients and their families since it began just over 20 years ago. If you want to learn more about for the organization and their upcoming virtual experience, visit the For Pete’s Sake website.