JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Julie Mariano says she can still hear her mother's voice saying, "get your mammogram."
Her mom, Edie Fitts, lived her life on maximum spunk and maximum heart. She spent her days reaching out to help other women dealing with breast cancer.
"So when she met people, she'd introduce herself saying, 'Hi, I'm Edie and I'm a breast cancer survivor,'" Mariano said.
She has the same bright smile as her mom.
Mariano says her mother never stopped moving.
"She went to China in between her chemo," she said. "She wasn't feeling the best, but she went anyway."
Fitts spent hours back in the U.S. guiding women to services and support in a non-profit setting.
All this matters to our First Coast community because Mariano's family is working hard to honor her mother.
The Mariano's company, RhinoShield, has been donating $500 for every new job they get.
The business puts a ceramic coating onto houses or office buildings so no painting is required. You've probably heard their catchy jingle, "Never paint your house again. RhinoShield!"
The family is donating thousands to help First Coast News and its Buddy Check partner, Baptist/MD Anderson, purchase the Buddy Bus. It will be a mobile mammography unit for six local counties. The idea is to save lives.
Right now less than 50 percent of women get regular mammograms. That's sad because a mammogram can pick up pre-cancers so early a woman wouldn't even need chemotherapy.
Mariano's husband, Rick, says helping the Buddy Bus project is such a good way to honor his mother-in-law.
"She was my cheerleader," he said.
Mariano says, even though breast cancer took her mom away too early, her inspiration is always here.
"Her life was cut short," she said. "She still had so much life in her she wanted to live. I feel like she's now living in Heaven."
As for the Buddy Bus, Mariano says, her mom would applaud it.
"If she were here today, this would have been her crowning glory," she said. "She would have loved to see this happen."
And we are getting closer to making it happen. We need to raise a million dollars to buy the Buddy Bus, which will be equipped with 3-D state-of-the-art technology.
Before the holidays we announced our donations put us just under the half-way mark. Now the donations total $626,000.