Alumna Connie Bramer '91 Drawn to Help Others Fight Cancer | SUNY Plattsburgh
Even after she was given a clean bill of health, Connie Bramer ’91 didn’t stop fighting cancer.
Her mother, Jackie Bramer, was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was a student at SUNY Plattsburgh. She passed away five years after Connie graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Then, in 2008, Connie was diagnosed with breast cancer. A year later, after undergoing chemotherapy and 13 surgeries, she was declared cancer-free.
After her recovery, it would have been easy for Connie to return to the life she had before the diagnosis, said Joan Goldstein ‘91, who was a friend of Connie’s in college.
“Instead, she grabbed her two awesome kids (Alex and Alyssa Slingerland) and taught them to pay it forward,” Goldstein said.
Connie established a charitable organization, Get Your Rack Back, which gained nonprofit status in 2015. Remembering how difficult it was to keep up with daily chores like making meals while undergoing treatment, she made that the focus of the organization.
Every $500 raised provides hand-delivered locally made meals to cancer patients in the Albany area, along with restaurant and gas gifts cards and medical copay assistance.
“We’re just trying to comfort those families who are going through cancer and are trying to help them through a difficult time,” Connie said.
A Christmas stocking drive last year that distributed more than 100 stockings to the children of cancer patients will continue this year with plans to donate the gifts to area families and a children’s cancer wing of a local hospital.
Doctor’s offices and hospitals put Connie in touch with those who qualify for assistance from Get Your Rack Back. The support isn’t just for breast cancer patients, but those who suffer from any form of the disease.
Each year, the American Cancer Society Relay for Life is the largest student-run event held at SUNY Plattsburgh. More than $58,800 was raised by nearly 1,000 students as part of the 2016 event.
The college became an official host of Relay for Life in 2006, although students participated in community-hosted Relay for Life campaigns years before that.
“It is important for students to know that their positive actions have an impact on the lives of others,” Bramer said. “My mother used to say ‘leave people better for having known you.’ This applies to every interaction in your life, but, more importantly, it makes you think about what you can do for others.”
She encourages students to get involved in events like Relay for Life.
“You never know whose life you may be impacting.”
Alumni Support Raises Funds
At this year’s Get Your Rack Back fundraising gala, held in June 2016, more than $50,000 was collected for cancer patients and their families.
Out of the 300 people who attended the fundraiser, more than 40 were SUNY Plattsburgh alumni, Connie said.
“Some of them were Plattsburgh graduates I didn’t know,” she said.
“I've been to Connie's events before and have seen the great alumni support but this year was extraordinary,” Goldstein said. “Plattsburgh friendships last a lifetime and it always feels right to extend yourself to a fellow alumni.”