By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Local residents may remember Mary Beth Benison as the original owner of CocoBeni Confections, but many may not know how courageous, caring, and inspiring she was as well. After 15 years of health challenges and being diagnosed in 2014 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and mesothelioma, two terminal illnesses, she passed away on May 3, 2015. Earlier this year, her youngest sister Katie Benison-Camell helped to establish The Mary Beth Benison Foundation, a nonprofit organization to continue Benison’s legacy of kindness, love and compassion.
The mission of the foundation is based on how Mary Beth, the oldest of seven siblings, lived her life.
“She was courageous, positive and inspiring through all of her challenges,” said Benison-Camell. “She had a loving spirit and we miss her every day and want to honor her memory.”
Benison had a supportive group of family and friends for whom she was very grateful, but knew that not everyone has that when they need it the most.
Still in its infancy stages, the foundation’s goal is to be able to help people with ALS and other serious illnesses, as well as to partner with and support charities that were close to Mary Beth’s heart.
The foundation’s kickoff event is a 5K run/walk to be held Sunday, Oct. 16, at Quinsigamond State Park Lake Park, 284 Lake Ave., in Worcester. The 5K race is dedicated to the memory of Nancy Finkle who passed away from ALS.
A 1K kids’ fun run will start at 9:30 a.m. with a registration fee of $10. The 5K will begin at 10 a.m. with a registration fee of $25 ($20 for 18 years old and under). Online registration is available at https://racewire.com/register.php?id=6787. Fees will increase after Monday, Sept. 26.
All participants are invited to a post-race party starting at noon at Pepe’s Trattoria located at 274 Franklin St., Worcester, where they will receive a free slice of pizza. Participants over age 21 will also receive a free beer ticket.
Non-race participants are invited to join the post party event with a $15 donation at the door. There will be a cash bar, raffles and silent auction, which includes sports tickets, a two-night getaway, and tickets to Andy Cohen’s “Watch What Happens in NYC” show.
“I am excited and looking forward to seeing the community come together for a great cause,” Benison-Camell said.
The event fundraising goal is $10,000 and Benison-Camell is hopeful that the goal will be met. She noted that she is grateful to all the generous event sponsors which are listed on the foundation’s website, www.mbbloves.org.
The foundation is also partnering with Binkeez for Comfort, an organization that provides blankets to children in hospital care for a life-threatening illness or hospice care. Blankets will be delivered to the Cardiac Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital in honor of Benison’s 13-year-old nephew, Matthew, who became very sick a day after she passed away and spent a month in the Cardiac ICU/Recovery at Children’s Hospital.
“Mary Beth was a wonderful aunt and would have done anything for her nieces and nephews,” Benison-Camell said. “I feel like this partnership with Binkeez is one way we are continuing her legacy of love, especially for Matthew.”
She said the foundation plans to provide help in the form of contributing toward medical or other bills, or to send someone diagnosed with a terminal illness on a dream vacation.
“I am hopeful the foundation will continue to grow and we can continue to help others,” Benison-Camell said.