Middletown, N.J. high school seniors Erika Rech and Mike Ruane are the latest Grand Prize winners in the Fueling Good program created by CITGO Petroleum Corporation.
The cousins earned their prize of a year’s supply of CITGO gasoline by supporting individuals and families affected by breast cancer. Their charity, Breast Friends Forever, raised more than $110,000 over the last three years to help ease the financial burdens of local families touched by the disease.
“When my cousin and I were 15 years old, two of our family members were diagnosed with breast cancer within six months of each other,” said Erika Rech, co-founder of Breast Friends Forever. “From the initial diagnosis and throughout the treatment, we saw firsthand the devastating effect that cancer can have on a family, particularly its financial resources. The more we learned about breast cancer and its associated treatment costs, in addition to the emotional toll it takes on the entire family, the more we wanted to help.”
Fundraising activities began with selling t-shirts and candy, and have expanded to include the annual Breast Friends Forever Gala, which raised $37,000 in 2009. Funds generated through these events and activities help local families touched by breast cancer with utility bills, groceries, mortgage payments, wigs and prostheses.
“Through Breast Friends Forever, we have experienced a wonderful outpouring of support from our community,” added Rech. “The year’s supply of gasoline from CITGO will help my cousin and me expand our reach and fundraising programs so that we can make an even greater impact on those in need.”
Launched in June 2009, Fueling Good is designed to recognize and reward the efforts of people across the country who go above and beyond to provide a positive impact on the lives of others. Based on the underlying principals of solidarity and social development held by CITGO and its shareholder, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Fueling Good contest invites local heroes to submit their stories of doing good in their communities.
In addition to supporting local heroes through Fueling Good, CITGO assists individuals in need across the country by contributing millions of dollars each year to its CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program, energy efficient lighting program, supplier diversity initiative, Muscular Dystrophy Association fundraising and many other efforts. These programs, together with the great work of local marketers and nearly 7,000 locally owned CITGO stations, make a positive impact on the lives of many people.
In 2009 the Fueling Good program recognized and rewarded a multitude of local heroes. The 2010 program will launch soon, providing more opportunities for charity and community programs to be recognized for doing good.