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WYWL's Support Aided Sochol

Charity, they say, begins at home. There is no greater example of that than with the Westport Young Woman’s League, which helped member Lori Sochol in her fight against breast cancer last year.

Sochol, a WYWL member and the chairperson for Sunday’s 5K/10K Minute Man Race, learned she was sick about two weeks before last year’s races. Sochol is not one to get flustered easily. News that she had cancer, however, jolted her. “It was,’’ Sochol says, “a real shock.”

Fortunately, the members of the WYWL, and neighbor Laurie Gendell, had her back. They made sure the races went off as planned. Over 1,300 runners competed in the race. Few people outside of Sochol’s circle and the WYWL knew her diagnosis. The women of the WYWL did what any good organization would do: they helped one of their own.

“They brought me dinners every night,’’ says Sochol, who said her husband, David, also provided unwavering support. “These women really helped. It was amazing. For several weeks, I knew I had someone to turn to.”  The support surprised Sochol, who had moved from Baltimore only a few years earlier. There’s no calculating how much the help of the WYWL and the Westport community aided Sochol in her recovery. “From an emotional standpoint, it was tremendously helpful,’’ Sochol says. “There were people who I barely knew who were so incredibly supportive.  I knew when we moved here it was a great town. I didn’t realize how wonderful the area was until I got sick.”

The WYWL is most recognizable for its charitable endeavors. The organization, which was formed in 1956, has given away over $4 million to charities over the years. Its only fund-raisers are the races and CraftWestport, which occurs in November.  But as the situation with Sochol showed, there’s more to the WYWL than races and crafts and charities. It’s about sticking together as a community and as friends, even in difficult times.  That benefit doesn’t always get a lot of attention, but it is the true measure of friendship.

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