A bench near Mill Market was painted pink and dedicated in honor of Tracy Dinelle on Saturday.
Dinelle was first diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and passed away from it on June 21, 2016.
Before her passing Dinelle, under the moniker of ‘Tracy’s Dream’, was known for making calendars and various other fundraising efforts to raise money to provide parking passes and tokens for cancer patients at the Sault Area Hospital.
Tracy’s Dream’s first calendar - a 2016 calendar that was first released in 2015 - included 13 female breast cancer survivors from the area.
The next year, after Tracy passed away, a 2017 calendar of all male cancer survivors was put out.
On Saturday, the family spoke about Tracy Dinelle, and how her fight with cancer was inspirational to them.
“She was a go-getter, boy,” said her father Jackie Particelli. “All her life, when she put her mind to something she’d do it.”
Right after beginning treatment Dinelle’s family say that she became concerned at how the cost of hospital parking was just an added expense at an already emotionally and physically exhausting time in cancer patients lives.
Dinelle was determined to help out with these costs, so she first put out collection jars at local businesses and it kept growing from there.
In the two years of fundraising since her diagnosis, she held banquet dinners, raffles, and a ‘Quack Cancer’ event in which they sold little rubber ducks at the Station Mall then released them in the YMCA swimming pool.
In 2015, before going into surgery for a double mastectomy, Dinelle publicly released photographs of herself topless with just two small puppies covering her breasts.
“She wanted to bring awareness (about) people facing surgery,” said her husband Dennis Dinelle. “She was strong and she was taking this head on without fear.
The newly dedicated bench was provided by the Lion’s Club of Sault Ste. Marie.
Tracy Dinelle’s family has had three people struck with cancer in recent years.
One year after Dinelle was diagnosed, her sister Carla Particelli was also diagnosed with breast cancer, and then the next year their father Jackie was diagnosed with pancreatic colon cancer.
Carla Particelli reports that she is doing okay now, although she still has some reconstructive surgery ahead of her. However, her father’s cancer is spreading.
“You know, I’m 76. I’ve lost one daughter and damn near the second,” said Jackie Particelli. ”I just find it unfair (for my daughters). I had a good life and I’d like to see my kids grow up all the way… I mean, when you go (to the hospital) and you see other people and young kids, and how they feel. They never had a life yet. Nobody wants to lose their kids before them.”
The bench sits underneath a tree beside the outdoor food vendor stands at the Mill Market and overlooks the St. Marys River.
To give an idea how much Tracy’s Dream raises – and they are continuing on – since December 2016 they’ve bought around $19,000 in hospital parking passes and tokens.
The calendar girls wore ‘Tracy’s Dream’ shirts on Saturday and spray painted the bench pink with butterflies while Dennis Dinella attached a plaque with a message Tracy Dinelle printed in the 2016 calendar:
“Every day love and cherish each other and do something nice for someone each day. Life is short, love each other and smile for this will make my journey a happy one, Love Tracy."