February 10, 2010 at 2:50 pm , by Sonia Harmon
Susan Rizzo Vicent is the founder and president of the Andrea Rizzo Foundation, a non-profit organization she started after her 24-year-old daughter, Andrea, was killed by a drunk driver in 2002. Andrea was a childhood cancer survivor and special education teacher who wanted to be a dance therapist, so when Susan started the foundation, she decided it should focus on helping children with cancer and special needs. The funds also support Drea’s Dream, a dance therapy program for kids in hospitals and special education classes. Susan, who is also an elementary school teacher, has been dedicated to the growth of the foundation since its start–so much that Dancing With the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba signed on to be the National Celebrity Spokesperson of the Andrea Rizzo Foundation.
What makes me a lady: I am never jealous of what others have; I’m blessed to recognize and appreciate my own rewards in life.
Favorite guilty pleasure: The beach! As an elementary school teacher there are many things I cherish about my profession; nurturing young minds and lives is an amazing job. But when the summertime comes, I’m on the beach!
Three things on my life list: 1. Finish the three books I’ve begun; a children’s book I wrote before I lost my only daughter Andréa to a drunk driver, a book she and I started about our journey as mother and daughter through cancer, and a book that reminds people how to get each other through tough times, based on my experiences with the hundreds of people who’ve helped me each and every day since my daughter’s death. 2. Create a tangible and worthy expression of gratitude that I could offer those who have helped me to go on. 3. To see Dréa’s Dream, our non-profit pediatric dance/movement therapy program (funded by The Andréa Rizzo Foundation) spread to hospitals and schools in every state.
If I could have a superpower, it would be: To eradicate cancer.
Ladies I admire: Jane Seymour, for her many artistic talents and for remaining dedicated to her children. She has lived the life of a celebrity but still lives for the truly important things in life. I also love Barbara Bush for taking life as it comes, with humor, compassion and common sense. Through a life that held many ups and downs (losing a baby to leukemia) that took her far and wide, she maintained dignity and remained a grandmother supreme to her many, many grandchildren.
Every mother I’ve sat with, or talked with, or received an email from whose child is suffering from cancer deserves to be recognized. I admire each and every one of them for doing everything humanly possible for their child, for as long as it takes. I stand with them and support them and offer them hope for today and courage for tomorrow.
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