Our Founder: Paula Tipton Takacs
In November 2004 Paula Takacs euphorically held her beautiful, newborn son in her arms. A mere nine days later, this new mother received the shock of her life. Paula and her doctors discovered that she had liposarcoma, a malignant soft-tissue cancer in the fat cells of her abdominal cavity. The fairy tale of motherly bliss instantly evaporated, giving way to the painful nightmare of her ensuing cancer battle. After her diagnosis, Paula had 22 pounds of tumors removed, and endured eight surgeries, more than 100 radiation treatments, and countless doses of chemotherapy. In the midst of fighting this aggressive disease and suffering greatly through its intolerable treatment protocols, Paula Takacs made a decision most people would never even contemplate. No, it was not a decision about whether she would cease treatment or continue with it. No, it wasn’t about whether she wanted to take an exotic trip from a bucket list she made, nor was it about purchasing a glistening gemstone she had coveted in a jewelry store window. Rather, Paula decided that she wanted to form a non-profit foundation to help her fellow sarcoma patients — and host a huge annual event to raise money to fund clinical research.
“I want people to think of me as a person who never gave up. Someone who lived with purpose and strove to make a difference in this world.”
In 2010, The Paula Takacs Foundation for Sarcoma Research was born, and the planning for its annual Sarcoma Stomp began at warp speed. In its first three years, these fundraisers generated an astounding $340,000. Paula was somehow able to achieve this staggering result with only a handful of volunteers and a very aggressive treatment protocol that left her extremely ill at times. Paula’s success with the Sarcoma Stomp was not defined solely by these dollar figures, but also by the connecting of families touched by this rare disease (representing less than one percent of adult cancers and fifteen percent of pediatric cancers). Dozens of teams were formed to honor or memorialize those impacted by sarcoma, and people enthusiastically joined them. Without a doubt, sarcoma families had found their voice in the Sarcoma Stomp.
“I decided that I could either sit and complain about the complete lack of funding and attention to sarcomas, or I could be part of the solution. Hands down, I consider this to be my greatest professional accomplishment. I feel as though I have not only helped give a voice to those who before had none, but we are also helping to at least extend, if not save lives. I know it has empowered me.”
The foundation and its Sarcoma Stomp have grown dramatically since Paula’s passionate vision unfolded. Although her body may have succumbed to sarcoma in 2014, her voice continues to resonate in the hearts of her family, friends, community, and the world at large.