From a Child’s Heart
Like so many organizations fighting deadly disease, the impetus to establish ECAN began with profound grief and frustration. In 2007, John “Monte” Mordecai was diagnosed with stage III Esophageal Cancer. While Monte and his Johns Hopkins physicians waged a brave battle that included every treatment modality available, his elder daughter wanted to fight his disease as well. A 12-year-old dancer at the time, Mara Mordecai decided she wanted more people to understand that something as common as heartburn could lead to something as deadly as her father’s disease. From that desire, an event and non-profit corporation known as Dance for the Cure was born.
Sadly, Mara’s father did not live to see his daughter’s efforts come to fruition. Monte died in March of 2008 and the first Dance for the Cure was held just weeks later, on June 1, 2008. The event raised more than $20,000 and through media outreach and public education efforts, Dance for the Cure began to raise awareness about Esophageal Cancer in the mid-Atlantic region. A second annual event in 2009 achieved similar goals.
Waging a New Battle
Monte’s widow, Mindy Mintz Mordecai, and the impressive array of dedicated professionals she recruited to serve on the Board of Directors of this new non-profit organization were well aware that much change was necessary to prevent more families from experiencing the devastation Esophageal Cancer caused the Mordecais. With that conviction, the Board voted in June of 2009 to change the name of the organization to reflect its broader mission, and ECAN, the Esophageal Cancer Action Network was born.