Remembering Abby with The OFA Foundation

Orange For Abby was created for Abby Jacknowitz in August of 2012. Abby Jacknowitz was a health-conscious 29-year-old woman who was a Special Education teacher for the NYC Board Department of Education. She spent her years growing up in Great Neck NY attending and graduating from Portledge School. She went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude from Simmons College in Boston, and received the same honor with her Masters’ from Hunter College in NYC. Her degrees are both in the areas of Education, Special Education, and Fine Art.

Abby was a hard working, and dedicated individual whose focus in life was helping improve the lives of children. She wanted to make changes in the way children learned so that they could understand what they were being taught instead of trying to just memorize facts. She used many different avenues to teach children, creating lesson plans that were distinctive to each child’s needs. She had been working on creating a curriculum for reading and math that would suit the needs of many types of learning whether it was mainstream classroom or a disabled classroom. Abby’s love for teaching was clear in each lesson she wrote, and each student she had the chance to teach.

Abby was quite an athletic woman. Her range of athleticism went from soccer and lacrosse to yoga and kayaking. She would put her mind and heart into each thing she wanted to learn how to be good at, and master it. Artwork was another passion of hers. She would see things being made, and be inspired to create something of her own. She loved photographing things she felt were beautiful whether it be a person, animal, rock, plant, skyline, or landscape. She was pervasively creative, and her imagination let her run wild, the best expression of which was her artwork.

Abby always put her family and friends first. Her love for her parents was tremendous. She was the “apple” of their eyes, and they were the light in her life.

Abby was a true “Daddy’s Girl” and adored her father’s humor and sweet heart. On any given afternoon Abby could be seen talking on her cell phone with her mother for hours at a time. Her best friends Stephanie, Max, and Anouchka always knew how important they were to her despite distance or time. She was proud to call each of them her best friend, and lucky to have them stand by her side through thick and thin. She was kind, caring, compassionate, unique and sincere. She would do anything to make people happy, often selflessly asking for nothing in return.

Abby spent almost 7 years with her partner and wife, Rachel. Together they created a small family of two dogs Oliver and Madison. Abby chose Madison knowing that she was a very sick puppy, but all she wanted to do was nurse her back to good health. With much love and nurturing, Abby’s mothering skills made Madison have a healthy life. When New York passed the law the allow same-sex partners the right to marry, Abby and Rachel planned their wedding. On May 27th, 2012 they married. Following their wedding, they honeymooned in Hawaii for almost a month when Abby really began to feel ill. Upon their return to New York, Abby was diagnosed in the beginning of August with a rare form of cancer. Abby had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Unknown Primary Source Cancer that had become metastatic to her Liver. The prognosis was not good, but Abby immediately lifted her focus from that. Abby instead focused on getting better and going back to teach her students. She intended on traveling the world, expanding her family with Rachel, and dedicating her life helping others. She had big plans. She was strong, and brave and she battled this illness with grace and dignity. Abby’s only goal was to get better, and move on.

Unfortunately after 5 months of good progress and the cancer showing signs of shrinking, her body could not fight the battle as hard anymore. She bravely continued her fight with the unconditional love and support of her wife, her family, and her closest friends. Love, prayers, energy, support, and light were sent to her from all around the world. It was an orange movement if you will. People sent orange pictures, cards, presents, and so on. Donations were made to help support Abby and Rachel through this difficult time. They were able to purchase special foods, clothes, medicines, chairs, medical supplies, and pay bills for Abby.

On March 1st Abby celebrated her 30th birthday with her parents and Rachel following a chemotherapy treatment. On March 3rd over 250 people came to celebrate Abby’s 30th birthday at a benefit held at the Allegria Hotel in Long Beach NY. The Allegria Hotel is also the space where Abby and Rachel had been married. Abby was able to see so many people that loved and supported her from all walks of life. She sang camp songs, participated in some yoga moves, and hugged friends from childhood to adulthood. She felt loved, supported, and happy. She had the chance to blow out her birthday candles, and when she was asked what she wished for she answered that she could not say it out loud but one day we would all know.

One month and one day after her birthday party, Abby lost her fight to cancer. April 4th, 2013 at 12:22 am Abby passed away. She was surrounded with love.

In the days following Abby’s passing, donations and letters of support and love came pouring out from all over the place. It was clear that Abby would not be forgotten, and that her legacy would continue to live on forever. P.S. 188, where Abby taught, contacted Abby’s family right away. Abby was nominated for NYC Teacher of the Year, and within a week they were notified that both the Chancellor of NYC, and the Mayor would honor Abby. Mayor Bloomberg will honor her at Gracie Mansion on June 11th as Honorary Teacher of the Year.

Abby was a true believer that a single person could make a huge difference in the world if they just put in the effort. Abby believed in making wishes and dreams come true.

Orange For Abby will continue her life legacy to help others. We will help to support those in need of financial assistance, emotional support, advice, and guidance. Our main focus will be to help those just starting out between the ages of 18-45, but not strictly limiting others. We feel that these are the ages of when people need the most financial and emotional support to help them through an illness. Whether the person that is sick are ones self, a spouse, a child, or family dependent we want to help provide assistance. Orange For Abby will help provide funding to pay medical bills, mortgages, or any other bills that come up that need to be taken care of right away. We will provide assistance in getting medical supplies that may not be covered, clothing, food, shelter during treatments, transportation to treatment, payment for alternative treatments, hair replacements, and things to keep one occupied while having to go through treatment.

We want to provide art supplies to keep color and life alive, trips both locally and vacations for families to relax together during and after treatments if possible, access to healthy activities including yoga and meditation, and support to widows or family members that need help.

Orange For Abby has many long-term goals of being able to help people around the world, but we need help funding this to make it happen. Please support us in our journey to help others. Abby’s life on earth may be over, but her odyssey has only just begun.

Mission Statement:

Orange For Abby’s mission is to provide case specific financial and recreational support for patients and families affected by cancer.

These are inclusive of, but not limited to: medical bills, living expenses, travel expenses, supplemental insurance coverage, alternative medical treatments, recreational expenses, wig support, clothing, food, and medical supplies. We would like to purchase a vacation home to send families that are affected with cancer, or widows (family members) that deserve the chance to get away from the realities they are facing.

No Day But Today - the song







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