The Lorraine Train

Lorraine Jacobs was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2017 and it didn’t take her daughter, Jacqueline, very long to see how alienated and alone her mom was feeling. She wanted to do something, anything, to let Lorraine know that she was not alone. That there were so many people who love and support her. “I really only did this because I saw how hard it was on her and I wanted her to have something concrete that showed her how much people cared,” said Jacqueline. “And something tangible, because I think it’s harder in those moments when you’re going through something difficult to remember you’re loved.”

That’s where the Susan G. Komen® Houston Race for the Cure comes in. Initially, Jacqueline’s plan was just to get a group of people together and walk the Race. That all changed once the Race was postponed due to Hurricane Harvey.

Jacqueline decided to start a team, the Lorraine Train, but she didn’t want to tell her mom just yet. She started out by emailing about 200 friends and family and kept that up once a week from October through January, reminding people to donate and/or join the team.

I think just this idea that people can feel so alone in their diagnosis of any kind of cancer, I think breast cancer is unique because there is this community that is built and I think my mom was able to connect with so many people. It was just so overwhelming how much support there was.

As the holidays approached, Jacqueline knew that it was time to tell her mom and she devised a plan to surprise her on Christmas Eve. “The night we were going to tell her, I had been driving around all day…My cousin Kristin wanted to do this huge event and was like we have to go to the store and get these wigs and do this and do this and we were driving around all day. And my mom was like ‘you haven’t seen me all day long and it’s Christmas and I have cancer’ and I was like I know!”

But she kept her secret through dinner that night. Lorraine had made a big deal earlier about how she didn’t want anyone’s phones out during dinner and no one could take pictures tonight, because she just wanted everyone to live in the moment. Jacqueline relented, knowing that the edict would not last.

Once everyone was there and dinner was winding down, Jaqueline broke the news to Lorraine that they had created the Lorraine Train as a way to participate in the Race for the Cure and honor Lorraine, who was so moved that she started to cry. That’s when Jacqueline dropped bombshell number two – they had already raised $8,000.

“It took off way bigger than we ever kind of thought it would. We wanted to raise $1,000,” said Jaqueline. “It was unbelievable the outpouring of love. I knew that everyone loved my mom, but it was unbelievable to see the outpouring of support and the amount of people that she means so much to.”

Jacqueline did not set out with a fundraising goal, initially thinking it would be great if they could raise $1,000. She just wanted to show her mom she cared. But after she started emailing people, the money started rolling in. Every dollar that they raised came through individual donations. That was what was most surprising to Jaqueline. She said “You just forget…You forget how many people love you and you forget how big your community is and I think it was incredibly, incredibly special to see just how many people cared. Even for myself, on a personal note, I would post instagrams about it and things like that after we had told her and I had friends who I hadn’t spoken to in years reaching out to me and saying how they were thinking about my family and donating to the team and saying to let us know if there was anything else they could do to help.”

Lorraine ended up not being able to participate in the Race, but knowing that they would want everyone to be able to be together after the Race, a brunch was planned at the Jacobs’ house. “It was like 50 people that came to our house and all my friends drove down from New Orleans and my brother came down and it was just really special,” said Jacqueline.

“My mom had a shirt, and this team and data that she could look at…when your family is going through something difficult that you can’t do anything about, this just felt like something I could do.”

When all was said and done, the Lorraine Train had 57 team members and raised $16,561.