Heather Farr stood only five feet tall, but in many ways, she was larger than life. You could just feel her presence. Her eyes sparkled and her smile was full of life. And she had a lot to smile about. At twenty-four, Heather was a rising star on the LPGA Tour. She had the grit and determination it takes to be successful in this sport.
I still remember the day, flying home from a tournament, when Heather told me she had found a lump on her breast. I wasn't worried for her. She was a young, healthy, professional athlete. And young women don't get breast cancer. Then we got the news. Heather's lump was cancer… and it was aggressive.
"There must be some mistake", I thought. But it was no mistake. For four years, the LPGA community watched as Heather fought this disease with everything she had. She did it the same way she played golf, with a confident and positive mindset. Heather's incredible attitude and spirit during this fight is one of the most inspirational observations of my life. On November 20th, 1993, breast cancer took Heather Farr's life at the age of 28.
I remember hearing the news and thinking Heather would be watching over us. We learned so much from Heather and we needed to share that with others. As professional athletes, we have an opportunity to be heard. We could be Heather's voice and deliver her message of "caution to young women". Within months, I took up the mission to be a part of the fight against breast cancer.
I've since hosted several fundraisers to support this cause and Heather's presence is always felt. In fact, not long ago, I found a lump on my breast through a routine mammogram. I vividly remember, sitting in the lobby of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, feeling very frightened. As I waited to see the doctor, I heard a violinist, playing what I thought was such beautiful, soothing music. I was overcome as I realized that it was an angel, Heather, comforting me.
Fortunately, my results were negative and I continue in the mission. I decided to take my efforts to a higher level and created LIFE, LPGA Pros In the Fight to Eradicate Breast Cancer. In June of 2000, the first LIFE Event made history by making the largest donation from a single day golf event ($500,000). The LIFE Event has matched this one half million dollar goal every year since to fund various programs for breast cancer research and awareness.
It was important to Heather to reach the younger generation of women. In an interview, she said, "Young women, this can happen to you. It happened to me." It is our goal to make all young women aware of the importance of awareness, self-breast exams and early detection.
Thank you Heather for your courage. We will carry your message forward.