La Salle University honored one of its own, Marci Schankweiler, on November 19, 2010, with its Signum Fidei Award, which recognizes civic and charitable works. Schankweiler founded Crossing the Finish Line, which sends young cancer patients and families on all-expenses paid respite vacations. At La Salle, she became serious with her future husband, Pete Bossow. A few years later, Bossow was diagnosed with cancer. Friends and family raised funds to send them on a two-week vacation to get away from it all.
Soon after their trip to the Caribbean, Bossow suggested starting a nonprofit organization that would provide young cancer patients like him a break from cancer and the chance to make memories for a lifetime. He came up with the name Crossing the Finish Line, and Schankweiler developed the plan to get it running. When Bossow died seven months later, Schankweiler left her job as a tax attorney to make the dream of Crossing the Finish Line a reality. In 10 years, the organization has benefited more than 850 cancer patients and 3,000 caregivers.
“I returned to work for two weeks after Pete died and then left my job after realizing that the field of tax work was not relevant at that time in my life,” said Schankweiler, who graduated from La Salle in 1990. “I then jumped in and spent about six months preparing our case for support. For the first two years, I did not get paid but rather devoted my time and energy to get the charity off the ground. Truthfully, this was a labor of love to help me heal and make some sense to the tragedy that unfolded in my own life.”
Contributions to Crossing the Finish Line have ranged from monetary gifts to use of vacation homes. Schankweiler isn’t surprised by the generosity of people helping people.
“Cancer is a disease that is widespread in our society. Each one of us has been impacted by the disease, and many have lost loved ones,” she said. “Further, our mission is unique as we simply provide the gift of respite time to refresh, reconnect, and rejuvenate. The impact of our mission also is so visible – one can witness firsthand the benefits of respite in the smiles of those we have served.”
The award derives its name from the motto of the Christian Brothers, “Sign of Faith.” It is presented by the Alumni Association each year to an individual who has made “most noteworthy contributions to the advancement of humanitarian principles in keeping with Christian-Judeo traditions.
“Signum Fidei—an award that honors those demonstrating a significant faith in bettering the lives of others—could not be presented to a better person in 2010 than Marci Schankweiler,” said Meg Kane, President of La Salle’s Alumni Association. “As a 1990 graduate of La Salle, she has not only remained faithful to this University but in overcoming the death of her first husband, Peter Bossow—also Class of 1990—she has transformed her life and the lives of 800 cancer patients in just a decade with her founding of Crossing the Finish Line. Her faith in herself, her community, and in God has helped her to not simply overcome her own adversity but also to use that as a driving force for change. She is, undoubtedly, a sign of faith in all she does and the La Salle University Alumni Association is privileged and proud to present her with this well-deserved honor.”
It was at La Salle that Bossow and Schankweiler became serious, so receiving the award means a great deal to her.
“You are the history that shapes you, and part of who I am today is from the experiences and relationships I established at La Salle,” she said. “Further, when you confront tragedy, your support group rallies around you and many from my support group are those friends and family that share the La Salle alma mater.”
Click here for a press release about Marci being honored at this year’s MLB All Star Game.