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Charity Spotlight: Waves of Grace


This week’s charity spotlight is Waves of Grace.

When Debbie Massengill was diagnosed with Stage IV gastric cancer, she was given 6 – 9 months to live. Every time Debbie finished treatment, she wanted to know when she could head back to the beach. Luckily, Debbie’s family had a house in Orange Beach, AL where they could spend time together as often as possible.

Debbie lived for over a year after her diagnosis. Jennifer Matwijec, Debbie’s daughter, attributes this to the time they spent as a family at their beach house. Jennifer said her mother always seemed refreshed and ready to face the next round of treatment after a trip to the beach.

After Debbie passed, Jennifer and her husband Mike decided to honor her by creating a way for cancer patients to enjoy an all expenses paid trip to the beach with their families. They formed a non-profit and named it Waves of Grace.

When cancer patients are undergoing treatment, navigating appointments and prescriptions, and interpreting bills, budgeting both time and money for a vacation is usually the last thing on their mind. Often times, it is exactly what they need. That’s where Waves of Grace comes in.

Waves of Grace, based in Brentwood, takes care of every single detail for a week away at the beach. They cover flights, car rental, food, and even provide a beach wheelchair if needed. To top it off, each family is granted a session with a photographer to capture the lasting memories of their time together.

It is a week away, free of dismal waiting rooms, the beeping of a machine signaling treatment, and away from the diagnosis that colors every part of their lives.

“For some, these trips have been a celebration of the last chemo, clear scans, cancer shrinking, and remission! For others, it's been the last vacation together. For those families like mine, it's a gift to see someone you love whose health is fading come fully alive,” says Jennifer, co-founder of Waves of Grace.

Waves of Grace receives a large part of its funding from Team Waves, which is a team of runners who raise money as they train and eventually run the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon and 5K in April. Running was another way that Debbie stayed strong, mentally and physically while she received treatment.

“Before she passed in July of 2012, my mom and I did the Rock n’ Roll 5K and she ran while she was hooked up to her chemo-pump. I miss doing races with her”, says Jennifer.




Many of Waves of Grace recipients and their families come from all over the United States to complete the half marathon and the 5K as part of Team Waves.

When you sign up for training and choose Waves of Grace as your charity, your training fee will go towards providing a week-long vacation for cancer patients who are undergoing treatment.

We’re proud to partner with Waves of Grace so they can so they can continue providing a week of respite and lasting memories for cancer patients and their families.


Sign up for Spring 2019 Half and Full Marathon Training and choose Waves of Grace as your charity!

Need your Christmas presents wrapped? Waves of Grace will be at our Brentwood Fleet Feet on Saturday, December 15th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm wrapping presents!

To learn more about Waves of Grace, click here.