Bringing Hope Home
Our story begins on a fall day in 1983. During Paul Isenberg’s senior year at West Chester University, he met the love of his life, Nicole Makowski. Paul and Nicole dated for a few years and got married in 1991. They had their first child, Christopher, in 1995 and shortly after, Nicole became pregnant with their second child, Gabrielle.
During her pregnancy with Gabby, Nicole noticed that she wasn’t feeling well. She decided to go to the doctor to see what was going on. At her appointment, Nicole heard three words that changed her family’s life forever: you have cancer . While she was 9 months pregnant, at the age of 32, Nicole was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Soon after her diagnosis, Nicole gave birth to a healthy baby girl and immediately started intense chemotherapy. The Isenbergs were faced with a whole new set of challenges, including caring for Nicole and making sure she was getting the best treatment, raising a newborn and a toddler, and the everyday tasks of getting the kids off to school, packing lunches, cleaning the house, and going grocery shopping, all while making sure the bills were somehow paid. Even though this was an extremely difficult time, the Isenbergs were astonished by the love and support they were shown by family, friends, and strangers alike. They felt so blessed to have such a great support system in their lives.
Over the years, Paul would often run into old friends and say things like, “I ran into Timmy, what a great guy. I just saw Mike, what a great guy.” Nicole finally suggested that Paul get all of his “great guys” together for a dinner to reconnect with loved ones, thank them for their support, and raise some money in the process. The first “Great Guys Dinner” took place in 2001, gathered 100 guys and raised $13,000 that was donated to various cancer charities. Even in their time of need, the Isenbergs did not keep any of the money from the Great Guys Dinner for themselves. They knew that there were other people out there who needed the money more than they did.
The annual Great Guys Dinner continued and became more and more successful, while Nicole was still fighting for her life. She endured 6 years of intense chemotherapy and 2 bone marrow transplants. Nicole’s fight ended in 2003 at the young age of 39. Even after losing the love of his life, Paul still needed to be strong for his kids, who would grow up without their mother.
After Nicole was gone, The Great Guys Dinner continued. Along the way, Paul realized that there was an unmet need in the community that needed to be addressed. He wanted to do more. That is when Paul and Tim Sherry decided to start the Great Guys Group in order to truly impact local families battling cancer.
Great Guys Group officially incorporated in 2008. It has been the organization’s goal to bring hope home to families battling cancer in our community through emotional and financial assistance by paying bills for families during their tough time. Since 2008, our organization has helped over 900 local families battling cancer!
Our story is constantly evolving. We are pleased to announce that as of May 2012, we officially changed our name from Great Guys Group to Bringing Hope Home. This new and exciting chapter of our story represents how far we have come and how we have evolved as an organization. Bringing Hope Home is what we do, it is who we are, and hope is what we bring to families in the area battling cancer. As time goes by, Bringing Hope Home will continue to be a tribute to Nicole Isenberg as well as a resource for our families in their time of need.