Sweeney Dealerships Donate $14,800 to Abdu Center

BOARDMAN, Ohio – On a Sunday in August, thousands of runners and walkers would normally take a stroll through Youngstown wearing brightly colored shirts in the Panerathon. This year’s event, however, was held as a virtual race due to COVID-19.

With the fundraising event in support of the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center bringing in far less than a normal year, the staff at Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC decided to raise money for the center. On Friday morning, the dealership gave the Abdu Center a check for $14,800.

The donation will go to Joanie’s Promise, which ensures that all women can access mammograms and diagnostics regardless of their ability to pay. 

“We know that by diagnosing breast cancer early, we have the best outcomes and the best results,” said Paul Homick, president of the Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley.

The dealership has long been an active supporter of the Abdu Center and the Panerathon. This year, Sweeney Chevrolet and Sweeney Buick GMC, decided to donate $50 to the Abdu Center for every new vehicle sold during October.

“I grew up in this community. I’m the fourth generation to work here,” said Alexa Sweeney Blackann, president of the dealerships. “We take our community really seriously. This kind of donation doesn’t happen without community support.”

The Sweeney dealership began putting the plan together in August. The staff got on board with the idea, leading to a goal of matching its annual donation made through Panerathon.

“We were able to succeed with that goal,” Sweeney Blackann said. “We reached out to the Mercy Health Foundation in particular to ask them, ‘What do you think about this? You think we can make this work?’ They got excited, and any time you get a partner like that that’s willing to help you promote this message, that’s what makes it work.”

According to Homick, the number of patients coming to the breast care center for testing dropped during the shutdown. At the time, the state prohibited any unnecessary medical evaluations or procedures.

“We are in need of support so that we can continue to offer the highest quality services and to ensure that everyone who needs the services of the Abdu Center will get them, regardless of their ability to pay,” Homick said.

Although he couldn’t provide a solid number, Homick said the center took a financial hit due to the pandemic The Panerathon usually raises over $500,000 annually, he noted. 

The Mercy Health Foundation reached out to donors and other local businesses that participate in the Panerathon to help alleviate the monetary stress.

“We are at a deficit now and trying to find ways and opportunities to raise that funding,” Homick said.

Pictured: Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC president Alexa Sweeney Blackann and executive manager/partner Derek Snyder present a check to Paul Homick, executive director of the Mercy Health Foundation-Youngstown.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.