She taught me that I could be anything I wanted to be. As a child, I decided that elevator, giraffe, and rollercoaster were my top choices. While I never became a long-necked animal or moving machinery, I have carried her spirit with me through all the choices I've made in my life. I believe in miracles. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in Santa Claus. And I believe that if you want something enough through goodness in your heart, you can make it happen. My Mom was never like other moms, and we are so blessed that this is true.
Dreamer, motivator, inspirer, lover. For those who have ever been so fortunate to meet her, you know your life would not have been the same without her. For nearly 30 years, Linda has given of herself through theatre and teaching. For the last 12 years, she has served tirelessly and enthusiastically as Youth Education Director for Raleigh Little Theatre. Nearly two years ago, on December 30th, 2014, Linda was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Despite all odds, Linda refused to let her diagnosis be a death sentence. After taking only 6 weeks off from work to recover from an intensive Whipple surgery, she returned to work at RLT and continued to inspire the creative minds of children and bring the love of theatre to those who could not afford classes through outreach and scholarship programs. She was declared cancer-free 1 year from her date of diagnosis.
Linda has given her life and heart to RLT these last 12 years. But just over a month ago the dream came to an end when RLT decided to end her 12 year tenure, essentially stripping her of her hopes and dreams and leaving her helpless to find other work or even afford to relocate to be with her family.
Linda survived pancreatic cancer because she needed to be strong for her students, her children, grandchildren, and husband. She lives her life to serve others and has sacrificed material fortune in order to fill her heart with the joy of helping others. Now she needs your help. Her final living dream is to move back to the DC area to be with her children and grandchildren and finally retire. Pancreatic cancer stripped most of her savings and while her children are doing everything they can to help, the financial burden is just too high for us to handle on our own. If your life has been touched by Linda, if you are a better person because of having had her in her life, please consider making a donation to help make her final dream come true.
I want to thank everyone who has supported and stood by my mom all these years. She has some amazing friends, students, and coworkers who truly love her and have been there when we could not. You are all in my prayers.
Lastly, I wanted to share Linda's description of herself from January 2015 when she first learned she had pancreatic cancer:
My name is Linda O’Day Young.
My legal name is Linda Theresa Young.
I was born in Washington, Dc and was given the name Linda Theresa Garner. I am the 3rd child of 5.
With confirmation my name grew to Linda Theresa Cecilia Garner.
I attended St. Francis de Sales in DC from k to 5th grade.
St. Jerome’s , Hyattsville, Md grade 6-8.
Regina High School, Adelphi, Md
University of Maryland, College Park.
With marriage, I became Linda Theresa Gipe.
With divorce after 8 years, I took the name O’Day. It represnted the me I needed to rediscover. In my marriage, I had lost myself or allowed myself to be lost.
O’Day is an old family name which was changed to Day by my Irish ancestors, who were eager to fit in and be accepted in America. I only cared about accepting and embracing my true self.
I decided to restore the name to its Irish roots and use it as a foundation on which to discover and build my sense of who I was.
Upon my second marriage I became Linda O’Day Young. I happily now know who I am.
My best qualities are my undaunted ability to dream, to believe and to be amazed. I also remember what its like to be a child.
I am Life Companion, Mother, Grandmother, Sister and Friend.
I am the Youth Theatre and Education Director at Raleigh Little Theatre.
I am Teacher, Director, Actor, Writer, Poet, Curriculum Designer, Advocate for the Arts and a tough chick when I need to be.
I am liberal in my views and passionate about my work in theatre.
I think in images, not words.
I follow my heart in making decisions.
I love Honesty, Vulnerability, Generosity, Openness, Positive Energy, Social Justice and Sincere straight on chest to chest Hugs.
I despise dishonesty, big egos, injustice, greed, entitlement, discrimination, bullying and phoney side hugs.
I am a Lover and a Fighter.
I am Linda O’Day Young.
I have cancer.
Cancer DOES NOT have me.
Photo by Curtis Brown Photography.