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Butler native donates time, energy for cancer patients year-round

Butler native Toni Grupp has spent the past 26 years organizing Butler County's Daffodil Days event for the American Cancer Society. Submitted Photo

Few people are more dedicated to the cause of raising money for cancer research, programs and services than Butler native Toni Grupp, who has organized Butler County’s annual Daffodil Days program to raise funds for the American Cancer Society for the past 26 years.

For this year’s Daffodil Days event in March, Grupp managed to sell more than $30,000 in daffodils for the cancer society. The daffodils cost $12 to $15 per bunch.

Grupp’s Daffodil Days efforts began in 1998, shortly after her mother died of cancer that January. Grupp said she was inspired to begin her cancer fundraising work after spotting a notice in the Butler Eagle of a meeting of American Cancer Society volunteers.

“I went to that first meeting, and at that meeting there was a staff partner, and she said, ‘I'm looking for somebody to help with daffodils,’” Grupp said. “And I said I might be able to do that. So I did, and I loved it. And it just continued to grow.”

The Daffodil Days fundraiser has been held in some form since 1956, when the Canadian Cancer Society sold daffodils to raise money. The brightly colored flower has become a symbol of cancer awareness, and the American Cancer Society holds a nationwide Daffodil Days campaign every March.

“The daffodil is the flower of hope,” Grupp said. “So every year, we have a Daffodil Days campaign throughout the country.”

Aside from Daffodil Days, Grupp is currently playing a key part in organizing the annual Butler County Relay for Life, to be held on June 22 at North Boundary Park in Cranberry Township.

With less than a month to go before the event, Relay for Life has raised $79,662.99 of its goal of $147,000.00. Of that amount, Grupp has raised $44,066 — the bulk of it coming from Daffodil Days.

This year, Grupp has also been charged with raising funds for the Relay by selling “luminaria” — small decorative bags with candles in them, meant to pay tribute to loved ones who are either battling cancer or have died of cancer.

“It’s a symbol of remembering and honoring cancer patients,” Grupp said. “Each bag honors a survivor or someone who has lost a battle. They’re in memory or in honor. Anyone can buy a luminaria, and we put them around the track and we light them at dusk.”

Recently, the American Cancer Society of Pennsylvania recognized Grupp’s efforts by giving her a shoutout on their Facebook page.

“I love meeting with the happy daffodil recipients, happy delivery drivers and happy volunteers who join together each year for the campaign,” Grupp said, as quoted on the American Cancer Society Facebook page. “It’s what keeps me coming back to support the American Cancer Society’s effort to end cancer as we know it, for everyone.”

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