Event celebrates life, battle against cancer

MARQUETTE – The life of cancer warrior Amy Dale Graves will be celebrated Oct. 26 in Munising.

That’s when the Eric R. Beverly Family Foundation’s Annual Celebration of Life will take place.

The event – established by Munising native Danielle Tiernan Beverly and her husband, former NFL player Eric Beverly, who now live in Georgia – serves to raise breast cancer awareness and to raise funds for families in Alger County battling cancer.

This year, the organization is paying special tribute to Graves, who died June 20 at just 43 years of age after a 10-year battle with breast cancer. She was a dedicated volunteer for the Beverly Family Foundation.

“Amy was a tremendous support to our efforts to make a positive difference in the fight against breast cancer in Alger County,” Danielle said. “She fought her own battle with incredible courage, faith, and a great sense of humor. Her spirit continues to inspire our work and we are honored to celebrate her in this way.

“She was a dear friend not just to me and Eric, but the entire community. She was very passionate about our foundation and a major contributor to the success of the luncheon.”

The luncheon’s proceeds support the foundation’s Alger County Chemotherapy and Mammography Program Fund which provides individual grants for treatment related expenses and:

– an Awareness Campaign designed to educate about the life-and-death importance of early detection for surviving breast cancer;

– an Angel Closet at Munising Memorial Hospital to provide scarves and other items to help ease the difficulties of hair loss and other chemotherapy-related discomforts;

– a Caring and Sharing mentor program to provide a network of information and support for newly diagnosed men and women.

“In addition to the grants we’ve awarded to help our neighbors with treatment-related expenses, we joyfully contributed $10,000 to help Munising Memorial purchase imaging equipment in 2011,” Danielle said. “We were proud to help make breast care more accessible and convenient for Alger County residents. This would not have been possible without (people’s) generosity and support.”

The foundation itself was started because Danielle Beverly herself is a cancer survivor, having fought the disease three times in her 39 years of life.

A star athlete in high school, Danielle went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Grand Valley State University. Then she earned a master’s degree in sports administration from Wayne State University, with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.

After working first at the University of Michigan and then at Chrysler Financial, Danielle worked on earning her teaching certificate and began coaching girls high school basketball.

During the early 2000s, she also met and married Eric Beverly, who at the time played for the Detroit Lions.

All was going well until she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 29 in 2003. Danielle battled the disease and won, only to have it recur in 2005, when she was 31.

The Beverlys continued on and Danielle joyfully became pregnant. Then the unthinkable occurred. At 36 weeks into the pregnancy, Danielle was diagnosed with cancer for a third time. After giving birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl named Lia, Danielle had surgery to remove the cancerous tumor and completed radiation treatment Oct. 30, 2007.

Today she is cancer-free but she and Eric continue to work devotedly to help those experiencing the cancer journey, having walked the path three times themselves.

The luncheon Oct. 26 also will honor the many breast cancer survivors in Alger County as well as their supporters. This year’s luncheon speaker will be Renee Prusi, a staff writer at The Mining Journal, who is a survivor of endometrial cancer.

For more information on the Celebration of Life or the Eric R. Beverly Family Foundation, visit