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by Kevin Coupe

I didn't know Brittany Burns. But I wish I had.

Brittany's step-mother is Cathy Burns, the president of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), who is one of the best people I've ever known in the retailing business. Her dad is Ty Burns, who I've had the chance to meet a couple of times, and who I like a lot.

Brittany Burns has been in the news a bit this week. At 26, she lost a three-month battle with a rare form of ovarian cancer, and passed away on Tuesday. It perhaps got more attention than it might have ordinarily because she was engaged to Tony Steward, the Buffalo Bills linebacker.

But that connection to fame - which seems utterly meaningless when tragedy reminds us of what is really important - is less significant than what Brittany and her fiancee did when they got the diagnosis. Together they created something called "Britt & Tony's Fight Like A Girl Campaign," which is described as an effort "to help other women facing similar hardship."

In the online stories that I've read about Britt, she sounds like an amazing person. A fighter, who could only be defeated by a disease so insidious.

That ability to look beyond one's own personal tragedy and turn it into something positive that can help other, less privileged people, strikes me as incredibly special. It shows what the best among us are capable of, even in moments of extraordinary stress. Grace under pressure, I think they'd call it.

I am impressed. I am humbled.

And I would refer you to the crowdfunding page that accepting donations to the Fight Like A Girl campaign, which is just the first step toward building a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to helping other women who are battling ovarian cancer.   You can check it out here.

I wish I'd had the opportunity to meet Britt, and my heart goes out to her family and friends. Her life, however tragically brief, opens our eyes to what is possible when we stay in touch with what a wise man once called "the better angels of our nature."

Rest in peace.
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