Fundraiser in Reno Saturday for 4 children of local mother, widow who died of cancer


"Barbara was never one that sat in a corner or was nervous about sharing her story," said Mena Spodobalski, a friend of Barbara Owens. "She knew that if she shared it, it would help somebody."

Barbara Owens, 52, was bold. The breast cancer survivor bared her scars for all to see in hopes of sharing her story and raising awareness about the cancer she beat. She even participated in the Breast Cancer 2 Bikini event. Friend and trainer Mena Spodobalski helped get her into tip-top shape.

"She was awesome when she would work out and was always questioning everything we did," said Spodobalski. "She just has a fun, spunky personality."

But this is where the story gets tough. Really tough.

Barbara Owens can't share the latest chapter of her journey. In October, she found out she had pancreatic cancer. In late November, she went on hospice. On Friday, Dec. 1, she passed away from the disease.

Her daughter Taylor Owens spoke with News 4 two days prior to her mother's death.

"This past month, we've basically lived here at Renown," said Owens. "It's just happened really fast. We haven't really had time to process this yet."

Barbara Owens was the mother of four children between the ages of 13 and 24 years old. The children have already endured the death of their father.

They were by Barbara's side as she battled breast cancer, and they spent day and night by her side as she battled pancreatic cancer.

"I just keep reminding her how much I love her and how much she's done for me," said daughter Taylor.

As Taylor and her siblings mourn, the community is stepping up to support them. A fundraiser is happening Saturday for the children at Evoke Fitness at 895 E Patriot Blvd. Suite 108 in Reno. The fundraiser is a fitness class followed by a silent auction. It's $20 to participate in the fitness class, with all proceeds from the event benefiting the children.

"I want them to know that we're rallying around them and that the people in the community care about them. And that they have a lot of friends here to do whatever they need to do for them," said Spodobalski.

Anyone can bring down Christmas Cards or presents for the children to Evoke Fitness, and Spodobalski says she wants to do what she can to help them have some sort of holiday this year.

"Let's take them a big Christmas tree," she said. "I'm sure they're not even thinking about that right now. But let's take them a big tree so they can put it in their room and tell stories about their mom."

Anyone interested in making donations to the family can do so through Umpqua Bank. Any branch can accept donations made to Barbara Owens or #TeamBarbara.

You can also find the family's GoFundMe page by clicking here.

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