EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In advance of International Women’s Month, Nexstar Media is honoring the Remarkable Women in our lives and their contributions to the community.
People across the country submitted nominations and out of the dozens of local nominees, four finalists have been chosen.
Remarkable Women: Full list of local nominees »
Our second finalist is Aimee Mandeville, who’s spent the last several years raising awareness as well as nearly a million dollars for research of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare form of brain cancer that tragically claimed her son’s life.
Several people wrote in to nominate Aimee, praising her for her courage, leadership and hard work. Here’s what some had to say about her:
“Aimee has shown unwavering commitment to her cause and the community, partnering with other organizations that seek to help families with similar experiences, spreading the word regarding the need for research.”
“I can’t underscore how important Aimee’s networking with other families is in helping them through their most difficult times. She is a pillar of strength to her family, to all women, and our entire community.”
“She is not only a leader but a model for what all people should be. Her bravery during this time is inspiring. She truly is a champion and hero. Aimee is a remarkable woman.”
Read the full submissions below.
“Aimee Mandeville lost her 11-year-old son Evan to Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an inoperable brain tumor that primarily attacks children, on November 13, 2012, exactly one year after Evan’s diagnosis. She and her husband nursed Evan through doctor’s visits, radiation, chemotherapy and clinical trials. She watched Evan lose his mobility and speech. She watched while raising three other children.
After Evan’s passing, Aimee started a team to ride in the PMC (Pan-Mass Challenge). She has captained this team and championed Evan’s cause for 7 years now. Her team of half a dozen cyclists in 2013 raised over $80,000. As of 2019, her team is 22 riders and they have raised over $968,000! Aimee is doing everything she can to both preserve Evan’s memory and help prevent another child, another family, from experiencing the horror of DIPG. She is determined that The Evan T. Mandeville DIPG Research Fund, that she started and runs, will pay for a cure in her lifetime.
Leading this PMC team, that is aptly named Evan’s Crew, is a yearlong effort. The 2 day cycling event takes place annually in August, (the PMC generates more than 55 percent of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue and it is Dana-Farber’s single largest contributor) however, the planning, promotion and fundraising for Evan’s Crew require a full time commitment. Training for the 161 mile, 2 day ride is the easy part. The work comes in the form of communication, promotion and fundraising; building and nurturing relationships with supporters.
Aimee built (& maintains) a beautiful website at evanscrew.org that gives a thorough history of her efforts and speaks to the progress made by the research fund. Evan’s Crew also has a presence on multiple social media platforms.
Aimee mentored my son, Riley, in 2019 as he completed his Senior Project on DIPG. Evan was four days older than Riley and my family has had a lifelong relationship with the Mandeville family, the boys had a special kinship. Aimee was an inspirational support to Riley during this lengthy project sharing her experience and tireless passion.
Aimee hosts or sponsors multiple fundraising events annually for Evan’s Crew. She supports the fundraising efforts of her entire 22 person team as each rider commits to daunting personal fundraising obligations to participate in the PMC.
The most remarkable part of Aimee’s story is that she is an introvert. She avoids the limelight and chooses to let others be the center of attention. Aimee has overcome her shyness and quiet tendencies to step out in front for this cause preserving her son’s memory and pursuing defeat of DIPG.
Aimee epitomizes leadership. She is the embodiment of ‘Remarkable Women.’ Her courage both while Evan was sick and since he has passed, has provided a comfort to her family and friends, a comfort to herself and, with her steadfast determination, has the potential of providing a comfort to countless children and families in the future.”
“Aimee is the fearless leader and co-captain of our Pan Mass Challenge (a 160 mile, 2 day ride across Massachusetts that donates all of its proceeds to Dana Farber Cancer Institute – DFCI) team. When Aimee lost her son in 2012 to brain cancer, she was not going to let that stop her and her family from celebrating his life. Inspired by the work of DFCI, Aimee formed a PMC team with the sole purpose of creating a research fund in her son’s name to better understand and hopefully one day cure Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). Starting with a handful of members in 2013, the team raised $80,000. Fast forward to 2019, the team of 24 riders raised $180,000 and just shy of $1.0 million total raised in 7 years. Aimee has shown unwavering commitment to her cause and the community, partnering with other organizations that seek to help families with similar experiences, spreading the word regarding the need for research.
A true leader, compassionate mom and someone I am humbled to call a friend and most deserving of the Remarkable Woman award.”
“There is no question that Aimee Mandeville is that ‘Remarkable Woman’ in our Rhode Island community. Each member of our 14-rider, Rhode Island-based, Pan Mass Challenge (PMC) fundraising bike team ‘Team Evan’s Crew,’ instantly, independently, and without question thought of our team captain, Aimee, as we read the call for nominations email earlier this month. This set off a flurry of excitement about the prospect of having her recognized for her outstanding achievements, leadership for her family, and outstanding contributions to our community.
With the passing of their son Evan at age 11 from diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a rare form of brain stem cancer in 2012, Aimee and her husband Tim, looking for a path forward, established the Evan T. Mandeville DIPG Research Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Under Aimee’s unwavering leadership, she has built a movement supported by hundreds of contributors and volunteers that hold events year-round having helped raise nearly $1 million in 7 years. One hundred percent of those donations are invested in a 7-member neuro-oncology research team at Dana Farber to investigate innovative and leading edge approaches into understanding how to defeat DIPG using gene discovery, chemical biology, modeling, immunotherapy and alternatives to medically invasive forms of diagnosis and tracking.
And her community impact doesn’t stop there. Aimee is extremely savvy at leveraging websites and social media platforms and uses her skills to promote awareness of DIPG, organize community events and promote fundraising. Through these channels, she also is very much in contact, providing support and resources to other families who are being impacted by DIPG. I can’t underscore how important Aimee’s networking with other families is in helping them through their most difficult times.
This in itself is an amazing achievement and coordinating an initiative at this scale is a massive undertaking by Aimee and her entire family and through her leadership they rally behind her 100 percent. Aimee’s courage and determination is evident in her commitment to her day job where she has inspired a research laboratory at the University of Rhode Island where she works tirelessly to transfer geospatial data and mapping technologies to the public and private institutions and individuals throughout Rhode Island. As an educator, her teaching and instruction has influenced so many students, individuals and organizations and has had an impact on how we can make better and more informed decisions on how to more effectively and efficiently use our natural resources within our state.
Aimee is also very involved in her local town government having served a very impactful term on the town conservation commission, where she sees the benefit of contributing to the quality of life in her community.
How appropriate and fitting that Aimee be selected to represent ‘Remarkable Women’ in our community. She is a pillar of strength to her family, to all women, and our entire community. I would be happy to provide further evidence or answer any questions in support of Aimee’s nomination. Thank you for your consideration.”
November 13, 2011, Aimee and Tim’s world would never be the same. Their son Evan was diagnosed with a inoperable incurable brain tumor DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma). During the following 12 months, Aimee showed her love, strength and courage as she began to navigate the healthcare system and what treatments were available for Evan to possibly live longer and maybe a cure, along with raising her other 3 children (Josh, Emelie and Julia). This meant driving to Providence, Boston and New York hospitals and juggling baseball, gymnastics, dance and family time while trying to keep life NORMAL. Evan lost his cancer battle on November 13, 2012. He was 11 years old. Beyond this tragedy, Aimee has been the team leader of Evan’s Crew to raise money for DIPG. She established the Evan T. Mandeville DIPG Research Fund at Dana Farber Cancer Institute to find a cure for this awful disease. In the last 7 years, Evan’s Crew has raised just under $1 million and well on the way to hit the $1 million mark in 2020. In August 2020, Evan’s Crew under Aimee’s guidance and leadership will ride the Pan Mass Challenge for the 8th year to raise this money. She is not only the team leader but, has been the champion for the cause. Most people would slip into depression or despair but, Aimee has converted this catastrophe into a mission to make change. She is not only a leader but a model for what all people should be. Her bravery during this time is inspiring. She truly is a champion and hero. Aimee is a remarkable woman.
“I would like to nominate my wife, Aimee Mandeville, as the MOST Remarkable Woman.
On November 13, 2011, our son, Evan Mandeville, was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an incurable brainstem tumor. Exactly one year later, Evan passed away at the age of eleven.
This diagnosis and outcome was obviously devastating to Aimee and me as well as our son Joshua and our daughters Emelie and Julia. What Aimee did to hold the family together was truly remarkable. Continuing with family traditions. Making new traditions to honor Evan. Continuing to be as strong for our children, family and friends as she could as she quietly mourned alone, sheltering others from her sadness. After Evan’s passing, Aimee started and has been the captain of “Team Evan’s Crew” for seven years. Evan’s Crew rides in the annual Pan Mass Challenge (PMC), a two-day bicycle ride from Wellesley, MA, to Provincetown, MA. Since the founding of Evan’s Crew in 2013, Evan’s Crew has raised over $960,000 which goes directly to the Evan T. Mandeville DIPG Research Fund at Dana Farber’s Boston’s Children Hospital (The Jimmy Fund). These funds are used by Dana Farber to conduct research for DIPG as well provide clinical treatments. These funds have been used for several new studies since Aimee started this campaign.
In addition to Aimee’s fulltime job at the University of Rhode Island as an Environmental Scientist and leading Evan’s Crew, she also volunteered and served a term on the Town of North Smithfield’s Conservation Commission. In this role she helped give guidance to town planners on best land use practices as well as attain grants for open space bonds.
Aimee is a remarkable friend, mother, wife and person. She didn’t deserve what happened to her with Evan’s death but instead of dwelling on the situation, she has helped and will continue to help others through their own grief as well as continuing to find a cure for DIPG so no parent ever should hear, ‘I’m sorry, we don’t have a treatment.'”
Every Tuesday morning until March 3, Eyewitness News This Morning and The Rhode Show will be joined live by one of our local finalists before a winner is announced on Friday, March 6.