Quadruple Your Gift This Leap Day in Honor of Isabelle “Izzy” Martin

All gifts made up to $25,000 on February 29 will go four times as far through a match by Mary Anne & Paul Fego and the TeamIzzy Foundation.

Isabelle Grace Martin, “Izzy,” was a force from the beginning.

Her grandparents Mary Anne and Paul Fego say from her early years, Izzy was their “ferocious one,” fighting for what she thought was right and always asking her family how they could help other people.

“She was a tough kid from the get-go,” Mary Anne says. “From the time she was born, she fought for what she thought was right and she never stopped trying to convince you on the whys and hows of the way things should be. She felt that everybody deserved more in life.”

When she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, at age 10, she faced it head-on, raising money for childhood cancer with the belief that “kids deserve more hope.”

“She wanted people to have hope. Her big thing was hope in all things—not just in cancer,” Mary Anne says, adding that she was diagnosed on Feb. 13, 2020.

Izzy succumbed to cancer on July 29, 2022, but her impact on the North Texas community, and the world, continues. This month, Mary Anne and Paul Fego & the TeamIzzy Foundation are honoring her legacy with a matching gift supporting the North Texas Food Bank. Every dollar given up to $25,000 on Leap Day, February 29, will be quadrupled, meaning each dollar donated will help provide access to 12 meals.

“Izzy’s platform was community,” Paul and Mary Anne say, explaining why the NTFB and its mission to close the hunger gap is one of the causes the TeamIzzy Foundation supports.

While Izzy always wanted to make a difference, her grandparents say she didn’t care if anyone noticed her work. “She would be embarrassed by some of this in some ways because Izzy liked to be the one to do things, but she didn’t need to be talked about,” Mary Anne says.

Izzy’s cancer was discovered when she broke her femur while practicing a ballet solo. Further inspection of her X-rays showed the bone was compromised and she was diagnosed on Feb. 17, 2020, with osteosarcoma.

Before she passed, Izzy helped establish the TeamIzzy Foundation, along with the help of her parents, Christine and David Martin, and her family, including her grandparents and three siblings. Since her death, the foundation has worked to make an impact on the community and to support other children and families dealing with childhood cancer. In addition to raising and donating money, the foundation has organized volunteer efforts, including at the North Texas Food Bank, and it is working to spread the word about “going gold” each September in recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Their hope one day is that September is as synonymous with gold as October is with pink for breast cancer awareness.

Izzy’s mom Christine wrote on a blog she keeps about Izzy that, “Her absence forces us to speak up where she no longer can; to carry on where she cannot; and relentlessly fight for a better outcome and easier days than what she had to endure.”

Prior to her diagnosis and during her cancer treatments, Izzy found joy in putting together care packages for the Austin Street Center, which serves individuals experiencing homelessness. And when her grandparents visited New York City each year, Izzy insisted they bring similar care packages and also travel equipped with $5 McDonald’s gift cards to give to individuals without housing so they could go inside and warm up with a cup of coffee.

Mary Anne, Paul and Izzy’s parents long wondered what God had planned for their daughter and granddaughter who had such a giving and forceful spirit. They still wonder that, Mary Anne says, but they can also see that she’s doing a lot for the world right now.

Wrote Christine in a post about Izzy’s birthday, February 7, “I find it kind of funny that God gets to celebrate you becoming a teenager. You would have loved using that as an excuse for everything. ‘I am a teenager, mom, that’s just what I do.’ I could hear you saying it now, with a huge smile. I miss you. I also find it funny that February, for the most part, does not have a 29 day … and therefore, we do not get to ‘technically grieve you this month … only celebrate you … over and over, always … unless it’s a leap year.”