Alumna Forms Nonprofit to Fight Cancer

Jackki Kennedy, a 1987 Wilmington College alumna, is a fighter. Want proof? She has survived five bouts of cancer. 

From left: As’ia Darring, Sharon Banks, Chantille Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Taleah Kennedy, Byron Alston, Jolene Penn

Unfortunately, her sister, Michelle Denise Penn, was not so fortunate. She died in 2007 at 27. A year later, Kennedy started the MDP Cancer Fund, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, in memory of her sister. She formed a seven-member board of directors, including Asi’a Darring, a 2008 WilmU alumna, and they have molded the Wilmington organization into a powerful educational and fundraising tool in the battle against cancer.

Says Kennedy, a resident of New Castle, Delaware: “Our mission is to create awareness of, educate on, and provide emotional and financial support to those impacted by breast cancer and other cancers primarily affecting women. Those cancers are breast, lung, colorectal and the gynecological cancers.”

The group raises funds largely through two events: The Kennedy Black and White Ball and the Springtime Splendor Luncheon and Fashion Show.

Now in its 10th year, the Black and White Ball is held each November, usually at Harry’s Savoy Ballroom in North Wilmington. It’s a black-tie affair with dinner, dancing, silent auction and program. Last year’s special guests included Miss USA 2016 Deshauna Barber.

The Springtime Splendor Luncheon and Fashion Show started three years ago. It’s held in April or May at Deerfield Golf & Country Club in Newark, Delaware. Along with a fashion show, it features vendors selling jewelry, household and kitchen items and clothing. Last year, Banana Republic, Joseph A Banks and an independent designer donated clothing for the fashion show. WU