When April DeFalco Rempfer’s father Bill developed a nagging pain in his shoulder, he – and his primary care physician – chalked it up to an occupational hazard. As a former police officer and longtime owner/operator of a major towing company, his work was often taxing to his body. Bill was ultimately given a chest x-ray which led to his shocking diagnosis: Stage 4 Non-small Cell Lung Cancer that had spread to his liver and bones. It had been twenty years since his last cigarette. His doctors told him he would likely die within the year. Bill, for his part, was not going down without a fight.
“Big Bill” as he was affectionately known, was a larger than life presence. The only thing bigger than his personality was his heart. A father of six, grandfather of eight, Bill was a champion of children. He was always the first to offer to help in any way he could. His strength of both body and character was undeniable. He endured 12 rounds of chemotherapy and 30 rounds of radiation before finding some success with a new immunotherapy. Sadly, Bill’s cancer had become so advanced that, within a month of the immunotherapy starting to show promise, he passed away.
Determined to Raise Lung Cancer Awareness
April, a senior in high school when she lost her father to lung cancer, was determined to do something – anything – to raise lung cancer awareness. Using a required senior project to begin to advocate for people like Bill, she knew what she wanted to do. But first, she needed to find an organization to work with. Her research led her to discover the work of Lung Cancer Foundation of America (LCFA). She, just a kid, reached out to President Kim Norris with whom she shared her plan.
“Awareness is at the heart of this. We never even thought about lung cancer.”
Building Awareness in the Community
DeFalco’s Automotive and Towing was started by her parents back in 1995, before April was even born. Knowing the company’s great reach within the communities they serve in New Jersey and South Carolina- they served up to 450 people a day! – she made it her mission to adorn one truck in each region with an ode to both her father and the importance of lung cancer awareness. And so was born, at the hands of this high school senior, the DeFalco’s/LCFA truck which is, like her dad, big and beautiful.
Soon after Bill’s passing, April completed that senior project and graduated a full semester early. She is now a full-time member of the DeFalco team. She, along with her siblings, continue to honor her father’s memory and legacy. If you happen to see one of her trucks around, give them a honk and heed their message.