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Making a Difference: Retired Conemaugh Township music teacher honored in Washington D.C.

A local retired music teacher and cancer survivor was honored at Jefferson Awards national ceremony in D.C. after she started fund to help others battling cancer. (WJAC)

Suzette Gardenhour, a cancer survivor and retired Conemaugh Township band director, was honored during the Jefferson Awards Foundation National Ceremony in Washington D.C. on Thursday.

The 46th annual gala at the Mayflower Hotel celebrates people from all over the country, who create positive change in their communities.

Gardenhour just retired from Conemaugh Township schools after teaching music for 30 years.

She beat breast cancer and decided to help others fighting the same battle. Of course, she did so, through music and with the help of her students. We did a story with her in November.

Gardenhour started the Music Makes Us Stronger fund with the Community Foundation for the Alleghanies.

It supports students, music alumni and their children who are diagnosed with cancer.

They raised thousands of dollars at the first fundraiser in November, a music department reunion and concert.

Gardenhour then won a Jefferson Award for her efforts. Here's the story about when she won the award in March.

She was able to say a few words after being honored Thursday.

"Even though breast cancer has taken my hair, my fingers and left my lopsided it has not taken my spirit, my soul or my faith. Being a high school band director, in front of a group of very perceptive teenagers in a wing none the less reminded I needed to be honest with them and take them along on my journey that the potential impact that it could have on both them and our small community was full of possibility,” Gardenhour said while in front of a crowd of other honorees.

Gardenhour hopes her students will continue raising money for the cause.

Every year, they will hold different types of fundraisers. This November it will be a vendor fair with music groups performing. Every 5 years they will host a music department reunion.

If you'd like to donate, you can donate here.

You nominate someone making a difference in your community for a Jefferson Award, by clicking here.

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