Widow to Widow
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Tracy Poulos lost her husband to cancer in September of 2009 and now uses her time volunteering in schools and helping other widows as a way to move forward with her life. Poulos recommends that any widow needing someone to listen check out the support group "Widow to Widow" which meets every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Tempe Pyle Adult Recreation Center, 655 E. Southern Ave. Brian Johnson/AFN

I've met Tracy Poulos only twice but each time I try to put myself in her shoes. I say try because, honestly, it's just not possible.

I first met Tracy in March when she emailed me about a grief support group for widows, called Widowed-to-Widowed. I wrote a story about her and this group where widows can find some comfort in a support group just for them.

Tracy's husband, Jim, died unexpectedly in 2009, shortly after being diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer. This is where I can't quite relate. I know what it's like to lose someone you love to cancer, but I can't imagine losing my husband. He's my best friend and my closest confidant - and I've only been with him for three years. Tracy was with her husband for 17 years.

He was an avid runner, which Tracy says he was known for around the neighborhood. He was diagnosed with cancer on April 3, 2008 and died on Sept. 25, 2009.

Now, Tracy is just taking it day by day and trying to honor her husband in all that she does.

"He did a lot of things for people but didn't want kudos for it," she said. "He was a guy that would buy Thanksgiving groceries for the guys that worked for him. He did nice things but didn't want people to know it. He gave to the church anonymously but he didn't want his name in lights because he did it.

"I don't work. I'm very fortunate. So after he died I just felt like I needed to do something, so that's how this foundation started."

That foundation is the Jim and Tracy Poulos Charitable Foundation, which Tracy started last year. Tracy hopes to carry on Jim's spirit of giving through the foundation.

Jim helped with a golf tournament for charity at Robson Ranch before his death, which has continued on since, and is now in memory of him.

This year, Tracy is trying to do even more by organizing Jim's Walk 5K at Kiwanis Park to benefit UMOM New Day Center, Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Arizona Humane Society, From Gangs2Jobs and St. Mary's Food Bank.

"The golf tournament started out for the church," Tracy said. "After he passed away I decided, he liked animals, I volunteer at UMOM, maybe we could spread the wealth.

"If I just do the church, people don't know our church and maybe they don't want to walk for your church. That's why I spread the foundation out to reach more things and, hopefully, get more people involved."

Tracy says she hasn't gathered as many people to participate as she had hoped, and that the walk is scheduled to take place on the second anniversary of Jim's death. But even if it is just her and five other people, they'll still do the walk and hope for a better turnout in future years.

"I want to do something positive to help people in his memory," she said. "It's mixed emotions. It'll be a nice day to be with people that remember him and be doing something positive. It means that I'm not forgetting my husband. I'm giving back in his honor and memory.

"Losing a spouse is a roller coaster of emotions. Everyone says to move on and you try to move on. You live your life, but there's a hole. It's a different life, that's for sure."

For more information on Jim's Walk, visit www.active.com/event_detail.cfm?event_id=1970124 or find the event on facebook by searching Jim's Walk.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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