Brighter days for women battling breast cancer
Elesha Snyder’s group grants wishes even in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elesha Snyder, co-owner of George’s Family Restaurant, has a nonprofit, the Breast Wishes Foundation, to bring women with breast cancer a touch of joy in the most trying time of their lives. MARSHALL GORBY / STAFF
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By Chris Stewart
Staff Writer
INSPIRE DAYTON

Despite all the past year has thrown at Elesha Snyder, she knows others have had it worse, especially women living through the pandemic with breast cancer.

“You hear these stories and it’s just heartbreaking,” she said.


Snyder’s nonprofit, the Breast Wishes Foundation, works to bring women a touch of joy during the most trying time of their lives.

“Elesha amazes me with all she manages to do for the community … She grants so many women gifts to brighten their days,” wrote Leigh Ann Fulford, who nominated Snyder as one who helps and inspires others in the Dayton region. 

During this challenging year, people across the Dayton region have persevered. Throughout December, the Dayton Daily News will tell the stories of individuals who have inspired others.


Granting a wish a week on average, Snyder and her sister Mandi Moore started Breast Wishes in 2017 to honor their sister Kelli James, who died of breast cancer in 2006.

Snyder and Moore had raised funds for years for other breast cancer charities. But they wanted to witness the impact of direct giving, often to women having difficulty making ends meet.

“Unfortunately, some of our biggest wishes are just help with bills and help with food,” Snyder said. “There are a lot of people in the community already really struggling and then they get hit with something like a cancer diagnosis.”

Snyder, of Butler Twp., said many breast cancer survivors wish for appliances, furniture, mattresses and bedding.

The nonprofit partners with others to help get some of the routine bills paid so it can offer “experience wishes” that will make lasting memories, Snyder said.

Breast Wishes has sent couples on honeymoons that were delayed due to sickness and others on vacations they would not have been able to take otherwise. One Ohio State football fan had a dream fulfilled watching the Buckeyes play in the Rose Bowl.

“We’ve had some really amazing trips,” Snyder said.

But wishes of travel have been tough to pull off this year due to the coronavirus pandemic; so too raising donations. The pandemic resulted in the cancellation of Breast Wishes’ major fundraising events: the 5K for Kelli Run/Walk, a casino night and a euchre tournament.

“The pandemic has really hurt not only us as a foundation, but all the women that we’ve been trying to help as well,” Snyder said. “And I would say pretty much every charity out there.”

The organization held an online auction this year and Snyder turned her attention toward writing grant proposals. Breast Wishes also takes donations on its website at www.breastwishesfoundation.org.

Snyder, her sister Moore, and 10 others are on the board. Nobody gets paid. “It’s tough to do what we do because this isn’t anybody’s first gig,” said Snyder, 43.

Snyder’s first gig is owning and operating George’s Family Restaurant at 5216 North Dixie Drive along with Dino Dimitrouleas, her partner of 20 years. Her sister Moore is general manager.

“We’ve got really amazing employees, most of them have been there 10 years and more,” Snyder said. “It is such family even though they’re not our family.”

But in March, Snyder had to help many in that extended “family” fill out unemployment claims when the restaurant was forced to close for two and half months. But every employee is back to work now, she said.

“From what I know from other restaurants, that did not happen with them,” she said. “I think it’s just a testament to the family atmosphere we have at George’s.”

Snyder, also a yoga teacher and Ayurvedic health and wellness coach, started a Facebook group when the pandemic began and regularly posts videos of breathing exercises and meditations to help others keep anxiety in check.

“I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for almost 20 years so I know so many tips and tricks to deal with it and wanted to pass that information along to others who might be overly anxious during these crazy times,” she said.

The relationships Snyder makes with women through Breast Wishes often don’t end after a wish is fulfilled.

“I really love that these women will come to me even after just to talk, for advice, to feel like they’ve got support, because a lot of them don’t have much of a support system,” she said.

Snyder said it’s nice to make them “a little bit happy to bring them just a little bit of joy.”

“They remember that, every time they use their new oven, or they look back on pictures from their vacation, they know that there are people out there that really care.”