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Remembering Dawn Young

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Lessons learned on the emotional, financial hardships following the death of a loved one

Dawn Olinda “Genie” Hector Young had been battling cancer for several years when she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in November of 2022. Doctors told her then that she had three months to live, but she was a fighter. After a five year battle with cancerous tumors, the former phlebotomist and CNA passed away on May 1, 2024. She was only 59.

Dawn’s life was dedicated to helping others as she served as a group home manager and cared for those who were sick or with special needs. Dawn did not really like people helping her due to her strength of will, but she had two people by her side regardless: her son Corey Sewell and her friend Lindsay Cooper. Lindsay, a residential associate with the Arc Nature Coast, was like a daughter to Dawn and visited her until the end. In a statement sent to the Sun, Cooper wrote about her friend’s character.

“My friend Dawn [was] an amazing and strong woman,” said Cooper. She [was] a wonderful Christian who dedicate[d] her life to God, and she [had] the strongest faith I have ever encountered. Her whole life has been dedicated to caring for others […] She [had] a warm heart and has impacted the lives of so many people, including my own.”

Dawn was loved and respected by many, and her sense of humor always lit up a room. She was generous to the homeless and always knew she wanted to work with geriatric patients because they often cannot help themselves. According to Corey, “She would give her last to a stranger just to make sure they were okay.” She wanted to make a difference in the lives of the infirm, so working in healthcare was the perfect fit. She would prove to be a force for good in a sometimes-flawed system.

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The last three months of her life was “the most painful thing I have ever experienced,” Corey said. To see his mom go from “Wonder Woman” to “helpless” after being ravaged by colon cancer was incredibly difficult and he watched his mother drop nearly 300 pounds in the last two years of her life due to the illness.

The Jamaican native mother had a dream of purchasing a home in Florida after she had moved away from the cold weather of New Jersey. She had hoped to one day leave property to her children, but she never got the chance. The cancer, unfortunately, saw to that. The sickness would drain much of the remainder of her bank account and life insurance policy she had originally taken out to lessen the burden on her children when she passed.

When he moved down from West Palm Beach to Spring Hill to take care of his mother, Corey tried to live with her, but her apartment complex would not let him because Corey had been evicted from a previous domicile over a decade ago. If he had tried to continue to live with Dawn, the apartment owners threatened to evict his mother despite her condition. The difficulties mounted as Dawn’s local church said they would assist her through a bereavement fund, though the help never came.

In the months preceding her passing, Dawn became uncomfortable staying at the hospital, so she was sent to a nursing home since she still needed comprehensive care. While there, Dawn would begin developing bed sores and infections, according to Corey. She was then sent to a different nursing home and then an intensive care unit as the cancer had spread like “wildfire.”

At a certain point, everything became so overwhelming financially, painfully, and emotionally that Corey felt it finally got the best of her. Her son lamented the fact that “if you do not have money, it is like you get second-class treatment.” Corey wants to get his mother’s story out there to caution people on the emotional and financial hardships that come after death. “People have to know” how important it is to have life insurance, he insisted.

She is survived by many family members, including her 17-year-old grandson, Jordan, who is Corey’s first-born son. According to Corey, she doted on Jordan and loved him as much as anyone. Dawn was “his person” as much as she had been “[Corey’s] person.” Her loss has been an intense emotional blow for the “devastated” grandchild, who is beginning to struggle in his schooling as he attempts to cope with the tragedy.

Nancy Guadagno, Residential Services Manager at The Arc Nature Coast, had known Dawn since January of 2022 when Young took a job with the company as a group home supervisor. The manager recounted how the fun-loving mother loved to cook and how all the people she cared for loved her cooking.

“She loved to cook for the ladies. They all loved her food. She made a nice home for them, and they all really appreciated her. She really loved her job. She loved making a nice home for them. She was a nice coworker. She was very funny […] “I always said, if I was not her boss, I would really like to be her friend because she was that kind of person,” said Guadagno.

With the funeral services set to cost $14,000 in total, the family has set up a GoFundMe to assist them through this difficult transition. Though the page states an amount of $20,000, Corey is hoping to raise at least $10,000, $2,810 of which has already been put forth as of the writing of this article.

The life insurance will foot a portion of the bill, but the payment will not be coming in for 75 days, so Corey and the family hope the GoFundMe can help supplement the funeral fees in the meantime. If anyone feels moved to help monetarily, the family would greatly appreciate the assistance. As Jamaicans would say, ‘Every Mickle mek ah Muckle,’ (“Every little bit helps”).

The service will be on the 29th of May at All City Funeral Home at 11 AM in Lake Worth, Florida. The family requests that guests wear all white and women wear colorful wigs in honor of the vibrant and beloved mother.

“My mom was a really happy, all-around fun-loving person,” said Corey. “She was always smiling in every photograph and trying to have a good time […] I wish everybody could have a mom like mine.”

Dawn Young with her grandchildren [Courtesy photo]
Dawn Young with her grandchildren [Courtesy photo]

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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