HOPEWELL — The John Randolph Foundation recently announced a new memorial fund at its Jan. 17 awards ceremony.
The Cynthia Piazza Mind and Movement, or M&M, Fund will honor the life of a Chester woman who died Oct. 31 after battling brain cancer. Piazza taught for more than 20 years and was a Title I math specialist at Harrowgate Elementary School for 14 years. She was named the county’s elementary teacher of the year in 2010.
The M&M Fund will carry on Piazza’s passions of improving the education of underprivileged students and encouraging physical fitness.
Her husband, Michael Piazza, and father, Joe Moore, spoke at the ceremony. Cynthia was known for being a runner, but her parents were told that she would never be able to run, Moore said. She was pigeon-toed as a baby. With a rough sketch from the doctor, her father cut out a piece of wood and glued shoes to it. She had to wear the homemade brace for over two
The inclusion of “M&M” in the title of the fund is no accident. While she was a proponent of health and fitness, she loved M&Ms candy and tried to hide that fact from her students. Through all her marathon training, Cynthia used M&Ms as a reward for a job well done.
In 2015, she united her passions for education and fitness when she joined Greater Richmond Fit4Kids, a nonprofit organization. This role introduced her to John Randolph Foundation, which provided grant funding to Greater Richmond Fit4Kids to bring their programs to Hopewell public schools.
She worked with teachers at Patrick Copeland and Dupont elementary schools to integrate fitness into academic lessons. Today, the program continues at Dupont and many other locations throughout central Virginia.
The M&M Fund has raised over $106,000 from family, friends, and colleagues in just a few months, with plans for a memorial race on the horizon.
The fund will award its first grant to a local project in July of 2019. For more information about the foundation’s grant program, go online to johnrandolphfoundation.org/grants.