By Gary Nager

I was shocked, saddened, heartbroken and devastated by the news that Cindy Freeman, the membership director for the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce the last three years, passed away on Sunday, August 30, due to complications from treatment for esophageal cancer.

A day or two before Cindy passed,  my page 3 editorial in our August 29 edition of Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News included an item about Cindy’s campaign to help raise money to pay for her treatments. Sadly, the monies raised by that campaign will now be used to pay for her funeral, which will be held on Wed., Sept. 2, 2 p.m. (with visitation from 1 pm-2 pm) at Loyless Funeral Home (5310 Land O’Lakes Blvd.). The family has asked for monetary donations in lieu of flowers to offset the cost of her final arrangements.  Checks can be dropped off at the WCCC office  (6013 Wesley Grove Blvd., Wesley Chapel 33544).

One of the things I enjoy most about my job is the opportunity to meet and get to know people I might not other wise have gotten to meet — much less gotten to know well enough to call my friends.

In my now-21+ years of owning and being the editor of this publication, I have met many thousands of people and I’m proud to count hundreds of those people as friends of mine.

Precious few of the friends I’ve met through the Neighborhood News, however, are as near and dear to my heart as Cindy Freeman, who has been the membership director for the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce (WCCC) for nearly three years.

Cindy has a genuinely sweet, caring nature and she has brought that wonderful quality to everything she has done at the Chamber office (located in the separate office building in front of The Grove shopping center). And as it says in her (see below) profile (written by her son Aaron), “She is always willing to extend a hand to help someone in need. She never asks for anything but has always been the first to give.”

Well today, I’m sad to say that my friend is in need herself. Cindy has been battling esophageal cancer for several months now and recently was hospitalized for three weeks. The bills for her ongoing treatments are piling up and she hasn’t been able to work for the Chamber since her treatments began. 

Now, I know some people are skeptical about GoFundMe accounts, but the good news is that if you do have an account, any money that’s donated to you is deposited directly into your bank account. If you know Cindy and the amazing work she has done as the helpful lady answering the phones at the Chamber (and stretching all the ribbons at the WCCC’s many ribbon-cuttings since 2013), you know that the need is real or I wouldn’t be asking you to help.

I’ll admit that I’ve never done a great job of raising money for the many people and causes I have trumpeted on this page over the years, but it certainly has never been for a lack of effort on my part. I always wish I could do more (and both I and the Neighborhood News have made donations to her already), but anything you can do to help the Freemans would be greatly appreciated.

Also, heartfelt thanks to both Tony Masella & his for his pics, which saved us from having to comb through our own archives, since his were so great!

To make a donation to the Freeman family, go to or type “Cindy’s Fundraising Group” in the search box in the middle of the page.

Charlie Needs Your Help, Too! 

Although I actually thought he was Charlie Daniels himself when I first met Charlie Kelly at the old Winners (now City Grill) on S.R. 54 in Wesley Chapel probably more than a dozen years ago, it wasn’t long before I considered Charlie to be a friend as well.

Always smiling, always quick with a joke and with nice things to say about this publication, Charlie is a unique character in Wesley Chapel who also has raised thousands of dollars for other charitable causes.

According to his profile, Charlie is “in need of heart surgery and…he is one of millions of Americans who are at an age where he doesn’t qualify for Medicaid and has no health insurance of his own.”

I attended a fund raiser at City Grill on Aug. 22 (look for photos in our next issue) for Charlie and made the first donation at (“Heart Surgery”). I hope those who know and love Charlie will help him out, too.

An Unbelievable Anniversary!

I also wanted to give a shout-out to Andy Feldman, one of my closest childhood friends from G.W. Hewlett High on Long Island.

Andy, who was 16 when he graduated from Hewlett, also is an alum of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia and got his MBA degree from New York University in Manhattan while working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Now a financial consultant, Andy has been married to Mindy for close to 30 years, and lives a wonderful life in Westchester County, NY, with his two 20-something sons and a teenage daughter.

I was stunned to learn that a year ago last week, Andy nearly died when he split his head open on stone steps while on vacation in Vermont. Despite a traumatizing few days in the hospital when he certainly could have died, he (amazingly) suffered no brain damage and the always-philosophical chess player and most worthy Words With Friends opponent says he hopes  to “celebrate” many more of these “anniversaries” with his beautiful family. Love ya, ‘Drew!   

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