LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - The founder of Pink Heart Funds says she was devastated by the shocking news that a trusted friend stands accused of embezzling more than $235,000 from the group.
But despite the setback, JoAn Niceley, vows to create a new beginning for the well-known charity.
"What happened, nobody had any inclination. I mean, there was no clue. But that was y'all's money that was taken," said Niceley, as she addressed the monthly meeting of the Women's Inspiration Network, a group of cancer survivors.
She's encouraging the women to help restore Pink Heart Funds.
"This is a new beginning for Pink Heart Funds, and with all these ladies showing up and showing their support," said Nicely.
The group's treasurer and trusted friend, Melinda Spence-Rosetti was arrested on embezzlement charges; accused of taking the money.
Niceley was called to the bank on Tuesday.
"And when I got there....135 checks were laid out in front of me that had my signature forged. I literally, my chest hurt so bad I thought I was going to have a stroke or a heart attack," Niceley said. "This money is what buys wigs and breast prosthetics, and prosthetic bras and lymphodema sleeves for people that are going through cancer," Niceley explained.
Kay Smith runs Hope Chest, a Long Beach business which supports Pink Heart Funds. She sells wigs, but also volunteers as a wig-fitter for Pink Heart.
"I had no idea. No inclination at all that she would do such a devastating thing to JoAn and the Pink Hearts, and cancer survivors. It is absolutely so cruel," said Smith.
Niceley says she's not going to let the unfortunate incident stop her.
"We just have to stay strong, and that's why I said we are Pink Heart Funds Strong....we're going to get through this," Niceley noted.