Watching his sister battle, Gardner formed a team in her honor for the National Race for the Cure. Initially, the goal was just to support her, not raise money.

However, the effort grew year by year, even after Heather died and their parents decided not to participate. In 2003, Team Heather raised $5,500. Now, the team raises more than $50,000 a year.

Gardner has also become a local spokesman for Susan G. Komen for the cure. The group got interested in the story, and Gardner has taped some public service announcements and testified in front of Congress.

His advocacy efforts highlight young women, but he hopes to raise broader awareness.

"I want people to just be aware of your body, of the women in your life," he says.