Menu

Shade structure is testament for two Evergreen Park women who died of melanoma

  • Written by Joe Boyle

shade structue ribbon photo 10-27

Photo by Joe Boyle

Nancy Donovan, mother of Meg Donovan Moonan, who died from melanoma in 2102, cuts the ribbon for a shade structure built over a sandbox to protect children from the sun at Klein Park in Evergreen Park. She is joined during the ribbon-cutting ceremonies by Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton.

 

Nancy Donovan had an idea after watching the participants cross the finish line of the March4Meg’s 5K Run and Walk that has become an annual tradition at Klein Park, affectionately known as Circle Park, in Evergreen Park.

Donovan decided then that she would like to have a shade structure constructed to protect children from the danger of overexposure to the sun. She had only one location in mind and that was Klein Park, 9700 S. Homan Ave. Her daughter, Meg Donovan Moonan, lived across the street from the park and this is also where her children still live and play.

Meg Donovan Moonan died of complications from melanoma on March 30, 2012. Family and friends of Meg vowed to do what she would have – fight back to halt others from spending too much time in the sun.

During her 19-month battle battle, Meg endured two surgeries, numerous experimental chemotherapy treatments and 16 hospital stays. Nancy Donovan said that Meg battled the disease with quiet resolve that was an inspiration to everyone who knew her. Meg’s focus was on the family and the hope that one day she would live to see a cure.

One of four siblings who grew up in Chicago’s Wrightwood neighborhood, Meg attended St. Thomas More School and Maria High School. She and her twin sister, Maureen, were both fair skinned so their mother overcompensated with long-sleeve shirts and pants in the warmest of weather. But Meg still contracted the deadliest of cancers. She is survived by her husband, Ken Moonan, and their four children.

Though the local parish rallied around the family, Nancy Donovan sensed they were wilting under the weight of grief and longing.

“We had to do something bold because everyone was do depressed and heading nowhere,” Nancy Donovan said.

With the aid of her daughters, Maureen Kovac and Mary Pat McGeehan; niece, Meredith McGuffage; and others, March4Meg was founded. Shortly after the first race, the money that was raised as earmarked for the Meg Moonan Endowment for Melanoma Research at Advocate Christ Medical Center. A check presentation of $30,000 was made based after the first event. The second year, a check for $60,000, was presented to Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Nancy Donovan’s idea of a shade structure had more meaning after another Evergreen Park resident, Lucy Barry, died in 2014 due to melanoma. Nancy Donovan was more determined than ever to accomplish her goal and make adults and children aware of the dangers of overexposure to the sun.

“It’s a deadly disease and we have so many Irish in Evergreen Park,” said Nancy Donovan. “Many of them are fair-skinned. There are other parks that could use a shelter, like Duffy Park. They don’t have many trees and it is so sunny there.”

The shade structure is about 550 square feet in coverage area and it shadows the entire sandbox portion of the Klein Park playground to protect children playing in the sand area in the far southwest corner of the park and playground. Nancy Donovan was advised by Kathy Figel to contact Wendy Schulenberg, a landscape architect with more than 35 years of experience.

“This is the first time I’ve located a sun shade structure over a sand play area,” said Schulenberg, a resident of Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood. “I don’t remember ever seeing it done on such a large scale before, so I think we are a bit ahead of the curve on being sensitive to sun protection in an area like this.”

“I’d like to think we’re taking a leadership position here in Evergreen Park in the commitment to creating a safe haven from the danger s of the sun’s strength,” said Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton. “Much of the credit goes to Nancy Donovan for bringing us this concept and the support she got from the March4Meg committee and the Barry family.”

Dennis Duffy, the recreation director in Evergreen Park, led a series of meetings at park offices that completed Nancy Donovan’s vision with Schulenberg’s expertise. When Lucy Barry died, Donovan reached out her husband, Jim, and the five Barry sons, consoling them and welcoming them into the fold.

Now president of the March4Meg board, Jim Barry shared Donovan’s vision to provide research into a cure for melanoma. The unveiling of the shade structure and two memorial markers with accompanying photos of Meg Moonan Donovan and Lucy Barry were displayed on Oct. 21. Along with Nancy Donovan and her family, Jim Barry and his family were on hand. Sexton was in attendance along with state Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th). The Rev. Jim Hyland, pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish, gave a blessing.

“”For me personally, this is a dream come true but it doesn’t happen without our own dream makers,” said Nancy Donovan. “In a short time Jim Barry and his son, Matt, have helped take our visions and make them reality. We can only hope this will lead to more shade structures and greater awareness.

“Meg would be so proud today,” added Nancy Donovan. “From the day she was diagnosed, she talked of building awareness and taking action. Despite her suffering, she was plotting ways to help others. She was determined to beat the monster – melanoma – and the next best thing would be helping others never get it.”

According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma is one fastest growing cancers in the U.S. and throughout the world. Every hour of the day someone dies from melanoma. Promoting awareness can save lives as melanoma is curable if detected early, with a greater than 90 percent survival rate.

Historic Willowbrook Ballroom goes up in flames

  • Written by Steve Metsch

willowbrook smoke11-3-16

                                                                                                                               Photo by Steve Metsch

Flames and smoke billow up from the Willowbrook Ballroom in Willow Springs on Friday. A Pleasantdale Fire Protection District snorkel truck pours water onto the Willowbrook Ballroom. Thick black smoke from the fire could be seen from as far away as St. Rita High School in Chicago and at 87th and Harlem in Bridgeview.

As he carefully stepped along the gravel shoulder of Archer Avenue on Monday morning near the iconic Willowbrook Ballroom, Greg Sikorsky had a sad look on his face.

“It’s a shame,” the Countryside man said. “It’s been an institution for so long, and then to have it burn down.”

On Friday, fire swept through the building that cost $100,000 to build back in 1930. The current ballroom opened its doors in 1931. But on Friday, the venerable institution that had survived for decades had little chance when a fire started on the roof and quickly spread.

On Monday, all that was left was the red-and-white marquee sign, and the exterior brick walls black with soot from the flames. A brick chimney stood tall on the north side of the building.

As Sikorsky walked along the roadway, an employee of a Naperville fence company was busy securing a tall fence around the building. An employee of Morrison Security said they wanted to make sure “nobody got in here on Halloween night because of Resurrection Mary.”

He referred to the ghost long-rumored to frequent the ballroom. Now, Mary is joined by the memories of countless people who visited through the decades.

There were dances, wedding receptions and funeral luncheons. There were club meetings, romantic New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day dinners, and the Girl Scout’s Susie Snowflake daddy-daughter dances each winter. There was the big band sound of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Count Basie. And there was the rock ‘n’ roll of the Bryan Setzer Orchestra, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and The Guess Who.

If you wanted to learn how to dance, the ballroom offered lessons. The ballroom’s website features a calendar booked solid for months.

“A lot of people came here to dance, have a good time, and have wedding receptions here. It’s just a shame. I don’t know if the owner will re-build,” Sikorsky said.

Attempts to reach the owner were not successful. Some want it rebuilt. A wooden cross erected near the marquee read “RIP Resurrection Mary” and “Please rebuild Willowbrook Ballroom.” Since the fire, curious motorists slowed as they drove past, as if paying their last respects

The end started at approximately 2 p.m. Friday when a roof fire was reported at the ballroom, 8900 Archer, according to a release from the Tri-State Fire Protection District.

Upon arrival, firefighters found employees had fled the building and initial firefighting was started, Fire Chief Daniel P. Niemeyer said.

Within a few minutes, fire broke through the roof of the structure above the main ballroom. The building’s outdated bowstring truss construction prevented any interior firefighting operations, he said. Roofs built with that construction – which is no longer recommended – tend to collapse, he said, and he didn’t want to endanger firefighters inside.

The roof did indeed collapse. The fire’s intense heat was felt a block away. The huge pillar of smoke could be seen for miles.

The fire extinguishing efforts required a constant water supply to douse the fire in multiple directions. Firefighters used three separate water sources due to the size of the structure and the danger to a neighboring residence and restaurant, Niemeyer said.

Greco’s Restaurant, which is just east of the ballroom, would have been lost but for the “exceptional” efforts of firefighters who kept the fire from spreading by directing water at all four corners of the ballroom and on Greco’s itself, Niemeyer said.

“We put a lot of effort into saving that,” he said.

Ed Hageline, a chef at Greco’s, said he smelled smoke around 2 p.m. and “thought someone was burning leaves.” Then he looked out a window.

“This is devastating. I’ve worked next door for 25 years. I’ve gone dancing in the ballroom. We relied on each other. They helped us out and we helped them out if one ran out of supplies. My grandparents used to dance here. It’s a landmark that’s destroyed, utterly destroyed,” Hageline said.

A large pile of roofing materials still sat near the ballroom marquee on Monday, and there may be a connection to the fire, officials said.

“My understanding is they were doing work on the roof Friday. We’re ruling out other possibilities at this point in time. Our investigation has included parties that were present on the property before, during and after the fire started. The insurance companies have their private investigator out there,” Niemeyer said.

“That word has never been used,” he said when asked if arson was suspected. “We don’t have a final determination (for the cause).”

The good news is no injuries were reported, he said. But firefighters had some problems with the water supply, he said.

“Due to the volume of fire and the immense size of the structure, the water system couldn’t keep up with the volume (of water) needed. We tapped into three separate water mains to provide water,” he said.

Tanker trucks from far-flung communities – “Places I didn’t even know the names of,” Niemeyer said – were filled with water and brought to the scene. Tanker trucks at one time were lined up a few blocks. “We had to take that step because of the sheer size of the structure,” he said. Each tanker carried up to 2,500 gallons of water which was dumped into a pool near the building and pumped onto the fire.

The ballroom building was not equipped with sprinklers.

“We always recommend commercial, residential of any sort to have sprinklers,” Niemeyer said. “This was the largest fire loss in the history of our district, but the efforts of our people kept them safe and kept the local businesses from suffering the same fate.”

Friday afternoon, as firefighters atop towering ladders showered the blaze with water, curious onlookers gathered along Archer. Each seemed to have a special memory.

“We had our first date there in 1967,” said Dan Durkovic, who stood with his wife Clarise in the parking lot of The Irish Legend as they watched the firefighters across the street.

Maybe it was the ballroom working its magic? They fell in love and got married three months later.

Clarise said she and Dan “had a lot of fun” dancing and attending Lions Club parties there. They even saw the ‘70s disco band, The Village People, there. “They signed an album for our son. It was a fun show.”

The marquee promoted an Elvis show on Nov. 11. Promoter Joe Sparks said he had sold 500 tickets to the show “and we expected to sell 100 more.” The show, starring Cody Ray Slaughter of the Tony Award-winning “Million Dollar Quartet,” has been moved to Chateau Del Mar at the Hickory Hills Country Club on Nov. 11.

The other side of the marquee read “Best Wishes Vicci + Dan,” a nod to a couple whose wedding reception was scheduled the evening of Oct. 28.

"We were supposed to have our reception there last night. Such a shame," read a comment Saturday on the Desplaines Valley News website from Victoria Ferro.

Oak Lawn resident Eddy Bernotas, who works at nearby Dead Serious Tattoos, attended his Lockport Township High School prom there. Now 35, he said he and his girlfriend took swing dance lessons at the ballroom.

“I was planning on bringing my son there for a swing dance and costume party there on Sunday (Oct. 30). It was a beautiful place. I hope it can be restored,” Bernotas said. “Think of all the bands who played there, Resurrection Mary, the mob history. It’s a nice place with good, cheap drinks, too,”

Billy Curtin, 14, of Chicago’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood, saw the smoke from 87th and Western after classes let out at St. Rita High School. He called his father, a Chicago firefighter also named Bill, and they raced to the ballroom.

“We don’t usually get fires this big. I thought it was an oil tanker in Romeoville from where we were,” the elder Curtin said. “It’s such a shame. All the history. My mom and dad came out here to dance.”

Bridgeview, La Grange, Lyons, Hodgkins, Western Springs, Lemont, East Joliet, Channahon, Manhattan, Troy, Wilmington and Lemont were among the fire protection districts and departments that responded.

The original ballroom built in 1921 was destroyed by fire in 1930.The building that burned down Friday was built to replace it. There’s no word as of Tuesday on the future of the ballroom site.

Willow Springs will support whatever the owners decide to do, Mayor Alan Nowaczyk said Monday.

“I did urge them to consider rebuilding. The village will do everything in its power to assist them. Keep in mind, the square footage is 53,000 square feet when you take into account the lower level, which had a varied array of rooms,” he said.

A rebuild won’t replace memories.

“The bricks, mortar, wood moldings and draperies could be replicated. But the magic of the bandstand and the dance floor generations danced on? How can you replace that? My wife and I seldom missed a New Year’s Eve there. When we were there, I’d picture all the people going back to the 1930s, the happiest event of their week was going to dance at the Willowbrook Ballroom,” Nowaczyk said.

“You felt like you were walking back to the 1940s. If filmmakers needed that look, they’d be sent there. It was wonderfully clean and preserved. It had a special feeling when you walked in. I loved going there,” the mayor said.

On Aug. 10, co-owner Birute Jodwalis posted this now-ironic message on Facebook: “On behalf of all of us at the Willowbrook Ballroom, I would like to thank you for attending our 95th Anniversary celebration. Your support helped make our celebration truly special. We are looking forward to many more years!”

‘Clown Takeover” occurring at Midnight Terror haunt

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

Throughout 2016, creepy clown sightings have dominated the news. Now, sinister circus exiles everywhere have descended on Midnight Terror Haunted House in Oak Lawn, which will present a special two-day-only “Clown Takeover” haunt from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4 and 5.

Midnight Terror, located at 5520 W. 111th St., wrapped up its third annual Halloween-themed attraction on Oct. 31, but the owners decided to extend the season with these two “Clown Takeover” themed encore dates. The haunt will be completely redesigned with all-new characters, costumes, props and themes that play upon our innate fear of clowns.

 “This will be an entirely new and unique haunted house totally different from what we offered in October,” said Justin Cerniuk, Midnight Terror creator/co-owner and Oak Lawn native. “We will have over 100 clown characters, each with a one-of-a-kind personality, costume, and backstory. Visitors will be treated to a lot of shocks and surprises as they rediscover Midnight Terror in a whole different way from what they previously experienced.”

 According to the storyline Cerniuk conceived, the unnerving clowns spotted across the Chicago this year have been kidnapped by Boss Clown and his greasepaint-faced minions and brought back to Midnight Terror Haunted House. There, the unleashed clowns wreak havoc and force everyone they come in contact with to join their evil jester ranks.

 Highlights of the Clown Takeover edition of Midnight Terror include:

An 30-minute walk-through of 60 rooms in two indoor haunted houses; over 100 actors; Hollywood-style CGI effects, a cutting-edge lighting system, and a state-of-the-art sound system; and free entertainment for guests waiting in line

 Tickets can be purchased online at or at the box office on site: regular admission per person is $25 at the door or $23 online; VIP admission per person, which provides faster entry without having to wait in the general admission line, is $35 at the door or $31 online.

More information, visit midnightterror.com or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Jeff Vorva's Extra Point: Emotions run the gamut in Rice-Fremd game

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

PAGE 1 BR PLAYERS 11 3

Photo by Jeff Vorva

Brother Rice players anxiously wait during a 15-minute span in which their teammate, Brian Olsen, was being tended to by medical personnel.

For close to three hours Saturday, Brother Rice's stadium was jumping and noisy.

There were loud cheers from the thousands in attendance at Tom Mitchell Field at Gary Little Stadium for great plays during this Class 8A opening-round playoff game.  There were boos for the referees after what were perceived as not-so-great calls.

The Brother Rice student section was in full voice, heckling opposing Fremd players. At one point, some heckled their own basketball coach, Bobby Frasor who was standing on the sideline. They wanted him to take off his shirt and display his “North Carolina physique.” Frasor is one of the top hoops players to come out of the school and he attended and played for the University of North Carolina.

Music? The band was loud. And some of the rock and techno music from the PA system was even louder.

The game was full of twists, turns and touchdowns so both Rice and Fremd fans had plenty to yell about.

With Rice down 45-42 and Fremd with the ball in the closing minutes, Vikings running back Joe Schneider ran hard for a first down with 1 minute, 17 seconds left and crashed into a host of Crusaders including linebacker Brian Olsen.

Both players ended up on the ground from the impact and were not getting up.

By the time people realized what was happening, the stadium fell silent.

That was eerie.

Trainers, coaches, medical personnel and family members raced out and gathered around the two players. Someone motioned for a stretcher right away.

What was even eerier was that it was cloudy and in the background bells could be heard from a church in the southwest distance.

Bong…bong…bong.

Shivers, meet spine. Spine, meet shivers.

Add to that, the violent collision took place a few feet from the Fremd sideline, where Vikings assistant coach Brock Shiffer sat in a wheelchair, which was a result of a car accident 14 years ago.

Schneider was able to stand and walk back to his sidelines and the silence was broken for a few seconds by Fremd fans applauding.

There is more good news. After 15 minutes of angst among fans, Olsen was placed on a stretcher and gave thumbs up to the crowd as he was wheeled off the field. Brother Rice coach Brian Badke said Olsen was knocked out and recovered and was talking and was taken to a hospital for precautionary reasons. Olsen was released from the hospital that night.

During the time he was still on the field, my own thoughts strayed to one of the worst assignments I ever had in my career in which a girls basketball coach collapsed a few feet in front of me and subsequently died in the first quarter of a big game for a conference championship. I had just talked to him the night before.

I never want to cover something like that again and, like the thousands of people at Rice on Saturday, prayed something like that wasn’t happening.

Thankfully, it wasn’t.

The game resumed but it wasn’t the same. Fremd was able to run the clock out to record the upset and Fremd’s celebration was dampened. Sure, a few players jumped up and down but it wasn’t a full-tilt crazyfest.

Rice players were crying for more than just a lost game.

Even the band’s rendition of “Hey! Baby’’ was slow and somber after the game.

This weekend had plenty of highs and lows all over the state in sports such as football, cross country, swimming and soccer. Emotions have been running high in Illinois.

But it’s doubtful the wide range of emotions were felt like they were at Brother Rice’s stadium. 

 

Family, friends remember Abby as they raise funds for a cure

  • Written by Sharon L. Filkins

abby close up photo 10-27

 

Submitted photo

Oak Lawn resident Abby Wujcik, 8, died from a pediatric tumor in 2013. A benefit was held in her memory Saturday to raise awareness and help fund research.

On a bright, sunny Saturday, hundreds of people gathered at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School for the first “Live Like Abby Family Fest” in honor of Abby Wujcik, an 8-year-old Oak Lawn resident who lost her fight against a pedriatic tumor in 2013.

The event was organized to raise funds for the Live Like Abby group, a partner of the John McNicholas Brain Tumor Foundation (JMBTF), whose mission is to improve treatments and ultimately find a cure for brain cancer in children. The second part of the event was to focus on the activities on Saturday to remember Abby, whose family, friends and classmates said was very special.

More than 20 tents and play stations were set up for kids of all ages, as well as a number of bounce houses. Karate demonstrations were available along with a pie-in-the-face throwing event. Admission was free, but tickets were purchased to play the games and purchase food.

Abby’s father, Kevin Wujcik, said he and his wife, Kristyn, wanted the Fest to be family-oriented because they wanted to focus on Abby’s friends, classmates and cousins.

“They have all been involved in preparation of the event. We held a paint night, and the kids painted all the signs for the different stations at the Fest,” said Kevin. “The signs were done in purple and yellow, which were Abby’s favorite colors.”

He stated that preparing for the Fest had been emotionally hard for the family.

“We remain close to parents of her classmates and keep in touch with them. It is a great comfort for all of us,” said Wujcik. “We set up a Live Like Abby Facebook page and it has 1,000 members. It is a very supportive group. We know we have a lot of people behind us.”

Among those attending the Fest were two of Abby’s former classmates, Elena Leon, 12, and Annalisa Barajas, 11. They shared fond memories of their friend.

“Abby was the first friend I made in first grade. I was new to the school and Abby came up to me on the playground and introduced herself,” said Leon. “We became instant friends. She was always happy and smiling. When she was diagnosed she was very strong. She didn’t worry or fret about her chemo. She always just wanted to get her work done.”

“She wanted us to treat her normally, not like anything was wrong,” said Barajas. “She didn’t want us to treat her any differently because she had cancer. She concentrated on her school work, it was very important to her. She was always fun to be around. I sat with her at lunch and we were always talking through ‘chew-time’ a period of 10 minutes or so when we were supposed to be quiet and eating our food.”

Both girls remembered a gym period in which the gym teacher played Justin Bieber’s songs for the whole period because he was Abby’s favorite singer.

Leon related a second touching moment in gym when the teacher had everyone sit in a circle and Abby came in and entertained them by doing several “splits” in a little gymnastic routine.    

Abby’s story began in May, 2012, when the school nurse phoned her mother and informed her that the 6-year-old was having difficulty with her right hand in using scissors in the classroom. She suggested that they mention it to the doctor the next time they had an appointment.

Kristyn immediately made an appointment. The pediatrician ordered an MRI. There was no way the young family was prepared for the results.

“It was like being kicked in the stomach,” said Kevin. “The MRI revealed that Abby had a Stage 4 Glioblastoma brain tumor. It is the worst kind of brain cancer you can have. “

“We knew what we were up against and the possibility of the outcome. Incredibly, our very close friends had just recently lost their 7-year-old son, Danny Host, to the very same cancer. He and Abby had been good friends, always playing together when we visited. We even shared the same pediatrician and we just could not believe that these two little friends would have this same terrible disease,” he added.

There is no known cause of the pediatric cancer, which can strike children from newborn to teenagers and there is no cure at this time.

The Wujciks were up front with Abby, who they described as a very bright, mature child for her age.

“She was an ‘old soul,’ “said Kristyn. “We asked her if she wanted to fight this, and she replied, ‘Yes, I am going to fight.’”

And fight she did. In her 15-month battle, she endured 115 chemotherapy sessions, 40 clinic visits, 33 radiation treatments, over 30 days in the hospital, and two surgeries before she lost her fight, just days after her 8th birthday in 2013.

Her journey was marked with a chain of “Beads of Courage,” which was on display at the Fest. It is a colorful collection of beads marking each treatment, surgery and hospital stay. It is 17 feet long with 460 beads.

Kevin’s eyes filled with tears as he displayed the beads during an earlier interview. “Looking back, these beads help the family remember what each one represents, what she went through during those days and weeks.”

Early on, the family decided they would handle this situation together, as a family. “We wanted to make sure we lived life to the fullest during the time she had left and we were blessed to be able to do that,” said Kevin.

He said the family traveled to Hawaii with Abby through the Make a Wish Foundation and were able to meet Bieber.

“We went to Disney World and saw the Blue Man Group. We cherish those wonderful family memories,” said Kevin.

It was after the passing of Abby that the JMBTF reached out to the Wujcik family and asked Kevin to serve on the Foundation’s Board. He was later encouraged to start a “Live Like Abby” branch.

“It is hard doing this, but we know we are making a difference. There are only a few degrees of separation among families who have suffered a tragic loss like this, losing a young child. We know each other’s pain. It is our hope that working together we can raise awareness of this terrible disease and provide the funding needed for research, clinical trials, improved drugs and treatments, he said.

A highlight of the Abby Fest was a presentation by Dr. Rishl Lulla, from Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. He explained that he was not the doctor who had treated Abby Wujcik but he had treated John McNicholas, who died from a malignant brain tumor four years ago, at age 15, just 10 months after his diagnosis.

For John’s parents, Ed and Amy McNicholas, the death of their son from pediatric brain cancer was the catalyst for the founding of the John McNicholas Brain Tumor Foundation, whose goal is to raise awareness and funds for research into the devastating disease.

“When we began this terrible journey with our son, we were unaware of the lack of funding and research into improving treatments for these young victims,” said Amy. “We knew we had to do something, but we couldn’t do it alone. It is the mission of the Foundation to improve treatments, which haven’t changed in the last 30 or 40 years and ultimately we hope a cure will be found for brain cancer in children.”

The JMBT Foundation is now the umbrella organization for four branches: Live Like Abby, Live Like John, Live Like Leah and Live Like Finn. “The name of each group is significant, as we want people to celebrate the lives of these children and to keep their memories alive. Their lives were more important than the disease,” said Lulla.

“It is rare today that we can give parents hope, once the diagnosis is made. That is why it is critical that funding is diverted to research for pediatric brain cancer. It is humbling to see so many people gathered here today to support Abby’s family and this cause with this fundraising event,” added Lulla.

He added, “Events like today remind us of the importance of community and collaboration in raising funds for the research needed for pediatric brain cancer. Sadly, there are virtually no funds for research from federal sources. Only four percent of funds go to all pediatric cancers. That is why private funding is so important.”

According to a press release, the JMPBTF and its partners donated $500,000 to fund a two-year collaborative effort to research how brain tumors grow, with the hope of using that information to recommend new treatments. With events similar to the Live Like Abby Fest, the Foundation hopes to donate an additional $500,000 in the coming years.

“For further information on the Live Like Abby group and the John McNicholas Brain Tumor Foundation fundraising efforts and how to contribute, visit www.livelikeabby.org.