Bloomington, Illinois – June 23, 2018 – Relay For Life of McLean County wrapped up its annual event at The Corn Crib in Normal on Saturday, June 23 at 2p.m., having had team members circle a makeshift track on the stadium infield for 24 hours.

As this year’s event concluded Saturday, with a grant from State Farm Bank, our Relay For Life of McLean County ended having raised $255,315 toward its stated goal of $305,000, with money continuing to come in. And because Relay For Life of McLean County will end its fiscal year 2018 on August 31, teams will continue bringing in donations through that date which will help us to achieve that monetary goal of $305,000.

RELAY 2018 NUMBERS: Relay For Life of McLean County had 54 teams involving 405 registered team members and 400 survivors and caregivers at their annual Relay event. There were also hundreds of additional community members who visited the event and enjoyed the survivor dinner, “Fun Zone”, silent auction, live entertainment and other activities.

Since it began in McLean County in 1994, and including this year’s event-end amount, Relay For Life of McLean County has raised over $8.5 Million to fight cancer.

Of this year’s event, Catina Struble, Lead Co-Chair for Relay For Life of McLean County, said, “We are really proud of how engaged our teams were in preparing and participating in this year’s Relay. It shows the degree of commitment and dedication our team members have when it comes to help fight this disease. We are so grateful for the support of Normal Cornbelters and their gift of this beautiful venue.”

More information may be obtained by contacting either Catina Struble 309-706-5367 or Steve Robinson at 309-242-7838.

Bloomington, Illinois – MAY 31, 2018 – Preparing to take a family selfie in October 2017 led to Normal Community West High School student Austin Waller needing treatment for cancer. As the Wallers – mom Amy, dad Scott, daughter Alicia, and son Austin, who will be a junior this fall, closed in for the photo, Scott felt a bump on Austin’s collar bone as he proceeded to hug him. That prompted the Wallers to go to their family Nurse Practitioner the next day.

Upon seeing the bump and taking scans of it, the Nurse Practitioner told the Wallers, “It’s cancer.” A lymphoma more specifically, and ordered Austin and the family who went with him for the initial exam to go immediately to St. Jude Cancer Research Hospital in Peoria for further tests.

After tests were done, doctors at St. Jude admitted Austin for additional tests and blood work. Another couple days went by at which point the physicians wanted to begin chemotherapy. Their diagnosis: Austin had Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in his chest around his breathing muscles and heart. Chemotherapy needed to begin right away, the doctors said.

Austin’s chemotherapy took place for seven days a month for the next two months. Then, for the next two months after that, he had chemo for four days each month. That was followed by a month of radiation treatments in the Chicago area. Austin and the Wallers are currently awaiting his next appointment at St. Jude next month to see where the treatment goes from here.

The treatments he received caused Austin to miss time at school, Amy Waller said. She added the family is appreciative and thankful for the support it received from Normal Community West High School helping him stay current with his studies during his illness.

In addition, Austin also missed out on social activities, as well – namely half of his bowling season. He is in a recreational bowling league at Pheasant Lanes in Bloomington which takes place on Saturday mornings. But once doctors gave him approval to resume normal activities and his chemotherapy sessions were scheduled — including a Saturday –, Austin asked doctors if he could have the Saturday session at 4a.m. That would give him time to get to bowl at 9a.m. The doctors granted his request.

“That’s how much he likes to bowl, and he’d been bowling with the same group for quite a few years,” Amy Waller said about her son.

The Wallers have had a history with Relay For Life of McLean County dating back to when Amy was carrying both her children – she marched as part of a Relay team
headed by Deb O’Connell, Deb’s Mardi Gras Marchers. O’Connell lost her battle with the disease in 2009.

“We are happy to have Austin represent us as our Honorary Youth Survivor,” said Catina Struble, Event Lead for Relay For Life of McLean County. “He showed both courage and poise in his dealing with the disease. His desire to continue normal activities even while going through treatment is a sign of his resiliency – something we believe all those affected by this disease show every day.”

RELAY 2018 START TIME MOVES TO 2P. M. FRIDAY: In addition to a new location, the start time for this year’s Relay has been moved up to Friday afternoon at 2p.m. which will include a “soft” opening at that time where team members can begin circling the course at that time, Wright explained. She said a formal opening ceremony will take place sometime after working hours that day – something else that is a change from previous Relay For Life of McLean County events. The Survivor Walk, which honors current cancer survivors, will follow the formal opening ceremony.

YOUTH ACTIVITIES TO TAKE PLACE BOTH DAYS: This year, Relay For Life of McLean County will “have youth activities for kids to enjoy on both Friday and Saturday,” Wright added.

RELAY 2017 NUMBERS: Relay For Life of McLean County wrapped up it 23rd annual event raising $300,786.47 at the conclusion of the 2017 event and had 70 teams comprised of 657 participants, and 220 survivors and caregivers at their annual Relay event, held from 4p.m.June 23 to 4p.m. June 254, 2017, at Normal Community High School.

Since it began in McLean County in 1994, Relay For Life of McLean County has raised over $8.3 Million to fight cancer.

LEARN MORE ABOUT RELAY 2018: Find out more about getting involved with Relay For Life of McLean County. You can find a link to our Relay by visiting www.relayforlife.org/mcleanil.

More information may be obtained by contacting either Catina Struble 309-706-5367 or Steve Robinson at 309-242-7838.

By Steve Robinson | February 1, 2018 - 9:59 am
Posted in Category: Relay For Life

Bloomington, Illinois – FEBRUARY 1, 2018 – The organizing committee for Relay For Life of McLean County is pleased to announce this year’s 24-hour event will be held at The Corn Crib in north Normal from 2p.m. Friday, June 22 through 2p.m. Saturday, June 23, 2018.

The Corn Crib has been home to the Normal CornBelters of independent baseball’s Frontier League since the team debuted in May 2010.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the CornBelters,” said Kimberly Wright, Community Development Manager for American Cancer Society’s Peoria-based office which oversees numerous Relay For Life events in central Illinois, including this one.

Per the agreement with the CornBelters, the use of The Corn Crib for the event is at no cost to Relay For Life of McLean County because CornBelters management is donating the stadium’s use free of charge.

“A large majority of our event will be in one big open location,” Wright explained pointing out the advantage of holding the event at The Corn Crib. “Holding the event here will be great for our Relay participants because we consider ourselves a big family and we want everyone to feel like family when they come to our event.”

“We are very thankful for the opportunity to partner with, and host, the Relay For Life of McLean County at The Corn Crib this June,” added Ryan Eucker, Vice President of Ticket Sales for the CornBelters. “Beyond providing a new and unique venue for the event, we’re looking forward to partnering with the many teams and participants of Relay For Life to offer support in their fundraising efforts.”

RELAY 2018 START TIME MOVES TO 2P. M. FRIDAY: In addition to a new location, the start time for this year’s Relay has been moved up to Friday afternoon at 2p.m. which will include a “soft” opening at that time where team members can begin circling the course at that time, Wright explained. She said a formal opening ceremony will take place sometime after working hours that day – something else that is a change from previous Relay For Life of McLean County events. The Survivor Walk, which honors current cancer survivors, will follow the formal opening ceremony.

YOUTH ACTIVITIES TO TAKE PLACE BOTH DAYS: This year, Relay For Life of McLean County will “have youth activities for kids to enjoy on both Friday and Saturday,” Wright added.

RELAY 2017 NUMBERS: Relay For Life of McLean County wrapped up it 23rd annual event raising $300,786.47 at the conclusion of the 2017 event and had 70 teams comprised of 657 participants, and 220 survivors and caregivers at their annual Relay event, held from 4p.m.June 23 to 4p.m. June 25, 2017, at Normal Community High School.

Since it began in McLean County in 1994, Relay For Life of McLean County has raised over $8.3 Million to fight cancer.

PLANNING FOR RELAY 2018: Planning for our 2018 campaign has begun. Getting involved with Relay For Life of McLean County would be the perfect way to volunteer your time in the fight against cancer. You can find a link to our Relay by visiting www.relayforlife.org/mcleanil.

More information may be obtained by contacting either Catina Struble 309-706-5367 or Steve Robinson at 309-242-7838.

Relay For LifeBloomington, Illinois – NOVEMBER 21, 2017 – Everyone may know November 28 is “Giving Tuesday,” a day during which Americans set aside time to either donate to or work on behalf of a favorite charity. But anyone who knows Bloomington resident Barb Gallick knows that since becoming a member of a team of family and friends who raise money for Relay For Life of McLean County, that effort means spending many days planning, promoting, and/or hosting fundraisers which raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Gallick’s Relay Team, “Fishing For A Cure,” has been participating in Relay For Life of McLean County’s annual June event since 2009 as a result of supporting family members who contracted the disease. “But now, it’s grown to become a group of friends and family,” Gallick explained. A total of 15 people were on the team for 2017’s annual event, ranging in age from 9 to 61.

“We raise money all year round,” Gallick said. Team members have held fundraisers featuring Thirty-One-brand bags, Pampered Chef products, a women’s luncheon every spring, and even continues to sell a cookbook of recipes compiled from family and friends which is sold on a continuing basis. In addition, various team members who are into crafts like crocheting sell those handmade items to add to the total raised by the team.

When “Fishing For A Cure” turned in money for their first Relay event, the group raised “Just over $1,000,” Gallick said. That was strictly from collecting donations from family and friends. Since then, Gallick said, with the various fundraisers, the team sets for itself an annual goal of $5,000. In 2017, the team’s effort raised just over $10,000.

Since the team was founded for the 2009 Relay event to now, Gallick said, “Fishing For A Cure” has raised between $40,000-$45,000 for Relay For Life of McLean County.

This team’s membership has been tested at times by the disease, including losing a loved one, Gallick said. “When our team has grown, what dollars we’ve raised has grown.”

“I can’t imagine that ‘Giving Tuesday’ hasn’t been impactful,” Gallick said. “It’s the perfect time to make people aware when they’re spending money on gifts and trying to find deals. I think it’s important to always have an alternative view to say, ‘If I can give a little bit, it will make a difference to people dealing with cancer.’”

“The incredible members of Fishing For A Cure relay team care deeply about our mission to eliminate cancer. We hope their story will inspire others in our community to help raise funds that continue our research to fight this disease, and help the many programs the American Cancer Society continues to provide,” added Kimberly Wright, Community Manager for ACS’ Peoria Office. Relay For Life of McLean County is overseen by ACS’ Peoria office.

ABOUT “GIVING TUESDAY”: Entering its sixth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources.

RELAY 2017 NUMBERS: Relay For Life of McLean County wrapped up it 23rd annual event raising $300,786.47 at the conclusion of the 2017 event and had 70 teams comprised of 657 participants, and 220 survivors and caregivers at their annual Relay event, held from 4p.m.June 23 to 4p.m. June 254, 2017, at Normal Community High School.

Since it began in McLean County in 1994, Relay For Life of McLean County has raised over $8.3 Million to fight cancer.

PLANNING FOR RELAY 2018: Planning for our 2018 campaign has begun. Getting involved with Relay For Life of McLean County would be the perfect way to cap off “Giving Tuesday.” You can find a link to our Relay by visiting www.relayforlife.org/mcleanil.

More information may be obtained by contacting either Catina Struble 309-706-5367 or Steve Robinson at 309-242-7838.

Relay For LifeRelay For Life of McLean County is pleased to announce that local couple Molly LeMonnier and Adam Chandler have been selected as Honored Survivor and Honored Caregiver for 2017. This year’s 24-hour event will take place at Normal Community High School from 4p.m. Friday, June 23 until 4p.m. Saturday, June 24, and will again include a 5K Run Saturday morning.

Their Story: In December this year, it will be 12 years ago when LeMonnier, then in her late 20’s, considered doing a self-breast exam. Up until that time, it wasn’t something she considered doing. But one night, LeMonnier admits, “Something wasn’t right.” So she performed the exam to confirm what she was feeling.

“But this time, I felt a lump in my right breast,” LeMonnier said of that moment that changed her life. “I called the doctor right away and she got me in. That’s when it all began.”

What her fingers told her was verified by the doctors – LeMonnier had a solid tumor. While she went through tests to confirm if the tumor was cancerous, “she had a nice, long ‘Honey-Do’ list for me,” said husband, local broadcaster Adam Chandler. Knowing something from her time there would take a few days.

By the start of 2006, doctors confirmed the lump was cancerous and began LeMonnier’s treatment, with Chandler by her side. That treatment included eight sessions of chemotherapy followed by a month of radiation. A PET Scan showed LeMonnier to be cancer-free after that. By this time, a full year had gone by.

Having beaten the disease by the end of 2006, the couple wanted to start a family. “But the doctors said we needed to wait a year to get all the chemicals out of my body,” LeMonnier said. LeMonnier and Chandler abided by the medical request, and waited as asked. Once that year was up, they began trying to start their family, succeeding when their first child, a daughter, was born on April 21, 2008. The couple now has two daughters.

But also in 2008, LeMonnier had a reoccurrence of cancer which was diagnosed as Stage 4 Breast Cancer. Her doctors put her on a different drug this time, called Herceptin. Within a month of starting treatment with that drug, the cancer was gone. LeMonnier has been cancer-free ever since.

When she was diagnosed the first time, “it was tough to get though the first diagnosis because, y’know…I promised her parents, ‘I’m going to take care of your little girl’,” Chandler remembers. He said the cancer caused situations where “I can’t do anything to help her fight that battle. As a caregiver, you have to come to the realization you can’t physically or mentally do anything. The best you can do is be there to be their support.”

“When the doctors said Molly was cancer-free, it was as if this weight is lifted off you,” Chandler said. “That’s when we decided, ‘let’s live our lives,’ start a family, get a bigger house, travel more.”

LeMonnier’s advice to people whose cancer journey has just started or may be continuing: “Don’t second guess yourself and have a positive attitude.” Chandler said ACS was helpful through the battle, encouraging the couple to seek a second opinion, but the couple became strongly acquainted with Relay For Life in 2006 when they participated in their first event.

“Relay For Life has given us a way to explain to our daughters that while Molly has beaten the cancer, we understand that the money raised helps benefit with developing new drugs like Herceptin,” Chandler said.

LeMonnier explains, “At Relay, I look around and talk and share with other survivors, particularly those in their 70s and 80s and that has given me hope.” She added she made it past 40 and hopes to make it past 50 and keep walking laps just like the people from other teams on the track next to her.

“Money raised at this Relay event, and other Relay events will help continue to do just that,” said Kimberly Wright, Community Manager for the American Cancer Society, based in Peoria. “We want to have more teams formed and come out to have fun and join the cause. We want to see people come out for the 5K event, have fun and share in the joy of stories like Molly’s and Adam’s. Molly received a new medication as part of her treatment because there were dollars available donated by residents who cared.”

Relay For Life of McLean County hopes to raise $300,000 in 2017 and have at least 85 teams and 400 survivors and 400 caregivers at their annual Relay event. Relay For Life of McLean County will be held from 4 p.m. June 23 to 4 pm. June 24, 2017, at Normal Community High School.

In 2016, Relay For Life of McLean County raised $297,606. Since it began in McLean County in 1994, Relay For Life of McLean County has raised over $7.6 Million to fight cancer. We are looking for more teams to join us in the fight!

Relay For Life of McLean County volunteer leadership and staff would like to thank our Presenting Sponsor, State Farm Insurance, and our Gold Sponsors, Country Financial and Avanti’s Italian Restaurant, along with all of the other sponsoring businesses and organizations for their dedication to helping us win the fight against cancer.

More information may be obtained by contacting either Catina Struble 309-706-5367 or Steve Robinson at 309-242-7838.