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.

Relay For LifeBloomington, Illinois – June 8, 2017 – Thomas Briggs’ only exposure to Relay For Life of McLean County was as a member of Normal Community High School’s Marching Band as the group participated in getting evening activity underway. But after NCHS’ musicians circle the track this year, Thomas will get to circle the track a second time – in the annual Survivors March – because of what he’s experienced in the past year.

As his freshman year at Normal Community High School was winding down in May 2016, Thomas found having exams and papers due weren’t the only item that might have produced anxiety for him. A nagging tingling sensation on his left side was followed by the discovery of a lump on his left side – both unusual and worrisome for the young man and his parents, Mark and Susan Briggs, Bloomington.

The discovery of the lump on his collarbone and on his side led to a trip to his pediatrician, who ordered several tests that determined Thomas had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. What followed for Thomas was treatment to fight the cancer at St. Jude Medical Center and the Illinois Cancer Care Center in Peoria.

That treatment included a summer of four cycles of chemotherapy and 14 radiation treatments. His treatment was completed by late October. PET Scans last December and again as recently as March showed Thomas to be cancer free. He will however, need quarterly checkups.

Susan Briggs said the American Cancer Society’s website, cancer.org, was “a wonderful source of information. My husband and I didn’t know anything about Hodgkin’s or what the possible treatments might be until seeing that site.”

His courage in the face of the disease is among the reasons Relay For Life of McLean County has named Thomas Briggs its Honored Youth Survivor. Relay For Life McLean County will hold its annual 24 hour event starting at 4p.m. Friday, June 23 and running until 4p.m. Saturday, June 24, at Normal Community High School. Our annual 5K event will begin with registration at 8a.m.

The 16-year-old said that, in the past year, he has learned that “most of the drugs used on me were from doctors who were funded by the American Cancer Society. I didn’t even think about how cancer can affect someone my age until I was diagnosed with it. If people donate, it will help doctors to find new ways just as they did for me.”

“He’s right about that,” said Kimberly Wright, Community Manager for the American Cancer Society, based in Peoria, said. “New ways to fight varying forms of the disease are discovered every day because money is available to find new ways to fight it by doctors who just want to see it end. Thomas’ story is proof of that. We couldn’t be prouder that Thomas is our Youth Survivor this year.”

“Thomas’ story doesn’t just show how helpful the American Cancer Society website can be, but also that money raised by our McLean County Relay has and will help patients,” Wright added. “Thomas’ treatment came about 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.

Relay For LifeBloomington, Illinois – June 27, 2016 – Relay For Life of McLean County wrapped up its 22nd annual event at Normal Community High School on Saturday, June 25 at 10a.m., having had team members circle the track at Ironmen Field for 18 hours, and held a 5K Run to raise money to fight cancer. There were many inspiring stories, large and small, during the event which motivated and encouraged those who participated.

TWO HEARTS, ONE TEAM: Each having been touched by cancer, Bloomington residents Michael Fitzgerald and Stephanie Moore learned and understood what it took to care for a loved one stricken by the disease. Fitzgerald, 44 and the father of two daughters now 14 and 10, lost his wife of 15 years, Elaine, to tongue and throat cancer just a few weeks before Christmas in 2014. Elaine had been diagnosed in March 2013. Moore, 38, a mother of two boys, now 11 and 7, lost her husband of almost 7 ½ years, Noah C. Moore, to colon cancer in November 2014, having battled it for a year once he had been diagnosed.

They each watched over, cared for, and aided their loved ones during their disease. They began trying to heal through their grieving by being part of a group they joined at a local church. That’s where they met and were able to share – both with the group and each other – how to survive losing a loved one. They met as part of that group in January 2015. Their bond grew so strong that they fell in love and married on April 30, 2016, blending the two families.

Then, after being asked by the organizing committee of Relay For Life of McLean County to serve as honorary caregivers for this year’s event, the couple took matters one step further when they began organizing their Relay team, named MooreFitzStrong, in honor of their loved ones.

Most Relay teams have between 12-15 individuals on a team, with at least one member or more circling the track for part of the 18-hour event. But Fitzgerald and Moore may have set a record in recruiting when they began forming their team. When the Relay began at 4p.m. Friday, MooreFitzStrong’s team roster tallied 22 people. They ranged from Fitzgerald’s daughters and Moore’s sons to co-workers of the couple and extended family members.

Among those on the team were best friends who took up the fight alongside Moore and Fitzgerald. Moore’s best friends, Brandi Storm and Erika Cheeseman, walked alongside her for part of their time on the track Friday night. “We’re here to support Stephanie and Mike in remembrance of Noah and Elaine,” Cheeseman explained.

Because of their experience, Fitzgerald and Moore were chosen as our Honorary Caregivers for this year’s event.

“As friends, we’ve seen the aftermath of what a cancer patient’s loved ones have to endure,” Storm said. “Cancer affects everybody in some sort of way. I just think the more support we have, whether directly or indirectly, will lead us to a cure so people don’t have to go through what our friends have gone through.”

“Mike and Stephanie are the base of an amazing support system,” Cheeseman said acknowledging the large number of members on their team. “The support they gave their families and each other is something for the others on the team to grow off of. Being part of this is just an amazing experience that people should come see. Storm added that, even with the number of members the team brought to the event this year, she believes the MooreFitzStrong team could become even larger by next year’s Relay event.

2nd ANNUAL 5K EVENT DRAWS PARTICIPANT BACK HOME: This year’s event again incorporated a 5K Run event held early Saturday morning with 100 runners taking part, either having pre-registered online or in person at the event.

It wasn’t just local residents who came to participate in the 5K, but out—of-towners, too, came to support the cause while feeding their passion for running. Josh Brandt, 36, a Twin City native, knowing he would be visiting family when he came to town, said he looked for 5K events on the internet before leaving his home in the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Brandt was possibly one of the first runners to complete the course, having done it in 19 minutes and three seconds. Cancer has also played a motivating factor in Brandt’s wanting to participate in the 5K, too, he said, because his mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor. He said he has also had co-workers at the high school where he teaches English who have also survived cancer.

RELAY 2016 NUMBERS:
Relay For Life of McLean County raised nearly $270,000 in 2016 and had 79 teams and 500 survivors and caregivers at their annual Relay event, held from 4p.m.June 24 to 10a.m. June 25, 2016, at Normal Community High School.

Since it began in McLean County in 1994, Relay For Life of McLean County has raised over $7.8 Million to fight cancer.

Of this year’s event, Catina Struble, Lead Co-Chair for Relay For Life of McLean County, said, “We are very pleased with the amount of money we were able to raise at this year’s event. We are equally pleased with the fact new people came to join our fight, both as part of the annual Relay and at our new 5K event. Such success can only help us continue our fight.”

SPONSORS FOR THIS YEAR’S EVENT: Sponsors have helped Relay For Life of McLean County with continuing our efforts. We are honored to have State Farm Insurance as our presenting sponsor for this year’s Relay, as we are honored to have Avanti’s Italian Restaurant and Country Financial as our Gold sponsor.

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

Relay For LifeBloomington, Illinois – June 6, 2016 – Grief is not often considered a positive force. But when Bloomington residents Mike Fitzgerald and Stephanie Moore met in January 2015, they were both grieving the loss of a spouse who had lost a courageous fight against cancer.

Fitzgerald, 44 and the father of two daughters now 14 and 10, lost his wife of 15 years, Elaine, to tongue and throat cancer just a few weeks before Christmas in 2014. Elaine had been diagnosed in March 2013. Moore, 38, a mother of two boys, now 11 and 7, lost her husband of almost 7 ½ years, Noah C. Moore, to colon cancer in November 2014, having battled it for a year once he had been diagnosed.

Both Fitzgerald and Moore watched over, cared for, and aided their loved ones during their disease. They began trying to heal through their grieving by being part of a group they joined at a local church. That’s where they met and were able to share – both with the group and each other – how to survive losing a loved one. They met as part of that group in January 2015. Their bond grew so strong that they fell in love and married on April 30, 2016, blending the two families.

Relay For Life of McLean County is pleased to announce Fitzgerald and Moore have been chosen as our Honorary Caregivers for this year’s event which will be held from 4p.m. on Friday, June 24 through 10a.m. on Saturday, June 25 at Normal Community High School, 3900 E. Raab Rd. A 2nd Annual 5K Run held as part of our Relay event will take place at NCHS on Saturday, starting with registration at 7a.m.

Fitzgerald and Moore have formed a 20-person Relay team named MooreFitzStrong to join in for this year’s event, the team named honoring their loved ones.

“Mike and Stephanie’s story says so much about living with a person who has and loses their cancer battle,” explained Kimberly Wright, Community Manager for American Cancer Society’s Peoria Office. American Cancer Society oversees all Relay For Life events. ACS’ Peoria Office oversees the McLean County Relay event. “Their story shows they are moving forward while honoring Elaine and Noah and others who have been in a similar situation. We at Relay For Life of McLean County are very pleased Mike and Stephanie will serve to represent the hundreds of other caregivers, who every day, stand by and support their loved ones as they go through their cancer journey. Their story is inspirational on so many levels.”

Relay For Life of McLean County hopes to raise $370,000 in 2016 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 4p.m.June 24 to 10a.m. June 25, 2016, at Normal Community High School.

In 2015, Relay For Life of McLean County raised $291,461. 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! 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 help us join in the fight!

SPONSORS FOR THIS YEAR’S EVENT:
Sponsors have helped Relay For Life of McLean County with continuing our efforts. We are honored to have State Farm Insurance as our presenting sponsor for this year’s Relay, as we are honored to have Avanti’s Italian Restaurant and Country Financial as our Gold sponsor.

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

Relay For LifeBloomington, Illinois – May 27, 2016 – A first colonoscopy for Nancy Warner of Bloomington provided news she wasn’t expecting in 2011. From that exam, doctors discovered Nancy had Stage 3 Colon Cancer. To eradicate the disease, Nancy needed a colon resection and six months of chemotherapy.

The chemotherapy drugs, while helpful in killing the cancer, left Nancy in unique circumstances, partially disabled, needing to learn to walk again. But she said, even so, “I’m living the most abundant life I ever have.”

Relay For Life of McLean County is pleased to announce Nancy Warner of Bloomington has been chosen as our Honorary Survivor for this year’s event which will be held from 4p.m. on Friday, June 24 through 10a.m. on Saturday, June 25 at Normal Community High School, 3900 E. Raab Rd. A 2nd Annual 5K Run held as part of our Relay event will take place at NCHS on Saturday, starting with registration at 7a.m.

Having survived Cancer and the side effects of her treatment, Nancy has become involved with Relay For Life of McLean County, in part, to spread the organization’s message and to help encourage others as they raise funds for the upcoming annual event.

“Nancy’s story of surviving cancer is inspirational because her cancer was aiming toward taking her life when doctors detected it through a routine exam,” added Kimberly Wright, Community Manager for American Cancer Society’s Peoria Office. American Cancer Society oversees all Relay For Life events. ACS’ Peoria Office oversees the McLean County Relay event. “Nancy’s story supports the urgency of getting colorectal screenings starting at age 50. Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful weapons against colorectal cancer. Regular screening can prevent many cases of colorectal cancer altogether by finding and removing certain types of polyps before they have the chance to turn into cancer.”

“Unfortunately, only a little more than half of people who should get tested for colorectal cancer get the tests that they should,” Wright added. “The American Cancer Society is so thankful to have Nancy on our side as an advocate for early detection through colorectal screenings.”

Relay For Life of McLean County hopes to raise $370,000 in 2016 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 4p.m.June 24 to 10a.m. June 25, 2016, at Normal Community High School.

In 2015, Relay For Life of McLean County raised $291,461. 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! 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 help us join in the fight!

SPONSORS FOR THIS YEAR’S EVENT: Sponsors have helped Relay For Life of McLean County with continuing our efforts. We are honored to have State Farm Insurance as our presenting sponsor for this year’s Relay, as we are honored to have Avanti’s Italian Restaurant and Country Financial as our Gold sponsor.

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