The Kevin Meyer Memorial Foundation
5323 Bundleflower Court
Naperville, IL 60564
630-904-4893
info@kevinsgift.org


2014 Recipients

Joshua Applewhite and Family
Joshua and his family have been through a lot these last couple of years. At the age of six In January 2011 Joshua had a fever of 104 that just would not go down. He then started complaining of stomach pains. He was sent for X-rays and Cat Scans which the pains were from constipation and the fever was from a viral infection but that they saw a mass in his liver and that he needed to see a specialist. We get to the specialist and sure enough Joshua had a malignant tumor the size of an orange that needed to come out right away. Me being his mother, I felt like I was hit by ten trucks at once. And I all I could think about is my baby. Why him? Where did it come from? Why didn't his normal doctors catch this in time? How long has this tumor been growing? The doctors really couldn't answer the questions but that he had a rare form of liver cancer called hepatablastoma. This tumor was found by a fluke. If Joshua was never constipated this tumor would have grown and spread to other places in the body. That next week Joshua had his surgery that lasted seven hours. Joshua had a right liver resection where they cut out half his liver were the tumor was localized and removed his gallbladder. Good thing the liver is the one organ that grows back. Joshua was in the hospital for about two weeks after surgery. I thought surgery was the worse but I did not know what we had in store. Chemotherapy for Joshua started that February and it was the hardest four months. Joshua had to do four rounds of chemo But Joshua was such a trooper and a fighter. He fought his way through school. He would say "mom I want to go to school but my body won't let me". Or sometimes I would get a call from the school nurse stating that Joshua slept in the nurses’ office for two hours but then went back to class. Joshua would miss school weeks at a time with appointments, fevers, chemo, blood transfusions etc. But it never kept him down.
As of June 2011 Joshua is cancer free. He still goes through physical therapy because chemotherapy has affected with the way of his walking and has lost a little bit of his hearing in both ears. Joshua is 10 years old now but he understands the severity of cancer. Joshua’s dad lost his battle with cancer in September 2013. We are still fighting and struggling the loss of his dad and sometimes we just want to give up but when you have family and people like the Kevin Meyer Memorial Foundation it gives us that boost of energy to keep moving.
Joshua and his family are so thankful for the Kevin Meyer Memorial Foundation and for selecting Joshua for being the recipient of 2014.


MAKE-A-WISH
Thank you all for coming tonight. I am a proud volunteer and staff member for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Kevin was one of my best friends and he was the main reason why I got involved with Make-A-Wish 5 years ago. Make-A-Wish is a non-profit organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Make-A-Wish will grant a wish to any eligible child that medically qualifies for their organization! Since they opened their doors in 1985, Make-A-Wish Illinois has granted over 12,000 wishes! Last year alone, Make-A-Wish Illinois granted over 700 wishes! 


The goal of Make-A-Wish is to give the wish child and their family a break from their everyday lives of doctor’s appointments and medical tests and be able to act like a normal kid again! It gives the wish families a chance to have fun and enjoy their time together without any worries.


I have worked with numerous doctors in Illinois and a lot of them agree that Make-A-Wish should be part of the child’s treatment because some say that a wish can be just as effective as medicine! For example, I had a wish kiddo that was given 1-2 week left when his wish file hit my desk back in July of 2013. This boy was wishing for a fishing boat so he could teach his younger siblings how to fish. I was able to grant his wish within 2 days and he went fishing in the pond located in the hospital parking lot, with medical supervision. Since then, his health has drastically improved, he was able to go home in September of 2013 and he is still with us today! This is what Make-A-Wish calls, “The Power of a Wish”.
I can’t tell you how fortunate I am to be able to go into work everyday day and know that I’m making a difference for our wish families. I talk with families every day and I can hear the hope and excitement in their voice because their child is no longer worried about the IV in their arm or the next chemo treatment they are about to undergo. Their thoughts are focused on choosing their most heartfelt wish and then daydreaming about it coming true until their wish day arrives. Make-A-Wish wants to help wish kids and their families forget about their illness and focus on something positive for a change.


With us tonight, is Joshua Applewhite and his loving family. Joshua is a wish kid from Make-A-Wish Illinois whose wish was granted this past June to go to Bush Gardens and Sea World! His family will be one of the recipients of Kevin’s Gift this yea.

 

 

2013 Recipients

Eric Williams Crone Teacher (his story)

In January, I went to the Doctor because I had what I believed was a swollen lymph
node by my ear that had been there for awhile. After examination, CT Scan and blood
tests it was determined that it was a tumor in my parotid gland. The parotid gland is the
largest gland within the salivary gland system. The Doctor was pretty sure it was a
benign tumor, as those are fairly commonly found in the parotid gland. A fine needle
biopsy was scheduled as well as surgery to remove the gland.
In February I had the gland removed (which was a pretty big surgery) and the Doc
said that the fine needle aspiration, as well as the “look” of the tumor pointed to it being
benign. Of course, it will be sent to pathology and we would get a final report in about a
week. I was home off work for 10 days and returned thinking that it was all behind me.
Then the Doc called and told me that there was some question as to the findings on the
tumor so it was sent to Mayo, then later MD Anderson. What I had was a myoepithelial
neoplasm. Which is an extremely rare tumor, so rare that they only know of 50 other
cases. In addition, the margins were not clear, so there was a possibility that some
cancerous cells were left behind.
Upon consult with a local oncologist and an oncologist at Northwestern, it was
decided that they would “extrapolate” treatment based on protocol for similar salivary
gland tumors. Chemotherapy is typically unsuccessful, so I had a very high dose of
IMRT radiation daily for almost 7 weeks.
The first week was ok, and I was able to keep a normal schedule at school. Coaching
and at home. After about the 5th treatment the side effects started kicking in. I was told
that radiation to the head and neck area is the hardest and has the most severe side
effects and I was beginning to experience the beginning of that. Fatigue, sore throat,
loss of appetite, blisters, metal taste in my mouth, nausea and vomiting began to set in
and became steadily worse. I managed to work most days, but would come home and
crash. Finally, after consistently dropping weight (a little over 30 lbs) and being
miserable my Doctor insisted that I take a leave of absence from work. I was home
much of May and ended up dropping so much weight that I had to go in for daily IV fluid
treatment and meds on top of my radiation treatment. The IV fluids continued several
days after treatment stopped.
I was able to return to work for the last week of school and have spent this summer
resting and trying to regain my strength. I think I’m at about 85%, with fatigue being the
only lasting side effect. All of the others subsided slowly after radiation therapy stopped.
I will have my first MRI in a few weeks, and will continue to have them every 4
months, as this tumor is known to reoccur. After 2 years of clear MRI’s I will have them
every 6 months for 3 years. Once I hit the 5 year mark, I will continue to have them
annually.

The Loughlin Family
The Loughlin's are a well known and loved family that have endured more this past year, than any of us could ever imagine experiencing in a lifetime. Deb was diagnosed with Breast Cancer last November. She has been an inspiration to her family and friends in her courageous battle, with what has turned out to be a very rare lymphatic form of breast cancer. As she continues her fight, July brought more heartache as the Loughlin's 14 year old son Kyle, was diagnosed with a Brain Tumor. As this dynamic and lovable boy starts his freshman year in High School, making the JV Soccer team, and wanting to be like every other teenager starting high school, he has started his chemo treatments, and like his mom, begins his own courageous battle. Keep Deb and her husband Marty, as well as Kyle and their older son Connor in your prayers.
 Please support our deserving recipients and contribute in any way that you can to the Kevin Meyer Memorial Foundation!!

 

 

2012 Recipients

Scott Kaminski and Family

Scott and Cathy along with their three children Krissi, Michael and Nicki have lived in High Meadow Community in Naperville for the past 15 years. The Kaminiski’s are a wonderful, warm and welcoming family; their home is always open to friends and neighbors for a chat, a meal or even a swim in the pool. Scott and Cathy are always eager to help anyone in need as they are a family that understands the challenges that illness can place on a family.

Scott was diagnosed at the age of 12 with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Unlike most cases of Juvenile RA, Scott never grew out of this condition. Since childhood Scott has endured numerous hospitalizations and surgeries to repair damage to his joints, ligaments and his cervical spine. These surgeries, even as a child were followed by months and months of recovery with great limitations to mobility. As an adult he developed Polymyositis, a chronic inflammation of the muscles with secondary affects to his lungs. The treatments for these conditions do not come without their own risk and have produced a heart attack, strokes and seizures over the years. Most recently Scott was diagnosed with an undetermined lymphadenopthy which his doctor’s suspect is an emerging form of lymphoma. Additionally, precancerous nodules were found in his lungs. And so Scott is now undergoing Chemotherapy for the treatment of lymphoma.

This is really a very tiny snapshot of the pain and suffering that Scott has taken on his entire life. Because of the complexity and interaction of his different medical issues, it can often take doctors significant time to diagnose and treat acute or new health issues. His children have grown to know all too well ambulances, emergency rooms, hospitalizations and lengthy treatment regiments involved in the recovery of these numerous medical events. They all have shown great maturity and stepped up to help in numerous ways when required to do so.

As his friends, we have time and time again witnessed Scott, Cathy and their children’s remarkable strength as they wait on diagnosis, endure its treatment and regain control on Scott’s health. Scott is a remarkable model of compassion, courage and perseverance for his family, friends and neighbors. He and his wife Cathy have supported so many of friends and neighbors during difficult times. They are truly a gift to all of us.

John Citta

John’s health issues began in early 2011. He started developing kidney stones. Unusual, but not unheard of for a healthy teenage boy. He had kidney stones in February and in May.

In June he began to have unusual abdominal pain which his doctor explained was probably due to his kidney stone issues. John saw his urologist and he thought John had a new kidney stone developing.

While on a vacation John did pass a kidney stone but continued to have problems, with increasing pain. After returning home, two days later John had to be taken to the emergency room. He was diagnosed with appendicitis and went in for emergency surgery. His 45 minute appendectomy turned into almost four hours of surgery. The surgeon discovered his colon was adhered to his abdominal wall and the small and large intestine were adhered together. With so much inflamation they had become attached to each other. This was almost likely related to the Crohns disease. John spent ten days in the hospital having multiple tests done, confirming the diagnosis.

The doctors were unable to get the disease under control so he was transferred to University of Chicago Medical Center, where once stabilized, he had surgery to remove part of his colon and small intestine.

After numerous treatments and transfusions, John was feeling good and beginning to re-gain part of the 25 pounds he had lost while ill, however, a short time later he began having a problem with vertigo and dizzy spells. No explanation could be found. John then began experiencing seizures. His neuro tests showed abnormal activity in the brain and he then had another grand Mal seizure at school. He is now being treated daily for a seizure disorder and dealing with medications, and the effects they bring.

All of these challenges occurred during John’s senior year at Neuqua Valley.
Recent tests have shown that there are blockages caused by scar tissue, causing the intestines to twist and kink. He went for two weeks without food by mouth and that allowed the intestines to rest, and unkink naturally on their own. Sadly, it's just a matter of time before this will happen again and when it does it will mean another major surgery and removal of more of his intestinal tract. For now he's just happy to be eating again and has gained back a couple of pounds. He was down to 129 when he left the hospital, and his goal is to reach 150lbs. in the near future.

For now, John’s plans for college have been put on hold…this is an especially tough time of year as he sees his friends all move on to the next chapter in their lives, and he remains home.

 

2011 Recipients

Chris Pugh

On Sunday morning June 6, 2010, 15-year-old Chris Pugh was coming home from a Boy Scout campout. A Life scout, Chris’s goal for the weekend campout was to finish the final step for the final merit badge before he began an Eagle project. He was looking forward to Ultimate Frisbee camp and Driver’s Ed which were to start the next week. Unfortunately storms kept passing through that weekend and the scouts were limited in what they got done. They spent much of the weekend sheltering in a cinderblock restroom, as per Boy Scout safety regulations. On the way home, the driver of the car Chris was riding in drove off I-55 into an overpass pillar. Chris was ejected from the car. Never losing consciousness, he found himself lying in a puddle of gasoline, unable to move.

His neck was broken. He had fractures in his vertebra (C4, C5, and L3) as well as his right ankle. The neurosurgeon in the emergency room broke the news: Chris had suffered a serious injury to his spinal cord. He was paralyzed. It was too soon to tell to what extent. Emergency surgery was done that day on his ankle. Four days later surgery was done on his cervical spine. He still couldn’t move at all, but he was breathing on his own, could talk, and didn’t have a brain injury.



Ten days after the accident, Chris could move his left arm and leg a bit. He was ready to be released from the ICU and start the hard work of healing and rehab. We decided to medi-flight him to The Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA. The Shepherd Center specializes in spinal cord injuries, and had eight other teenaged boys with cervical spine injuries at that time. Good to have other kids around who were going through the same thing. Within an hour or so of arrival, they got Chris a “sip and puff” to control his TV and a large call button he could push. Finally he could do some things for himself. Within 24 hours, they got him into a power wheelchair that he could control with his left arm.



Slowly over the next month, Chris’s left side got under his control. Chris’s spinal cord injury is Brown Sequard Syndrome. His left side is very mobile, but with reduced sensation. His right side has some paralysis and hypersensitivity, making him subject to nerve pain. He perceives temperature and touch differently on each side of his body.



Chris stayed at the Shepherd Center for 12 weeks. By the end, he was functioning as Walking Quad- a quadriplegic who could walk. His whole body was still affected somewhat, and his right arm was paralyzed, but he could walk a little. Tests showed that there was some signal passing down his right arm, which was good news.



In late September 2010, Chris returned home to Illinois. We had sold our two-story house in Naperville in late June, and Chris’s father left for New York in late August. We moved into a small ranch in Bolingbrook sight unseen that was easy for Chris to move around in and was still in school district 204. Chris began vigorous outpatient physical and occupational therapies, at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and at Next Steps Chicago Spinal Injury Center almost daily. He went to school part time, taking one class in the fall, four classes in the spring, and one in the summer at Neuqua Valley High School. This fall Chris will be returning to school full time, as well as keeping a full physical therapy schedule.



Spinal Cord injuries are difficult to predict, and slow to change. Christopher Reeves was still regaining function six years after his accident. Chris will need physical therapy for some time to come. He is slowly regaining some function in his right arm. We are hopeful for the future.


Grant Hedrick


Thanksgiving weekend of 2008, Grant was working his shift at Giordano’s Pizza at Rt. 59 and 95thStreet. While at work, he had a seizure. At 6 foot, 5 inches, he took a hard fall to the ground. It was determined that night that a brain tumor was the cause of the seizure. Prior to this incident, he was leading a normal, healthy life. Grant was 17 years old, a senior at Neuqua and doing well academically. He was a member of the Neuqua boy’s volleyball team and was looking forward to playing Varsity volleyball as a senior.
Upon learning that he had a large brain tumor in his frontal lobe, he had a craniotomy to remove the tumor in December 2008. Grant underwent a second brain surgery to remove more tumor in March of 2009. This was a hard decision because Grant wanted to play his senior year of volleyball for Neuqua . After the surgery he was there within a week from being released to watch the Neuqua team play. He did get approval from his surgeon to play volleyball at the end of the season in one sectional game and one state competition game at 8 weeks post surgery. This was a dream come true for him!
His senior year was spent in two surgeries, two recoveries and trying to get his brain to comprehend so he could finish school. Thanks to the help from Neuqua Valley teachers, nurses, counselors and administration, classmates and teammates, Grant was able to graduate with his class in 2009. He then underwent 6 weeks of radiation at the University of Chicago and completed this regimen in July of 2009. He tried to go to Graceland University on a volleyball scholarship that fall, but discovered that it was too much, too soon and his treatments had taken a toll.

He came home and attended College of Dupage in the Spring of 2010. Here he got a chance to play a little volleyball again for the club team. Grant was on course to attend again in the fall, when a 3rd surgery was necessary in September of 2010 to remove another mass in the tumor bed. Pathology report determined this growth to be radiation necrosis. Again, he had to lay out a semester of school. He spent time volunteering at Feed My Starving Children and Loaves and Fishes.


Grant returned to College of Dupage in spring of 2011 and picked up the game of volleyball again. He was a week away from going to Houston with the team and had a seizure. It was determined that there was another mass and that his brain was swelling. Grant endured his 4th craniotomy to remove the mass on May 17 of 2011.
Four weeks after surgery he developed a weakness in his right hand. An MRI determined that his brain was swelling and radiation necrosis was the probable cause once again. We have chosen no more surgery and he is currently receiving a new chemotherapy treatment to try to treat the swelling in the brain.


At the current moment he is receiving infusions every two weeks. We are hoping that these treatments will help reduce the swelling. As of July 19, 2011 we discovered that the use of his right hand and arm are severely compromised due to cell death. Grant is hoping that with hard work and determination that his brain will grow new nerve pathways so his hand will work again. He is determined that someday he will be able to use the hand to play volleyball and ride a bike again.


He will continue to receive MRI brain scans every 2 to 3 months to monitor the situation. He will continue with occupational, physical and speech therapies to improve his current situation.


Throughout this 3 year journey, we have received an overwhelming amount of kindness and generosity from our community, family, and friends. We thank each and every one who has been on this path with us. We know that this is an ongoing journey for Grant and our family and we are thankful to have such wonderful people in our lives as we continue down this path. We feel so blessed and want to express our gratitude to The Kevin Meyer Foundation for selecting Grant as a recipient for 2011.

 

2010 Recipients

Rusty Coblentz

During the month of November in 2009, Rusty injured his knee playing football. After a visit to an orthopedic doctor and an x-ray, it was determined he had tendonitis. It continued to bother Rusty, so his parents took him back to the doctor who sent him to a physical therapist. One of the therapists noticed an unusual swelling just under his knee so his doctor ordered an MRI. He was immediately sent to The University of Chicago Hospital due to some concerns they had his MRI results. After a biopsy, bone scans and many other tests, Rusty was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a very aggressive form of bone cancer. Although the cancer was caught early, Rusty will need 6 intensive rounds of chemotherapy, surgery to remove the tumor, 8 more rounds of the same type of chemotherapy, and possibly some radiation. He has a very long road ahead.

If all goes well, his treatment will conclude sometime in late November 2010. This realization was difficult for Rusty, as his plans to go to Michigan State University in the fall have been put on hold. He has a new goal to attend Michigan State University in the fall of 2011 and his parents plan to do everything in their power to make sure that happens. Looking for ways to keep his spirits high during this difficult process is another challenge that his parents work on daily.

Tammy Nolte

Tammy and her family have been residents of High Meadow Subdivision for over 14 years. She is a dedicated mother of four daughters, and she and her husband John have provided exceptional daycare in their home business for many children throughout the years.

Over the years, Tammy has been a dedicated and self-less volunteer for many different organizations, including Neuqua Valley High School, Crone Middle School, Graham Elementary School, and The High Meadow Homeowners Association, just to name a few. She continually stepped up to chair, organize, and support hundreds of activities and events!

In December of 2009, Tammy, a very active and health conscious woman experienced a very unexpected stroke. After being released from Edwards Hospital, Tammy was admitted to Marianjoy Rehabilitation Center for 2 months of intensive Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy. Unfortunately, their insurance benefits were maxed out, and Tammy was forced to return home.

Although Tammy was no longer able to continue with her day care business, a major source of their income, and John has been unemployed for some time, the Nolte’s believe that it has been a blessing that John was out of work, and able to be Tammy’s primary care giver. She believes that no one could take better care of her than John! With John and their daughter’s help, Tammy has continued to rehabilitate at home, and works diligently on a daily basis on her PT, OT & Speech Therapy.

2009 Recipients

Michael Trujillo was born with a bleeding disorder called afibrinogenemia, which means his blood does not clot normally. Throughout his life he has required frequent transfusions of blood products to help him stop bleeding. Mike has lived his life as normally as possible. He was a senior in high school when he sustained a life-threatening brain bleed.

In May 2008, Mike had a hemorrhagic stroke that required two emergency brain surgeries followed by 7 ½ months of hospitalizations, other surgeries and in-patient rehabilitation. From his hospital room(s) he rooted for the Cubbies on the way to winning the Division and kept in touch with friends when he re-mastered the art of texting. All of this kept him going along with support and prayers from family, friends, nurses and doctors.

One true blessing was that he was released from in-patient rehab in time to make it home for Christmas!!!

When Mike came home he was still very fragile and unsteady only being able to use a wheelchair and needing much assistance for daily living. Now he is using a walker to get around and has become much more independent and steady but there is still work to be done.


Mike is currently, going to the Rehab Institute of Chicago Satellite Center four days a week for 6 1/2 hours of intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy. His immediate goal is to walk independently!! On Fridays, Mike goes downtown to Children's Memorial Hospital with his mom for his weekly infusions of a new medication that should prevent this type of bleeding from happening again.

With the help of his counselor from high school he was finally able to receive his diploma in May of 2009 at a special ceremony held in the Rotunda at Neuqua. He gave a speech to the guests in attendance and sang a song to his mom with the help of Kanye West (on CD). This was a very proud moment in his life.

Mike strives each day to overcome this set-back and be the person he used to be. He has come a very long way and is very determined. So determined in fact that he will be attending ISU-Illinois State University in the fall and majoring in International Business.

Mike's survival was a miracle, his ongoing recovery has been amazing and he is looking forward to a bright future.

 

Allison Huff is a twelve year old sixth grader who was diagnosed in February 2009 with Restrictive Cardiomyopathy---an incurable and rare genetic disorder that causes the lower chambers of the heart to become rigid while the rest of the heart, the upper chambers, become enlarged. Allison went into Children’s Memorial Hospital on February 3rd and returned home May 7th---missing the entire second semester at Crone Middle School, but very healthy and in good condition. Here is her story:

Allison was always a very healthy child. No major illnesses, not trips to the emergency room. So it was a shock when we first learned about her condition. She had had a fainting spell while running between classes at Crone. This was her second syncope in two years, so our pediatrician recommended that she have an EKG. The results showed an abnormality in her heart rhythm, so a second EKG and an EchoCardiogram were scheduled at Edwards. After these test results came back similar to the first, we took her down to Children’s Memorial where she was formally diagnosed. RCM affects about one in a million people. Usually it does not get diagnosed until it is too late. So we were thankful that our pediatrician---who Fellowed in the Cardiology unit at Children’s, prescribed the EKG. For three months Allison remained at CMH, living on the 5th floor, either her Mom (Fran) and Dad (John) always with her, and weekend visits from her sisters, Emma and Grace. Our families came up from Quincy IL, or flew in from as far away as Florida, New Jersey and Tennessee. We had tons of support also from church (Good Shepherd) and neighborhood friends. We set up a fund for her to defray medical costs, plus the cost of staying and eating downtown. The time in the hospital took its toll on us, but it did not overwhelm us. We prayed for and received exactly what we wanted---the support of friends and family, a new heart for Allison. On April 16th, Allie’s new heart finally arrived---a good strong heart that was donated from a family still unknown to us, but to whom we continually express gratitude and prayers of healing for their loss.

Allie is doing well in her post-op recovery phase. It’s been two months since she was discharged from the hospital and she does most of the things she did before she went in. She rides her bike, she goes on walks, she plays outside, she does puzzles and reads. We owe a great deal of thanks to all the people at Children’s Memorial---the nurses especially, and of course the doctors—for the extraordinary care they gave our daughter both before, during and after this ordeal. But the truth is, the ordeal never really ends. Allie will need to be on medications for the rest of her life that suppress her immune system , exposing her to greater risk of catching infections. She has biopsies and other tests on a regular basis. The risk of needing a second transplant sometime in the future is, at least statistically, a possibility.

On behalf of Allison and the entire Huff Family, Fran and John would like to express their deep gratitude to the Kevin Meyer Foundation for selecting Allison as one of this year’s recipients. We are grateful also to the Naperville and surrounding communities who have shown us so much support throughout this ordeal. We would not be in the same place we are today without your love and generosity.

With Gratitude

John & Frances Huff

 

Nan & Gary Smith have been wonderful friends and supporters of The Kevin Meyer Memorial Foundation over the years. Their son Graham was a friend and teammate of Kevin's. During Kevin's illness and since, the Smith's have continued to support the Meyer family and the foundation with their generosity.

Recently, after many telling symptoms, Gary was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, the same disease that took his own fathers life. Shortly before Gary's diagnosis, Nan developed a very serious and deadly heart condition called Ventricular (lower chamber) Tachycardia. After discovering this heart condition through a routine stress test, Nan received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. Nan is also at risk for Atrial (upper chamber) Tachycardia.

After receiving the defibrillator, it was discovered that the wire leads implanted have lead to ten deaths. Due to the serious nature, Nan is being monitored on a daily basis through close electronic monitoring. The irony is what was meant to save Nan's life, is now being watched so that it doesn't take her life.

 

2008 Recipients

Michele Witte-Toledo, who has lived in High Meadow for almost eight years with her husband Rene and son Zachary, has been battling stage four melanoma since her diagnosis in March of 2006. During that time, Michele has undergone a variety of treatments and multiple surgeries; she is currently participating in a clinical trial to treat her cancer.

Michele formerly was a speech teacher in District 204 for six years.

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Pat Newman is a former baseball player and 2004 graduate of Neuqua Valley High School. In March of 2007 he was struck by a vehicle while exiting a bus in downstate Champaign. As a result, Pat sustained a serious brain injury and fell into a coma for several weeks. Miraculously, Pat emerged from his coma and has begun the long road back.

Pat, with support from his family, has advanced through countless hours of physical therapy and rehabilitation and continues to make significant progress toward recovery.

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The summer of 2008 was one that Kathleen Conkey was looking forward to with excitement. Returning home from the University of Kentucky, she was looking forward to summer vacation at home with family and friends, seeing her big brother Stephen returning home from serving in the Air Force, working two great summer jobs, and turning the magical age of 21!

She was also looking forward to finally seeing her own family doctor, after being treated unsuccessfully at the clinic at UK for a pesky ear infection that just wouldn’t clear up.

After undergoing several rounds of antibiotics and nasal sprays, Kathleen’s ear infection moved into what seemed to be chronic sinusitis.

The Conkey’s family doctor ordered a CT scan and sent Kathleen to an ENT. Unfortunately, as with most specialists, the next available appointment was six weeks away! In the meantime, as Kathleen waited, her neck glands swelled up like golf balls! A trip to the doctor ruled out mono, and Kathleen, ever the trooper, continued on with her two jobs, busy social life, all the while struggling with severe congestion and impaired breathing.

Finally, the July 17th appointment with the ENT arrived. After administering several exams, and reviewing Kathleen’s CT scan, the doctor discovers a mass, or blockage in the sinuses. He is concerned about Lymphoma, and recommends a biopsy.

On July 22nd, the biopsy and removal of an egg sized tumor is taken from Kathleen’s nasal pharynx.

On Wednesday, July 23rd, Kathleen was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma. A very rare form of cancer with only about 300 cases a year diagnosed in the U.S.

Although a highly aggressive form of cancer, Kathleen has been responding extremely well to chemotherapy and continues to undergo treatments. With the constant support of family and friends, Kathleen continues to face this cancer and plans to “kick its butt”!!!!

 

2007 Recipients

In December of 2003, Evan Garrett was a normal, active 10 year old boy, playing all-star baseball and soccer and excelling in school when his parents Steve and Rita heard four words that no parent ever wants to hear, “your son has cancer”.

Evan had been battling various illnesses during the previous six months that had his doctors baffled. Then on December 3, 2004 life changed when Evan was diagnosed with Leukemia (ALL Ph+). His diagnosis evolved over the next month, as did his prognosis and treatment plan. Once the diagnosis was finalized, it was determined that Evan would require a stem cell transplant. After receiving a high dosage treatment of chemotherapy, Evan attained remission in February of 2005.

It was learned shortly thereafter, that none of his immediate family members were a suitable match, and therefore, it would be required that Evan would need to wait on a match through the National Marrow Donor Program.

Evan received his 1st stem cell transplant at Children’s Memorial Hospital on May 12, 2005. He was fortunate to find a donor who was a perfect match. Evan suffered all of the side effects common to stem cell transplants and exposure to full body and cranial radiation. It was a long and slow recovery, but the Garrett’s were elated when the transplant appeared to be a success, and Evan remained in remission. In September of 2006, Evan had a full relapse. He was faced with only one option that would provide a cure. Evan chose to undergo a 2nd stem cell transplant.

He was fortunate to find two more perfectly matched donors. This time, Evan had his stem cell transplant on March 20, 2007, at Children’ Regional Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. Children’s Regional is part of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, which is the premier pediatric stem cell transplant facility in the world and offered Evan the best chance at a successful 2nd transplant.

Evan is currently in remission, and on September 20th, will celebrate the 6-month anniversary of his transplant. His is still actively undergoing treatment in the form of a maintenance dosage of oral chemotherapy, and monthly immuno therapy (ECP) treatments at the University of Chicago, as well as ECP treatments monthly in Seattle, which will continue through October. At that time, if he is stable, he will only have to return to Seattle bi-monthly until his one year anniversary in March of 2008.

Unfortunately, Evan can not return to school for his eighth grade year, as he is immune suppressed, and will continue to be tutored though District 204’s tutoring program.

Despite all that he has endured, Evan remains positive, but suffers through the isolation of being immune suppressed, being in and out of hospitals and clinics for many tests, and above all misses his friends from baseball and school. While Evan and his family persevere, the emotional, physical, and financial strain over the past four years, has certainly effected the entire Garrett family.

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In August of 2006, Charlie Lantz was preparing for another year teaching at Crone Middle School in Naperville, and was especially excited about his upcoming August 12th wedding to his fiancé, Dana, also a teacher at Crone.

For the past seven years, Charlie had been a beloved sixth grade science teacher at Crone, and also enjoyed coaching football, track and soccer. His pleasant disposition and natural sense of humor made him a favorite of students past and present. In addition to his full time teaching position, he was also taking additional classes to obtain an advanced degree.

With his busy schedule, and upcoming wedding preparations, Charlie didn’t think much about the abdominal pains he was experiencing twice a day. At Dana’s urging, Charlie went to the doctor, fully expecting to learn that the pain was stress related, or perhaps an ulcer. Unfortunately, on August 1st, he learned that he had a genetically unusual form of colon cancer, normally found in men in their sixties, not a young, otherwise healthy man at the age of 30.

On August 14th, two days after their wedding, Charlie had surgery that removed a Phase III tumor, and half of his colon. After his surgery, Charlie had extensive genetic testing, which revealed that he has a much greater chance of reoccurrence.

Since August, Charlie has been cancer free, but will continue to have regular testing, and be monitored closely. Yearly, Charlie will endure six CT scans, two colonoscopies, and two digestive screenings. The CT scans alone are at a cost of $3,000 each.

Charlie and Dana continue with their daily routines at Crone Middle School, and try to remain positive , however, the financial and emotional stress creeps into their thoughts on a daily basis.

 
 
 

 

The Kevin Meyer Memorial Foundation 5323 Bundleflower Court Naperville, IL 60564
630-904-4893 info@kevinsgift.org www.kevinsgift.org