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Kickin It for Cure It fundraiser to fight pediatric cancer

Published: Monday, May 5, 2014 9:39 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 7:56 a.m. CDT

MORRIS – When your child is diagnosed with cancer, thoughts of failure and inadequacy go through your mind.

That's according to Jeff Eberhard, father of 7-year-old Luchi Eberhard of Morris, who was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia B cell about a year ago.

"It feels like you've failed as parent," Eberhard said. "I feel like I've failed at my job of protecting my child. It makes you ask, 'Where did I go wrong? How did I screw up?'"

Nichole Brooks knows the feeling all too well: Her 6-year-old daughter, Aubrey, was diagnosed Jan. 16, 2012, with acute lymphoblastic leukemia pre B cell.

"We were devastated. You don't ever expect your child to be diagnosed with cancer," Brooks said. "We were lost and alone and had no idea what treatment entailed or the outlook."

When Brooks heard about Luchi's diagnosis, she created a care bag full of essentials for the family who were about to wade into a world unfamiliar to most parents.

Those bags are now an integral part of the Cure It Foundation, a pediatric cancer foundation created by Dr. Jason Canner, the oncologist who treats both Luchi and Aubrey at Advocate Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn, and Ginny Fowler, pediatric nurse practitioner at Advocate Children's Hospital.

For the past year, Eberhard and Brooks have independently raised funds for Cure It. But this Saturday, they are combining efforts and holding "Kick It for Cure It" at the Morris VFW.

"Cure It serves two purposes: Half of it goes to funding clinical trials for pediatric cancer, and half of it is used to help families in the fight," Eberhard said. "Only 3.8 percent of the government's funding for cancer goes to pediatrics, those 18 years old and under."

Brooks said the research dollars are the main priority for her support of Cure It.

The help to families also plays a big part, especially to the Eberhard family.

"We're lucky that we have great insurance, and we had money put away," Eberhard said. "There are people who can hardly afford the gas to get to clinic.

"It takes one trip to go up to any hospital that has a pediatric cancer area, and you know something needs to be done. You look in a room, and a 9-year-old kid is in the room alone, because the parents can't afford to take off work. You know you have to do something," he continued.

Eberhard said while he's all for awareness, awareness without action means nothing. Something has to be done to change things in a positive direction.

The event will feature country singer Mitch Edwards for the first two hours of the event and DJ Ryann Heap for the remainder of the evening.

Ticket prices include appetizers from Maria's Restaurant in Morris, beverages, live entertainment, a photo booth and the chance to bid on numerous silent and live auction items.

Auction items include a half-side of beef with processing, a full hog with processing, Cubs vs. Cardinal tickets, a Coach purse basket, as well as art from Luchi Eberhard, Aubrey Brooks and 7-year-old Howard Samples of Dwight who is in remission after finishing treatment for Burkitt Lymphoma.

IF YOU GO What: Kickin It for Cure It When: 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 10 Where: Morris VFW, 309 McKinley St., Morris Cost: Tickets are $40 per couple or $25 for an individual ticket. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Standard Bank & Trust, 1433 Lisbon St., Morris; Morris Diner and Pancake House, 1920 N. Division, Morris; or at www.gcha.us. Tickets also will be available at the door.

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