Hundreds fight cancer at 12-hour GLMV walk
Brianna Keaskowski, 6, pulls a wagon with her cousins to her site as Relay for Life gets ready in Mundelein Saturday. | Joe Shuman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 8, 2012 8:10AM
Joyce McGuiggan of Vernon Hills always felt she took good care of herself.
So she was shocked when she learned she had breast cancer in late 2009.
Shortly after her diagnosis and surgery to remove the cancerous growth, she learned her husband, Tom, was diagnosed with urethral cancer.
“It was totally unbelievable,” she said. “You’re going through all of these life-changing things, and then it’s him next.”
Fortunately, Joyce and Tom McGuiggan were able to catch their cancer in time. Since undergoing surgeries, they’ve been cancer-free for about two years.
The McGuiggans were honorary walk survivors for the American Cancer Society’s Green Oaks, Libertyville, Mundelein and Vernon Hills (GLMV) Relay for Life event, which was held on June 2 at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein. They led the first survivor lap of the walk, which began at 6 p.m. on June 2 and continued until 6 a.m. the next morning. More than 200 people showed up at the event that featured 25 teams.
Joyce McGuiggan said she has participated in the Relay for Life walk for 10 years, long before her own diagnosis with cancer. McGuiggan, who works at Hollister, Inc. in Libertyville, organized a team of about a dozen Hollister employees who volunteered to take part in the walk.
‘Near and dear’
“I lost my grandmother to cancer so it’s always been something near and dear to my heart,” she said. “Anything we can do to raise funds for better treatment or to help find a cure for cancer is paramount.”
Jim King, chairman of the survivor program for the GLMV Relay for Life, a skin cancer survivor, has participated in the cancer walk for many years.
“I lost my mother to cancer,” said King of Libertyville. “My sister is a survivor of breast cancer. My youngest daughter is also a survivor of cancer.”
The number of participants and money raised this year was down compared to past years.
King believes part of the reason for the lower turnout is the walk was moved to a new venue at Carmel High School and was held earlier in the summer than normal. In the last few years, the event was held at Mundelein High School but had to be moved this year because MHS is installing artificial turf on the football field and a new track.
Allison Pratt, co-chair of the GLMV Relay for Life, said 24 teams were signed up for the walk this year and she estimates there were about 160 walkers. She said the cancer walk was held earlier in summer this year to avoid conflicts with other events and because June weather tends to be cooler than late July, when the walk has traditionally been held.
Pratt said the cancer society is still compiling final numbers but she estimates the walk raised about $52,044, well below last year’s total of about $100,000.
“Even though the numbers were down, everybody had a good time,” she said. “The weather was great. There was a lot of positive feedback.”
King knows the money raised from the cancer walk will likely not result in a cure in his lifetime but hopes it will lead to a breakthrough one day.
“In the future, maybe our children and grandchildren will be able to live without having to deal with cancer,” he said.