One for the Kids Rises to Occasion for Lemont Family in Need

This article was recently published on By Janice Hoppe,

Two Lemont residents with a big sense of community are hoping to help a neighbor later this spring.

Dan Irwin and Kevin Kickels, board members with the local charity group One for the Kids, were the brains behind the organizations decision to benefit a Lemont family with its annual cocktail party fundraiser April 28. That family is the Cuiching family, whose 7-year-old daughter Ellie has been fighting a brain tumor for the past year.

For Irwin, Ellies story hit his heart.Picture of Charity in Lemont, IL

I was getting choked up (hearing the story) and thinking about my own daughters, Irwin said. I have three kids that have it pretty well and not everyone does. Thats the reason I got involved (with One for the Kids).

Each year, an Illinois family is chosen for the organizations annual cocktail party fundraiser. Irwin decided to nominate the Cuiching family for the organizations fundraiser this year, scheduled for April 28 in Oak Brook.

One for the Kids was launched in 1993 by seven men who wanted to start an organization focused on childrens charities, Irwin said. The organization donates annually to Special Olympics, Special Childrens Charities of Chicago, Benton House Community and the Heart Institute for Children.

Irwin said he is hoping the April 28 party will raise $40,000 to $50,000, which would be double the amount they have received in past fundraisers.

And for the Cuichings, the help could not come at a better time.

While already swamped with rising medical costs for Ellies treatment and insurance claims nearing the familys maximum lifetime coverage the family was dealt another challenge late last year when their home flooded, later causing a build-up of mold in the house.

In addition to helping the family with the medical bills, Irwin and Kickels and are hoping some local tradesmen can pull together to help rebuild the Cuichings family room, which has suffered the most from the flooding.

The excitement is not only raising funds but getting help from other companies, Irwin said. Landscapers can help, construction companies can rip out walls and make the room free of water issues.

We have closed the family room from the kids, Ellies mother, Kyle Cuiching said, adding that they just dont have the money to repair the family room. I stay awake at night wondering how we are going to do it.

Ellie was diagnosed with a brain tumor a year ago after she began complaining of bad headaches. It turned out to be a brain tumor that was covering the right half of her brain.

Days later, Ellie later underwent a nine-hour surgery, although doctors were only able to remove about half the tumor. One neurosurgeon that operated on Ellie said it was the largest tumor on which he had ever operated.

A few days after the surgery, Ellie was in surgery again, and the doctors were able to remove 98 percent of the tumor.

Today, Ellie, now 7, continues to fight for her life.

She began a 60-week chemotherapy treatment last February. On Sept. 27, Ellie went in for a third surgery.

A portion of the tumor remains wrapped around an artery and if removed, could cause her to have a stroke, Kyle said. Another portion is on her brain stem and cant be removed because it could cause more damage.

This is lifelong, Kyle said last month. Who knows how long her life will actually be. I dont know her life expectancy. (The tumor) is so rare and shes so young to have this tumor.

Still, little Ellie, who has some memory loss and has difficulty learning, goes to school three hours a day. She also is in speech therapy and has a tutor come to the house a couple times a week.

To continue fighting every day for her familys health, Kyle looks for fundraisers or any help she can receive.

We know we will hit our lifetime max with the insurance company before her lifetime is up, Kyle said. Its a big challenge keeping afloat when your child could be dying.

To help the Cuiching family stay afloat, Kickels said the money from the fundraiser can be used to pay medical bills and may also be able to help the family work on their home to remove the mold from the family room and prevent flooding in the future.

The biggest thing is to get involved and help the family, Kickels said.