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LivingWell Cancer Resource Center’s Kickin’ Cancer Winter Gala

In 2011, Ed French, a local business owner, joined the Advisory Council for LivingWell Cancer Resource Center, part of Northwestern Medicine. Since then, as a member of LivingWell’s volunteer leadership, Ed has learned about the many ways in which LivingWell’s programs and services positively affect the health and lives of participants and their loved ones, and how LivingWell is a vital resource for so many people touched by cancer in the Fox Valley community.

Located in Geneva, LivingWell Cancer Resource Center is committed to providing compassionate care that empowers, encourages, supports and provides hope to patients and families experiencing a journey through cancer. The center’s 120-plus programs and services are offered free of charge and represent an essential component of comprehensive cancer care.

“Since 2006, LivingWell has served nearly 45,000 patients and their loved ones, and we have earned distinction as a nationally-recognized ‘best practice’ program model,” says Nancy Vance, director of LivingWell.   “Our staff is 100% committed to making LivingWell a warm and welcoming source of comfort and community for anyone facing cancer We want to help patients and their caregivers learn vital skills that will help them regain control, reduce isolation and enhance their quality of life.”

In addition to serving on LivingWell’s Advisory Council, Ed—along with his wife, Karen– has shown enormous support for LivingWell, its staff and its participants. Since 2011, on a Saturday evening in February, the Frenches have opened their beautiful home in St. Charles for the annual LivingWell Winter Gala. Year after year, community members and supporters of LivingWell have attended this festive event, enjoying the Frenches’ warmth and hospitality, and sharing in a fun-filled evening—all while helping to raise funds for LivingWell’s many programs and services.

The Frenches’ generosity doesn’t stop with the annual Winter Gala; it goes much deeper and touches lives every day. Since 2006, Ed and Karen have demonstrated their commitment to LivingWell and its mission by raising more than $2.75 million dollars in support of the center and its services. What does such remarkable generosity make possible? It can provide a year of counseling services to 1,375 patients with cancer. It can give 1,100 adults and children the opportunity to experience 12 weeks of therapeutic art classes—a valuable creative outlet— at LivingWell. The Frenches’ philanthropy also can support 82,508 hours of social work services to help patients navigate insurance benefits, and it has the ability to fund one year of Club Courageous activities for 705 children, allowing them to connect with peers whose lives also have been touched by cancer.

“Ed and Karen French are the epitome of what makes our community a great place to live, work and receive medical care,” Ms. Vance remarks. “Their tremendous generosity and their compassionate and giving hearts make it possible for families facing cancer to come to LivingWell and to receive psychosocial support and care at no cost. We are blessed to be able to call them friends.”

The 2019 LivingWell Winter Gala—Kickin’ Cancer, a Nashville-inspired celebration—will take place on Saturday, February 16, from 6:30 to 11:00pm. More than 200 guests will come together at the Frenches’ home, which will be transformed into Music City, thanks to the creative vision of Shuki Moran of Exceptional Events. Dressed in their favorite jeans, cowboy boots, hats and country attire, guests will kick up their heels and will show their support for LivingWell as they enjoy an evening filled with music, dancing, entertainment, food and drinks, and both a live and a silent auction.

Numerous local businesses and generous volunteers are lending their support to Kickin’Cancer, donating food, drinks, auction items and more. Guests will enjoy gourmet food including barbeque by Chef Rich Mancini, a “mac and cheese” bar by Silverado, fried chicken from Atlas Chicken Shack, sushi by Shakou, gelato from All Chocolate Kitchen, and other delicious bites from 1910 Bar, Balmoral Restaurant, Barista Mobile Event Espresso, Chef Antonio Incandela and Chef Maria Cassara from The Cake Connection, Churros Y Chocolate, Desserts by Bella, The Finery & Blacksmith Bar, Graham’s Chocolates, Hotel Baker, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Original Country Donuts, Portillo’s, Puebla Modern Mexican, Starbucks, Tribella, Villa Verone, in addition to many other delicious offerings.  The silent auction will feature gift certificates, jewelry, one-of-a-kind experiences and much more, while the live auction—led by popular auctioneer Greg “G-Man” Dellinger–will include a variety of items, such as a trip to Scotland (with golf and whiskey tastings provided by Scorby Travel) and an electric guitar signed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Guests will be able to dance the night away to the sounds of cover tunes by Jin and Tonic.

Reflecting on past Winter Galas and looking forward to this year’s event, Ms. Vance observes, “Everyone involved with LivingWell is so grateful to Ed and Karen French for their continued generosity and support. We can’t wait to come together at the Frenches’ lovely home in just a few weeks, so that, together, we all can kick cancer, Nashville-style!”

Tickets for LivingWell’s Kickin’Cancer event are $250 per person, and sponsorship opportunities are still available. To learn more or to purchase tickets, please visit www.livingwellcrc.org and click on “Winter Gala.” If you have questions, please contact Molly Freed at molly.freed@nm.org or 630.262.1111.

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