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In Memory of a Special Mom

Family fundraiser helps cancer patients

Sheila Corrigan was only 39 and the oldest of her four children was just 11 when she died of ovarian cancer in 1998. Last Mother's Day, Sheila's children honored her memory by organizing "The Sheila Corrigan Walk for Ovarian Cancer" and raising more than $10,000 in support of NCH's Cancer Patient Assistance Fund. Their dad, Michael Corrigan, is very proud of them, and the Hospital community is awed by their dedication.

Now in their teens and 20s, the Corrigan children—Kathleen, Eddie, Emily and Jack—participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Chicago for several years. But, this year, they wanted to organize their own fundraiser in their own community—and hold it on Mother's Day.

Coming Together as a Community

They got to work publicizing the 3-mile "fun walk" via email and Facebook, rallying their large extended family, and inviting friends and neighbors to come. To be inclusive, the Corrigans made the walk route easy and never pressured anyone to donate, asking only that people "give from their hearts." Kathleen says, "Our mom never wanted anyone to be left out."

On Mother's Day morning, 300 eager participants showed up in the parking lot at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights for the grassroots, family-friendly event. Sheila's three sisters led the way, and even an 80-year-old great-aunt joined in. Two stops at the homes of friends offered entertainment, and the walk ended with the whole group singing "Let it Be," a song beloved by Sheila and sung at her funeral.

The decision to give the $10,000 in proceeds to Northwest Community's Cancer Patient Assistance Fund was an easy one. The fund provides short-term aid to financially strapped cancer patients who need help with living expenses such as groceries, rent, transportation and child care. "We like that it's going directly to people who need help," Kathleen says. The Corrigans thought the fund seemed especially useful for cancer patients with young children who might not have a big family to pitch in, as they did.

An NCH Cancer Services volunteer and the founder of the Cancer Patient Assistance Fund, Diana Bloem met the Corrigan family recently and thanked them for their generosity. She expressed her admiration for their fundraising skills and explained how important it is to make sure patients fighting cancer are not distracted with money worries. Diana says, "This fund is important to so many brave people. Your gift will make a huge difference, and it's a beautiful way to remember your mom."

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Last Updated 04/10/2009