Nineteen-year-old Sarah Wielgos plans to spend her career taking care of people.
But first, friends hope the community will rally around the Plainfield teen, who was diagnosed with leukemia just as she began her sophomore year as a nursing student at St. Louis University.
Supporters have launched the “100 Days for Sarah” campaign in an effort to help offset costs for the teen and her family after Sarah undergoes a bone marrow transplant at Loyola University Hospital later this month.
Her little sister, eighth-grader Mary Wielgos, will be Sarah’s bone marrow donor.
“For 100 days after [the transplant], she’s required to live within a four-mile radius of the hospital,” event organizer Greg Rodriguez said. “You’re almost kind of in isolation.”
And insurance doesn’t cover all the costs associated with those 100 days, which include staying in a hotel that will have to be specially cleaned, special meals for Sarah and the cost of gas for Sarah’s parents, who will make the trek from Plainfield to Maywood each day.
A fundraiser dinner is planned for 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at St. Ambrose Church, 1711 Burry Circle in Crest Hill.
While the suggested donation is $25, Rodriguez said any amount is appreciated.
“Some people can't afford $25,” he said. “It’s whatever you can [contribute].”
In return for their donation, guests will get pizza, courtesy of Cemeno’s Pizza in Joliet, pop and two alcoholic drinks, plus music from DJ Jason Seneker.
A cash bar will also be available.
Area residents can also support Sarah by buying a “Quitless” T-shirt, sponsored by D’Arcy Motors in Joliet. T-shirts are $20 each plus tax and available by clicking here.
Sarah’s diagnosis came earlier this year after the teen came down with what she initially thought was strep throat, Rodriguez said.
“When I was back at school last week, I came down with a horrible virus that included my throat swelling so much that I had trouble even drinking water. I had had strep the first week of school treated with antibiotics, and got sick just a couple of days after finishing the antibiotics. My amazing roommate took me to the ER where I was diagnosed with strep throat again, given more antibiotics and painkillers, and sent back to my apartment,” Sarah wrote in September on her aptly named blog, “One Tough Cookie.”
But after she failed to improve — instead becoming even more ill and throwing up her medication — Sarah decided to come home to Illinois, where blood tests revealed the bad news:
“The next morning, the hematologist (blood doctor basically) called me and told me on the phone 'You have leukemia.' I absolutely could not believe it,” Sarah wrote.
How to help
For those who can’t attend the Dec. 15 event, donations can be made online at www.sarahwielgosfund.com.
Donors can choose their own amount, or make the following suggested contributions to help Sarah through the 100 days post-transplant: