A fundraiser set for Friday, Feb. 28, at the Jacob Henry Mansion in Joliet, will help fund an organization dedicated to helping breast cancer patients who are struggling financially.
In 2010, Shorewood resident Luanne Peck read an article in Family Circle magazine that stuck with her. The story profiled Ericka Rech and Mike Ruane, 15-year-old cousins from New Jersey who were inspired to do something after three women in their family were diagnosed with breast cancer. Originally called Breast Friends Forever, the organization is now known as Breast Intentions, and has raised more than $850,00 to help patients struggling with the burden of paying medical bills on top of everyday expenses.
A year after reading about the teens' efforts, Peck took the plunge, launching the Illinois Chapter of Breast Intentions.
Since 2011, the organization has helped 19 local women with breast cancer, paying for everything from gasoline to get to and from cancer treatments to mortgage payments. Peck said Breast Intentions even helped one worried mom pay the school fees for her daughter, who was starting high school. In another case, the agency paid a patient's COBRA premium to make sure she would retain her insurance coverage.
Peck said health care providers typically refer patients facing financial hardships to Breast Intentions, and the organization steps in where health insurance can't.
"We try to find out what their greatest need is — what's keeping them up at night," Peck said. Even when you're sick, "You still have your bills." By putting their mind at ease about money, Peck hopes to help patients focus on getting well.
The best part about Breast Intentions, Peck said, is knowing where the money ends up.
"I've been involved with other civic organizations and I never saw where my money went," she said. "Here, we can see where the money goes." If a patient needs helping paying the mortgage, Peck said, Breast Intentions will make the payment directly to the bank.
"There are no administrative fees," Peck added, noting that the chapter is entirely run by volunteers. "It's the neatest thing to just help people."
Mardi Gras MadnessWhile Breast Intentions hosts several fundraisers each year, the Mardi Gras Madness event is the largest.
This time around, there will be some special guests in attendance: Founders Ericka Rech and Mike Ruane, now 20, are expected to be at the Feb. 28 fundraiser.
The event is set for 7 to 10 p.m. at the Jacob Henry Mansion Victorian Ballroom, 15 S. Richards St., Joliet.
Peck said tickets are $30 per person and will be available at the door.
This year's event includes jambalaya, appetizers, a 50/50, raffles and, of course, Mardi Gras beads, along with a chocolate fountain and a photo booth for guests.
The fundraiser will also feature live music from Nova Soul, a Chicago-based quartet that plays jazz, bossa nova, soul music of the '60s and '70s and modern pop. There will also be a cash bar.