For years I have listened to Eric and Kathy's annual
Radiothon to raise much needed funds for Ann and Robert H.
Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. I am ashamed to say that
I never once made a donation. I would listen to the stories of the
children treated at Children's Memorial Hospital, now Lurie
Children's Hospital of Chicago, and I would shed some tears,
and then I would turn the radio off, thinking to myself, "Wow."
Then I would go on about my day.
A lot changes when you move to Cancerville. Everything, really.
When our daughter Donna was diagnosed with an aggressive brain
tumor, papillary meningioma, our world stopped while everyone
else's kept going. Gratefully, because of her team at the then
Children's Memorial, Donna's quality of life was excellent. As Dr.
Stew said, "Donna may have a brain tumor, but she is not a sick
child." You can read about Donna's Cancer Story here:
In 2007, during the Radiothon, I walked through the hospital
lobby to get to Donna's inpatient room. There was a little
thrill that I could actually see Eric and Kathy as they interviewed
a family. Click. Connection made. Oh, this
was that Radiothon. The funds raised go directly to this
world-class institution where we have entrusted Donna's care. Oh.
That 'click' was loud. LOUD.
I remember driving home later that afternoon and being
introduced to some of the children treated before Donna. Kids with
names like Ollie and Mark and Gus. None of them had made it. I
turned the radio off, sobbing. Too close, too close, too close. Too
In 13 years of hosting the Radiothon, Eric and Kathy have raised
more than $21 million for Children's Memorial. $21,000,000.00,
for freaks sake. That is an astounding number of zeroes.
Chicagoans open up their wallets every year, moved by the stories
they hear. This year, for the second time, they will hear Donna's
Last year we got a call or an email from the hospital
foundation, I honestly can't remember which, wondering if we might
be interested in participating. Without knowing what all was
involved, without consulting my husband, I heard myself say, "Yes,
of course." We feel completely full of love and gratitude
toward Lurie Children's Hospital. Anything we can do, anything, to
help that institution, we will. This is a given in our home.
It is understood that we owe a tremendous amount, the length and
quality of Donna's too brief life, to the fine folks inside those
It is such an honor to tell your child's story at the Radiothon.
When you lose a child, when your child dies, too often, they are
forgotten, their names only whispered. The good people at Lurie
Children's and Eric and Kathy are not afraid of the children who
have died. They know and understand that the deaths of these
children do not mean that the doctors failed. I always consider
Donna's treatment a success - she lived 10 times past her original
prognosis. That would not have been possible without her team at
Lurie's. We remain grateful and indebted.
So this year, once again, we become THAT family. We will
tell Donna's story, our story, and maybe you will listen. You might
be sitting in your car, your kids in the backseat, on your way to
school. Or in your kitchen, packing those lunches. Or in bed,
bleary eyed and tired, waking for the day. You might do what I did
for years - listen to Donna's story, then click off that radio and
go about your day. Maybe you will remember hearing Donna's story
last year. Maybe then it will click.
But maybe, just maybe, you will be better than I was all those
years, and you will make that donation, supporting the work of a
place I hope you never need.
The Radiothon can be
watched live here. You can
donate here. And you can listen to the Radiothon at 101.9 FM,
The Mix in Chicago, or streamed online.
Sheila Quirke is the mom behind the popular blog, Mary Tyler Mom.
Let us plan your weekend with the best family events and activities in Chicagoland.
Start the week right with deals, prizes, parent life hacks and more delivered straight to your inbox.
Need last-minute ideas for a weekend of family fun? No worries. We've got you.
Get the inside scoop on the people, places and things we are loving right now.
Resources, tips, inspiration and more for parents of children with special needs.
Score exclusive offers from our fabulous advertisers.