CHICAGO – A community is rallying around beloved staff members of Second City as their daughter fights cancer.
Kelly and Anne Leonard’s 16-year-old daughter Nora was diagnosed this summer with liver and lung cancer.
“At the end of August she had been complaining about pains in her side,” Kelly Leonard said. “And she’s an athlete and had just started volleyball rehearsals and it got so bad. … Nora called me and said ‘I’m in such pain, I need to go to the hospital.’ And by the end of that day she was diagnosed with cancer in her liver and lungs.”
For 30 years, Kelly and Anne have worked at the Second City fostering the talents of today’s biggest comedians.
“Someone suggested I started blogging about the experience just to give people updates so I didn’t have to answer the phone all the time,” Kelly Leonard said. “I let everyone know what was going on and I signed off #TeamNora.”
That one post sparked something Kelly never saw coming.
“Days later, Second City sent over this huge card where everyone was wearing #TeamNora shirts,” he said. “And then these pictures started showing up on Facebook and Instagram.”
From every day people to big stars hundreds of “Team Nora” pictures started to flow online.”
“It kinda of took off,” Kelly said. “It started with people we know but then suddenly Daniel Radcliff - and my daughter loves Harry Potter. She was out of her mind.”
For a dad who’s instinct it is to protect those pictures became a way he could try, try, to make his girl better as she fought the fight of a lifetime.
“It was this kind of amazing diversion that was also a boost. And not just for her but for all of us going through this. It gives a sense of a bigger community that, in classic improv parlance, we have each other’s back,” he said. “It brightens a dark time. Anything you can do to focus on what is good. … This stuff is hugely important to being a healthy human being even when you’re not sick. And when you’re sick it becomes even more important.”
Wednesday, Nora will head back to Lurie Children’s Hospital for more chemo treatments.