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Inspired by her young daughter’s fight with cancer, a local mother wages her own battle for more research dollars. The journey took her to the state capitol. Now she wants you to know how you can help.

“You wouldn’t know she had had cancer unless we told you.”

She’s happy and thriving at five years old, but Atia fought hard to get here. Diagnosed with leukemia at 17-months-old, she underwent treatment at university of Chicago’s comer children’s hospital.

“At not even a year and a half old she started a very aggressive chemotherapy treatment.”

But now, their darkest days are behind them.

“Her hair has grown back, her skin has found its glow again and she is full of life.”

It’s a trait Atia likely gets from her mother. Since her daughter’s diagnosis, Laura Lutarewych has immersed herself in a search for information. Fueled by the statistic, only 4% of the federal cancer research budget is allotted for childhood cancers.

“We have phenomenal researchers even right here in Chicago who have brilliant ideas but they need the funding to continue that work.”

“We were talking about tax time and somebody mentioned there is a schedule g …”

It’s a document many may pass over when filling out state tax returns – it lists nearly a dozen charities. You can choose to donate part or all of your Illinois refund.

“I found out there was nothing for pediatric cancer on there. “
That’s when Laura reached out for help. She took a stab at drafting legislation, and enlisted support from Sheila Quirke — a local blogger who writes about her daughter’s cancer

Sheila Quirke / blogger: “not all children are survivors.”

It’s a story Sheila feels compelled to share. Her daughter fought a rare and elusive brain tumor until she passed away at age 4.

“Many of the pediatric cancers that you see have roadmaps of treatment and donna’s did not.”

“There are very few parents you’ll meet like a cancer parent. We are laser focused.”

“I was able to go to my local Illinois state rep Cynthia Soto … I presented her with the facts. “

Soto easily agreed to sponsor the bill. The next step … climb the steps of the state capitol.

“We were asking for the opportunity to give residents of the state of Illinois the chance to speak with their own money and say ‘we want to support pediatric cancer.’

Now they’re hoping others will seize the moment come tax time and donate to the Illinois childhood cancer research fund.

Sheila: “This is an opportunity for average Illinois tax payers to make a difference, really make a difference.”

Charities listed on schedule g must raise $100,000 each year or they’re removed from the list. Money collected in the fund will be held by the state – researchers can then apply for grants.